The Week And A Bit Of Random Bimbling - Part Two
Day 5: To Keswick. We had agreed to be in Glossop by the end of the week and so a general southwards direction was taken. There being really no other way to Englandshire except motorway we had an uneventful trip down the road, finally pulling off at Penrith for a look see at the fabled Lake District. And very pretty it was too.
Sadly, it still being school holidays in Englandshire it was busier than I would like but not too bad and we easily got some lunch and a lovely pint of Sneck Lifter from Jennings Brewery of Cockermouth (snigger). One thing I will say for the lakes, no shortage of Real Ale. This particular one was very dark and malty yet not too alcoholic and went rather well with a pie.
Then it was to Castlerig camp site with its glorious views of Derwent Water. We decided to stay two nights here and try to see a bit more of the area. Into the town of Keswick after eventually finding the footpath where we vaguely wandered, sticking our heads into camping shops and the Tourist Information before buying a midge net. This is a net that drapes over your head (wearing a hat underneath is recommended as it keeps it out of your face) and acts like a personal mosquito net but with mesh small enough to keep out the dreaded midge. I happily toddled back to camp with this net where I spent a pleasantly quiet night reading outside while the midges bounced off the net. I felt sooo smug.
Day 6: Off cross country for a look at Castlerig Stone Circle. Set on a windy rise it gives good views round about and I can see just why Ancient Man would want to be up here. As well as a stone circle it has an interesting rectangular enclosure of stones to one side. The sign in the field proclaims this to be a 'sanctuary' which, according to my archaeologist chum, translates into English as 'We don't know'. Apparently anything of unknown use is called religious to avoid any difficult questions. Sadly the field was quite busy, being well sign posted from the road, and so we pushed off into town.
Further ambling took us to the local museum. Very much in the old-fashioned, glass-case-with-old-typed-cards school of museums it, none the less, had the entirely amazing Rock, Steel and Bell band as played for Queen Victoria on a number of occasions. Basically this bloke found six stones lying around that played perfect musical notes when struck. He then worked away at others he found to perfect the sound. He then built a xylophone with them, eventually also adding steel bars and bells. This stone xylophone sits there in this museum still entirely playable today. Indeed they supply you with a beater and encourage you to have a go. I was very impressed as you might imagine but sadly not musical enough to get a tune. Its rare when you suddenly want Evelyn Glennie's phone number.
Finally into town and we went rowing on the Water. It seemed like the most English of things to do. A light row out to an island, explore a few ruins and then back for tea. So I rows. And rows. And rows. And eventually accept Toc's offer of swapping. It felt a bit dodgy at times but we did manage to eventually swap places without losing any possessions, people or oars. So Toc begins to row and I check the map. I then tell her to turn as we have just rowed past the island I was aiming for. It hadn't looked like an island, true, and indeed it turned out to have duff ruins on it as well but I did get an ice cream when we got back so it wasn't all bad.
After the ice cream we bought a new tent. This being due to the old one having a dodgy zip and also making a Hobbit hole look spacious. We
returned to the campsite via a lost footpath and then erected the new
tent surprisingly easily. It came with instructions which I felt was cheating. Unfortunately this led to me getting 'cocky' when taking the old one down. A tensioned pole popped out, sprung at my unmentionables, and I had to go sit down and cry quietly in a corner for a while. Once I could see again I drank tea and finished Ben Fogle's book. We then went to the pub on the corner of the site for some tea and more Snek Lifter to calm my fevered brow.
Day 7: Time to leave Keswick and head south to Glossop. This is relatively simple to begin with until we get confused and lost on the M60 Manchester Ring Road. This happens when the M60 turns into the M62 with barely any warning. My navigation goes all to pot at this point and every attempt to skirt round Manchester seems to end on a road to Oldham. I keep finding other roads only to find, through confused signage, that we are once again pointing at Oldham - it is as if Oldham exerts some Strange Attractive Force upon confused Scotsmen. We succumb and drive through Oldham, eventually getting back to the M60. Taking the correct turning we head up into the hills to discover just how busy the Pennines out of Manchester get - at a snails pace! Eventually we get to the site, pitch and then phone Phil from the phone box which is the only place my mobile will work. We yomp down a bewildering array of footpaths for four to five miles to Padfield. It seems the Peak district is riddled with such paths, making it not immediately obvious which one you want. Anyhoo we go into town for
some nice beer and a fine chat in Phil and MC's local which is a lovely pub.
Day 8: Up early once again - this comes from being in a tent and having to get dressed to go for a wee. Wait the statutory eon for the meths stove to boil the kettle for tea and then off to Padfield. Much to my surprise we actually manage to remember where Phil and MC live and so we pop in for a cup of tea and to change for we are off to Glossop and their Victorian weekend. So naturally myself and Toc kit out in our finest, including hats which I kept kicking by accident in the footwell over the last few days, and walk over the hill to Glossop. Arriving in the town square, in amongst all the coconut shys, fortune tellers, blacksmiths and shoe shine urchins, we rapidly discover we are the only ones bar committee and kids in costume. Still a passing punter takes our photo with a camera phone so I feel better. We perambulate and peruse. The town centre is stuffed with amusements and bottle stalls. There is a little old lady in a disability carriage dressed as the Queen with a sign reading: 'Queen Victoria was never pushed around'. There are steam engines of the road-rolling and traction variety. There is pig on a stick (absolutely gorgeous in a bun).
There are the local historical society advocating Temperance. And there was Melodrama. Glossop has a tiny wee theatre which was serving Cream Teas. This is a cup of tea and a scone with jam and cream for those, like me, not in the know. Following this it was then possible to head upstairs to the theatre where the local Amateur Dramatic Society performed, entirely free of charge, a Victorian Melodrama entitled Beeny Todd, The Demon Barber of Henry Street. This was silly and the announcer's whiskers fell off at the end. None the less very good and full of rude jokes, which was nice. The highlight was probably all the cast and audience singing 'He is a Vegetarian!' to the Gilbert and Sullivan 'He is an Englishman!'. There was a collection at the end for charity which I had no problem contributing to.
After a light dinner we proceeded to the world's most laid back beer festival. This was held in the car park of the Labour Club and consisted of a tent selling nice beer and a nutter shouting at us in Northern. Apparently it is traditional but I have no clue what he was saying. Of the beers my personal favourite was Copper Dragon Dark Ale. Dark, malty and all I look for in a beer. Unfortunately, due to our long day in period fig, we all tired quite quickly and so called it a night before anyone embarrassed themselves.
Day 9: Toc having had trouble sleeping we decided not to spend a third night at this campsite. It was rather small and so difficult to escape other punters and their noise. We spent a quiet morning packing up before ambling around Glossop some more. The festival was still in full swing but there was not much to see so we happily went kite 'flying' with Phil and MC on a hill outside Manchester. Sadly there was not much wind and so we mostly got sunburned while taking in the view. Moving on we went for some lovely local tea and cake before making the regrettable decision to head off north. We still had one more day to go of our holiday but neither of us really fancied Manchester on a Monday morning - especially after we had seen the M60/M62/M66 junction. It is the bit where, while on the M60 the fast lane becomes a slip road for the M62, with traffic lights(!), that really confused/worried me.
Anyhoo we got up to Ulswater in the Lake District before tiredness hit. There we found 'The Quiet Campsite', which was, and settled in for night of reading in a nice pub on site and drinking what I noted down as the 'fine Blue Beer'.
Day 10: Back to Scotland with a brief stop at New Lanark. This is a UN World Heritage Site, just like the Taj Mahal. Not that I have been to the Taj Mahal but I can certainly recommend this site. New Lanark was a village built at the end of the eighteenth century for the workers in the cotton mills there. What makes it special was its owner. A bit of a forward-thinking chap, he reasoned that his workers deserved education, a decent wage and plenty to distract them. So he set up the worlds first nursery. Put all children under ten into school. Gave all children between the ages of ten and twenty night classes. Set up a savings bank and health insurance. Apparently he was vilified by his fellow mill owners but loved by his staff. And the mill was very successful too.
Anywho, back home to Glasgow and unpacking of damp camping gear. And here my camping holiday ends. I only continue as I saw the most bizarre musical act that night. I had tickets for They Might Be Giants and so popped along. They were great but it is their support that concerns me here. He was called Corn Mo and strode onto the stage looking for all the world like a blond Meatloaf in a rhinestone shirt. He then sang in very much a Meatloaf histrionic way while accompanying himself on the accordion. And he sang about Gary Bussey. He has a web site if you don't believe me. And that is The End of 'The Week And A Bit Of Random Bimbling'. I still don't think Bill Bryson has anything to fear.
Next Time - Top Hats and Tight Collars make Munchkin a happy boy.