Those of you who know me well know that it is as much about the journey as the destination. Therefore a necessary trip to Manchester, which I have never knowingly visited before, led to a 2 night stay and a drive through the Peak district to get there. Always enjoy a scenic route rather than motorways if not in a hurry.
We had to stay overnight before our appointment at TLS as our appt was at 9.30am and it’s about a 3 hour drive from home. We broke the drive up with a couple of interesting stops.
Firstly we stopped at Bolsover Castle near Chesterfield. ‘Perched on a ridge above a vale, Bolsover Castle is an extraordinary aristocratic retreat, containing exceptional wall-paintings and interiors’. Founded in 11th century it was seized by the Crown in 1155 but was neglected from mid 14th century. The ruins provided the setting for the Little Castle, begun in 1612. The Terrace and Riding House Ranges were then added making Bolsover a place for aristocratic entertainment. King Charles 1 & Queen Henrietta Maria visited in 1634 when lavish entertainments were provided for them. The decline started in the 1680s and was hastened when the Bolsover Colliery was opened in 1889 causing mining subsidence. After WW2 it was given to the ministry of Works to stabilize the fabric and it passed to English Heritage in 1984.
The exterior was most impressive with stunning views of the castle grounds and the landscape beyond from the walk around the walls. Internally the restoration works are excellent and we found a most knowledgeable volunteer to talk to us about the history of the Castle. In the King’s bedchamber (only used for the one royal visit!) there are 2 anterooms – one showing that hedonism will lead to hell – and the other showing celestrial ‘fun’, with Jesus in the centre dancing! So it begs the question ‘does it matter if you go to heaven or hell’ because you will have a good time in the hereafter either way.
So we really enjoyed Bolsover Castle and our walk around the walls.
Then onto Bakewell – famous for Bakewell tart and, apparently, Bakewell pudding. We found the recommended tea rooms which bake said delicacies to the original recipes and ordered a pudding to share. Delicious!
We spent a quiet evening in our somewhat basic Ibis hotel room rechecking our forms (had to have individual dosiers) ready for the morning excitement!
It took a while but we were finished after about 2 hours and headed for the Lowry Centre.
The Lowry Galleries and exhibition were superb. Really enjoyed seeing the extensive range of art produced by L S Lowry.
Laurence Stephen Lowry ( LAO-ree; 1 November 1887 – 23 February 1976) was an English artist. His drawings and paintings mainly depict Pendlebury, Lancashire, where he lived and worked for more than 40 years, Salford and its vicinity.
Lowry is famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial districts of North West England in the mid-20th century. He developed a distinctive style of painting and is best known for his urban landscapes peopled with human figures, often referred to as “matchstick men”. He painted mysterious unpopulated landscapes, brooding portraits and the unpublished “marionette” works, which were only found after his death.
His use of stylised figures, which cast no shadows, and lack of weather effects in many of his landscapes led critics to label him a naïve “Sunday painter”. (extracts from the Tate London)
We also crossed the bridge over the now defunct Manchester ship canal. Strange to see this huge waterway which was built when Manchester was a major port, only being used by a few kayaks, paddleboarders and open water swimmers. We made a short visit to the Imperial War Museum North. Horrific to note the similarities between the Hitler regime and Putin and Russia now. Frightening.
In the evening we had a super meal at the Pier Eight restaurant before going to see ‘Paul Merton and Chums Impro’ at the theatre. A most enjoyable end to our day. Always good to have a belly laugh or two after a hard day at the visa centre!
Returning home, via the scenic Peak District again, we stopped in the picturesque (but very busy) market town of Castleton and visited Peveril Castle. It is a spectacularly sited castle, started around 1066, high on a ridge above the town. The sheer drops all around would have provided excellent defence from attack. there are breathtaking views over the Peak District’s hills and valleys.
We wandered around the town, had lunch at a local hostelry and headed for home to await the outcome of our visa application.
Fingers crossed my next blog will be from France … and very soon!