After the Lakes District the plan was to head north to near Carlisle and then across country, taking in a bit of Hadrian’s Wall. The drive I did and got to Haltwhistle for lunch. But, could I find the toilets? In a word, No! So I thought, “There’ll be one at one of the main Wall places.” And there probably was – but I missed the turn-off. So on to Corbridge to ask at the tourist info centre. Could I find that? Only after driving three miles into the countryside and back again! After the woman got off the phone to someone (complaining about her job!) I was directed to the local loos. While desperate by this stage I couldn’t dash in – had to take care: Wet Paint signs!! By this time I’d lost interest in the Wall but I did drive on comfortably to my next destination …….
I’ve loved The Angel of the North since I first saw it as aerial shots as part of the intro sequence to a Howard Goodall music series many years ago. It took a while to get there. In first and second gear all the way passing Newcastle and Gateshead. It was one of my very few rainy episodes but even bedraggled it was wonderful to stand at the Angel’s feet.
Later, leaving Northallerton, was my first meet-up with Lynell – at Burghley, a relatively convenient place for her and one that I could find without getting too lost! Lynell said there isn’t much inside so, trusting her judgement, we caught up walking through a water garden (couldn’t have one of those in Oz!) and the sculpture park. Both highly recommended …. places you could keep returning to if you were a local.
Leaving Witham-on-the-Hill I went to Belvoir which I enjoyed very much. Bell towers in England often house the large mechanism that drives the clocks you see on the outside of those towers. Seeing a couple of people working on a similar but not quite the same mechanism, which was in the middle of the room, I asked where the clock face was only to be told it was for the safe – one of those glass case jobs …. and there indeed was a priceless pitcher and bowl. I said where I had seen those similar ‘clock’works and I was asked, ” Do you know X?” “Yes!” I said. It turned out that this man had advised on the possible installation of an old clock in the Swan Tower in Perth. Small world!!!
It was then on to Hardwick – the only real mistake in my planning. Maybe I was working from old information or maybe I was just confused – not difficult! But it turned out the two days I was in the area were the two days Hardwick is closed. So I drove through the grounds, giving right of way to sheep and cattle!, then on to the Chatsworth farm shop at Pilsley where I bought some rather yummy goodies for tea.
Next day I had a quick look at Southwell. I was going to spend more time at the Minster but it was chock full of primary school children in umpteen groups participating in all imaginable activities to learn by doing about history, the church, etc. It was great to see the space being used but it did mean I got away pretty promptly to head for Haddon. This is not exactly a beautiful house to look at, not bad either, though. The setting however is glorious and the house itself of proportions that you could imagine living in. There are family connections between Belvoir and Haddon so it added to the experience because I could remember seeing things only the day before at Belvoir that linked to Haddon. That time distance is important …. the old brain doesn’t retain too much for too long!
You have to realise also that much of the driving between these places is through the most beautiful countryside. From Haddon I chose a route that was especially marked as scenic in my road atlas – well worth the detour. Getting off the marked scenic route I then took the long way to my next overnight stop with Tony & Rini at Thrumpton …. but that was definitely not intentional 😉
And the last non-ringing ‘notable’ before reaching London was a short stop at Oxford. Oh those Park-and-Ride services are such a relief! A bus took me from the outskirts to the middle of the city – no worries about parking or getting lost!! A walk through the centre took me to the home of Jenny & John’s son Mark. He wasn’t there but his partner Isabel was. We had a lovely hour and a half chatting over coffee – at a nearby cafe because work was being done on the house: it’s amazing the amount of space you gain by replacing a swing door with a sliding one.
And so to Luton to return the car after two weeks of sometimes interesting driving 😉 It took me two attempts to leave the airport and two attempts to leave Luton when I collected the car. I got it in one for both on the return journey!!