Sunday, 29 August 2010

Catch up II

A couple of weeks ago, we went on travels of sorts and these are some of places we visited.
A few weeks back we saw a news item on regional TV which included an art gallery in a place called Draycott, which is on the road from Nottingham to Derby, if you go via Long Eaton and catch a Trent-Barton 'indigo' bus. The gallery was called the 'Beetroot Tree Gallery', where we arrived about noon and spent a good hour looking around and talking to a couple of ladies attending a silver jewellery workshop, then we had Homity Pie for lunch in the gallery's café.  I didn't take any pics, but as we made our way back to catch the bus home, we decided to walk along the main street and saw these two lovely shops, which look as if they belong to another age.
Across from the shops was this old bank, which has been converted into a home. It looks as if the archway on the left has been filled in, which suggests that the bank must have had an impressive front — ideal for sheltering from the rain.
As we arrived in Draycott, we passed this old factory building on the bus — which is why we decided to walk back down the main road. All the pic shows is the front one-third of the building. It seemed to stretch back for ever.
This was as near as I could get the front of factory in order to take this pic. Any closer and I would have chopped parts off. I found some more pics on flickr, together with a history of the building. Below the front facing clockface, the name 'Jardine' can be seen. The building was/is known as 'Victoria Mill' and was built between 1888 and 1907 and was, originally, a tenement lace factory. By any measure, an impressive sight. We are planning a return visit nearer Christmas, when I will take pics of some other Draycott buildings.
Another recent trip was to Donington-le-Heath Manor in Leicestershire. We had not visited this preserved medieval manor house for over twenty years and it has, how can I say this without sounding as if I was a little disappointed, changed — not on the outside, but…
…on the inside. When Susan and I first visited the building in the 1970s and then again in the 1980s, its interior was devoid of fitments and furnishings. It was if one occupant had left and the house was awaiting the arrival of someone new. I loved this emptiness. Now, though, someone has moved in and every room is furnished and 'interpreted'. There is also a free hand-held audio guide available, with an informative room-by-room commentary. Nothing is left to the imagination and this approach was obviously popular with other visitors and children as we walked around the house. Catching snatches of "Ooh, I wouldn't have like that. Would you?" and "Do you think the clothes were really this heavy?" and children delving into dressing-up boxes.
Twenty years ago the view from the window was also different. The frontage was less ordered, more open and, in a way, hinted at the fact that this was almost certainly a working manor — not much different to most farms today — and the view from the window would have reflected that. Now, it is tidy and ordered with a kitchen garden, lovingly attended by volunteers, including the Chair of the Manor Friends' Group, who was working in the garden throughout our visit. Again, it would be churlish to complain about this approach. It obviously works.
One thing though had not changed — the café in the barn next to the house (which you can just see through the window in the pic above this one). The food was excellent and it was just relaxing to sit there for an hour eating wholesome food and, in my case, drinking a pint of real ale. Susan and Judith had tea. This is a side view of Donington-le-Heath Manor House, which now has a small maze and, as we wandered around the building, I picked cherries from trees laden with fruit and thought that I would be here, picking cherries for pies and jam today — not in the kitchen garden.

We will go back again, of that I am sure. The day of our visit was during the summer school holidays and it was a 'Pirates' Day' for kids, so the manor house and its grounds were full of hyped-up youngsters careering all over the place, laughing and bellowing as loud as their lungs would let them. In truth, if I had to choose between the manor as I remembered it from a long tome ago and how I experienced it this August, the private me chooses the former, but the community me chooses it full of kids. A wonderful day out in good company.
Later the same week, we went across to the Black Country to spend the afternoon and evening with Susan's elderly aunt and uncle, who we had not seen for nine months. On this visit, Susan had a plan — to get them talking about their childhoods and other members of the family. She succeeded, but that's a story for Susan to tell.  We decided in advance to have lunch on the way and to find a Black Country fish n'chip shop, so I did a little searching on the web and found the 'Sub-station', which had been given some good reviews. Being between Walsall and Wednesbury, it was just a few miles from our final destination. We were not disappointed. The service and food were excellent and staff friendly.To cap it all they had actually had Worcester Sauce, which is what I like with fish n'chips (otherwise, a strong brown sauce). We will go back again nearer Christmas and arrange to meet there with other family members.
You may be wondering about the name "Sub-station'. The chippy is actually located in an old Midland Electricity Company building which was once a sub-station and in the side wall, there is this memorial to MEC sub-station workers who went off to fight in the First World War, never to return. The fact that it is still there makes the building special and is another reason for a return visit.


A volcano has erupted on the Indonesian island of Sumatra for the first time in four centuries, sending smoke 1,500 metres into the air and prompting the evacation of thousands of residents.

1 comment:

Rosie said...

I too found the manor house different on the second visit ( a few years ago now) I remember the first time it being colder.emptier and more open than the second time - I quite liked some of the rooms being 'fuller' but it did spoil others as the emptiness gave more atmosphere and made you use your imagination. Loved the cafe both times - excellent food:)