Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Medieval Meanderings

My but we were lucky with the weather yesterday.

It was the day of the annual Medieval Market in Chesterfield and I had arranged to take the day off to go and investigate with my friend Bea (who is on leave for all of this week). I haven't been before.

And the sun shone.

All day!

And it was lovely and warm.

In fact, it was probably just as well that I had arranged to meet Bea in Chesterfield, otherwise the temptation to stay and potter in the garden might have overcome my investigating and exploring inclinations.

I met Bea by the church and, while I was waiting for her, watched the doings in the medieval encampment in the churchyard. It was all very exciting. There were people wandering about in medieval dress. Although I don't think it was very medieval to be smoking or drinking coffee!!

Tuesday isn't usually a market day, though there are one or two vegetable stalls which are permanently there. Yesterday the market square was bustling. There were bric a brac stalls and more tombola stalls than you could poke a stick at and craft stalls and second hand book stalls and all sorts. It was great fun. I bought two hand potted mugs and some stationery and - a hand knitted finger puppet dalek!!!!! There were men on stilts wandering about and nearly a public execution in the market square. There were also fairground rides for the smaller children. Not in itself very medieval, but the concept of playing during the fair certainly fits! It was really rather nice. And warm. And sunny.

We went to look at the museum, where there was a man demonstrating the medieval art of book making and a lady showing us how to weave. There are also lots of information boards about the history of Chesterfield (I knew there had to have been a Roman fort there - the "chester" bit of the name tells you that. I had no idea where it had been, though. Or why. Do now!) The main exhibition at the moment is of pottery. They're doing a Christmas exhibition in December. Must remember to go and look.

Then Bea and I took ourselves to the Chandler pub. It started advertising organic food not all that long ago. It also has real ales and real ciders. The food is lovely, and quite adventurous (Bea had a pork and apple burger with roasted new potato "chips"; I had a three bean salad with toasted pita bread and dried tomatoes). We sat outside in the smokers' garden (it is now illegal to smoke in enclosed public spaces, which includes pubs, clubs and bus shelters with three sides - so the one heading into town from Tupton is smoke-free, having three full sides and a roof; the one opposite is not, having only one full side and two little tiny bits of side and a roof). There weren't many smokers out there and the sun was shining and why should the smokers have all the fun? I must say, though, it is a great pleasure to walk into pubs now. They smell of beer and wine and food, and you can see from one side of the room to the other. The only pubs which are exempt from this new rule are the pubs in Stoke on Trent. Apparently, the enforcement of this law is a council rather than a police matter and the council in Stoke forgot to vote themselves the right to issue on the spot fines! This now has to wait until they meet in August!!!!!!!

So. Two bottles of rather strong cider and a bean salad later, we went into a card/gift/furnishings shop I have long thought looked interesting (It is - I deeply covet the extendible oak table; a mere snip at just under £400) and I went home on the bus, intending to play in the garden. Instead, I sat in the dining room and played with the lap top. I bought a "new" keyboard on eBay and had installed it in the morning (a surprisingly easy task). So nice to have a laptop with a space bar. And an X key. And, more especially, an S key which had vanished from the equation last week.

All of our vegetables last evening came from the garden and the allotment. Potatoes, little zucchini, carrots, broad beans and peas. And very tasty they were, too.

Normal service is restored today. It is raining. I hope it stops or slows down by Saturday. We are supposed to be going to Wiltshire/Dorset (the cottage is just inside Wiltshire; Shaftesbury, the nearest town, is just inside Dorset). Gloucester and Tewksbury are still more or less under water. So is Upton on Severn, where we are planning a long weekend pub crawl with Bea and Steve in the spring. Hopefully, it will have dried out by then! At least the M5 has reopened. People travelling along in last Friday night got stuck and had to stay on it all night!

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