Saturday, 24 October 2015

Are we meeting our Goals?

Are we Meeting our Goals?

When we set off on this expedition one of our aims was to take regular exercise.  With this in mind we planned to either cycle 20 miles or walk 5 miles on at least 5 days of the week - I think for the time being the exercise bank owes us some!

20th - 22nd October 2015

Not much to say about Tuesday - it was another moving/shopping day -  this time to Teversal Camping and Caravan Club Site in Nottinghamshire (one of the best we've stayed on so far).  We came here specifically to spend the next couple of days with our friends Sharon and Paul, and to indulge in a little of the said exercise - and we certainly did that.  The site is surrounded by miles and miles of walking and cycling trails many of which are former railway routes, and on the whole, they are fairly flat thus making them perfect for our 'little' outings.  Also, as an added bonus, Sharon and Paul know this area like the back of their hands, so for the next couple of days John will be completely let off route planning and he'll be able to sit back and just enjoy the ride - all 40 odd miles of it on the first day and 50ish on the second -(but we didn't know it would be quite that far when we set out!)

On Wednesday we all met up on one of the many trails,  just a stone's throw from the site, and headed off towards Skegby and on to Sutton in Ashfield. We passed Kings Mill Reservoir (and saw Mr Large Rat), and then continued down  The Timberland Trail and on into Mansfield where we threaded our way through it's little back streets.  Our goal was Vicar Water Park near Clipstone and this provided a lovely picnic spot, happily in nice warm sunshine, and of course, with the usual ducks for company.

Near our dining area we noted this large Golden Hand - a 10 foot sculpture that was specially commissioned as part of the Sustran's National Cycle Route which runs through the Park. It is also said to represent a miner reaching out of the ground because the land used to be part of Clipstone Colliery.

After lunch we whizzed along through Sherwood Pines and then onto Birklands near Edwinstowe - we later found we had ridden within about half a mile of the famous Major Oak - a place we've visited several times previously.

We then picked up Sustran's route 648 which heads over to Market Warsop and Shirebrook and this formed part of the loop that returned us to the Teversal trail at Pleasley.  Unfortunately it was here that we found a fair bit of mud and water  - along a bridle path that Sharon and Paul fondly call 'Puddle Lane'.

Luckily Puddle Lane was fairly easily negotiated without any of us getting our feet wet, and it didn't take us much longer before we were safely back in the T4rdis.

However, our day didn't end there! Sharon and Paul had kindly asked us round for dinner which turned out to be a gorgeous mushroom Lasagna with garlic bread, followed by apple cake and custard, and all washed down with a lovely drop of red🍷. Our evening quickly passed with us talking about past and future adventures, and eventually, our chauffeur (Paul) took us home just after 11pm so that we could have an early ish night in preparation for the next days jaunt!

Old Pit Site - Still generating power - of the Solar variety

Thursday was to be a day of learning - about the Bramley Apple.  We set off again heading for the Bramley Apple Trail which leads to Southwell - the home of the Bramley Apple.   To start with, we followed much the same route as the day before until we got to Clipstone Forest, and from here we picked up Sustran's Route 645 which took us to Bilsthrope.

However, just before the village we stopped for lunch and could see huge thick black plumes of smoke rising from a building that was obviously on fire.  We also heard several explosions and saw lots of emergency vehicles rushing to the scene.  We later learnt that it was  a farm building that had gone up and that gas cylinders stored there had exploded resulting in flames that reached 30 feet high, however happily, although people had to be evacuated nobody was injured.  

After lunch we continued on our way, and the trail we were following passed within about a 100 metres of the fire, but luckily, the wind was blowing the smoke away from us so we were able to continue without inhaling anything horrible, and eventually we arrived in Southwell.

We arrived in total ignorance of the town's history and architecture - but we were soon to find out much more about it all!  As we entered the town there was a big banner declaring it to be the home of the Bramley Apple, and said Apple was a major feature in many of the  shop window displays.  This turned out to be because it was their annual Bramley Apple Festival on the 24th - an event we will plan to attend.

With regard to the history of the Bramley Apple it is said that it was first cultivated in Southwell over 200 years ago, and the original tree still bears fruit in a private garden on Church Street.  Apparently, in 1809 a young girl planted some apple pips in her garden and one of them grew to become the first Bramley apple tree.  Later the cottage was sold to Matthew Bramley, and as the tree had thrived and was producing lovely fruit it was noticed by a local nurseryman who wanted to propagate it by taking grafts.  Matthew agreed to this on condition that if the fruit was to be sold commercially it would bear his name, thus today we have the Bramley apple - probably one of the most famous pie fillings in England, and I think it's safe to say this sweet treat is certainly one of John's favourites!

The other big WOW  of the day was the sudden appearance of  Southwell Minster.  Obviously, it's been there for a very long time, but John and I were completely unaware of it's existence until we arrived at it's gates. It's quite breathtaking, and it's quirky architecture took us completely by surprise, but sadly we didn't have much time to explore because the outbound ride  had taken quite a while and we already knew, that with about 25 miles to ride home we would be returning in the dark!   However, this is't an unusual event when you venture out with Sharon and Paul!!

The Minster can trace it's history back to 1108 when plans for it's building were put in place by the King of Wessex.  The twin towers on the front were completed in 1170 but building work continued on various parts of the building over centuries.  It also suffered major damage to it's roof in 1711 when on November 5th a major fire destroyed most of it's roof along with extensive damage to it's bells and organ, and although it was repaired it wasn't until 1851 that  full restoration was commenced - and then the work took over 40 years.

Not sure what a monkey is doing up there!

Anyway, we set off on our return journey, and for the first few miles tiredness made it seem quite daunting and I wondered just how I was going to find the energy to pedal all the way back.   However,  after a few miles  Sharon came to the rescue by producing a calorie laden rich fruit cake which we ate along with steaming mugs of hot chocolate, and this provided a much needed boost to get us home.  And not only that, she also invited us for tea again - this time a huge shepherd's pie followed by more lovely apple cake, another drop of red and even a G & T to finish off with.  We'd had a fantastic (if energetic) couple of days with our very BESTIST friends, and at the end of the evening (or was that the beginning of the morning - it was 1am!) we were all a bit sad because we didn't think we would see each other again until maybe April next year.  So it was at this point that we decided to slip in a quick lunch date for the next day!

Friday 23rd October 2015

We still had a couple more days at Teversal but Sharon, Paul and some of their children were off on their jollies to Ireland  for the half term break.  They'd planed to leave as soon as the children finished school but as long as they packed quickly there was still time for lunch at The Hardwick Inn.  

John and I had planned to walk from the camp site, but to be sure of the route we'd had a quick chat with the campsite owner who'd kindly provided a map.  He told us there was a circular route we could take and that it was about 3 miles to the pub, however, if we completed the loop altogether our walk would be about 10 miles!  We didn't think we wanted to go quite that far but we set of following his advise for the first part of the walk, and it really didn't seem to take us very long even though we had to stop to admire the beautiful autumn scenery and to play on the equipment the National Trust provided for children in Lady Spencer's Wood

We all met up at the pub as planned and had a lovely farewell lunch before lots of hugs and kisses goodbye and then recommencing our walk.  

Old Hardwick Hall
As National Trust members we had planned to visit Hardwick Hall on our way back but this wasn't to be because it closed at 4pm and by the time we got there it was 3.30 and to late!   Never mind - there'll always be another time, and maybe it was a good job we didn't delay because whichever way we chose to go home we were still going to have a fair hike to get there.

We continued our walk by crossing several fields, and with some trepidation, because this critter was wondering about with lots of her mates - however, they mostly ignored us - good job she didn't know I was going to buy a stilton and long horn beef pie for dinner  the next day!

We eventually left the fields and came to the tiny village of Ault Hucknall where we found St John the Baptist's Church, apparently it has been there for well over a 1000 years and is referred to in the Doomsday book in 1087
We continued on our way along the Rowthorne Trail and then crossed several muddy fields to get back onto the Teversal Trail, and by this time we thought we'd walked about 10 miles,  - was this supposed to be our easy day?   Therefore, when we got back to Silverhill Wood we debated whether it was worth the effort to make the short but steep climb up the hill to see the 'Testing the Gas' bronze statue of a miner at it's peak.

We did and it was well worth the effort.  The sculpture shows every sinew and wrinkle of the miners body and is fantastic in it's detail, and that's to say nothing of the views!  They were very far reaching, and as it was quite clear we could see for many miles.
There was a dial mounted on a rock which pointed out landmarks along with there distance - in one direction we thought we could see Lincoln Cathedral and in the other Crich Stand.

We finally rejoined the T4rdis about 5.30, but after a huge lunch, I won't have to do much cooking for tea for the third day running.

Saturday 24th October 2015

Well, this has turned out to be a very very very exciting day.  WhatsApp messages started to arrive about 7am to say my Son's parter Louise had gone into the first stages of labour with our 3rd Grandchild.  At the time of writing we are still waiting with baited breath for babies arrival (5.30pm) but we've had updates to say they're all doing well!

Other than that, everything else pales into insignificance, it rained for most of the morning  so we stayed tucked up snug and warm, and very close to our phone in the T4rdis.  We did eventually venture out to the Bramley Apple Festival about lunch time but even that was a bit of a damp squib!  Almost as soon as we arrived the rain absolutely teamed down and the streets were soon mostly deserted.  We ventured into the Minster where an apple biased food festival was in progress, but would you believe - they had no cider or apple pies!!  We really  didn't see much else we wanted except the 'Longhorn steak and stilton pie' and we did buy Seville Orange and Liquorice Marmalade to have with our toast in the morning.

Oh, and still no baby news yet!

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