And we’re off.
The journey from west to meridian takes about three and half hours. We leave at 0715 and, knowing that our residence for the week wll not be available until after 1600, we will have time to kill. Himself has concerns, I have plans.
I take the wheel for the first leg of the journey, which is grey, wet and windy. We skirt Manchester and head over the Woodhead Pass. A pleasure in good weather, a slow grind today in a long train behind the obligatory petrol tanker.
Stop One is a quick changeover near, well, nowhere in particular. Himself takes the wheel and I start to relax, which is not good because I’m supposed to be navigating. Only one minor diversion. Usually I can hide my errors (he has no sense of direction), but the even if the sun hadn’t been so low, he would have spotted the complete about-turn at the next roundabout. Maybe I should have asked him to drive around it a few times to disorientate him.
“This looks familiar.”
“I thought so too, that must be a feature round these parts.”
Soon we are at Roche Abbey for Stop Two. Last visited two years ago and still ruinously splendid. The light wasn’t very good, so I’ve applied a little snapseed magic:
It was a Cistercian abbey, dissolved like so many in Henry VIIIs reign. The locals assisted in its physical collapse, and one wonders what pleasure they took in finding fine building materials at the expense of The Church. You might think of monks as pious individuals, praying constantly, healing the sick and feeding the hungry, but there is evidence that many in England did not live such a Godly life.
Roche might have been different. There is an extensive infirmary. That said, we are only too aware in the twenty-first century of the effects of a diet of excess, so maybe this was for residents use only.
Stop Three is a cute little windmill at Tuxford. It is National Mills weekend and the entrance fee has been waived. As usual, I climb up all available stairs and himself keeps feet on terra firma. There are five floors (it doesn’t look that tall from the ground), and they are milling today in a fine breeze. The change in the turning speed of the stones as the strength of the breeze rises and falls takes me by surprise. I keep fingers and clothing well away.
We purchase flour and muesli but, because of some obscure health and safety rule, we are refused cake. Hrumph.
After a lunch break in a non-scenic lay-by and a stop for provisions at our 2013 holiday base in Doddington we are on the last leg of our journey. Except that we are too early to collect the cottage keys and must kill time at a local garden centre where cake is not refused and we head to local land mark, the Belmont Mast.
This 1154 foot tall structure is television transmission station. In 2010 was shortened by roughly 100 feet. Prior to this it was considered the tallest structure of its kind in the world.
We park up with a good view and good cake (at last). Stop Five is also the setting for our first geocache find of this holiday. We exchange a very shiny plastic key for a plastic soldier, who I name Lincolnshire Tommy. Si points out that he should really be an airman to be from Lincolnshire, but he is quite clearly a soldier and the name sticks.
We set off too soon and have to make Stop Six. Where there isn’t a geocache or cake, just a lay-by overlooking the mast (if you look over your shoulder).
Soon we are the cottage. It is as pretty as as I remember it from seven years ago.
After unpacking, unwinding and dining, we take a brief stroll into the adjoining village. It is a warm Saturday evening and young men stand outside the inn. We take a tour of the churchyard, then head back to the cottage, bagging a cache on the way.
It has been a good start to the week.