Category Archives: Derbyshire

The Birthday Present

Better late than never, as they say.

We went to Bakewell today and finally bought Julia’s birthday present.  We’d originally gone to the retail park just off the M1, then Matlock Bath, and finally Bakewell. Derbyshire seemed quite busy, with several Christmas events taking place.

We eventually ended up in a very nice jeweller’s shop and selected the pendant and chain in the main picture. It’s forget-me-nots in a silver mount. I’m not sure what the clear stuff is – it’s tempting to call it crystal but it’s probably some sort of plastic. This is the 21st century, after all, and it was very reasonably priced.

To sum up – Julia likes it, it looks good and it wasn’t expensive. What’s not to like?

When we left the shop they gave us a crystal angel decoration to celebrate their 15 years in business in Bakewell.

If you happen to be in Bakewell they are in Water Street and open from 10.00 until 5.00.

http://www.jewellerybystoneart.co.uk

They have a great selection of stock and I could have bought more, but Julia decided to be economical.

 

Lagging Behind, and Misery in Derbyshire

It’s Wednesday today and I’m still blogging about Monday.

Eventually we reached Carsington Water, where I discovered I had left my stick at home. Though I have a spare one in the car it is one of my Dad’s and is about two inches too short. It actually causes more problems than it solves and is only there for emergencies.

It was a handy excuse for not walking round and freezing. So we went to the shops. Julia spent the points off the RSPB loyalty card on crackers and cards and I poked through the books and bird food before deciding that I didn’t feel like spending money.  I never feel like spending money, but at Christmas I can at least get into the character of Ebeneezer Scrooge and claim I’m entering the spirit of Christmas.

We went into the Air Ambulance charity shop after that. It was a miserable experience.  They seemed to have taken delivery of a new consignment of stock, and most of it was stacked in front of the books so I couldn’t see the interesting books.  To make things worse, the staff member who was on duty seemed to go out of her way to obstruct Julia as she tried to look round. It takes a lot to wind Julia up but she wasn’t very pleased by the time she’d finished.

We like the air ambulance, and though the kids never needed it, we have been at events where other rugby players have been whisked off for treatment. We also like charity shops. Things are bad when I use the words “miserable experience” about a visit.

I was able to look at a cookery book – James Martin’s Great British Winter Cookbook. I won’t add a link as that might tempt someone to buy it. None of the recipes grabbed me, and one, Tomato and Cumin Soup, didn’t seem particularly British or wintery. I mean, where are all the winter tomatoes? In Spain.

Then we went for tea and cake. A day that features tea and cake can’t be all bad can it? And the restaurant is always good. I say “always”…

Julia liked her mince pie. I thought my raspberry and orange cake was a bit dry. And deficient in raspberries, though as I served myself I only had myself to blame. Then I started to think I detected the aftertaste of artificial sweetener. It may not have been, but it was definitely an unpleasant aftertaste.

To cheer things up I suggested a trip to the bookshop at Brierlow Bar.  I wasn’t expecting much, but as we were on the doorstep thought we might as well go.  To be fair, some of the book stock does seem to be improving, after a bit of a slump, as does the card stock. However, we bought cards and stationery and no books, which doesn’t look good for the future.

We couldn’t even eat cake as we are dieting and had already had our daily ration.

In my dreams of next year I see myself standing outside the shop with my nose pressed up against the window looking in at the bright lights. Inside, people enjoy tea and cake, buy expensive bird food and select books that I wouldn’t enjoy.

Sadly, I cannot participate and I gradually fade away like the ghost of readers past…

I will leave you with that picture.

The next post will be more cheery.

 

Guess Where We Went Today?

The sign might be a giveaway. We started off with breakfast at Harvester, which featured rubber sausages and a severe lack of melon or crumpets. I rather disgraced myself with a couple of muffins as an alternative, despite the no bread and potatoes rule. I suppose they were under pressure with having a surge for half-term. However, they were still charging the same price so they should provide the same service.

From there we went to the garden to drop off plastic crates and donated bird feeders. Then, via an ill-fated “shortcut” we dropped into Derbyshire. At one point, with the hedges nearly touching the door mirrors and a strip of grass growing down the centre of the road, Julia started her impression of duelling banjoes…

We eventually found civilisation, in the shape of the Homebase DIY store at Ashbourne, where we bought a bag of Scottish River Cobbles and some half-price violas. It cost £10 for a bag of rocks, which Julia is going to use in a project. I was all for stopping by a river and helping ourselves to some for free but Julia pointed out that this would be irresponsible and illegal. For the purposes of the blog I’ll pretend that this was what stopped me doing it.

From there we drove into the low cloud to visit the High Peak Bookstore and Cafe. As you can see from the header picture, grey is creeping in and the cafe is getting more space on the sign. This is true in physical space too. The cookery books have been removed and were being replaced with jars of jam on the former bookshelves. We were able to sit and watch this act of sacrilage when we visited.

Tripadvisor is full of upbeat comments about book stock and prices. They must be being visited by people all love thing the same thing, and I am out of step. The fact that the shop reply is always identical adds to the impression of sameness.

The tea and cake were good and the book selection is generally holding up well though the nature section has still not recovered and the craft books are now starting to suffer. It could still be OK, but I’m still concerned. Last time I went head to head against a cafe I came off second best.

On the way back I tried a few photographs. Light hadn’t been good during the day but the view was pleasantly misty and as it coincided with passing a lay-by I thought I’d have a go. As luck would have it, the camera managed to get rid of the atmospheric haze and I resorted to the effects button.

 

 

More Grumbling

After we decided not to risk more garden centres we decided to drop down through the Peak District. This involved use of the satnav, and I have to say it didn’t cover itself in glory. For one thing, it kept interrupting our conversation with it’s constant chanting of taking second exits at roundabouts and turning left in 700 yards. No, I don’t know why 700 is seen as significant, that’s why it sticks in my mind. I’d be much more boring if I was designing a sat nav – 800 and 500 would do for me.

That, unfortunately, wasn’t the main problem. The infernal machine insists on using main roads, and is quite prepared to make a substantial detour to use dual carriageways and motorways, despite the map and common sense. That was how we found ourselves travelling through various unattractive industrial areas on dual carriageways, rather than the drama of the High Peak.

When we eventually got into the countryside we had an entertaining drive with some breathtaking views and impressive viaducts. Unfortunately these weren’t matched by equally impressive viewpoints, so there are no photos. I could have taken several photos of the back ends of traffic queues too, but I didn’t. Once you’ve seen the back of one car for twenty minutes, you’ve seen all you need for a lifetime.

We did manage some photos of the heather and snow fences  on the A628, just before we got to the really good scenery. Isn’t that always the way?

The good news is that we reached the bookshop in time to top up the cheese toasties with a restorative cup of tea and a good chunk of date and walnut cake. Dates and Walnuts are healthy aren’t they? Made into cake they are even better.

I do have some misgivings about the shop now the cafe is proving more popular. It’s difficult to put my finger on it, and even more difficult to defend my position, It has got to be good that the shop is more profitable, and I’m resigned to putting up with the inane chatter of customers and staff (who seem to spend more time yacking than serving) but I am concerned about the number of books, and the fact it’s getting more difficult to find books that I want to read.

We’d nearly finished the cake before the tea arrived, and struggled to find books. That, to me, means that a top class bookshop has now been replaced by a less good bookshop and a cafe that needs someone to get a grip.

Menus on clipboards, lamps made from vintage petrol cans (I shudder at the thought of the desecration) and mix-and-match crockery is all very well, but good tea, good cake and good service is essential. Two out of three isn’t good enough in this context. And the man in the kitchen needs to get some work done instead of loafing about chatting up the female staff.

If I was an anthropologist, or if he was a wild bird, I might find his courtship behavior interesting. But as a thirsty book-buyer, I really don’t need him droning on when he’d be better employed loading the dishwasher.

 

Derbyshire goes Downhill

Having successfully taken photos of Wingfield Manor we cut up through Crich, noted the crowds at the Tramway Museum and discovered the Crich Memorial was closed. Looking at the website on my return I found it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. I didn’t know that.

In Matlock we noticed crowds in the paddling pool and on the boating lake, A hula hoop, if thrown at random, would have dropped round two or three people, more if you;d aimed at the ice cream queue. The cricket club and football club were both open for use as parking at £3 for the day. That’s very reasonable – at Nottingham RUFC we used to charge £5 for football parking because we were close to Nottingham Forest. It makes a useful contribution to club funds. I notice that the football club charges spectators £10 to watch. Seems like a lot of money. but maybe I’m biased. I’m sure it’s cheap by football standards but it seems like a lot for 90 minutes of semi-pro Level 7 football.

So, knowing that Derbyshire was likely to be crowded due to sun and school holidays we pressed on to Eyam, intending to visit Eyam Hall in the famous plague village.

As you may have been able to predict, both pathetically small car parks were full, street parking was difficult and the nearest public car park was too far away for a man with arthritic feet. We will go back later in the year (hopefully before the school holidays start in earnest) to have a look at the Craft Centre and the Tea Room. We might have a look at the historical and cultural bits if we have time between cakes and retail.

After a certain amount of random travel, failing to find convenient parking for photography and being hassled by lorries, we found the bookshop at Brierlow Bar (again). The tea, as you can see in the featured photograph was a nice, bright, orange colour, though the table was overburdened with foliage and the cafe as a whole was deficient in cake. If you look closely you can see Julia’s amber earings (as mentioned in a previous post) and her new amber necklace.

 

Creamless cream tea - TESCO Chesterfield

Talking of tea, we went home via Chesterfield, partly to avoid a long section of roadworks at Matlock and partly to go shopping. This isn’t really part of the travelogue, but I do want to record that TESCO’s cafe had no cream for the cream teas. They did offer squirty cream out of an aerosol as an alternative and  I tried not to let out an anguished cry. Judging by the reaction of people around me, I did not succeed.

 

Wingfield Manor

Although Oakerthorpe sounds like something out of Tolkien, I am not continuing yesterday’s theme. It is merely an interestingly-named (with a secret passage) village on the way to South Wingfield, the site of Wingfield Manor. Mary Queen of Scots stayed there during her imprisonment.

Although the manor is only open one Saturday a month it is possible to get a photograph from the road, which I did. I never feel like going round by appointment as I’m never sure I can show the correct degree of enthusiasm. I’m interested in it because of its link to Mary Queen of Scots, not because I’m fascinated by mediaeval masonry.

 

A Day in Derbyshire

We dropped Number 2 son off in Sheffield after lunch and took a trip into the Peaks. It was a lovely day, the verges were full of celandines and wood anemones in the appropriate places and all was right with the world, apart from one thing. For some reason whenever we say something worth photographing there was nowhere to park.

I’m not saying Derbyshire County Council has designed the road system to stop drivers taking photographs but if they ever decide to do so it will be difficult to improve on the current situation.

Despite this I did manage to get some shots of scenery, or fields and rocks, as Julia pointed out. With a bit more enthusiasm I could have parked and walked a bit more, but that would have meant spending less time at the Brierlow Bar Bookshop.

We’ve been there before, as regular readers will know. The tea is still up to standard and we had some very acceptable cashew and banana cake (though it was a little rich, even for me). I think my new healthy diet might be blunting my ability to appreciate cake. It’s a stiff price to pay, even for a few extra years of life.

I’m afraid a high price has also been paid by the book stock. The Nature section doesn’t seem as strong as it used to be, and the Poetry section seems to be depleted, although my other favourite sections seem either the same (History) or expanded (Crime Fiction). Julia says the Craft section is much smaller too. I like tea but I like books too. I am conflicted.

I suppose I should have bought a guidebook to the Peak District to address my ignorance but I bought one on stained glass, one on War Poets and one about an archaeologist who solves murders.

That’s why there’s a lack of information on Lead Mining, sheep and Blue John in this post. In future posts I will try to address this failing.