The Beast of Bolsover

As the weather was better than expected today, an excursion to Bolsover resulted. The castle, managed by English Heritage, is fascinating. Sir William Cavendish’s riding school, dating from the 1600s, is possibly one of the reasons why Great Britain is so good at the Olympic sport of dressage horse dancing today. The little castle is beautifully preserved, and its wall paintings are unique survivors from the pre civil war era.

The Little Castle, BolsoverI can’t recommend a visit heartily enough, especially as since the last time I went sometime in the 1990s they’ve opened a visitor centre and cafe. The cherry scone was great and the coffee will definitely put hairs on your chest. Which is perhaps just as well. For at the bottom of the Venus fountain lurks a shocking sight. The Beast of Bolsover, no less. Please look away now if you’re of a nervous disposition.

The Beast of BolsoverDon’t say that I didn’t warn you!

Two to three hours is plenty of time to walk around the castle and grounds at a reasonable pace. An excellent video guide is provided as part of the £10.20 (adult) / £6.10 (child) entrance fee. Grown-up and family friendly commentaries are available.

B5023 Duffield to Cowers Lane

While Italy were busy losing at rugby, I decided to take Gnu out for a run around the Derbyshire countryside. The day was overcast, but warm enough for me to manage with just a fleece, scarf and the heating. This was the most enjoyable stretch of the route – three and a half minutes of B road twistyness between Duffield and Cowers Lane.

I didn’t even bother to stop for the bargain bacon …

Carsington eight: a Seven driving route

Here’s an enjoyable driving route around Mid Derbyshire. Especially on a cold but sunny Saturday in February in a Caterham 7. What other way is there to travel?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My route map is below, just in case anyone is interested in replicating the experience. I can recommend Kedleston Hall, Carsington Water’s Visitor Centre and Middleton Top as places to visit on this route if you’re not in a hurry …

Caterham 7 ownership – 3 months in

Towards the end of August, I realised a long-held ambition of becoming a Caterham 7 owner. Six months earlier, I’d walked into the Bookatrack dealership at Donington Park, specified a yellow 270S (series V, as I’m too big to fit comfortably in an S3), paid my deposit and walked away, hoping to forget all about it until I’d safely completed my MSc. I couldn’t, naturally. Time that I should have devoted to my research was spent clearing out the garage and building a shed.

By the time I take the 7 back for its 3 month checkup this weekend, I will have covered a little over 600 miles, mostly on short trips in and around Derbyshire. It will then stay tucked up in its hutch over the winter as I’m led to believe that road salt and aluminium don’t mix all that well. I’ll be counting the days off on the calendar until it’s safe to emerge again.

After I’d ordered the car, I decided to splash out on a personalised registration for it. This is something I’ve always sworn that I’d never do, primarily because people who buy them and then deliberately misrepresent the mark are one of my pet hates. But, in for a penny, in for a pound I suppose. The C7 part of the registration chose itself, but the letters – GNU – go back to my very first car. A yellow Skoda S110L.

GNU 706N

Gnu I

I’m hoping that the colour will be the only thing they share, as gnu I was temperamental, to say the least. I remember the pain of the breakdowns (usually in really inconvenient places, like the hard shoulder of the M1 at 1am or in the middle of the Severn Bridge), the first time someone ran into me and the police coming to see me when something unsavoury had been stuck onto his rear window. But I also remember him with a great deal of affection – something I’ve not really felt about a car until gnu II arrived.

Gnu II has so far proved to be reliable, even if I’ve been slow in learning to use a clutch properly again, causing much hilarity at traffic lights. The lack of driver aids and the occasional feeling of being ever so slightly out of control at times definitely adds to the fun – and reminds me, in a good way, of gnu I. Anyway, I’m sure you’re more likely to be interested in pictures of gnu II than gnu I, so here are some from our recent adventures

Gnu II - Ashbourne, November 2016

On the road between Leek and Ashbourne last weekend

At Mercia Marina

At Mercia Marina

Looking through the windscreen (complete with dead fly) over Kedleston Hall's parkland

Looking through the windscreen (complete with dead fly) over Kedleston Hall’s parkland

Gnu II has been a great introduction to Caterham 7 ownership. I grin stupidly every time I get behind the wheel and start him up. I’m looking forward to continuing our adventures in 2017 – which will hopefully include the North Coast 500.

10,000 steps a day – day 18 – Hardwick Hall

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Derbyshire. So Jane and I took a quick hop up the M1 to Hardwick Hall – one of my favourite National Trust properties. You can spend a whole day here, as there’s the Hall, Old Hall, gardens, walks around the estate and the tea rooms to keep you busy. Especially the tea rooms. We decided to do the Sculpture Trail (in blue) – around 2.5 miles. While the walks are all well signposted, the free leaflet is helpful too.

Hardwick Estate MapIt’s quite steep in places and because we were taking in the views, our progress was rather sedate.

The WalkAfter all that exertion, a cream tea with lashings of ginger beer was most definitely called for.

Cream Tea

© 2016 Jane Holyoake

Followed by a walk around the Hall’s gardens.

Hardwick Hall

© 2016 Jane Holyoake

And a doze in a thoughtfully provided deckchair.

Deckchair

© 2016 Jane Holyoake

I recorded over 16,000 steps even with the deckchair interlude, not to mention a quick blat in brum gnu later.

 

If you’d like to sponsor me to walk all over cancer during September, my donations page is here. Thank you!

Spondon in 1962: outside of the centre

As a follow-up to the 1962 Spondon village centre photographs I posted here last weekend, these are the remaining images from the same film that were taken elsewhere in the village.

The first is the junction of Willowcroft Road with South Avenue.

Willowcroft Road - South Avenue 1962Willowcroft Road sweeps round to the left. At the top of the hill is the junction with Sitwell Street. Two photographs were taken here, the first looking to the left. The spire of St Werburgh’s church is visible to the right of the large tree in the grounds of The Homestead.

Willowcroft Road - Sitwell Street away from centre 1962The second is taken from approximately the same place, but looking to the right of the junction. The Co-op (which I remember as a supermarket from my childhood, but is now a funeral parlour) is visible in the background.

Willowcroft Road - Sitwell Street to centre 1962The next photograph is taken slightly further along Sitwell Street. The building immediately on the left is still there today. However, the buildings next to it have been replaced by houses and, I think, Spondon Village Hall.

Sitwell Street 1962Turning right here leads onto a lane that brings you to Moult Avenue. The houses shown in this photograph are there today, but the surrounding area on South Avenue was later developed for housing, so it all looks rather different now.

Moult Avenue 1962I assume that the next photograph is looking back towards Sitwell Street from this lane, but confirmation would be welcome!

Unknown Spondon 1962The final photograph is of Potter Street. This is facing away from Hall Dyke, with the Malt Shovel Inn just out of sight on the right. The houses in the background were demolished and replaced some years ago.

Potter Street 1962

Spondon village centre in 1962

These photographs of Spondon were taken by my father in 1962. Most of the village centre remains recognisable today, albeit that the businesses have mostly changed.

The first photograph is a view of the village centre looking towards Chapel Street. The edge of the White Swan pub is just visible on the right hand side. The halt markings have long since gone, replaced today by a mini-roundabout.

Spondon Centre towards Chapel Street 1962The second photograph is another view of the centre, looking directly towards the White Swan. The House Agent is now a fish and chip shop (and has been so for as long as I can remember). The zebra crossing and its Belisha beacons belongs to a bygone age, replaced by a pelican crossing more suited to today’s traffic conditions.

Spondon Centre towards White Swan 1962While the first two photographs remain largely recognisable today, the next shows significantly greater change. This is Chapel Street, looking towards the location that the first photograph was taken from. The buildings on the left hand side were demolished and replaced with a shopping precinct sometime during the late 1960s or early 1970s. The buildings near the lamp-post and bus stop on the right hand side have been replaced by Chapel Street Medical Centre, a chemist and other shops.

Chapel Street Spondon 1962The final photograph is of Moor Street and Spondon Liberal Club. The Liberal Club is still flourishing today. However the buildings to the side of it were demolished to make way for a car park and extension.

Moor Street and Spondon Liberal Club 1962

Pauline Latham MP was seduced by Leave’s propaganda

Pauline Latham, my MP in Mid Derbyshire, wrote an article for the Derby Telegraph just a few hours before the EU referendum. In it she finally came out for Leave, stating that she’d carefully studied the pros and cons of membership. However, it would appear that even a professional was seduced by Leave’s propaganda, which if nothing else shows why no-one should blame the electorate for coming to their decision based on the series of half-truths they spread. Some of these, including the claim that the EU has never signed off their accounts, are naturally repeated in her article.

Leaving the half-truths aside, it’s the conclusions she makes that call her judgement into question most. Here’s an example:

One of the strongest arguments for remaining in the EU is that it provides economic security and offers the UK stability and a strong position in the world as part of a powerful trading and diplomatic bloc.

 

Ultimately I think such arguments undersell the strong position of the UK in the world and the clear power and potential we have to remain in this position. With more heat than light being generated in the debate about our place in the EU has everyone forgotten that 170 countries exist outside it? To say we cannot succeed on our own is wrong.

I’m not sure that any sane person would suggest that the run on the pound, the turmoil in the stock markets, the flight of capital from the UK economy and the downgrading of our credit rating that has resulted since Thursday is success. Maybe she’s hoping that things will get better? But hope is not a strategy.

She also claimed that one of the reasons for leaving would be to take back control over immigration. Her fellow Leave campaigners have been furiously rowing back from that assertion of course, and I wonder if she had realised that residual migration in Derby (of which her constituency covers part) meant that the population declined by 200 in 2013/14?

I’ve met a lot of shell-shocked people in Oakwood and around the city since the result was announced. People are naturally concerned about their prospects, pensions and livelihoods.

Now that Leave have won the debate, I think she owes it to her constituents to explain in clear terms what the plan is to restore prosperity. If she is unable to do that then she should apologise now and make way for someone who can.

More photographs of Spondon Garage in the 1950s

It would appear that my father had a mild obsession with Spondon Garage in the 1950s. I’ve found a few more photographs that may be of interest to those who remember the place before it was demolished to make way for housing.

The first I can date very precisely, as there was an index card with the negative. It was taken at 5.45pm on 23rd June 1951 – a Saturday. There’s someone on the forecourt, but other than that it looks deserted. Not many garages are at that time on a Saturday these days! It’s also interesting to see different brands of fuel represented at the same garage – Shell, Esso & BP Power.

Spondon Garage 23-06-1951 1745The next photograph was in a box marked 1953 and although at first glance it looks very similar, the Esso pump from 1951 has been replaced by one serving BP fuel and there’s also a shelter for the attendants on the forecourt (which wasn’t present in the photographs I have from 1952). Business also looks to have picked up a little!

Spondon Garage 1953The final two photographs from 1953 show the view from the forecourt, the first of which looks towards Willowcroft Road. This view seems very similar to how Nottingham Road appears today. You can also see that the garage has a National branded fuel pump. My own earliest memories of Spondon Garage are from when it sold fuel under the National brand (who would ever forget their merchandising tie-up with the Smurfs).

Nottingham Road to WIllowcroft RoadFinally, a view looking in the other direction towards Derby. The traffic island leading towards British Celanese look very well-tended, with a number of smart ‘Keep Left’ bollards. On the right hand side of the frame you can just make out the Westminster Bank sign. This building still exists today but is now a private house. What’s very noticeable by their absence are the houses that now exist on that side of the road leading from the bank to where the traffic island with the A52 dual carriageway is today. Oh, and of course, there’s hardly any traffic to be seen.

Nottingham Road Spondon - view towards Derby

1 2