Written by tvordj on 03 Feb, 2009
Buxton is in the Peak District which is a lovely part of Northwest England, perhaps not as dramatic as the Lake District but still worth a visit. It's actually quite high above sea level, about 1000 feet around Buxton which is an old spa town…Read More
Buxton is in the Peak District which is a lovely part of Northwest England, perhaps not as dramatic as the Lake District but still worth a visit. It's actually quite high above sea level, about 1000 feet around Buxton which is an old spa town with baths and a lot of beautiful and elegant Georgian and Victorian buildings. The weather doesn't look promising but that's pretty common for this time of year. After a 40 minute journey, passing some pretty towns and high rolling hills we reached Buxton. We walked around a bit and then had lunch in a Wetherspoon's pub. The interior was lovely! Teal blues and whites and wicker furniture and the bathroom was so beautiful I even took a picture of it in all it's gleaming marble and chrome glory! Lunch was hot and filling and standard pub style food. Alan and I did a little window shopping up the precinct and continued up a fairly steep hill to the Market Square where the Town Hall was. There were some pretty shops and one window that caught my eye was a violin store but the window display was all miniature instruments and cases. We walked back down past a hilly park to where the building that housed the baths is. Beside that is a long glassed in Victorian conservatory called the Pavillion Gardens that we had a gander though, mainly to get out of the rain which had started up in earnest. Behind it is the Buxton Opera House. We opted for a tea break at a café beside a very old hotel which may have been a manor at one time that claimed to have been a stopover for Mary, Queen of Scots. We caught the train back to Manchester, suffering the high spirited noisy chatter of a group of teenagers who obviously travel to and from school on the train. We were on a time constraint which is why we couldn't stay in Buxton longer as we were going to the Royal Exchange Theatre tonight with John, Nikki and Annie to see Uncle Vanya by Checkov. There was time to head to Bella Pasta on Deansgate before the play for a pizza. I've described the theatre in another review. The play was very good although we found our seats rather uncomfortable. We had tickets for the very top gallery which was cheap but you do miss some of the facial nuances. I really enjoyed the production. We thought most of the performances were excellent. There was a discussion with the director and some of the actors afterwards and we filed down to the main level of the theatre (and the comfy seats) to listen and join in. We all shared a cab home afterwards, and I was looking forward to stretching out in bed.Today Rose and Malachy are flying over from Cork, Ireland so we were waiting for her call. Chris spent yesterday with Phil in Liverpool doing Beatles touristy stuff. They would be over later today. Rose called and we arranged to meet her and Mal about 2. We just walked around central Manchester, stopping for photos at the Chinatown arch and for coffee later on at Starbucks. Rose and Mal kept us in stitches of giggles all afternoon. Their Irish cheerfulness and devastating sense of humour began the weekend on the right foot! We had a look inside the Exchange theatre and wandered through the Arndale Center but we were all tired and there was a long evening ahead. Alan and I went back to the flat to get cleaned up and changed and shared a cab with Annie and Chris back into town. Tonight starts off at the Kwok Man restaurant in Chinatown. We were 11 in total, including another two ladies that made the journey to Manchester. The Chinese banquet was tasty, the beer washed it down probably a little too well and the night was still young! We went to a nearby pub, the Old Monkey from there and stayed until chucking out time. John, Nikki and Phil left us here and Annie led the rest of us to a club. We didn't stay there long. The music got progressively louder to the point of pain and mostly it was rap music which didn't suit us in the least. Changing direction again we went to Copperface Jack's, a pub in the Palace Theatre. We gathered around in a boothand saw the night out. Most of us were well into our cups by the time we finally left at closing time and we haunted the wet streets for taxis along with dozens of other clubbers recently released from their places of "worship". I do believe Rose and Annie were yodeling on the sidewalks of Manchester at one point and I'm sure I heard Alan and one or two others burst into some song that I didn't recognize. We got back to Chorlton well after 3 but didn't go to bed for awhile so I guess it was around 4 by the time Alan and I faded into the bedrooms for a few hours kip. Saturday was a pretty quiet day. I got up around 11, feeling not really too much worse for it. A large hot cup of tea *really* hits the spot this morning. Philip called in shortly after. He was his usual bouncy self, abetted by the fact that he had gone back to John's at a reasonable hour unlike the rest of us. Alan stumbled down the hall, having heard the door, and his internal radar led him directly to the kettle first and foremost. About a half hour later, someone knocked on the window. That would be Chris. He was definitely the worst of the four of us, but was upright so that's encouraging. Phil, Chris and I headed out to the grocery store to purchase snacks for Annie's party. Chris decided it was no good, he was going back to Annie's for another sleep. Phil and I found a "greasy spoon" café so I could have breakfast... brunch? It's after 2 p.m., what would you call it? Alan was out by the time we got back so I dozed at one end of the couch and Phil watched the football match with the sound off. He took off back to John's for his tea after and Alan and I just puttered about until it was time to go to Annie's in the evening. The party was a quiet affair after last night's events and was a wonderful way to end my holiday. October 7 Chris is driving me to Birmingham today to catch the National Express bus Airport link directly to Heathrow. I've got a room at one of the Sheratons for tonight and I fly out tomorrow at noon. We made good time to Birmingham so he drove me around the center of Birmingham a bit just to see the lay of the land Hugs and kisses and off he goes. The bus journey was about 3 and a half hours I think. I bought a return ticket on the Hotel Hopper and checked in. I turned on the television to discover that the U.S. and the U.K. had began the bombing of Afghanistan. I didn't leave the news on long. It's not really the sort of thing you want to be watching the day before you fly. I had a very expensive burger and chips in the bar at the hotel and watched television the rest of the night. I thought I ought to get to the airport plenty early, not knowing what it would be like this morning. I expected it to be a zoo, but although there were lots of people, the lineup at the Air Canada check in was surprisingly short. I decided to check my carry on as well. I had three hours to kill in the airport and I wasn't lugging that around on my shoulder. The security checks weren't horrendous as I had expected them to be. Did some shopping in Heathrow, always an experience! I decided to spend some of the cash I had left on a full breakfast which was probably the most expensive eggs, bacon and sausage I've ever eaten! I didn't really mind, though, I had no used for the cash and didn't want to save it for next time. Close
I had an easy morning and didn't leave the flat until after 11. Got off the bus at St. Peter's Square which is where you will find the Tourist Information Center. There is a lovely central library here, a large round building with lovely stained…Read More
I had an easy morning and didn't leave the flat until after 11. Got off the bus at St. Peter's Square which is where you will find the Tourist Information Center. There is a lovely central library here, a large round building with lovely stained glass in the entrance lobby. The back of Manchester Town Hall is beside it. I followed the lane between the main Town Hall building and the civic buildings beside it, adjoined by an overhead walkway and came out into Albert Square. The Town Hall was built in 1877 and has a large clock tower looming over the square. There's a smaller replica of London's Albert Memorial here. I went inside Town Hall, visitors are allowed on the ground floor. The ceiling is low and vaulted like the inside of a cathedral and there was a Police history exhibit with old photos and posters. There are lots of sculptures, statues, busts and friezes decorating the walls and an information desk there if you have any questions. I went back out behind the Town Hall into the little Peace Park. I turned back towards Castlefield along Peter Street. Just past Deansgate, where Peter Street turns into Quay Street is a pub owned by a Corrie star, Liz Dawn who plays Vera Duckworth. It's called The Old Grapes and as it's lunchtime I decided to go in. The walls inside are covered with photos of Ms. Dawn and various celebrities and Corrie cast members. There's no doubt who owns that pub and by the time I left it was quite busy. I walked a little further and did some window shopping on Deansgate which is one of the main thoroughfares in Manchester. Down King Street West which is a posh shopping area as I soon found out. I came along to Manchester Cathedral at the far end of Deansgate and entered through the side door as instructed. It was cool inside the church, the light filtering thought the wonderfully intricate stained glass windows. The cathedral dates from the 15th C. though some parts were rebuilt and restored after the war because of bomb damage and again, all the stained glass is post war. One chapel is dedicated to therebuilding and the glass window here is called the Fire Window and looks like orange and yellow flames. You would think that one cathedral interior would look pretty much like the next and in some ways they do but I've been in a lot and I still find each seems to have it's own atmosphere, it's own personality. Some are sparsely decorated, some elaborately so, some have evident loving touches. Some are so inviting that you want to sit and enjoy and some are more businesslike which is sort of how I found this one to be. The largest Marks and Spencer store is just behind the Cathedral in an area called the Shambles which has a few old buildings but is the site of a lot of construction. The old M&S was destroyed in the mid 90s from an IRA bomb. It's been rebuilt and is bright, modern and huge! It's connected to the Arndale Shopping Mall by an overhead walkway. Just behind it are two very old pubs, one called the Duke of Wellington. There's an interesting story to these buildings. These buildings have been relocated twice. Once when the Arndale was built. They dug down around the foundations and lifted them and moved them to the other side of the old M&S store. After the bomb went off, they weren't damaged very much but the construction that was planned for the area forced another move to their present location. This time the buildings were taken down brick by brick and rebuilt. I walked through the mall but really wasn't up for shopping. I found myself back at Picadilly Gardens where the bus terminal is. Decided it was a good a time as any to head back.We are off tonight for a pub quiz with John, Nikki and Annie. We walked as it was a nice night, down a lovely neighbourhood here in Chorlton, Beech Street, and through an old graveyard to get to the pub which seemed to me to be a bit out of the way. This is the Bowling Green, so called because they actually do have a little bowling green outside it. The quiz was great fun and we took none of it seriously. Wednesday's excursion was to Ordsall Manor in Salford. This is a very old manor, some of it dating back to medieval and Tudor times that one of my friends had told me about. It looked as if a bus would go right by the door of the manor so I went over to the terminal under the Arndale center to wait. And wait. Luckily there was a bus shelter where this stop was because it was raining and windy. The bus seemed to be a once an hour affair but it never came at its appointed time, apparently stuck somewhere in traffic. I didn't have any more patience so strode off and took a taxi. That's what happens when you have limited patience. The Tramlink would have taken me within a 3 minute walk and taken only 10 minutes to get there! That's how I got back to central Manchester later in the afternoon! Ordsall Hall's earliest parts date to the late 14th C. It was owned for the first few hundred years by the Radclyffe family. There are only a few rooms open to the public but entrance is free. They cater mainly to school groups and there was a class of children there when I arrived, learning how to do such courtly things as bowing and curtseying across the long oak table in the great hall! There was a tall man dressed in Elizabethan costume, complete with white neck ruff instructing them with a twinkle in his eye. I went through the Great Hall and into a smaller chamber behind that which was empty. This is the oldest of the rooms and is the Star Chamber, named so because of the gilded lead stars affixed to the blackened beamed ceiling. It's also known as the Lord's Chamber or Great Chamber and it's where the lord of the manor would have done his business though it's also a bedroom. The furniture, bed, desk, chairs are all authentic from various eras between the 15th to 17th C. Parts of the wall are some examples of the oldest surviving wattle and daub walls in England, dating from 1340. There is another room in Italianate design upstairs but it isn't open to the public. There is an Elizabethan lady's dress on a form and a small suit of armour on display. There are swords and an old rifle and the 14th C fireplace still has scars from where swords were sharpened as men gathered in front of the fire. The costumed guide came in and chatted with me for awhile. It was he that told me all this history. The Great Hall was sparsely furnished, had a fire pit in the middle of the room beside the great oak table and the walls and ceiling are white washed plaster and dark half beams in an elaborate pattern that is mirrored on the outside of the manor in places. Upstairs there is an exhibit about similar surviving houses from that era and some lovely Jacobean furniture on display. There are three large glass enclosures with displays of Victorian laundry implements, a Victorian school room and a Victorian toy collection. There is also a little picture gallery of photos and prints from the last 30-40 years by local artists and downstairs there is also a Victorian kitchen set up. There is a small area with gifts though most of them are geared to children. I did pick up a couple of postcards. The sun is out, for a bit anyway and the rain has stopped. I walked to the Tramlink stop. There was a small Tesco's grocery store near the Arndale center and since I had promised I would cook tonight, I went in to find my supplies. Luckily Alan has an electric cooker, not a gas one so nothing burned and nothing blew up! With the way my luck has been running this week, that was a very real concern! Alan is off work the next two days and we're heading to the old spa town of Buxton tomorrow to meet up with a chat room friend, Joanna. Close
No ill effects from the pub lingered this morning, and there was a lovely full breakfast in the very nice Dining room. The hotel is older and a little faded and worn around the edges but it's clean and the breakfast was what I call…Read More
No ill effects from the pub lingered this morning, and there was a lovely full breakfast in the very nice Dining room. The hotel is older and a little faded and worn around the edges but it's clean and the breakfast was what I call a proper English breakfast. The weather doesn't look very promising today. By the time we had done what we came to do in Lichfield, the rain was coming down and Chris wanted to get on the motorway to Manchester before the Sunday traffic got too bad. There just isn't the same sort of pleasure walking around an empty town in the rain with most of the shops closed anyway.The reason I wanted to go to Lichfield is because, in 1612, my 9-great grandfather, Edward Whiteman, was burned at the stake in the market square for heresy. On the wall of what used to be St. Mary's Church and is now a heritage center is a plaque describing this and I was charged with getting a photo for my cousin's genealogy website. We drove under the stony gray skies that occasionally wept a misty tear or two over the green hills, following the signs to Lichfield. We drove round and found a pay and display lot between the market square and the cathedral close. Lichfield has a beautiful stately triple spired cathedral and it's other claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Dr. Samuel Johnson, author of the first comprehensive English dictionary. We walked over to the market square, found the plaque and photographed it and then looked for a café that might be open. Chris hadn't eaten breakfast and though it was after noon he had a craving for a bacon butty. We did find one that wasn't serving breakfast by that time but when we asked where we could find a place that did, they allowed us to stay rather than turn down custom. Didn't look like they were all that busy anyway. Bacon butties all around, washed down with hot milky tea, comforting on a cold rainy day. As I said before, the weather was dismal and it began to rain in earnest by the time we left so we went back tothe car, drove once around the Cathedral close for photos and headed back to the motorway.One stop for a loo break and a phone call to Alan, my host for the next week. We continued on our musical ride to Manchester, continuing our discussion from the night before on reggae music and the Ramones. We reached Manchester in due time. Alan was out so we took a chance and caught Annie at home. (Most of my friends at that time lived within a few blocks of each other in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, outside Manchester) We had cups of tea and a great visit. We finally headed over to Alan's about 6 o'clock I think. Another fierce hug from another wonderful friend and a goodbye to Chris who wanted to get back on the road to Redditch but he was coming back next weekend. Alan and I had a late meal and a couple of glasses of wine and got caught up. He's only got Thursday and Friday off this week so I am spending tomorrow over in Liverpool with Phil and taking another day at least to have a good look around Manchester. This is only my second visit to Manchester and the first visit, in 2000, we spent all our time out on day trips and saw very little of the city. Alan and I are planning a day trip to Buxton on Thursday. Close
After leaving London (see London on High Alert), my friends drove me to Redditch on a rainy Saturday morning. We found where my buddy Chris lived and said goodbye. C. and I found the B&B where I was staying, the Mount Pleasant Hotel which is…Read More
After leaving London (see London on High Alert), my friends drove me to Redditch on a rainy Saturday morning. We found where my buddy Chris lived and said goodbye. C. and I found the B&B where I was staying, the Mount Pleasant Hotel which is in Redditch. I got checked into the B&B where the room turned out to be quite pleasant overall. A large room with a double bed and a single bed, en suite for £50 including breakfast. We dropped the luggage and headed off down the road to Warwick which, surprisingly we found without any trouble. We didn't have too much trouble finding the Castle, there are clear signs leading through the streets and we found a space in the car park guided by one of the attendants. We bought our tickets but the first order of business was lunch for the pair of us in order to be property fortified to scale the. er. fortifications! The tickets are bought at the old stables buildings which also house the toilets, a café and a shop. On the way from the entrance, we saw a notice on the green just outside the castle gates promising an exhibit at 1:30 on "Deadly Skills"! You just can't argue with Deadly Skills! That means we have an hour. We bought a pre-made sandwich in the cafeteria which is in a vaulted 14th C undercroft, nothing special there. The cooked food might have been better, I don't know. We first checked out the Ghost Tower but we were quite disappointed. This display was very cheesy with recorded spooky music and ghostly figures lit up behind see through curtains. I kept expecting Dorothy to appear and click the heels on her ruby slippers! I wanted to go up on the castle walls so we headed across the esplanade to Guy's Tower, the tallest of the towers along the wall. I started up and Chris brought up the rear, warning me about the sign at the entrance. advising folk that 500-odd steps could be tiring. But it was a one-way system so you couldn't turn around and go back out once you were in. The staircase up into the first tower was a narrow stone spiral and there were others coming up behind. It wasn't 500 steps though, but by the time you finished the trail and landed back on the ground I suppose it would have been that in total. I took my time and a few brief rest stops and made it to the top of the tower. It's now a lovely sunny day with a bit of a nice breeze, blowing a bit stronger atop the castle walls. You can see over the town of Warwick and the Avon Valley. Following a few flights of stairs down you walk along the curtain walls to the Gatehouse and Barbican guarding the castle's main entrance. Up a few flights of stairs to the top of that. There is actually a drawbridge over a dry ditch and a huge portcullis. We made our way up and down the next set of steps and walls leading into Caesar's Tower where the guard house was located, and down to the grounds again just in time to go over to a roped off area on the green to see the Deadly Skills! Archery. The man that did the demonstration was dressed as a yeoman soldier from the medieval era complete with longbow, sword and "bollocks" knife. He was probably a better comedian than he was marksman but he put on a good show all the same. He had three sticks with little heads on them and placed them on a platform as a target by only hit one of them by the end of it all. He was pretty funny though as he explained what it was like to go to war in the 1400s and how you would train all your life from childhood on with the longbow. It looked like quite a skill to master. He asked for a volunteer from the audience and proceeded to demonstrate the various methods of hand to hand combat with his sword and knife on the hapless fellow who just stood there looking a bit white around the gills with the blades thrusting about his body. Deadly, indeed! We were satisfied with the show and ambled back to the castle grounds to check out the dungeons next. We were suitably creeped out by the dungeon and admired the armoury display which also had a macabre death mask of Oliver Cromwell. From there we checked out the main palace and Great Hall and chapel. Very light and airy. The recreated Victorian weekend party was ok, lots of wax figures. This place is owned by the Taussaud corporation so you see a bit of that around. Once we emerged from the castle, Chris wanted to climb up the mound at the end of the grounds, where the original motte fort would have been built 900 years ago. Dear God there are a lot of stairs in this country! Chris goaded me good naturedly into trekking up the (ahem .) "gentle incline" and indeed it wasn't so bad walking up the sloping ramps. Again a lovely view over the valley and river from this vantage point. I have thoroughly enjoyed this Castle. There's a lot to see and do even if it's somewhat commercialized. In the summer there are jousting events on the tiltyards and they have events all year round including themed banquets. We had a little look in the peacock garden by the conservatory and left the castle around 4:30 I think and had a look through the town of Warwick. We found an old old building called Lord Leycester's Hospital, a leaning half timbered structure with a chapel that was very old and in Elizabethan times owned by one of her favourites, Lord Leycester and turned into a hospital for old soldiers. There's a little museum in here but we were a bit tired of walking so we just went to the lovely tea room for a hot drink and tea cake to tide us over. The town of Warwick is very pretty and very old. There's a market there but it was packing up by the time we arrived. There are lots of B&B's within spitting distance of the castle so if you're thinking of visiting, you should be able to find a room as a base. Chris cooked a Balti tonight, one of his specialties. We were planning to go see a Beatles cover band in a pub . er. somewhere between Redditch and Birmingham but when we got there the pub was closed for renovations. Rats! We ended up at a pub a few doors down from the B&B back in Redditch and drank and talked until chucking out time. We went back to the B&B to continue our discussion on . reggae music I think by that time. Chris staggered home to bed about 12:30 I guess. Tomorrow we are dropping in at Lichfield for a bit of ancestry tracing on my part and the lovely man is driving me to Manchester! Close
Written by Timone on 23 Jun, 2004
Whilst looking for something a bit different for a hen/stag do, we came across Warwick Adventure Sports. They do a vast array of activities including paintballing, 4x4 driving, tank driving, casino nights and team-building exercises. We opted for an afternoon of MadTrax. This seemed a…Read More
Whilst looking for something a bit different for a hen/stag do, we came across Warwick Adventure Sports. They do a vast array of activities including paintballing, 4x4 driving, tank driving, casino nights and team-building exercises. We opted for an afternoon of MadTrax. This seemed a good idea until my sister summed it up as driving around a BMX track in a small beach buggy. Her description wasn't far from the truth, but it was fun. We paid £35 each for 4 hours and then were divided into teams. Each team decided who drove, when and when we pitted with only one team in the pits at once. Then we raced for two 45-minute sessions, the team with the most laps being the winner. I am proud to say that by some luck and clever team tactics my team won! We were exhausted and had some very impressive bruises, but we'd had a fantastic laugh and had a cheap bottle of bubbly to spray the losers with.
The staff were fantastic and made you feel very safe despite the fact that there is always the danger of rolling your buggy. They were also great to chat to in between drives and are an all-around great bunch.
I'd recommend this place for any of the activities, but especially MadTrax. We hope to go back and try it in the rain next time - apparently the mud is a whole new experience!