Written by Slug on 27 May, 2013
At my advanced age 30 years after my first gigging experiences, you might think going to see live rock music is something mostly beyond me (bar perhaps the odd 1980s Human League revival tour).While to be fair the thought of the large outdoor 3 day…Read More
At my advanced age 30 years after my first gigging experiences, you might think going to see live rock music is something mostly beyond me (bar perhaps the odd 1980s Human League revival tour).While to be fair the thought of the large outdoor 3 day festivals no longer appeal (it's the mud, toileting facilities and litter that I find most abhorrent), but one day extravaganzas with its mix of new bands to discover together with old favourites, still draw me in. At the end of the festival we can retire and lodge in a comfortable hotel and let the kids party 'til dawn elsewhere. One show we regularly attend is the end of May Dot to Dot Festival which has now been running each spring in the UK for 7 years or so. The Dot to Dot festival is reasonably priced with tickets coming in at £20 ($30) per person, and comprise of a choice of 50+ up and coming bands all playing at one of about half a dozen venues dotted around the city. It is very pleasant hopping from venue to venue and seeing a bit of band x and then vocalist y just down the street. The one day event hops between Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester on consecutive nights, with most of the acts playing all three venues. If you have the stamina the fun can be stretched out from the first act kicking off at around 1:30pm until 3:00am the following day. This year, I managed from 3pm until just after midnight. In previous years Dot to Dot has seen bands that have gone onto greater success such as Mumford and Sons and Jake Bugg perform. This year's headliners were the 1975, Dry the River and Tom O’Dell, and the set list overall had a distinct folk tinge to it this year, although there were rock bands to catch for a bit of variety too. Last year we managed to ignore much of the Royal Jubilee festivities by attending the Manchester bash, and this year we concluded the Nottingham event would be the best timed for us. The Dot to Dot even seems to get bigger and more popular each year, and we found Nottingham’s event to be busier than Manchester (no act that we saw failed to get a sizable audience, which was good for new artists wanting to showcase their offer). The downside is that if you want to see one of the headline acts then you need to get to the venue early to avoid a lengthy queue; this might mean you skip seeing another preferred band at a different venue. The venues veer from artists performing in small one or two room bars to doing their set in the large Rock City club in Nottingham with a capacity of 2,000. The other good thing about Dot to Dot is that it attracts a varied and relaxed audience; I didn't feel like the oldest swinger in town at the venues and we didn't spot any trouble anywhere (apart from one loon crashing to the ground during a crowd surf gone wrong moment). Hopefully I'll see you at Dot to Dot 2014! Close
Written by linzeeloulabelle on 26 Dec, 2011
Although I am not originally from Nottingham, this is now where I live because of university. I chose to come here partly for my course and partly because I knew there was a lot to do in the city. I couldn't think of much worse…Read More
Although I am not originally from Nottingham, this is now where I live because of university. I chose to come here partly for my course and partly because I knew there was a lot to do in the city. I couldn't think of much worse than being stuck living somewhere that you don't like or somewhere that you can't have much fun. This review will be about some of the things I love to do and see in Nottingham – some of the appealing aspects of the city. I love photography and even though it is only a hobby, this city is a photographer's paradise. Having gone on some quite random bus journeys to get to places, I have found some fantastic places. My favourite is definitely Colwick Country Park, which is about a 15 minute bus ride (number 44 from King Street) from the city centre. The park has around 65 acres of land, a massive lake and plenty of places to fish if that's what you're interested in. The woods and green areas are absolutely stunning and I could have spent days there. Having only been once so far, I want to make a return trip soon to see the park in a different season and to see how it changes what is there. My favourite night out is a Monday at The Forum. Monday nights here are student nights for Nottingham Trent University so unfortunately, most people aren't able to get in. Doors open at around 10:30 but my friends and I always get there a lot earlier, somewhere around 9:30. The queues are massive on Monday nights and if you don't get there early, you probably won't get in. The club always reaches capacity which is why people start getting turned away quickly. This does mean sitting in a pretty empty club for a little while but it fills up quickly and then the night really gets going. The Forum plays a great mix of chart music but mostly RnB which I love. I barely drink once I'm in the club due to dancing but the drinks are cheap on these nights due to who comes. Transport – this is a bit of a strange thing to really like about somewhere but it is for good reason. The transport links, whether it be buses, trains or trams, in Nottingham are fantastic. Although it takes me 2 buses to get to work and 2 buses to get to uni, all buses are pretty regular, most of them running every 5-8 minutes during the week. I have never had to wait around long for a bus except for on a Sunday when they can be a little bit of a pain if you are going from one side of the city to the other. If I had been back home, it would take me hours to get to where I needed to be so here I am really thankful for being able to get around easily. West Bridgford is the area of Nottingham where I live right now and I love it. The area, although a lot of students live here, is mostly residential and lovely and quiet. There isn't really ever any trouble here and it is more than safe to walk home at night. Not far from my house is West Bridgford town centre which has an Iceland and lots of lovely little small shops and cafes/ bars. On the other side of my house is a massive Asda superstore. This makes it extremely easy for me to go food shopping and also for me to go look at clothes. The clothes section in this shop is massive and they have a lot of choice, more than most Asdas I have been to. So there you go, a few things that I love about the city and why I like living here! Close
Written by MichaelJM on 03 Mar, 2011
Having enjoyed my circular walk I returned to Epperstone and Lowdham at a later stage to check out their two churches. Both were open although I think I was fortunate at St Mary’s Church, Lowdham, because they were preparing for a concert that evening. The…Read More
Having enjoyed my circular walk I returned to Epperstone and Lowdham at a later stage to check out their two churches. Both were open although I think I was fortunate at St Mary’s Church, Lowdham, because they were preparing for a concert that evening. The main door was securely locked but a member of the church, exiting from a side door suggested that I could pop my head round whilst they continued with their work. It’s a great country Church and I was hoping to confirm the story that I’d heard about many boy chimney sweeps being buried here. However, of the three church members present none could confirm my understanding that sweeps were committed to their final resting place in this church yard. Perhaps I’ve created this rumour out of my own imagination!It’s a pleasant enough church but its interior is nowhere near as interesting as the outside. Certainly the oldest part of this church is the tower, which apparently was built in the latter part of the 12th century. When this bell tower was first erected it stood clear of the then existing wooden church and although the tower is 12th century the spire would have been added probably as late as the 14th century. In the early 1800’s large western buttresses possibly as a response to concerns about the safety of the building although we all know the Victorians just loved to change and enhance churches in their own style.There’s plenty to explore in the immediate vicinity of the church and with a clear blue sky in evidence I set off to "kick a few leaves" around the graveyard, as I checked out the "architecture", before heading off towards the nearby stream that provides a superb opportunity for a gentle stroll.A few miles down the road is The Church of the Holy Cross at Epperstone which is high above the pretty main street which often has the sound of horses clicking down the road side. Access to the church is up a narrow flight of stone stairs and surrounded by a stone wall. The village is listed in The Doomsday Book as having a church and a priest but it is believed that the current site was used for worship back into Saxon times.The entrance porch is classic of its time and this great little church is simple but elegant. The original choir pews at the front of the church are a great place to sit to enjoy the light as it comes flooding through the stained glass window at the back of the altar. The only "relics" left are the bowl and stem of the font, the base being a modern adaptation to replace what I can only presume was damaged at an earlier date. The small grave yard has a number of mature trees making it difficult to get a full view of the church, but this adds a certain amount of charm to this rural church. If you’re in to checking out "grave yard architecture" (a euphemism for grave stones) then Epperstone has a good variety many with readable text which helps point towards the history of the parishioners.Both of these villages have retained their "rurality" (although Epperstone moreso) and setting off for a walk around these churches you’re almost guaranteed some peace and tranquillity. Close
Written by MichaelJM on 26 Nov, 2010
A friend and I decided that we’d, in our retirement, enjoy a few leisurely circular walks breaking halfway through the walk to stop at a local hostelry. Seemed like a good idea to me and as he was prepared to sort out the route (he…Read More
A friend and I decided that we’d, in our retirement, enjoy a few leisurely circular walks breaking halfway through the walk to stop at a local hostelry. Seemed like a good idea to me and as he was prepared to sort out the route (he has been a keen walker in his day) I sat back and waited for the phone to ring. And ring it did with the plans for a 6-mile walk (approximately and depending on the number of errors he made with the directions) around a couple of local villages.We set off bright and not too early on a crisp autumnal day with the promise of some brief showers of rain later in the day. We, however, hoped to be home, and hopefully dry by the time the forecast threatened the rain. A short car journey took us to the start of our circular walk and we parked up on the main street of Lowdham, donned our walking gear and then set off up Mount Pleasance for the start of our walk. Now we’d had a few soggy days over the last week so I was expecting the ground to be a little "damp" underfoot, but neither of us had planned on some of the waterlogged ground that we were about to encounter on route. I hadn’t fully realised that most of the walk was off road so we were following a well signed countryside walk across fields, over stiles, and along narrow walkways that were also used by horses. I was grateful that my friend seemed to know where he was going because although there were plenty of "yellow arrows" on route none of them indicated where they led to. I followed like a sheep and just enjoyed the journey. As we walked past some angry looking cattle I made sure that I kept the far side of my friend and at one point I felt sure that a cow was going to "take us on". She flared her nostrils and stared us out, but graciously let us past before swirling her long tail and heading back to the rest of the herd.Having picked our way through a narrow trail to avoid standing in the "evidence of an earlier passage by horses" (well I am trying to be polite!) we had to stand to one side as another horse and rider passed us. There were some great views across the open Nottinghamshire countryside through the autumnal foliage and of course there were plenty of chances to "kick a few leaves". The walk was perfectly orchestrated because we arrived at the small village of Epperstone just at lunch time and having cleaned off our boots headed through to the bar area to enjoy a much earned pint of perfectly pulled beer and order our lunchtime snack. As well as lunches they do a good range of hot toasted sandwiches and I opted for Lincolnshire sausages in mine. We "pushed the boat out" with a side order of chips. All the food coming out of the kitchen looked good quality and I saw that they do a lunch time special of two meals for £10, but before I could consider if that might have been a better option my plate came loaded with the "sausage toastie". Great taste and great value – I was not disappointed.Having rested up I confided in my friend that it would take some time to "get going again" and sure enough both of us hobbled out of the pub along the main road. On our right was the Grade II listed Epperstone dovecote which is fairly unique as it’s freestanding rather than being attached to a farm or house. I’m no architect but apparently the dentil eaves, and the matching string course, are typical of Nottinghamshire. Just up the road is the mid 18th Century Epperstone Manor. This used to be a training centre for Nottinghamshire Constabulary and I have been there a number of times in connection with my work. But you never really appreciate places that you become over familiar with and I’d usually rush in and out for meetings and seminars. It was interesting to reflect back at this place which is now looking for a new owner and admire some of its grand features. Even the boundary wall has a character that I’d never really appreciated before. We walk out on the main road towards Lowdham and then take a walk across a public right of way towards the river, It’s not long before we’re approaching a small stream and passing by the 18th Century watermills that are prevalent in the area. Of course nowadays they have been converted in to prestigious private homes. The next challenge is to cross the busy main road and for this we need to keep out wits about us, and having seen a break in the traffic we set off at a brisk walk to successfully cross the highway. Once again we’re on bridle ways and public rights of way and we need to climb a fairly steep hill to our next vantage point. From her I can’t help but pause for breath and admire a well renovated house on the hill top. I’ve seen this house from the main road and I was pleased that it’s been pulled back from a decaying old building to a finely appointed dwelling. It looks superb and it’s quite photogenic so I take a couple of Photographs as a reminder of its elegance. Then we head off down a well worn track in the middle of a ploughed field towards the Lowdham Parish Church on the final leg of our walk. The narrow lanes past the church are covered in brown crisp and crunchy leaves and it was "proper country" as we head under an arch way of trees, past a small babbling brook towards the main road. Indeed momentarily it’s hard to believe that we’re only yards away from the busy highway. This time we have a cwentral reservation to assist us with our crossing and then it’s only a few yards for us to get back to Lowdham High Street and my car.What a great walk and to top it all the weather had been very kind to us. Close
Written by MichaelJM on 21 May, 2008
I’ve travelled up and down the A46 between Bingham and Newark on more occasions than I’m able to recall but I’ve never made the detour to check out the villages that lie between it and the River Trent. Indeed it was only following my retirement,…Read More
I’ve travelled up and down the A46 between Bingham and Newark on more occasions than I’m able to recall but I’ve never made the detour to check out the villages that lie between it and the River Trent. Indeed it was only following my retirement, the purchase of my Digital SLR camera and my writings for IGOUGO that enticed me to explore the Trentside villages. They’re not worth a massive detour but if you’re in the area and the sun is shining then they have to be worth checking out.East Stoke is well renown for the battle that was fought there on 16th June 1487 (known, believe it or not, as the Battle of Stoke Field) during the War of the Roses and it’s generally accepted that this was the last significant battle of the civil war. The rebel “Yorkist Army” had established themselves in a hilltop position to the southwest of the village and there they waited hoping to entrap the much larger royal force of Henry VII. The latter had set off in the early hours from Radcliffe-on-Trent (over 8 miles away towards Nottingham) and arrived, presumably foot-weary at 9.00 a.m. The battle favoured the greater experience of the Earl of Oxford’s Royal Army and the rebel force was well and truly routed. Although the exact battle spot has not been determined it’s not hard to imagine the scene across the undulating fields of this Nottinghamshire Village and the devastation of over 7,0000 soldiers killed on the day. Nowadays things are much more peaceful and I enjoyed a tranquil ride down to the water’s edge (a haven for fishermen in the a season) to enjoy a wander along the banks of the Trent. It was real quiet other than the sudden flight of the birds that I inadvertently disturbed as I picked my way through the multitude of wild flowers. The road down to the river is “un-adopted” so in places there are more potholes than tarmac but I persisted as I passed the boundary of the walled estate of Stoke Hall have passed. It’s thought that the original building was a hospice founded in 1135 and although there is evidence of medieval work in the building the majority dates to the early 1800’s when the Baronial Hall was “seriously enlarged”. As I pass underneath the disused railway bridge I noticed the sign of St Oswald Church and decide to take a peek. The Parish Church originates dates back to the 13th century but it was rebuilt in 1738 with only the tower surviving and the chancel sporting late14th century windows. On a sunny day you can’t beat the brilliant light show that results from the rays finding their way through the stunning stained glass windows. What a peaceful setting. The horse-chestnut tree was in full bloom and a walk around the reasonably well-kept churchyard completed my visit. Don’t fail to check out the guardian angel that overlooks the graves. A short ride and I’m once again making a turn off the A46 to checkout the marina village of Farndon. This is much busier than the aforementioned East Stoke as it place host to a prosperous private marina and its Trentside pub and restaurant confirm that this is a real busy place in the height of summer. In springtime, however, there’s time to walk uninterrupted down the banks of the Trent, taking in the watery views and enjoy some reflective tranquillity. Neither village are worth making special trips to see but if you’re in or about Newark and have a few moments then I’d advise you make the short detour to get a flavour of the serenity of village life close to the Trent. Close
Written by jaybroek on 28 Jun, 2004
At the age of 14 my parents had finally had enough of my teen angst and packed me off to boarding school. Sure, they dressed it up with
claims to be 'concerned about my education' and 'wanting what's best', but I knew the truth. As…Read More
At the age of 14 my parents had finally had enough of my teen angst and packed me off to boarding school. Sure, they dressed it up with
claims to be 'concerned about my education' and 'wanting what's best', but I knew the truth. As it turned out it, proved to be an excellent
opportunity to indulge in bouts of underage drinking well away from the disapproving glare of family, perpetual football, and the
bizarrely hilarious experience that is communal TV watching. So I'm not too emotionally scarred.
This formative phase of my life was spent in the sleepy, historic east Nottinghamshire town of Southwell (or, as about half the locals
call it, 'Suthell'), a prosperous little spot centred on the twelfth century Southwell Minster - a beautiful example of Norman church
architecture. The square towers that guard the west door, known locally as the pepper pots, can be seen from some distance. As a snotty
teenager such wonders were lost on me, obviously. For us the weekly assemblies in the medieval choir were something to be endured rather then
treated with any reverence. No admiring of fine stone carving in the chapter house for us; we preferred to giggle about the Deputy
Headteacher pointing out the 'boy with the magnificent organ' who accompanied our pitiful attempts at hymn singing. The thought still makes
me snigger - what a child.
The streets that line the Minster grounds, Westgate and Church Street, are some of the most desirable addresses in the area. Many of the
handsome Georgian houses have historic links with the church; the giveaway is the name 'Prebend'. The rest of the town is only worth a brief
daytime stroll or evening crawl. King Street has a pleasantly 'oldish' feel and is lined with shops for country ladies, the odd antique
emporium and a café or two. And then there are the pubs; for a small town Southwell is somewhat over-endowed with hostelries. In the days
when I was desperately trying to look older (quite the reverse of now obviously) the Crown and the Admiral Rodney were the places to get
served - probably best to avoid those then. The pub with proper history, however, is the Saracen's Head where Charles I stayed just
before he was captured by the Parliamentarians. These days it's a bit 'fusty' but it is one of the few places in town you can stay which may
be necessary as Southwell doesn't have a station and buses back to the city are not overly frequent.
The biggest town of note in the east is Newark, a market town sat on the Trent steeped in Civil War history. The prominent ruins of Newark
Castle occupy a picturesque spot on the riverside, all that's left of a major pounding when Newark was a Royalist stronghold. There are still
Tudor remnants around the attractive town centre alongside grand Georgian additions which mark the town's importance as a major trading
centre on the Great North Road (the A1 still runs close by). The market square forms a bustling focus for the town - there are markets most
I spent a happy summer working behind the bar of The Mailcoach, one of the busiest pubs in a town of incredibly busy boozers. You can
get pleasantly sozzled here in an old Georgian coachhouse - just don't look 'funny' at any of the regulars. Although it isn't down-at-heel,
Newark doesn't have Southwell's prosperity; there are some ropier areas and no-go pubs. There is, however, Café Bleu (Castlegate,
01636 610141). When the Redhead needs cheering up, sometimes the only thing that will put a smile on her face is French finery and this
bistro serves it up in spades. Delicious seafood and steakfrites feature regularly on an imaginative menu all served up in light, friendly
surroundings on artistically jumbled wooden tables and mismatched furniture. So very cool. We prefer it at lunchtimes.
Newark has something of a reputation for antiques. Most of the town's dealers have moved to a permanent market on the edge of town and there
are frequent huge markets at the East of England Showground. It is also a town that is a regular haunt of The Sealed Knot Society that
come to Newark to perform civil war re-enactments. They spend the weekend wandering between the hostelries with their own flagons demanding
mead and ale. It seems to keep them amused.
Newark is on the east coast rail mainline, around an hour and a half from London Kings Cross and can be reached easily from Nottingham. If
you're an antique buff or have a Roundhead fetish then it could be your kind of town.
What is Nottingham all about? Robin Hood plays a big part, although he was more a countryside kind of guy. Torvill & Dean might ring a bell
with some (whatever happened to ice dancing anyway?). For many her industrial past has played a large part…Read More
What is Nottingham all about? Robin Hood plays a big part, although he was more a countryside kind of guy. Torvill & Dean might ring a bell
with some (whatever happened to ice dancing anyway?). For many her industrial past has played a large part in defining the culture and shape
of the city; Players cigarettes and Raleigh bicycles have come and gone and their factories are now disappearing too. Boots is still going
(fairly) strongly with a site out to the southeast that sprawls over several postal districts.
The 18/19th century growth of the lace industry brought enormous changes to the architecture of the city centre. Mighty factories and
warehouses sprang up creating the area known as the Lacemarket, the population boomed and Nottingham built up its 'five girls to every boy'
reputation with female factory workers. Stag parties now descend on the city in their droves every weekend, hoping that the statistics still
hold true. The factories are long gone, and sadly the gender imbalance too, but the shady cobbled streets and warehouses remain, reinvented
as THE happening district. Trendy loft living, nightclubs and chi-chi bars - the place to be seen.
One of the district's prominent features is the church on the corner of Fletcher Gate and High Pavement, a spot known as Weekday Cross. No
worshipping options here however, the church has been deconsecrated and taken over by the Pitcher and Piano chain of bars. The result
- a dramatic interior that becomes a crowded pick up joint every weekend. Pleasant enough lunches though.
La Tasca (0115 959 9456) is a popular chain of Spanish restaurants and its Nottingham branch can also be found on Weekday Cross.
Delicious tapas and paella can be enjoyed in a bright, bustling atmosphere at an affordable price. We tend to nip in early or midweek after
work when bookings aren't necessary.
And the rest of the Lacemarket? Well its time to own up and admit to my lack of cool - and the desire to sit down during a night out. The
Redhead and I are not au fait with the fast changing Lacemarket world of bars-with-DJs and clubs. Beyond a lads night out that featured a
jostling, better-buy-two-beers-at-a-time visit to the Living Room (Fletcher Gate) my knowledge is barely sufficient to nod sagely when some
young buck mentions The Quilted Llama, Brass Monkey or The Bluu Bar at work. The nice thing is that I'm too old to care.
Just across Fletcher Gate from the Lacemarket proper you will find Bridlesmith Gate (don't you just love these street names?). This is the
home of Nottingham's fashionistas. The city has something of a reputation for shopping - it is claimed that it's one of the best spots
outside London. Sir Paul Smith, one of England's big fashion names, is a native and his unpretentious boutique can be found on Byards
Lane. Also look out for Coast, the Office, soletrader, Muji, Ted Baker and numerous others lining this pedestrianised thoroughfare.
If you tire of shopping nirvana Bridlesmith Gate is also home to a fine example of the Café Rouge (0115 958 2230) chain. The grand
salon of this cafe/restaurant has a real Parisian feel with gleaming mirrors, dramatic high ceilings and a nice line in haughtiness (one of
these statements is a fib). Its one of our favourite places to lunch - classic French brasserie dishes done well. For a quick coffee of beer
stop the Fashion café, Slug and Lettuce and Café Uno (all on Middle Pavement) all have outside seating when the sun shines.
Word of warning - go too far south and you?ll hit the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. To say it's in stark contrast to Bridlesmith Gate is a
gross, somewhat criminal understatement. If you'll excuse the bitchy tone, it's Trisha's waiting room (Jerry Springer-lite). There are only a
few good reasons for entering the Broadmarsh; you parked your car in its multi-storey, in pursuit of someone who stole your bag or to visit
The Caves of Nottingham (0115 924 1424. £3.75/£2.75, 10am- 5pm, Sun 11-4). A bit of history; the name Nottingham derives from the word
'Snotingham' meaning home of the cave people and the rocks that the city is built on are riddled with the former homes and workplaces of our
medieval ancestors. (Ironically, Snotingham would now make an excellent name for the city as the Trent valley acts as a channel for air
pollution making its inhabitants somewhat prone to blocked noses. And you thought it was our funny accent).
It seems quite odd to be entering an ancient cave system from the upper floor of a shopping mall but its well worth the visit (it gets you
out of the Broadmarsh at least!). Many of the uses the caves have been put to over the centuries have been recreated and it gives you an
interesting perspective on the city.
So that's the Lacemarket - industrial England reinvented to create trendy contemporary living for the aspirational. I find it a little
characterless during the day but if you're looking for a night scene...
Now there's an evocative name - Maid Marian Way. If I tell you it runs close to the base of Castle Rock, in the shadow of Nottingham
Castle, what pictures does it conjure up in your mind? Kevin Costner and Alan Rickman camping it up?…Read More
Now there's an evocative name - Maid Marian Way. If I tell you it runs close to the base of Castle Rock, in the shadow of Nottingham
Castle, what pictures does it conjure up in your mind? Kevin Costner and Alan Rickman camping it up? Errol Flynn (or was it Clark Gable?)
leaping around in monochrome Lincoln green? Or perhaps it's a dashing Disney fox running rings round a lion with a crown that doesn't fit?
Whatever your pre-course studying, come hither and let me dispel those myths.
Maid Marian Way is ugly. It is so ugly that it's won prizes for it - no word of a lie. It amounts to a snarled up dual carriageway that
skirts round the city centre, lined with an ill-conceived, ill-matched series of buildings that taste forgot. The Holiday Inn jostles with a
couple of multi-storey car parks (they have to go somewhere) on one side and faces the dour old BT office block. Sixties office blocks with
arcades of shops beneath. And yet...
Not before time, Maid Marian Way is being attended to. Trendy new restaurants and coffee shops now occupy the street level units and towers
are being given facelifts. Hopefully this will be done sympathetically as the street also features some beautiful old buildings and only a
few yards away are some of the city's finest treasures.
Near the southern end of the Way, and a little too close to the hideous Broadmarsh shopping centre for comfort, can be found two venerable
old hostelries, The Salutation Inn ('The Sal' to those in the know) and the Royal Children. These are pubs for drinking ale in
- none of your fancy food or nothing - just ale. In my early pub-going days upstairs at the Sal was something of a biker hangout - times
seem to have changed and Nottingham's thousands of students have spread near and far.
Further up the Way you cannot miss The Tales of Robin Hood - visitor experience par excellence complete with medieval smells. I am
ashamed to say, dear readers, that I have yet to venture into this establishment. When the little fella is born, I promise. Carrying on up
the street one moves into hotel territory with not one but two Holiday Inns in the space of a hundred yards and, now occupying the old BT
offices, the rather plush Park Plaza Hotel (0845 634 9995 for reservations). Don't be fooled by the exterior, this is a new, stylishly
decorated (contemporary minimalism - dig the clear glass basins) hotel. The Redhead and I and the remnants of our reception party spent the
night there after our wedding (August 2003 when she was still the Blonde, rooms £80-£200 a night). The accompanying bar/restaurant, Chino
Latino, is so hip it hurts - Asian cuisine and killer cocktails. Once the B52s started the guests started dropping like flies and carnage
ensued. Having breakfast in there felt somewhat incongruous, something like returning to the scene of the crime.
Halfway up Maid Marian Way is bisected by Friar Lane which runs up to the gate of Nottingham Castle. Most people's first reaction?
"Castle? That's not a castle." And how right they are. There hasn't been a 'castley' castle (with turrets and crinkly edges) for many a year.
The mansion that stands on the top of Castle Rock now appeared after the English Civil War, the previous castle having fallen from Royalist
hands and been destroyed. It now houses a museum and art gallery (Mon-Fri free admission, weekends and bank holidays £2/£1) which are just
OK. The grounds are worth a wander and the Rock commands impressive views across the city and beyond.
The real treasures of the castle are found around the base of the Rock down Castle Road. Near the Castle Gate you will find The Castle
pub (can you see what they did there?). I've whiled away several pleasant evenings drinking in more refined company than you might find
closer to the Market Square. Expensive enough to frighten away the riff-raff intent on getting ratted as quickly as possible. Wandering
further down Castle Road one passes the statue of Robin Hood. Admire his sturdy calves. Another hundred yards further on is Ye Olde
Trip To Jerusalem, one of the countries half a dozen claimants to 'the oldest pub in England' crown. Allegedly in business since 1189,
'The Trip' really looks the part. The inside is a mess of rooms on various levels, some carved back into the rock. Food is served during the
day and is OK; the Sunday Roast is pleasant and a Yorkshire pudding with the dinner on the inside is comforting in a 'carbohydratey' kind of
way. The experience is more important. You can even buy a T-shirt.
And if you find yourself in Nottingham on expenses (particularly generous expenses that is) then two of the city's priciest chic restaurants
can be found within yards of Maid Marian Way. World Service (Castle Gate, 0115 847 5587 - reservations can be made online) is,
simply put, bloody marvellous. Discretely tucked away in an understated mansion that it shares with the Services Club (hence the name) you
enter through a Balinese garden which immediately puts you at ease. The menu changes fairly frequently - check out the website for the latest
but leave it until you've had your lunch. Harts (Park Row, 0115 911 0666) is a chic contemporary English Restaurant overlooking the
wealthy Park area of the city. It's a once a year, birthday treat kind of place housed in a part of the beautiful Victorian Infirmary
building. Attentive but discreet service, sublime food with a lot of arty vertical stacking, but at a price. Expect to pay around £25-30 a
head for a 3 course meal (without drinks) at World Service or Harts. The Redhead and I are confirmed 'foodies'; treats like these sustain us
through the dreary Midland winters.
So the advice is to get over first impressions and give Maid Marian a chance - she is concealing some of the city's gems under her
distasteful concrete skirts.
You know you've made it in Nottingham when someone arranges to "meet you by the Lions". Lying proud and noble outside the city's magnificent Council House, the lions are almost always accompanied by crowds of teenagers waiting for their mates, men with pushchairs doing their…Read More
You know you've made it in Nottingham when someone arranges to "meet you by the Lions". Lying proud and noble outside the city's magnificent Council House, the lions are almost always accompanied by crowds of teenagers waiting for their mates, men with pushchairs doing their occasional weekend duty while the 'missus' tours the nearby department stores, protesters, panhandlers and parents.
The wide, tiered plaza and neo-classical Council House form the natural centre of the city. Completed in 1929, the seat of the city's government was pragmatically designed and built to house shops and offices in addition to the Council Chambers. The grand cupola atop the Council House can be seen for miles in most directions and provides a ready landmark. The building is a source of civic pride, not least because the 60s and 70s weren't kind to the immediate locale. It wasn't always this way; the ousting of the market and annual Goose Fair to the outskirts of the city centre was considered outrageous (the street names in this area hark back to these times; Cheapside, Smithy Row and Beastmarket Hill all line the square) . The broad pavements are now largely given over to pedestrians with the exception of the buses and the new trams snaking around the periphery. The Council puts a great deal of effort into maintaining the square's appearance with floral displays and fountains creating an attractive place to dawdle, in daylight hours at any rate.
The roads lining the square and radiating out from it form the concentrated central shopping district. Traffic is excluded from the majority of these streets throughout the day. Debenhams, the large department store, takes up prime position on the north side of Long Row with popular high street names such as Habitat (household furnishings and 'lifestyle goods'), Waterstones (books), Zara, Next and River Island (clothing) in close attendance too.
More upmarket chains can be found clustered in the Exchange Arcade which forms the ground floor of the Council House; Precious Things
for the ladies as well as the marvel that is Gauntley's with its walk-in humidor and unrivalled selection of single malt whiskies. The
north side of the arcade boasts two important features for the visitor; the Tourist Information Office and the world's worst busker - a
smiley old guy who plonks away on a child's xylophone with a verve and panache that more than make up for the lack of any discernable tune.
The man is an institution (sadly the xylophone man passed away in early July 2004).
So - a wide open plaza popular with locals and visitors alike, fine architecture displaying the city's wealthy industrial past (with the
occasional concrete eyesore)- what could be better? Well, once the weekend evenings arrive, pretty much anywhere. Cavernous modern pubs
selling cut price beer and alcopops spew out angry, irrational inebriated men ready to fight for or with their equally unpleasant and
plastered women. This primeval mating ritual is not a pretty sight. Wetherspoons, The Goose on the Square and Yates Wine Lodge are the unholy
trinity to be avoided.
As you can imagine this situation frustrates a large section of the community and, sadly, it is not uncommon in town and city centres across
the country. If you avoid the witching hours around 'chucking out time' (say between 10pm and 2am) though you can still enjoy a pleasant
early evening drink or meal in the vicinity. The Bell , on the western side of the square at the bottom of Angel Row, is a wonderful
old pub which dates back to medieval times. A good range of cask beers are served in its jumble of rooms and they serve a mean hot sandwich
at lunchtime. For those December days when you're supposed to be Christmas shopping but are groping around for inspiration. At least that's
what the old man and I decided. Every December. And perhaps around birthdays too?
To the north of the square the 'V' formed by King Street and Queen Street is home to a clutch of restaurants ranging from the ubiquitous
Hard Rock Café (yes, we have one too) housed in a 'flat iron' style Victorian building to Pizza Express and Zizzi's on
King Street with their strikingly similar pizza-oriented menus. Our favourite here is French Living (King Street, 0115 958 5885 -
closed Mondays). This cosy basement restaurant is run by an Anglo-French couple who also maintain an attractive delicatessen and café at
street level. Drop in for the lunchtime Plat de Jour or explore the more extensive evening menu - I can heartily recommend the snails
and the cassoulet.
So that's the centre of Nottingham; a source of pride and shame to its residents. Meet you by the Lions.
Written by marseilles on 24 Mar, 2007
One of our main reasons for coming to Nottingham was to visit Nottingham University, one of the British universities I hope to apply to for a postgraduate degree. We left our hotel early in the morning to catch the bus to Nottingham University. Right beside…Read More
One of our main reasons for coming to Nottingham was to visit Nottingham University, one of the British universities I hope to apply to for a postgraduate degree. We left our hotel early in the morning to catch the bus to Nottingham University. Right beside the bus stop we found the Nottingham public library that had--hooray!--free Internet access (see review elsewhere)! After checking the bus schedule at the bus stop, we rushed in the library for a quick check-e-mail session, and made it back out just in time to catch our bus.We arrived a little early for our appointment with the International Office staff member, so we wandered around the buildings a little. I was struck by how so much of Britain was very wheelchair-friendly. At the university, for example, all the buildings had wheelchair access.The International Office staff member who met with us was very friendly and helped us learn a lot more about Nottingham. She gave us a kit for a self-guided tour of the campus, so off we went. The campus was simply stunning! Even though the university campus was relatively new (built in the 1920s), great pains had been taken to build beautiful, tasteful buildings that gave the university a lot of character. The person who had developed the campus had been inspired by the sprawling university campuses of the United States, and had made sure that Nottingham University would be a very beautiful one. A "garden of contemplation" had been designed for faculty and students who wanted to get away from the busy-ness of the campus. Sprawling meadows over rolling hills were kept as a place for students to think and be creative. Students walking from one building to another walked through beautiful green fields, wide open spaces, and tree-lined paths. A small lake at the bottom of a hill provided a quiet spot for students and campus visitors.After our campus tour, we met with two faculty members who very friendly and gave me very helpful tips about the department as well as about my field of research.After lunch at the student centre (a very scrumptious rice meal at relatively cheap prices), we wandered around the campus a bit more and enjoyed a cup of coffee at the café overlooking the university's lake. Then we headed back into the city centre where we spent a few hours in the city bookstore, hankering for every other book that we saw.After that we headed back to the hotel, picked up our bags, and headed to the Nottingham coach station where we caught our coach to Coventry. We arrived in Coventry near dusk, got a little lost before finding our bed-and-breakfast, and then finally had a very restful sleep. Close