382-288: Rutlandish

382 – Tuesday 24th May 2016:  John Smedley and that’s NOT a Beer!

Last night when we arrived at our CL site, we were relatively late, after 5.00.  Down a longish, up and down lane, fortunately signed with the Caravan Club all the way to a five bar gate.  A note attached with our names on it.  Take Pitch 1, welcome, oh and by the way, rubbish reception here so if you have a TV here’s a cable into our system.  Spot on – no internet, phone or text and we were here 3 nights – GRR!  Peaceful though.

Today we both ran.  Sun is out and it is warm.  Table and chairs made an appearance from under the bed and we decided on a leisurely soak up the rays day.  By late afternoon this was beginning to pall on us and clouds had appeared, so we wandered down the lane to the factory.  It had been whirring last night and was in full whirring mode now.  John Smedley, fine knits since 1794 and some of the buildings definitely dated from then.  We perused the factory shop just before closing and K came away with two long sleeved cotton jumpers.  My excuse for the wanton expenditure … they were only a tenner each and I am soooo feeling the cold and have insufficient long sleeved tops!  Conversation about Brexit with the 40 yr old shop assistant – cotton comes from New Zealand via Italy where it is cleaned and dyed.  Japan, Germany and Italy are their major markets.  He had not travelled much but firmly believed we had a lot to learn from other European cultures, especially when it comes to looking after and being involved with family.  Enough excitement for one day so we returned to our pitch.


383 – Wednesday 25th May 2016:  Remembering and Trams

I dreamt of Nicky again last night – I do about once a week.  But more often at the moment as today would have been her 51st birthday.  

Weather windier and cloudy so we decided to drive to Crich Tramway Village, the National Tram Museum.  A short drive, but it meant we could connect to the wifi as the signal on our site was non-existent.  After the internet and phone jobs we paid the pricey sum of £28 for our annual tickets which included J’s senior discount.  The enthusiasts started collecting trams back in the 50’s just as they were being decommissioned across the country.  Mostly British, but some overseas and all in pristine condition.  Most of them have been restored to running order and on our visit 3 trams were running.  We handed over our 2d coins (given to us with the entry tickets) and were given a day ticket to freely ride aboard the trams.  The main exhibition was quite interesting as it explained how trams developed from horse drawn, steam tractor drawn and finally to electric.  Their demise was partly due to the war but mostly due to introduction of cheaper to build and run motor busses.  Including lunch, we were actually only in the museum for just over 2 hours, so not really worth the money unless you can visit several times in the year with small children.

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Seriously layered up for the wind and cold

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No, don’t reckon Dr Who ran this on electric!

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The restoration of each tram was flawless.  Hours of work.


384 – Thursday 26th May 2016:  Wildcamping Meet in Rutland

A leisurely start as we only had to drive 1.5 hrs to Rutland Water.  Rutland is the smallest county in England and only really had anything to offer visitors after the valley was flooded in the 1970’s and the reservoir generated an outdoor leisure industry .  K camped here (under canvas) about 9 years ago with Maddy and Kerstin – we managed to persuade Maddy to go on the back of a very heavy hired tandem to cycle around the Water … it was hard work as I’m not sure how much cycling M actually did!  The purpose for our trip is to join a Wildcamping.co.uk meet … a chance to meet like minded motorhomers and pick their brains on places to go and tips.


385 – Friday 27th May 2016:  Exercised Out

We ran, K did pilates and then we cycled around the Water, with a detour to Oakham to buy some beers.  One would think cycling around a reservoir would be flat, but no … lots of smallish ups and downs.  We nearly aborted the full circuit, but a chap at the information centre assured us we had completed the most difficult part.  Scenery OK, but not a patch on Derbyshire.  Once back at the site, we commenced consuming the slightly warm and shaken beers!

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Normanton Church:  preserved from flooding by a retaining wall.  Now a small museum and a wedding venue.


386:  Saturday 28th May 2016:  Race Day!

J had identified a 5 km Park Run along part of the Water.  We’ve since since discovered that this is a 9.00 a.m. free timed event held in multiple locations up and down the country.  Knowing how bumpy the ride along the shore was, we elected to drive to the start … Chardonnay also gave us all our facilities to change in after.  We arrived in good time and walked to the start … no one there!  They started to arrive with 10 mins to go …. no registration at the event; you have to register online and print a bar code.  We’d done neither, to we would get a place and time, but not with our name next to it.  A really easy flat run, the only difficulty was to avoid some of the sheep deposits!  For a man who watches his feet and not scenery when he runs, J managed to pick up a lot of poo!  138 runners and we both improved on our times and positions from 2 weeks ago:  J 35th with 1.25 minutes faster and K 100th and 2.25 mins faster with a final sprint to ’take’ someone.  We shall be on the look out for more races.

An easy afternoon chatting to our lovely neighbours Roy and Doreen.  The only ‘event’ laid on was a cream tea which was a serious overload in sugar, but we also met a couple who will be at the Inverness meet in June, which we will also attend.  


287:  Sunday 29th May 2016:  A Couple of Changes of Plan

We planned to go to the Burghley House Game and Country Fair, via Tescos and buying some diesel.  By the time we’d got up, K had done Pilates and we’d done our shopping, our ETA was 1.45, so it seemed sensible to go to Plan B.  A quick look at the National Trust App and we selected the Priest’s House in Easton on the Hill.  

The Priest’s House is only small and entry is by knocking on designated key holder’s doors.  We tried the nearest and spoke the key holder’s parents who told us that everyone was at the village Gala. OK, Plan C.  We went to the village Gala.  Only small, but they served beer & cider and burgers & hog roast.  A few stalls, singers and bands of very mixed musical talent and the best of all … maypole dancing.  Yes, there was a little tangle at one point and the instructor had to get involved, but lovely.


The Priest’s House.  Where is everyone?



 Never thought of specialising in mole removal as a career!

288 – Burghley House Game and Country Fare

We set the alarm for 7.00 and fell asleep till gone 9.00.  Oops – we really are not accustomed to early starts!  Never mind – straight to Burghley Park and being a motorhome we were parked right by the entrance.  Result – normally motorhomes are parked in the furthest out of the way point.  Three arenas with different non stop displays.  Lots of crafts and shops – conscious that we need to buy Christmas gifts before Sept, unless I ask Mutt to wrap them again (she’s already warned me off that), we embarked on a minor spending spree.  A really lovely event – we both really enjoyed the displays.


How to dress a crab in the Food Kitchen.


Would that be a rare species of chef crab?


Falconary with a difference … with a ferret and dog.


Sheepdog …


… Duckdog!  Seriously stunning how well trained all these animals are … can’t begin to imagine how many hours.

1100791Horse-boarding – a new one on us, but fun to watch, especially when they took a corner too fast or died on the jump!








361- 365: UK Tour Commences in Derbyshire – Yipee!

361 – Tuesday 3rd May 2016:

We are in year 2 !!!  Just to recap – France, Holland, Scandinavia, Russia (briefly), Slovenia, Italy, Sicily (feels like a different country), France again – and (wait for it) Derbyshire!!!   But first – the M3 – the good old M3 has not changed much – apart from the fact that it is being transformed into a “Managed Motorway”. This means more lanes for more cars and trucks to get stuck in. I suppose it’s a form of management. Never mind that other (more) enlightened countries spend on public transport thus reducing the motorway traffic – whilst the UK becomes increasingly congested.   

Anyway, we commenced our UK journey in Chardonnay by leaving the wonderful hospitality of K’s family – to head north into the English Spring…  M3, M25, M1 – not too bad considering it was just after the Bank Holiday. Lunch on board somewhere along the M1 – and then the blessed A-roads and a few B-roads – to arrive at the pre-booked Certificated Location at Old Brampton in Derbyshire where our Bristol neighbours Stephen and Kay had landed earlier, together with their gorgeous canines – Tazz and Gemma.  S and K are recent motorhomers in their van “Phoebe”.  Tea was consumed – and later, supper – with wine!  From the little we had seen thus far, the countryside of Derbyshire is really pretty – in that quintessentially English way – gently rolling hills and nice villages.

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Note to selves:  avoid motorways as much as possible!  M3 – gotta love it … NOT!

362 – Wednesday 4th May 2016:  Lineacre Reservoirs 

Not quite the crack of dawn – but we headed of for an early run – around one of the reservoirs – a bit muddy and hilly but excellent to be away from vehicled traffic. 4-5 kilometres in all with K’s Pilates to follow – and a hearty breakfast.  Late morning saw us repeat the route walking with S and K and k9s.  A walk extension to the village pub.  Toiling up the last hill, we sought directions from a local walker – the pub had closed some time ago – and our maps were out of date! The nearest PH was some miles away, unfortunately….  Back to vans to rest – and later – supper – with wine? Yes. 

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Our Certificated Location for 5 nights


Stephen and Kay with Taz and Gemma






 Is that a Morecambe and Wise moment?

363 – Thursday 5th May 2016:  Chatsworth House

A rest from walking – Stephen piloted us towards Chatsworth House and Park – home of the Lords Devonshire since the 16th century.  We took a guided tour of the gardens – entry to the house is rather expensive and the weather (in the English Spring) was beautifully sunny.  Our guide has a passion for the principal gardener who designed the verdant area – Joseph Paxton. Others including Capability Brown were involved but Paxton’s the man!  His glasshouses are stunning and the garden areas are quite diverse – see K’s photo of his ‘Convservative Wall’.  An excellent walk for all.

Supper included water (and wine!).  


One gardener is employed full-time to look after the vine house.  




Twenty five full time employed gardeners and about 50 volunteers maintain the gardens.



Joseph Paxton’s ‘Conservative’ Wall


The Cascade built in 1696 to a French Design and fed by the waterfall above.


A tiny part of the huge rockery.


The maze in what was the Great Conservatory.  It fell into rack and ruin during the Great War so the family had it dismantled.



364 – Friday 6th May 2016:  Hardwick Hall 

“Four times the nuptial bed she warmed

and every time so well performed

that when death spoiled each husbands billing

he left the widow every shilling

fond was the dame but not dejected

five stately mansions she erected”


(Not my penmanship, but William Walpole…..)


That’s our Bess!  And Hardwick Hall is a fitting monument to the second richest lady in England in the 16th century.  The Old Hall (now ruined) was her birthplace – the nuptial bed performances were scattered across the country… and she produced 8 children!

Looking at the manor, the views across Derbyshire – there’s no doubting we were in Middle England – not a Labour voter within gunshot ! Except possibly for the man who engaged us profusely in anti-EU vituperations!  “Served it’s time – job done – out we go!” Just a brief summary. He also lectured Kay on training Border Collies – we think he narrowly avoided a punch in the EU!  

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The house Bess restored using the latest technology, but then she built the New Hall next door.  Ruins were popular, so half of this was pulled down!

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Gone to rack and ruin!

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The ‘New’ Hall

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The most amazing interior – largely left Elizabethan.  As Bess had aspirations for her granddaughter to follow Elizabeth I as queen, the tapestries particularly were amazing.  This main hall had the most unusual 3d reliefs.

365 – Saturday 7th May:  A Race!

For some time – including in mainland Europe, I had been looking for a short road race to test me – and I suggested to K that she should take the plunge.  In Euroland, you need a doctor’s cert to demonstrate your fitness to run.  I can probably be certified for lots of things on the road, but…   Whilst resting in Old Brampton, I navigated the pages of “Runners World” magazine – and guess what I found? A 5km race in nearby Chesterfield on the coming Saturday!  A proper club event meaning some serious runners. We agreed to enter – my first race for 3 years and K’s first race ever!  For the days leading up to the event, a strict training regime ensued – a little running, some Pilates, lots of food and plenty of wine!  It’s important to be relaxed for these races…  My pace in recent running had been 8:30-9:00 minutes per mile – not exactly earth shattering. For the 5km, I set myself a soft target of 27:00 minutes – and a hard target of 25:00 mpm.  K sensibly had a target of not running out of steam. I had researched previous results (it’s a monthly event) and I thought I could finish about halfway in the field.  Like all finely-honed athletes, we slept badly in the nuptial bed and fretted about our performances (unlike Bess!).   Up and at ‘em in the early dawn, we satnaved into Chesterfield – found good long parking for the team bus and walked the short distance to the race HQ (cricket ground) to register.  Not surprisingly, we were the first to arrive!  Keen or what?  I couldn’t eat but K managed a yoghurt pre-race.  The route was 4 circuits of the park – thankfully, free from any motor traffic. I managed to go to the toilet only 7 times before the start.  

The starter shouted “3-2-1 Go” – and off we went. I had no idea how fast my pace was as there were no km markers (K had her GPS app on her phone (with Michael Jackson through the earphones also for company).  I felt I was running a bit quick on the first lap and moderated my pace – K was steady all the way. One short hill at the back of the course – otherwise flat. It was good to be racing again – the adrenaline flowing.  On the 4th lap, some 400 metres from the finish, I accelerated and finished quickly – time 25:40 – close to my hard target – very pleased – K finished well and certainly not last as she thought previously.  36th place for me – of 63 was respectable and K was in 57th place – excellent for a first event!  Second in my age group – later I noted that the first placed man was a mere 11 seconds in front.  Both brekkied, we met S and K at the Chesterfield market.

Chesterfield is a nice town – with a crooked church spire. We browsed the markets and window shopped along all the usual High Street stores – noting the prominence of BHS which seems to be at some risk. Lunchtime found us in a Weatherspoons pub – 2 pints of lager and crisps – wine for K – the post-race effects fatigue was diminishing…..  A round of drinks for 4 people with crisps for 2 – £9.00!!!  Excellent Derbyshire value. 

Saturday evening (our last for now with S and K) – Stephen piloted us to the nearest pub from our CL – the Royal Oak. We fell on the food – Scampi and chips, steak, liver and mash – and … wine!  The dogs as always were beautifully behaved.

It had been a lovely week in Derbyshire with S and K who would depart in the morning. We are so impressed with the area that we resolved to stay and explore more of the county! Another race might also be sought. 

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