Thursday, 24 August 2017

Where has the summer gone? Derbyshire – August 2017

Brian belaying Rob up a climb
Where has the summer gone? Both ours time wise and weather wise! The last week has been just as hectic, Rob and Alex from the climbing club arrived lateish on Friday night, so not being keen to cook that late we tucked into baked Camembert and cheese and crackers over a good chat and a glass of wine! Up, not very early, for a leisurely breakfast before heading off to Harborough Rocks, in Leicestershire, but the closest place to here. We were just trying to decide if it was raining or not, when up pulled Phil (owner of Maggie cat from previous Housesits in Solihull) with two novice climbers. We'd seen his email plea for victims to help him complete his SPA climbing qualification, but we were busy. They'd got rained off at The Roaches, so decided to try Harborough. It has a gentle walk in, and some short climbs. Rob soloed a couple, Brian led a couple, going off route on both, followed up by Alex and I before the rain came in, we sheltered in a cave to eat our first sandwich before deciding it had eased up enough to run for the car! What next? Well obviously a pool competition in the pub. Can we play pool? Not very well, but we had a good time! Back home to Stimpy, fishpie and a slightly earlier night. 

Harborough Rocks. The figures on the summit in the centre are Phil with his novice climbers.
Playing pool in the pub. Rob, Alex taking a shot and Jackie
They headed home as although they have had no hot water for over a year, even Rob decided fixing the loo in their house was a priority! He succeeded. Hurrah! We chilled with the Sunday paper for an hour before heading to Fiona and James's for a big birthday bash, Jenny was 13 three days before, Abbie 19 three days after. Fiona's is a week before and Brian and Steph a week later, so much eating, chatting and singing. It was lovely to see everyone.

Alex checking routes at Harborough Rocks before it started raining
Brians 3 grandaughters, Jenny, Becky and Abbie holding great-niece Ivy
Monday we had off, except for readying ourselves for Denise and Paul on Tuesday/Wednesday. They arrived bright and early, and fortunately the mist was clearing so after tea and cake we set off to try and do the walk B and I did the other Saturday, but this time correctly. Failed again, but closer! (it’s the badly marked, overgrown and sometimes missing paths, not our navigation!) Back via the pub for fish pie, (guess who made a job lot and froze half of it?) 

Lunch in the garden. Jenny (13), Becky (17), Abbie (19), Ivy (6 months) Sam (over 18), Jackie (well over 18)
The birthday cake baked by Steph, candle from the pound shop!
Wednesday B was determined to get to Lathkildale as recommended by Tim and Jill. About an hours drive so hopefully the mizzle and mist will have cleared..... not quite, but we set off anyway. It was actually good walking weather, and once it did finally clear as we ascended from the river valley, good views too. So 9 miles, with some up and down (Denise doesn't 'do' up and down) added to the 6 1/2 from Tuesday and we all felt very virtuous.

LtoR: Jackie, Steph (hidden behind Jackie), Ivy, Becky, Jenny, sister Denise, daughter Fiona and Abbie engrossed in her mobile phone
Paul, Jackie and Denise on Tuesdays walk round Hilton
Today cleaning, packing and blogging, oh and trying to finish the jigsaw B decided it was a good idea to start on Monday, so better go! (It's an evil one by the way Abigail!)

The almost correct walk round Hilton with Denise & Paul:
Denise wouldn't lie down on the railway track!

Which was just as well as, not long after one of several trains came by. This one was a Class 37 diesel. Only Tim and a few people know the significance of this particular type of train - I won't go into details here!

Outside the church at Marston-On-Dove
Drinks at Generous Georges in Hilton afterwards. Unfortunately Jackie couldn't have alcohol as shes on anti-biotics, so we made up for it!
Lathkildale early on in fog and mizzle
Jackie winding the handle to generate lighting power in the old mine pump house at Batemans House, Lathkildale
Paul at Lathkildale
Heading off to find the source of the river Lathkil...
And here it is. Unfortunately there is very little water, due mainly to all the old lead mines in the dale that have diverted most of the water into the underground passageways
The middle part of the walk. The weather had considerably improved, the sun was out and it was warm
The latter part of the walk near Conksbury Bridge near Alport in Lathkildale
Out of the Dale near to our start at Over Heddon looking back down into Lathkildale
Denise takes a 'selfie'
Chilling out sheep
A cheeky Robin on the wall at the Lathkildale Hotel where we stopped for a pint after the walk
Our Lathkildale walk:
What a sensible use of largely disused public telephone boxes. This one contains a defibrillator
A few photos of Stimpy and, the main reason we are here, to look after Tim and Jills house and Stimpy
I had been to take the bin out, down the drive past the gate, only to find Stimpy had followed me out
She followed me all the way out and all the way back
Hurrying me up on a few occasions
Alex got a stroke too (proof that women can do two things at once!)
We're looking after the wild birds too. They eat an unbelievable quantity of seed
Brians home-made blackberry ripple ice cream. Highly calorific but fabulous!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Hilton, Derbyshire – August 2017

Tim and Jill's lovely house
Our summer in the UK is whizzing by and what we thought was going to be a lazy month in Derbyshire looking after Stimpy cat while Tim, Jill and family are on a long holiday in Australia is disappearing rapidly.

After the first hectic week here with Tim, Charles, Caroline and Pauline (Jackie’s mum) it quietened down a lot. Tim went off to Oz to meet the rest of his family, Charles, Caroline and Pauline went home and we had nearly three weeks ahead of us to relax, but we’re now nearly at the end of the second of those weeks and have done little relaxing, yet we can’t list many things that would indicate we’ve been busy.

A present for us from Stimpy cat
That moment of doubt before submitting the assignment!
It’s true that a lot of the time was spent studying and writing our final assignment for our TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification, while attending to every whim of Stimpy cat. She likes to spend a lot of time asleep during the day on one of the chairs upstairs either in Tim’s study or, higher up on the top floor on Ellie’s office chair, but then she’ll wake up demand food, fuss and to be let out, then in again, fuss, let out, back in, food and ‘oh I see you have a computer on your lap, I’ll just climb up, shove your computer out of the way and settle down on your lap’. She’s full of character and very talkative and we think she quite likes us now, particularly as we’re prepared to cater for her every wish!

Tim, we need to have a word! You may be tall...
On the TEFL front we did finally submit our assignments and both passed with quite high marks. We sent them in on Thursday 10th and were told it could be up to 5 working days before we heard. We both opted for the scenario of taking a class of 16 teenagers (13/14 years old) of low intermediate level that are on a short holiday lesson in England, Jackie chose her subject of teaching them how to use the London Underground and expanded into some pronunciation and grammar, I chose to use a trailer for the new Emoji Movie as a listening exercise with follow on pronunciation and grammar.

Jackie had her results back on Saturday morning and she passed with 85%, finishing her course with an average mark of 91% over the whole course, so she is now a fully qualified teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Fantastic mark, well done.

Stimpy relaxing with us
I had to wait until Tuesday to get mine back, with plenty of time to doubt if I had chosen my subject well and whether I’d have to do it again. In the end my result was 81% for the assignment and 87.75% for the whole course, so I am also now a fully qualified teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Very relieved to pass and very happy. The assessor didn’t particularly like my choice of the Emoji Movie trailer, thinking the language in the trailer difficult to follow and probably above the level of the students, but he liked my exercises and overall thought I’d planned it well. He’s right in his comments and one of the reasons I was doubtful of my subject choice. However, it’s over with now and we can move on, keeping the qualification in reserve should we wish to teach anywhere in the world in the future.

And sleeping with us
On the old railway track
We’ve been out on our bikes a couple of times, doing 17km rides from the house here and partly along a dismantled railway line with a loop back round the roads and we’ve been on a local walk of 11km along difficult to follow public footpaths, which became quite challenging from a navigation point of view, but very picturesque.

Bike rides 1 and 2:
Fabulous selfie!
Twice we’ve been back to Birmingham, which is only an hour away (outside of rush hour traffic) for medical appointments for both of us, mine was at the Queen Elizabeth hospital for a skin check-up as part of my on-going appointments for the Lynch Syndrome I have. They found a lump on my top lip and did a biopsy of it there and then, cutting it out and putting a stitch in it. A bit unexpected that, so now I have to go to the nurse at the doctors surgery here in Hilton village to have it removed tomorrow. It’ll only be three days and they said to leave it five to seven, but last time I left one for six days and it was difficult to remove, so better earlier than later. Anyway, I just want it out!

On our 11km walk
Our 11km walk:
Whilst in Birmingham on one of the visits we also managed to squeeze in a house viewing for my nephew Nick, who is looking to buy his own home in Kings Heath. We took Ian with us, after lunching with Helen and spending the afternoon waiting to see how their extension is coming on (looks good but a long way to go!). Ian has up to date info on DIY jobs and, although this wasn’t the right house, needing too much work, it gave Nick a really good insight into what to look for in houses, so hopefully he’ll find something soon,

Lunchtime beer and snack at Generous Georges in Hilton
My daughter Fiona and James came over on Sunday last and we had a very pleasant Sunday lunch and a good chat that went on into the early evening, making them quite late to get home. This Sunday we’re seeing them again with the rest of the family for a birthday party, Fiona’s was last Tuesday, granddaughter Jenny who will be 13 (or is it 14?) and eldest granddaughter Abbie who will be 19. Photos to follow in the next blog.

Finally saw Hedgehogs Scampy 1 and 2 in the garden
We have one more week here housesitting in Hilton, with a visit on Tuesday and Wednesday from my sister Denise and Paul, where we’ll hopefully get out walking if the weather is kind. Then, on Friday we’re heading off to Edinburgh, Scotland to see our friends Simon and Diane for the Bank Holiday weekend. Busy, busy, busy, but we’re loving it.

Beer and fabulous locally made sausage roll at the Hawke and Buckle
Today we went on a 24km bike ride to Mickleover and a loop back with a stop off at the Hawke and Buckle pub in Etwall for fabulous real ale and the best locally made sausage roll we’ve ever had. The sun shone, it was warm, nice easy ride along the old railway track then out through country lanes in lovely English scenery and a stop at a traditional English pub for local beer and food with friendly staff, well, it’s what life is all about!
Todays 23km bike ride:

A stop on our bike ride to wave to new new calves in the field
Picking blackberries in Tim and Jill's field to make Blackberry Ripple Ice Cream - fabulous!

This is Tim and Jill's field and that's their house. They own all of this!

Their lovely farmhouse style kitchen complete with Aga

Yes, and we haven't forgotten you Stimpy. Do you want to go out, have some food, want a bit of fuss or just to be left alone? Yes, OK, we'll just leave you alone then until you want us!