Friday, 24 March 2017

Bakewell - Derbyshire

There has been a town at Bakewell for 1300 or 1400 years. It is known that the original Parish Church of All Saints was founded in 920 and the town is featured in the Domesday Book.

Some of the original Saxon origins of the church remain, but it was partially rebuilt in the 12th century and then altered more structurally in 1840.

The architecture is typical of the Peak District and this is another of those places that transform under the glow of the sun. The hill around Bakewell fall quite sharply and rivers combine just before entering the town, so the water is lively and therefore far more interesting. The 5 arch bridge that crosses the River Wye was build early in the 13th century.

Bakewell is mis-known across Britain and abroad for the Bakewell Tart. However, locals would argue that a tart is something different altogether and the true name is the Bakewell Pudding. There are some interesting old shops in Bakewell, two of which claim to be the home of the original Bakewell Pudding, and one the Bakewell Tart!

The town comes alive in the tourist season and particularly on Market Day. There has been a continuous market in Bakewell since 1254.

Church of All Saints

a pudding not a tart

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Buxton - Derbyshire

Fortunately this wasn't our first visit to Buxton. We had seen it before in a much better light.

Buxton is another of those gateways into the Peak District, this time for those from the North West. It is a spa town and was famous for its waters. It is also a clearly old and well established town with most of the building well in keeping with each other.

It was those buildings that make all the different, dependent on the weather. On a grey day with rain hammering down the limestone buildings seem hard and unwelcoming. Change that to a bright sunny day and the whole town lights up.

Buxton Opera House

Fortunately, if it does rain, you can visit Poole's Cavern.

The limestone caves under Buxton have been known for more than 2000 years, but easy access is relatively recent. The impressive caves were eroded by the River Wye as it disappears below ground before re-emerging to make its impressive descent towards the east.

What was pleasant about this experience was that the visit was friendly, the guided tour was informative and humorous at times, and the prices in the gift shop were gentle - not the rip-off charges of many other attractions.

As Buxton began to flourish as a spa town, the lame headed for the waters and the curious went to crawl into the atmospheric cavern. With only candles to light the way, exploration would have been fraught, especially as there is a steady stream of water droplets that would have challenged any candle holder. The Victorians added gas lighting but today there are strategically placed electric lights that focus the attention on the more interesting of the features.

The temperature in the cavern is a constant 7 degrees C (44F) but the steady flow of information and apocryphal stories, coupled with the intriguing sights meant that an hour on the tour flashes by with no realisation of the fact that it was no warmer inside that it was outside, except for the lack of wind.

You get plenty of chance to see the fledgling river as it burbles over the rocks, flashes of white water hinting at what the river does when once again free of the gloom and tumbling down to meet Bakewell.

Monday, 20 March 2017

My week - Sunday 12th March to Saturday 18th March 2017

Sunday 12th March 2017
Still in Hove. This was just a question of us all being together for the morning and then watching them drift off back to their own homes.
We had a nice meal and then sat and mainly chatted for a couple of hours. A busy week ahead for every one, so it was an early night.
Monday 13th March 2017
I really enjoyed today. We had told Gary to go off and do a day’s work, so that left us to look after the boys. I took them to school and then the sun came out, and meant it.
We went to Wakehurst Place, about 22 miles away from Hove. This is an extension of Kew Gardens run by the National Trust. We only got to see around one-third of what is there to enjoy, so plenty of reason to go back.

Pictures are separate.
The drive home was undemanding. We were back around 4pm. Then we relaxed for a couple of hours until it was time for Lichfield Lions meeting at the George Hotel. Not well attended but well run by Gary Nye and it was all over by 9pm.
Tuesday 14th March 2017
I was up at the crack of dawn (for me!) and I left for Stoke on Trent at 7.45. The journey was actually OK until I got to Trentham, and then it was a slow drag to the hospital and I got there with two minutes to spare. John Morgan and I met with Lisa. We made it a shorter than usual meeting because she had another one at 10am.
The drive home was in sunshine and it stayed with us for the rest of the day. What a difference.
This afternoon I tidied up the garage somewhat, then Pauline started on the back garden, so I gave both lawns their first cut of the year. There has been a lot of damage to the front lawn, some of it by some animal that has dug furrows, but also by the tree men who parked their lorry on the grass.
In the end we worked ourselves to a standstill. It was a soak in the bath and an early night.
Wednesday 15th March 2017
Our 48th wedding anniversary. And it don’t seem a day too much!
Sadly, no time for celebrating today.
First I went to the tip with seven bags of tree branches. Not everything got picked up by the tree men! Then I went to the Sorting Office and collected 5 sacks of returns. Once again it seems that one of the sack loads was not delivered to our listeners.
Sue was with us by the time I got back so I left the ladies to handle the returns whilst I downloaded the magazines and processed four new listeners.
Tonight I took everything to the studio, and left when I knew there was a team. Back home for an hour and then another early night, because we are getting older.
Thursday 16th March 2017
The temperature dropped ten degrees. Still, we did have two good days!
The Stevenage papers came through quite late, which made life a little more difficult, but I managed to get everything done, somehow.
I did the Live at Home run, finished Wales and Scotland and duplicated those, along with the Stevenage TN, and took my passengers home again.
We had a full house at the studio tonight and that meant an early finish. I was home by 9pm.
Friday 17th March 2017
We woke to the promise of rain, and me with so many things I want to do outside.
I spent the morning catching up with paperwork – hardly making a dent. Pauline went off for lunch with the girls at the Olive Tree. Apparently the meal wasn’t up to their usual standards.
I did nothing this afternoon except read. I had my usual Friday tiredness.
Saturday 18th March 2017
At least it wasn’t raining first thing, but the sun was well hidden and the threat of a storm was ever present.
We met up with Sandra and Graham at the Plough, Huddlesford and enjoyed a very pleasant couple of hours over lunch.
When we got back, Pauline brought Rita round for the afternoon and then took her to church, because we would be away tomorrow.

Ilam - Derbyshire

There are some who would argue that Ilam is in Staffordshire, but we will go with the National Trust and say Derbyshire. Whatever, there is no doubt that you stand on the boundary between the two counties when you walk the grounds of Ilam Park.

Ashbourne is the southern gateway into the Peak District, and Ilam is just four miles away, though it might as well be one hundred if you go by the feel of the place.

The River Manifold gives its name to the attractive valley that hosts the village of Ilam. The waters are white crested at almost all times of the year as they speed towards the River Dove. They certainly add to the charm of the place and it is worth hiking down to the bridges and the riverside walks.

There is a hall on the estate, but this is run by the NT as a Youth Hostel. This was the terms of the agreement that saw the estate pass to the control of the National Trust in 1934. The intriguing Church of the Holy Cross is open to all. Saxon in origin it was renovated and restored twice, once in the 17th century and again 200 years later, but the smell that greets the visitor is one of great age.

The hall was built in 1546. Its location and ambience made it very popular with many notable visitors, including Lichfield's own Dr Samael Johnson who, never stuck for words, left off compiling his dictionary to write a novel whilst hosted on the estate.

In 1820 the estate was bought by Jesse Watts-Russell. With the hall came most of the village and Watts-Russell set about rebuilding the village to remind him of Switzerland. He also built the village school in 1857.

Ilam school




Saturday, 18 March 2017

Althorp - Northamptonshire

My first visit to Althorp was just before it began to be a popular tourist attraction. The estate had existed since before the days of the Domesday Book but the current owners - the Spencer family - didn't take over until 1508.

Everything went well for several centuries. The family grew in wealth and the original red brick Tudor house was gradually converted into something more grand. As the family prospered they built up a huge and valuable art collection and one of the finest libraries anywhere.

But things got tough and in 1978 it was decided to sell off some of the collections, especially the books. By 1992 a lot had gone and it was decided that tourists should be attracted. We were invited for the first time on part of a car launch in the Midlands. It was there that we learned Althorp is pronounced Althrop, and that goes back to the beginnings of the estate, when it was spelt quite differently.

Those of us who were lucky enough to make those early visits could see that there was plenty to attract visitors, but something was missing. The most famous member of the family was one Lady Diana Spencer and it was she that first brought attention to the Spencers, especially when she married Prince Charles and became Diana, Princess of Wales.

When Diana tragically died and brought the whole county to mourning, her brother decided to create a memorial in the grounds, and that has become a mecca to thousands who still adore the Princess.



Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Alfriston Clergy House - Sussex (thanks Brian)

This is a charming house to visit, but not awe inspiring. What does make it a bit special is that it was one of the first properties bought by the recently formed National Trust. That was in 1895.

The house was originally built around 1350 by a farmer for his own use. Described as a Wealden cottage, it is timber framed and thatched. In 1395 it became the property of the Church and was the home of the local vicar for several centuries.

In 1800 it was decided to divide the cottage into two. This proved to be a mistake and by 1885 it was considered to be demolished. In 1890 it was declared derelict, but some admirers fought to have it saved. Eventually the NT was involved, and the house was gradually improved without destroying its history.

The house sits within pretty gardens and an orchard, and anyone in the area should also take time to take a look at the nearby Church of the Good Shepherd.

Church of the Good Shepherd

BN26 5TL

Monday, 13 March 2017

Wakehurst Place - Sussex

Being down in Brighton and Hove, it wasn't much of a stretch to visit Wakehurst Place. We should have done this much sooner, and certainly will again. It is one of those places you can visit often throughout the year and never see the same scene twice.

Wakehurst Place is an official Botanical Garden. This is because it houses the Millennium Seed Bank and is a branch of Kew Gardens, although under the banner of the National Trust.

Life on the estate started before the Romans, but it was in 1205 that William de Wakehurst took control of the 465 acre estate. We don't know anything about his accommodation. We do know that in 1463 the estate passed to the Culpeper family and that work on establishing a mansion began around 1520, but was not deemed comp[late until 1590.

Today the 465 acres are divided into themes and seasons. Amongst the various gardens and woods are the Winter Garden, Walled Garden, Southern Hemisphere garden, Water Garden, Pinetum, Himalayan Glade, Westw23ood Lake, Horsebridge Wood (where bluebells will abound in April), Bethlehem and Coates Woods.

Today we saw no more than one-third of what is to offer. What we did see was lawns of cyclamen, rhododendrons that won't be out back home for another six weeks, azalea and camellia, amongst many others.

We will be back.

RH17 6TN