Monday, September 28, 2015

Walking part of the Monsal Trail

Induction week went fairly well, in the end.  We all saw hundreds of new under-graduate students and dallied with post-graduate and returning students. It came and went in a more or less orderly manner.  Proper teaching starts this week, although I don't have many sessions scheduled.  Next week will most certainly make up for that!!

I don't think we had necessarily intended to spend Saturday morning destroying the spare room. I had intended to empty the wardrobes, drawers and bookcase and throw a load of stuff away and sort some things to go to the charity shop.  The spare room is next on the schedule for redecoration and we decided that we could do to get rid of some of the furniture in there. It's a big room to say that the house is more cottage-like than mansion, but it is definitely quite cluttered.  The Builder was assuming that we would smash the furniture up and put it on the skip that I hope will be arriving at our place shortly. But we have some friends who have just bought a house and are quite short of furniture.  The Builder decided that Saturday morning would be a good time to liberate the wardrobes which were screwed to the walls, and finished with pretty skirting and cornice-like things.  Nate and Duncan are coming with a van this evening to take everything away, then I will sort through all the stuff which is now lying about randomly on the spare bed and put some away in new places at our house and put some aside for the charity shop. The rest can go in the skip.  Or the next one, for I fear this one will fill up very quickly!

We did have plans for Sunday, which dawned chilly and foggy and gloomy.  Fortunately, the fog eventually lifted and the sun came out and the temperature warmed up.  For Tabitha, Gareth and Cally dropped round mid-morning and picked us up and we all headed off to Monsal Head for a walk along the Monsal Trail,  follows an old railway line which was closed in the late 1960s. You run across platforms and old railway buildings and other interesting little things. And once you get to the trail it's quite easy walking. Getting down to it is more fun from Monsal Head. It is at the bottom of quite a steep drop, which has had steps cut into it but they're quite uneven and quite deep in places. At one point I lost my footing and ended up sitting on one of the steps.  Cally was a bit worried that if Gamma needed a rest after such a short distance, how was she going to manage when we actually got going?!?!?!?!?  Getting back up on our return was considerably easier.

We couldn't walk far yesterday.  We had a table booked for lunch at the Packhorse Inn, where you may remember we tried to go a few weeks ago but were thwarted by a lack of available tables.  So we went as far as the end of the first tunnel (or the middle of it, in my case - I am not a big fan of tunnels, much to Cally's astonishment) before turning back ready for our lunch.  We'll do a longer stretch next time, perhaps from Hassop, where you can hire bicycles. And electric cycles :-D

Lunch was magnificent.  If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of the Packhorse, I heartily recommend that you call in (having had the foresight to book a table first).  The Builder and I had simply wonderful plates of roast beef with all the usual trimmings.Tabitha had belly pork.  The chips that came with Cally's fish fingers were amazing.  Gareth had a buffalo burger.  I have never previously eaten buffalo so had to try a bit, and it was lovely. I shall have buffalo the next time I see it on a menu.

And then we drove out on an adventurous route (because none of us had ever been along those roads before) to Millers Dale, where the station is now a Peak District National Park rangers' base and where there is also an ice cream van in the summer.  We might have been attacked by ice creams!

You will find the photos I took of our walk if you click on the picture of the Monsal Dale pub sitting atop the cliff that we were at the bottom of!

Click here for the full photo album

I'm glad the fog lifted yesterday morning.  It wouldn't have been half as nice walking the trail in the fog.  Although it would have made dodging the bicycles an interesting challenge.  It was foggy again this morning as The Builder and I made our way to the coach station at 7:00.  Autumn is definitely with us, although the trees haven't properly started to change colour.  They're thinking about it, though.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Builder has been busy

We've got a skip coming on Monday

We're going to put all the bricks from the drive in it

And this sad looking shed with its contents

It needs to be fully dismantled by Monday morning

And The Builder needed to take advantage of a long dry spell

He's been busy inside as well

And this morning we destroyed the spare bedroom

The wardrobes, chest of drawers and bookcase are all off to a loving new home

It was more difficult than we expected moving the wardrobes out the way

And The Builder wasn't pleased to find a complete lack of skirting boards behind them

The furniture is being picked up on Monday.  And the skip may well find it gets lots of stuff added from the haul we got from emptying all the wardrobes and the bookcase.  The charity shop might get some stuff as well!

We should maybe have thought about moving all the furniture from the upstairs front bedroom BEFORE The Builder decorated the stair well!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I had a fairly quiet week last week.  Nothing of any great note happened. It was largely uneventful.

It was a fairly uneventful weekend too. We did a bit of shopping, a bit of pottering, a bit of not very much.  The Builder watched the Grand Prix.  I peeled the last of the eating apples and mixed them with some Bramleys to make an apple crumble.  There are, I am happy to report, no more eating apples to consider.  There is, however, a tree full of Bramleys waiting for attention :S.

The sun shone and the wind blew lightly. I did do several loads of washing, but I didn't do any of the garden digging I had intended to do. I've ordered some more hellebores and some jonquil bulbs, plus I am intending to take advantage of the supermarket's offer of lots of daffodil bulbs for not very much money and I need to get the beds ready for them.  There may be time this coming weekend.  I hope!

And while we were busy doing not very much over the weekend, the students at Sheffield Hallam and the University of Sheffield came back for the start of the new academic year. It's Enrolment and Freshers' week. The pace of life at work is picking up. Lots of inductions this week and next. A positive flood of workshops throughout October.

And tonight the new year of Japanese classes starts.  I have done more over the summer than I generally do. I've been listening to podcasts and looking at study books and more or less keeping my hand in.  But I haven't done all the things I was intending to do.  I haven't nailed katakana as I had hoped. And I haven't kept up with my grammar, nor learned the vocabulary that I had set aside.  Ah well.  There's always this term :-S  A New Year's resolution at the start of autumn!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Another visiting Australian

I had occasion to take the train home last Thursday afternoon and realised how very much I have come to take for granted the comfort, the peace, the restfulness and the free wifi that is offered by the X17 bus.  It might take 40 to 50 minutes to get me from work to the Chesterfield Coach Station, but it is a very pleasant way to travel.  The train, on the other hand, is noisy, uncomfortable, crowded and definitely not restful.  It only takes 15 minutes or so to get from station to station, but it is nothing like as pleasant - plus it is more expensive and you have to pay for the wifi.  I returned to the X17 for my daily commute on Monday with great relief!

So why was I on the train on Thursday?  Simply because it is very much quicker. And I wanted to be at home in good time because Irene, our Aussie/Scottish friend who we met in Richmond a little while ago, was coming to stay the night fresh from the successful completion of her Coast to Coast walking adventure.  I quite fancied being at home in good time, ready to greet her in an unflustered manner, and with dinner well and truly under way.  In fact, I had put together a slow-cooked beef bourguignon the previous evening, which had been happily simmering in the slow cooker all day. But I wanted to finish it in the oven, plus, of course, we needed potatoes and veg to go with it.

We had a lovely evening (well, I did; I hope The Builder and Irene did as well).  We had lots of food, plenty of wine and much chatter.  Then on Friday morning Irene caught an early-ish train to Glasgow, near where her sister lives, and The Builder and I had a relatively lazy start to the day - for I had taken the Day Off!  We stirred ourselves, as the day progressed, to go to the Peak Fireplace shop in Clay Cross, where we have set in train the purchase and installation of a wood burner to replace the hole in our lounge room wall that we made about a year ago when our curiosity about what was behind the tiles where the fireplace used to be got the better of us.

Saturday saw us at Bishops' House. It was a Heritage Weekend in Sheffield and lots of places that aren't usually open, or which have very restricted public access were open to people on Saturday and Sunday. That meant that lots of people were out and about doing Historical Things.  We had loads more visitors than we usually would have on a Saturday morning.  On a typical Saturday morning that was as wet as last Saturday was, we might expect precisely no visitors!  Amongst our visitors was an actual real live bishop!  A real one!  Accompanied by the local vicar and a few acolytes. I'm not sure where he is bishop of - I didn't think to ask him.  Not Sheffield, I think. He definitely seemed to be a visitor.

And the rest of the weekend passed fairly lazily.  Even fairly sunnily.  We were a bit surprised when the fitter from the fireplace shop dropped by on Sunday morning to measure the chimney breast. We were even more surprised when I went down to take advantage of the sun and hang the washing out, and The Builder went down with me to do something in the poultry run, to find Marlo sitting on the water tank by the shed, enjoying the sunshine.  Our surprise was because we didn't think he could get up there now that his back legs don't jump very well.  I also wondered how he was going to get back down, and planned to go and lift him down when I had finished with the washing.  I have no idea how he did get down, but all of a sudden he was sat by my feet!

The new fireplace isn't coming until mid-October.  I want it NOWWWW!!

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

A fairly quiet few days

... with no visiting Australians.  Unless you count Tabitha who is indisputably Australian but doesn't really count as a visitor as such. She, Gareth and Cally are Family Who Visit rather than actual visitors in my mind.

The Builder didn't have an entirely delightful week, it must be said.  In addition to executing his sideways rolls in Richmond on Tuesday, he was also stung not once but TWICE by a wasp which objected to him picking all the eating apples off our tree.  Then the consequences of rolling around at his age became apparent as his knee swelled up and became quite an interesting colour.  Then he discovered that his hand was also now objecting quite loudly.  I think things are looking up a bit now, though.

The consequence of him picking all the apples from the eating apple tree meant that something had to be done with them.  So I cleared out the freezer (again!) repacked it VERY carefully (again!) and created a bit of space.  Then I spent all of Sunday morning peeling and chopping apples, both eating and Bramley and mixing them together and putting them in plastic boxes for the freezer, ready for making apple pies and crumbles and cakes during the winter.  It was something of a relief when Tabitha, Gareth and Cally called in on their way home from the Chatsworth Country Fair later on Sunday afternoon for a late lunch or early dinner, depending on how you look at it.  I fear, though, that I am going to have to spend quite a bit of time this coming weekend dealing with apples.  There is still a tray load of the eating apples left - and they won't store as fresh apples for long.  Plus we have hardly made a dent in the apples on the Bramley tree.  I must acquire some jars from somewhere for making apple sauce.  There definitely won't be room in the freezer for all of that lot!

So things are trundling fairly quietly along for the moment.  The Builder has been amusing himself with concrete.  He's concreted over the bit of the drive which used to have that overgrown garden mound on it.  He's also concreted over a tatty bit of ground by the garden door.  And, in a change from that, he has lifted the carpet on the staircase ready to paint up there.  We have been considering putting in a "runner" of carpet up the middle of the stairs (a very old fashioned thing to do!) but I think for the moment we have decided not to.  The landing floor (in our view) looks beautiful just painted - and it's very much lighter on the landing without the carpet.

Another week or two of peace and quiet.  And then we hit October.  And we all know what October is like in the world of British Universities!

Still waiting to be eaten.  Or processed. And there are more to come

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

A Long Weekend (and Visiting Aussies - Parts the Third and Fourth)

It was quite a busy weekend, all told.

On Saturday morning I made a cake and stewed some apples, and made some savoury pastry and simmered some onions and sliced loads of vegetables.  On Saturday afternoon we went to Bishops' House and then went shopping.  On Saturday evening I assembled an apple cake, and a raised ham and vegetable pie and even made a little something for us for tea.

We got up quite early on Sunday.  We cleaned the house and tidied up and prepared some home made crumbed chicken nuggets and The Builder picked loads of beans and scrubbed loads of potatoes.  We set the table and got prepared. And we spoke to Stella and Tony and Lindsey and Ian who were recovering in Melbourne from the family celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the family in Australia. And then more Australians came to visit.  In person.  At our place.  

When we went to Fiona and John's place last Sunday for Sebastian's birthday party, Jane (the visiting mother) had expressed a wish to come to our place to see the garden and the allotment.  so we invited them all to lunch.  John had other plans, but Fiona, Sebastian and Jane came round to help us eat the chicken, the raised pie, the roasted potatoes, the beans and the apple cake.  And they managed to view the garden and even the allotment before the rains set in.  So we didn't have a new set of Aussies visiting, but it was a first visit for Jane (and Sebastian) to our place.  Fiona had been before, although some years ago. 

But there was one more Aussie yet to visit.  Although she also counts as a Scottish visit, holding, as she does, both nationalities.  But she lives in Geelong, so when Freyja came back from Melbourne after Christmas and said that  Friend Irene was doing the Coast to Coast walk in the summer and did we think we might be able to catch up while she was loitering more or less in our corner of the world, we said yes.  And then promptly forgot all about it until Freyja reported back to us in May or June and said the dates were now set and what did we think.  There was a rest day scheduled for Richmond on the Tuesday following the August public holiday. Freyja, Simon and I could manage the Tuesday off.  Tabitha, alas, could not. But the rest of us arranged to meet Irene in Richmond on the Monday evening for dinner, booked ourselves into accommodation for the Monday night and left Tuesday to sort itself out, depending on the weather.

It is just as well that The Builder and I had a conversation about travel arrangements a couple of weeks ago.  He was puzzled that I hadn't already bought the train tickets.  But you can't get to Richmond by train. We'll take the car and pick up Freyja and Simon on our way past.  "What do you mean you can';t get there by train?  Of course you can" "No you can't. The train line closed decades ago.  A Beeching cut, I believe"  "No, no - you can get there on the underground"  Realisation dawned.  "No, no.  We're not going to Richmond in London.  The Coast to Coast walk doesn't go via London!  We're going to Richmond in North Yorkshire.  In the car!!"

And so we did. We all registered in our various digs for the night (Freyja and Simon in The Unicorn; The Builder and me in the Castle house). Then we went for a wander around the town and along the river.  Then the gentle drizzle became more persistent and we took refuge in the Town Hall Hotel, where Irene met us after she had walked in to Richmond, located her accommodation and had a shower.  We decided to stay in there to eat. My pie and chips was remarkably nice!

Tuesday dawned bright and sunny, so we went to the Richmond Castle for the morning and had a great time mooching around. Then we made our way down to the old station which is now used to house a cinema, a bakery, a micro-brewery, various other things - and an eatery where we had lunch. And then we made our way back to where we had parked the car (no parking in the town centre during the day for non-residents), along the river.  The Builder caused something of a consternation by turning his ankle in a small hole by the path and executing what I have to say was a spectacular series of sideways rolls down the hill towards the river.  Fortunately he only broke one bottle of three artisan beers that he was carrying and not any bits of himself.  But he does have some interesting bruises and scrapes! And, of course, only two of the three different beers we had bought in the micro-brewery for him to try!

Irene has continued her way on the Coast to Coast walk today.  Simon, Freyja and I have returned to work.  The Builder in his guise as the Under Gardener has been picking fruit and vegetables for us to try and squeeze into our rather full freezer.

And Cally has started school today for the very first time.  She finished at the nursery where she has been going since she was nine months old on Friday. Today marks the start of a whole new life for her.

Simon took these two photos at the Castle yesterday:

Freyja, me and Irene.  

Click on Freyja and me to get to my photos