Posted by: Team McSlade | July 12, 2010

UK Transition Stage

The BBC Radio 2 (88 – 91FM and on digital) have been our favourite travel companion here in Great Britain. They have kept us abreast of traffic snarls across the UK on the motorways; given us a few laughs at both jokes and accents and we are now in tune with Katie Perry and Kylie’s latest dire musical offerings.
The Beeb 2 also informed us of the manhunt and (supposed) whereabouts of Raoul Moat, the lunatic who decided that he’d shoot his former girlfriend and her new partner; he also shot a policeman at random. The reason I bring this up is we drove from Edinburgh to the Peak District near Sheffield through Northumbria where he was holed up. The cops did say not to travel through the Rothbury area unless absolutely necessary, we deemed our travels necessary.
Please, parental units, siblings, friends and sports fans let me allay your fears of an unsafe passage to Jane Austen’s English countryside for your Team McSlade. As these ramblings are usually a few days in arrears when written, Mr Moat has been found (and he shot himself) and we didn’t even see a policeman, let alone a road block on our travel south.

West of Newcastle-upon-Tyne is Hadrian’s Wall and the remains of a few Roman forts he and his mates built in the 2nd century AD. 75 miles of wall and fortifications spanned the Isle of England to keep the Romans safe from a northern attack by the Scots. They dug a ditch/moat on the northern side and had turrets every ¼ mile (if memory serves correct). We found a small section still intact just off the main drag and took tourist photos accordingly.

Jo has a decent radar when it comes to picking our accommodation, thus I shouldn’t have been surprised when we walked into The Maynard in Grindleford and it was fantastic. A classic English hotel with beautiful stained glass windows, a quaint bar and restaurant and with a two roomed top floor apartment we had great views of the neighbouring countryside. £60 was the moderate hit to the pocket for this night’s slumber.

The Maynard in Grindleford

We ventured out in search of Pemberley Hall.
Now, if you’re my mum or some other individual who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Jane Austen’s work, you will already know the Pemberley Hall is in Ms. Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and that in the film of said book with Keira Knightley they use Haddon Hall in a few of the scenes.
Yes, I am in touch with my feminine side, it’s called Jo; she wasn’t sure that Haddon Hall was correct but smashed off a few pictures just in case.
As it turned out the place she was looking for was Chatsworth House, a few miles down the road, which was later confirmed by Erica when we arrived in London – this could not be sorted while we were there due to a lost electrical converter rendering us internet-less and poor local knowledge by hotel staff.

Bakewell and the Red Lion hotel was next on the tour for dinner of ye olde public house fare. What man would turn down a feed of half a chicken? Not I. Jo knocked the staple English dish of Fish ‘n’ Chips with the kids cracking through a burger and lasagne.
Dessert was a challenge due to bulging stomachs but a Bakewell Pudding with warmed custard was split four ways. Jo asked if Bakewell Tart’s originated from Bakewell. The barmaid replied that ‘NO, they were an invention of Mr Kipling, not from Bakewell’ – inferring not to waste our time with the tarts. So we didn’t.

Our final destination visited in this region was Sherwood Forrest. Again, poor local knowledge first sent us in the wrong direction to Clumber Park. We paid five quid to roll through the front gates to realise we weren’t in Robin’s lair thus were un-Merrie Men (and women).
Down in Sherwood Forrest we found out that Robin Hood may have existed in the 10th century and was on the run from the Sherriff of Nottingham. However, there was also a few other known as Robert Hode, Robin Hode and then in the 15th and 16th centuries the police called outlaws ‘Robinhoods’.
A massive oak tree called The Major Oak, was visited where these outlaws met up and planned out their robberies. After enjoying the countryside the kids then shot a few arrows at targets and a wild pig. Babe was lucky not to cop an arrow to the rump from both kids; the targets were not so lucky taking a few hits in the blue and red circles.

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On to London town we went and two days to go before hitting Heathrow up for a flight home.

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