|Birthday balloon that arrived by post, courtesy of Alex and Rob|
It’s official, I am now of a certain age! I can get 10% discount at B&Q on Wednesdays but, sadly I don’t get a free bus pass for another 3 years and I won’t get a state pension for another 6 years. I’m nestled neatly between two prime number ages, the last time until I reach 102. If you haven’t guessed, I’m now 60! To celebrate, Pauline came up to stay with us in Derby while we housesit TC and we’ve had three full days with her.
|Jackie and Pauline in front of Caulke Abbey|
On Wednesday, shortly after her arrival we were off out to Calke Abbey, an early eighteenth century grade I listed country house standing on the site of a medieval religious house. It was owned by the Harpur family for nearly 300 years before passing into the hands of the National Trust. At the time they acquired it, it had decayed considerably and the Trust have deliberately left much of it as it was, calling it an un-stately home.
|Jackie, Pauline and Brian with afternoon tea at Calke Abbey|
It’s got considerable grounds as well as 100 rooms in various states of decay and clutter and we spent a good 4 hours there until closing time and could have spent much longer. The trust employ many volunteers in their properties to entertain and enlighten people as they walk round the various rooms, so you do learn a lot and it makes it very interesting.
|The gardens at Calke Abbey|
|Brian, Martyn, Pauline, Jackie, Annabel, Roy and Jean|
On Thursday we went off to Lyddington in Rutland, Leicestershire to see Martyn (Jackie’s uncle, Pauline’s brother) and Annabel. Martyn is a farmer and has lived all his life in Bicker in Lincolnshire in a huge house that had been in the farming family for generations, but they have now sold it and bought a fabulous seventeenth century stone property in this small village now that Martyn has gone into semi-retirement.
|Martyn, Annabel and Ella|
They bought it three years ago, extended and completely refurbished it, but we hadn’t seen it. Roy, an old friend of Martyn’s, and his friend Jean also came down. At 83 Roy is a former policeman in the Bicker area and has now been retired for 33 years. He’s still pretty fit and as lively as ever, so the seven of us had a fabulous day out. Lunch in Martyn and Annabel’s local restaurant, that appears in the Michelin guide, coffee in the warm afternoon sunshine, a walk round the village and then a guided drive by Martyn past Britain’s longest railway viaduct, the 1275 yard long, 82 arch Welland or Harringworth viaduct, constructed in 1878. Great to see them all again, including their 11 week old puppy Ella that I think is a flat coated setter, very friendly and bouncy!
|Their lovely house in a fabulous village|
|Afternoon walk through historic Lyddington|
Friday (today) we took Pauline to Dovedale, a beautiful valley (Dale) in the Peak District cut by the River Dove. It’s a deep wooded valley with limestone cliffs, a good path alongside the river, very scenic and also very popular, so we parked the car and joined the crowds with their children and/or dogs on the stroll up river. We’ve been here in the past carrying all our climbing gear as the limestone crags offer some excellent climbing, usually with a lot a spectators as the crags are very close to the tourist path, so it always made us feel pretty good (as long as you didn’t fall off)!
|Brian, Pauline and Jackie had a go on the zip wire in the park|
On the way back we deviated off on another walking path to Ilam with its Swiss style houses, park, church and IIam Hall, which is now a youth hostel. It’s a great location for a youth hostel with a multitude of walks straight out of the front door and we wondered about organising a trip there with our friends at some point in the future.
That’s it for now, my sister Denise and Paul are here tomorrow for the weekend so need to get this done before there’s more to write!
|The 82 arch Welland railway viaduct|
|Martyn cuts a fine figure of a man. Not bad for 69!|
|The stepping stones of the River Dove in Dovedale. There's two Paulines and three Jackies on those stones! Clever stuff this Panorama maker software I have!|
|Jackie and Pauline on the walk to Ilam|
|This little chap with the funny wool coat was having a lazy chew of grass|
|The swiss style houses in Ilam|
|Ilam Hall, now a youth hostel|