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Friday, 6 August 2010

Tarting around in Bakewell.

A day out to Bakewell.

Yesterday I took the Transpeak bus up to the beautiful Derbyshire Dales for a proposed day out to visit the Bakewell Show. I probably last went to the agricultural fair as a child in the 1960s and looked forward to checking out the cows, sheep, Bakewell tarts and the local cheeses. The weather looked good as I boarded the 9.10 am coach at the Broadmarsh bus station in central Nottingham. To ease the cost of the travel I used a free ZigZag plus ticket that would allow me to travel all day on any Barton bus. I was given the ticket on Monday as part compensation for travel expenses on my recent course.

The bus journey took about two hours to get to Bakewell town with a twenty minute delay due to the extra traffic generated by the Bakewell Show. The journey took us first to Derby, onward through Duffield and the real beginnings of Derbyshire and the Derbyshire Dales. En route we passed by limestone cliffs and crags and the ever winding Derwent River. From the neat town of Duffield the coach headed towards Belper, Whatstandwell , Cromford, Matlock Bath (bikers heaven), Matlock and onward to Bakewell where I got off and ambled around town for half an hour.

For something to do I took in the Old House Museum after wearily climbing a hill by the church and half heartedly looked at the exhibits. I hadn’t slept very well the night before and already I was feeling dog tired. Although I was inspired to take a few photos by an evil looking doll on display I felt incredibly do-less and was in need of something to eat or drink. It was nearly midday so I returned downhill to the town centre and checked out the pubs on offer. Being in a sensitive mood I instantly discounted any pubs with squeaky children, loud music or even louder boozers. I eventually found one by the river and treated myself to a pint of Old Speckled Hen bitter. A fine choice as I was spitting feathers or for the idiomatically disinclined, I were reet gagging for a pint.

While the amber nectar slowly got drained from my glass I watched the traffic and people outside on this busy Thursday in the market town of Bakewell. The food in this hostelry didn’t really inspire me although it obviously appealed to two hefty ladies wedged in the window recess who were doing a brilliant impersonation of two greedy piglets at the trough of life. Their knives and forks were a silver blur as they greedily shovelled down the plates of food. My first sighting of animal life in Bakewell.

After my pint I followed the crowds across the Wye River bridge, via a dead duck languidly decomposing on the river rocks, to the showground. As they say in these parts “It were chocker”. Indeed it was certainly full to bursting and the admission price of £12.50 put me off participating. I haven’t got a lot of money to waste presently and my thoughts were that that amount of dosh could be more wisely spent and most probably on a nice pub lunch, somewhere quiet. I knew exactly where to go – the neighbouring village of Ashford in the water, a bucolic haven of charm, nestled just off the Buxton Road.

A walk to the village would have taken me at least half an hour and still feeling shattered I waited for the next Transpeak bus and no sooner had I placed my bum on’t seat was I arriving in this amiable Derbyshire village. Time to get a pub lunch.

On the main street there are two pubs. The first one I went in smelt and looked like an old folks home, all faded chintz and jaded dust mites. Hanging invisible in the air like mini barrage balloons of thought, were distant memories of the war years and for one lost soul, a Mildred Clutterbucket, a dimming recollection of the whereabouts of her long lost false teeth. Forming a dentures -shaped lump under the grimy carpet they were now gummier and greyer than a gritty gravestone. Oh, alliteration is such fun!

By the main entrance I witnessed a long table of twenty-plus slumped and miserable customers, all desperately wanting to celebrate a party, preferably with actual food and drink. A Miss Haversham, who’d had great expectations when she’d booked the venue was fighting back the urge to enquire what the Dickens was going on. Alas and alack, the abject and currently ravenous ensemble looked like they’d been waiting an eternity to be served. And indeed they had. Apparently the motor vehicle had been invented since they first sat down. Continuing the long theme, it wasn’t so long before I headed out on to the street again. Brushing back the cobwebs of despair I was out in about three seconds actually.

Further down the road I found the place I wanted to be. The Bull’s Head. Ah, The Bull’s Head! A proper pub with a varied and interesting menu. I purchased a pint of Unicorn beer from the pretty young woman behind the bar and after surveying the tempting chalk board menu I settled on the beef and horseradish sausages with posh bubble and squeak accompanied by a rich red wine gravy. It was a toss up between that and the steak and Old Stockport pie with braised red cabbage and dripping roast potatoes. Both dishes were a reasonable £10 each and on talking with the lady owner she told me that they source all their meat locally from Critchlow’s Farm Shop and butchers on Bridge Street in Bakewell and the cows are reared on the hills behind the village. The food was very tasty and it felt, only right, to have another pint of Unicorn beer as a liquid dessert.

After my long lunch I went off to catch the Transpeak bus back to Nottingham. There was a bus shelter in the village and the bus was due to arrive at 14.01. Having three quarters of an hour to spare I went to look at the brown trout swimming in the clear river water and have a chat to the nervous cows, calves and bull in a nearby buttercup filled field. The calves had pretty eyelashes and apprehensively gravitated towards the flanks of the adult cows when I poked my head and camera over the wall. I always feel a bit sorry for the members of the bovine crowd as the yucky flies buzz about their snouts and bottoms. I wouldn’t enjoy that. Neither would I enjoy being part of someone’s dinner really. Anyway, after my photo session and getting hip with the herd, back to the bus shelter I go. Via a crafty pee in the hedgerow. Look, two hours on the coach is a long time to sit with yer legs crossed I’ll have you know.

Apart from trying to avoid the young male smack head spitting in the bus shelter during the half hour bus delay I had had an uplifting day in the Derbyshire Dales and got home around 6pm.


Marian Barker said...

It's great to 'see' you back on writing form again.

Glad you're getting out and about.

Phil Lowe said...

Thanks Marian, thoroughly enjoyed myself today writing up yesterday.

The funny description of the pub of despair took some editing and creative moving around but I am delighted with my efforts. xx

Jean said...

Excellent post and great observations of your day out.

Interestingly, we often go to events similar to the Bakewell show in France and guess what...there is no entry fee.

I almost feel ashamed to admit that even though I am a Derbyshire lass, born and bred, I have never been to the Bakewell show. It usually rains.

Janette Jones said...

Wonderful descriptive piece that we have come to expect from you. Can't quite believe you spent 2 hours on a bus, you brave man!

Gail's Man said...

A very amusing piece. Similar in tone to one of Alan Bennett's humorous monologues.
I can't remember the last time I went to Bakewell, or Newark for that matter. I guess being free at the moment does give you the opportunity of traveling, albeit on a minuscule budget.

Julia Writer said...

What a charming description of your day, it fair takes me back, I'm from Nottingham too, I don't know this particular area but miss places just like it. That doll freaks me out :)

Karen said...

Perhaps those greedy ladies in the pub, eating so very fast, simply were afraid to leave any trace of DNA on their cutlery? I enjoyed reading about your day, & it's a shame you never got to the Bakewell Show. The entrance fee is horrific, I had no idea it was so expensive.We often visit Bakewell(great Farmer's Market there, where we're always tempted to spend too much), but have never been to The Show.

Phil Lowe said...

Jean: thanks for your lovely comment. From the show website they seeem to be featuring more spectacle in the form of trick bike riders than agriculture.

Janette: Yes two whole hours each way with a mix of folk including a woman who spouted business chat for a whole half hour non stop from Derby to Nottingham on the return journey!

GailsMan: You honour me by saying my style is like AB's. Thanks.

Julia: Welcome to my blog and thanks for the compliments. Yeah, that doll is well scary.

Karen: I'm glad you enjoyed my piece. I certainly enjoyed working on it and making it amusing. Liked your comment about the two ladies and DNA. lol

Cheryl said...

I think that Bull's Head lunch alone was worth the trip there. Gosh, that looks good!

And that doll...I think it might be possessed. Yikes!