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Published: December 18th 2007
Tucked away in the Peak District, Derbyshire and southern start of the Pennine Way ... a ridiculously long walk
If it's a weekend then it must be an opportunity to head out of London and see some more of this country that is England. This weekend that meant a trip to the North of England and visit to Manchester! Admittedly of my weekend, not a great deal was actually spend in Manchester itself - I slept there and I ate there and outside of that ... I didn't really do much there. Bruce kindly invited me up to spend the weekend and organised a virtual slew of activities to ensure that I got to see the best bits of that part of the world, namely the Peak District and parts of Yorkshire! Manchester itself was saved for the saturday evening when we experienced the joys of the Manchester Christmas Markets and the Gluhwein (german mulled wine ... yes I know it's england) and the joys of the curry mile.
Friday after work I hoped a tube to Euston Station to catch the train to Manchester. This people is an experience in itself - as most of the seats are reserved, as soon as the platform number is announced there is a mad rush as everyone races to secure one
A little stone marvel
of the "available" seats. I watched everyone take off at a run and thought "...when in London" so I also went for a bit of a run down the platform, although as I'm not the most co-ordinated of people and I was wearing boots with heels, it was a slightly more sedate "trot". Well success was mine and I joined a happy bunch of English peopel (yes they do exist) in a 4 seat/table arrangement, which was perfect for my ongoing quest to speak to as many people as I can wherever I can. My 3 companions were a botox doc and a couple of students and they were all absolutely lovely. We had a great laugh on the way north and they even pointed out the window lights of the Wedgewood porcelain factory (we couldn't see the sign as it was on the other side of the train up high a bit). Apparently you can get some great prices on items from the Wedgewood factory shop so if you're in the market just head north of London to Stoke-on-Trent and bob's your uncle.
Eventually made it to Manchester Piccadilly, was met by Bruce and back to his place
The mist had started rolling in so you lose the opposite hills ...
- a lovely modern apartment right in the heart of the old fabric district (all apartments now) for a chat, a cuppa and a reasonably early night as we had a big day planned Saturday - a trip to the Peak District.
Saturday dawned beautifully with a clear blue skys and only a hint of cloud way over in the sky. Now apparently this is extremely unusual for this part of the Country, and alas it wasn't destined to last, but it was lovely while it did. We jumped on the train heading to Sheffield ("city on the move"), and after about 45 minutes just after passing through a long, dark tunnel we alighted along with half the train at a tiny village of Edale in a green valley in the heart of the Peak District in Derbyshire (lots of hills, grass, sheep, etc). This little place which seems to consist of 2 pubs, a couple of houses and the village church is a very popular launching spot for a bit of a ramble through the dales. "Rambling" appears to be a very British activity, which is basically going for a hike. Edale is actually the southern start of
a little more accurate a pic
see all that lovely cloud ... and to think it started out so blue
a walking track known as the "Pennine Way" which stretches 429 kms north to just over the Scottish border. Now that was a little ambitious for my Saturday visit, so a ramble through the hills and dales had to suffice. The countryside is just beautiful, completely different from southern England let alone Australia.
The main difference is the lack of trees, except in some folds of the hills - up high there is just wet, green, lush grass giving way to heather which doesn't look like it's good for much. The sheep happily live in the smallish fields (by our standards) seperated by stone walls and gates. As there is a public footpath through all this area you pass through specially created gates at every division. There was something wonderful about being out in the Country after a couple of months of city living. I loved the space and relative lack of people - the odd mad mountain bikers trying to kill themselves and groups off rambling - but in general just you and sheep!
After a couple of hours of walking (Bruce) and slipping and sliding (me) we arrived back at the Old Nags Head Pub slightly
Green and lush
Couldn't get much futher from drought afflicted Queensland
caked in mud and ravenously hungry. This was lucky as the lunches there were massive, the service friendly and the beer cold! Having a bit of time to kill before the train Bruce and I pulled out one of the many board games and I got slaughtered (twice) in 20 questions. In my defence I got "Victor Hugo" and "time", Bruce got "a cow" and "a wheel" - I believe this was the highlight of the weekend for him.
Back to Manchester, then off to the Christmas Markets in an attempt to catch up with some friends of Bruce's but they got distracted by Champagne and Panto (we couldn't get tickets) so after a couple of Gluhweins, time with the singing moose and getting jostled by the entire population of Manchester (all going for Gluhwein) we admitted defeat and headed the the Curry Mile for dinner. Now I know Manchester is a party town, but all that slipping and sliding had tired me out so it was back to Bruce's for a DVD - It's been that long since I've just chilled in front of a DVD - it was heaven.
Sunday was another big day as we
I said Baaa ... they ran
picked up a car and took off for the Yorkshire Dales, via Boots as I seem to have come down a bit poorly - darn cold. This of course meant I delayed our departure until Boots opened at 11, but eventually we made it via a slightly circuitous route to the little village of Haworth in the Yorkshire Dales. This village's main claim to fame is the home of Bronte family known to all you litterati as the sisterly authors of such classics as "Wuthering Heights" and "Jane Eyre" (don't remember what the other one wrote!). Of course it was bitterly cold, up on a hill with strong, cold winds blowing so ... yep ... into the Kings Arms
for a traditional roast beef sunday lunch (my UK first!) After lunch we had a wander through the village and the church/graveyard. There's something about old gravestones that I find fascinating, maybe it's that they are often just so darn old compared to back home, especially when some of them predate Australia's founding!
The drive to Haworth had been through many of the stark, grey but incredibly populous Northern towns. These places are amazing - the roads are almost continuously
Lots of frozen water
lined with housing butted right up onto the road, while behind you can see open fields or rows of terrace houses open and exposed on the hills. Most of the architecture is grey stone - even the new build stuff has the same look. It's almost as if colour is banned from North England, except for the greens and browns of the ground. The drive back we went a different way through the moors. These are so cold, windswept and empty and as we drove up and over you could see the first patches of snow on the ground. They are incredibly beautiful to look at, the heather just slightly tinged with a light dusting of snow, the rich brown and gold giving way to the green, divided fields with a few head of sheep roaming around. Well worth the drive to see such a beautiful corner of the UK - definately need to do more visiting.
Sunday night I trained it back to London, once again taking the opportunity to converse with my fellow passengers, along with providing homework and life advice (all of which I'm sure was gleefully ignored) to a young fellow heading back to drama
That's Bruce behind
school in London. My advice, which I think we can all benefit from, is ... if you get famous don't be a wanker, don't do drugs and don't get involved in weird arse pseudo religions like scientology or kabbalah ... and I think on that note of "wisdom" I will leave you all until next time. Merry Christmas and a safe New Year
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