Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Derbyshire Day Out

My closest friend J and I took advantage of a rare sunny day yesterday and went out to the Peak District - which is only a 15 minute drive from my place on the fringes of the city. We had a great time!

Our first stop was at David Mellor in Hathersage. David Mellor is one of the best known of British designers - no, not stitching, but useful things - like cutlery. He also designed the familiar UK traffic lights, so - even if you don't know it - he's been a huge influence on the British street landscape - his other work includes postboxes, bollards and benches!

His cutlery is timeless, and is made in the Peak District - it's unusual to find a factory in a National Park, but this is small scale, and actually was built utilising the foundations of an old gas holder, so the factory is circular, and has an amazing lead roof. It's almost unbelievable that this is a working factory. but the cutlery is largely handmade inside this building. We're going to go back on a weekday and see it in action. It will be interesting for to compare it with the mass production of cutlery I've seen in my previous roles.

J is an architect, so had wanted to see the building for a while, as she has a special interest in sensitive conservation and sustainable development. The rest of the buildings have been converted from the old gas works too - including a small design museum, cafe and kitchen shop - all of which are a cut above the average.

We had coffee and shared a delicious cake in the cafe, and stayed for ages chatting before venturing out to take advantage of the sun! We quickly explored Hathersage - there's not a lot to see, really, although the village has connections with both Charlotte Bronte (who visited, and based Thornfield Hall on North Lees Hall, and named Jane Eyre after a local aristocratic family who lived at Hassop Hall) and Little John of the Robin Hood legend, who is buried in Hathersage churchyard.

Following small roads, we planned to go to Bakewell to pick up a Pudding for tea to share with DBF, who had chosen to stay at home. We stopped outside the Italianate church of Hassop Hall to eat our sandwiches, noticing a party of ramblers also doing the same. We have concluded that once one becomes a rambler of a certain age, floppy hats are mandatory...

Isn't it a rather bizarre thing to see in the heart of the English countryside?

Bakewell was very busy, so we didn't really feel like exploring all the wonderful nooks and crannies in the small town. We of course got our Bakewell Pudding (they are puddings, not tarts, to us Derbyshire natives!) - not from the rather touristy "Original Old Bakewell Pudding Shop" but Bloomers, which also does amazing pork pies, according to DBF - being vegi of course, I forgo these, and just have another slice of pudding!

No visit to Bakewell is complete without a visit to Wye Needlecraft - which is ostensibly the reason why I'm posting this to my stitching blog, and not the general one!

The range of stitched models is amazing - although I'm going to be picky and say I wasn't impressed with the quality of stitching of some of the Rowandean models in the window - which is a shame, as they can be gorgeous!

I enjoyed looking round at the stitched models, but I honestly wasn't tempted to add to my stash - partly because I genuinely can't afford to, but also because I know I have some very nice things still waiting to be stitched. I'm currently working on my stack of kits, so I didn't even need any threads! I did make one purchase - two packs of Petites needles - but I came out having spent the least I've ever done there! Although Wye are competitive on price when it comes to threads, fabrics and UK kits/charts, they are out of the loop on the US stuff - even more expensive than (say) Sewandso. One really nice touch though was the fact that they will substitute linen for aida (and vice versa) in any kit - which I guess is where paying that little bit extra is worthwhile.

On our way back to Sheffield, we dropped into the Froggatt Show, as we'd seen the signs on our trip out. This was such a quinessentially British experience! The sun was shining, a brass band was playing, small children were riding recalcitrant small ponies in the ring, a marquee was filled with garden produce...

Our first trip was the horticultural show, where there were murmurs among the rhubarb display - the first prize winner had won despite his rhubarb being bent - had payments in brown envelopes been exchanged? Even the children's displays were not exempt - mutterings of "that's never the work of a five year old" were heard... dark doings indeed! LOL

Watching the pony classes (average number of entrants - three) was quite amusing. the smaller children were basically being towed around the area by sweating parents as the ponies did whatever they pleased - which was basically digging their heels in and not moving!

Other attractions included vintage cars and vintage tractors. My uncle has restored four vintage tractors of his own, so I can tell the difference between Fordson, Ferguson and John Deere ... we keep telling my uncle he should exhibit his, but he's 75, and I think he feels travelling round the county would be a bit much for him. I think it's great he still works on such a physical hobby at his age, though! Also for the mechanically minded was a wonderful display of small steam engines and pumps of varying kinds, tended by proud owners... both of which are a dying breed.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Show without a tea tent! It was really nicely done, too - homemade cakes and tea served in proper tea cups (with saucers!) and on pottery plates - no paper or plastic in sight! Very environmentally friendly, although the dish washing crews were kept very busy! J and I shared a cheese scone and some delicious ginger bread, but passed on having an ice cream! Outside the tea tent, and in front of the band stand were loads of wooden chairs and tables, more than sufficient for the crowd, so it was all very civilised!

However, J and I may have let the side down. The brass band finished their set with the National Anthem. And all around us, people stood up! Admittedly, they were mostly middle aged and elderly people, but we were so gob smacked - first at the anthem itself, and then at the standing to attention - that J & I just looked at each other. Initially, we didn't stand because it simply never occurred to us, and then, as the tune progressed, it became a matter of principle. We talked about it afterwards. Whilst we both have respect for the institutions of this country, and are upstanding, law abiding, participative citizens, it would feel wrong to stand for an anthem for which we feel no connection. "God Save The Queen" - neither of us believe in "God" as portrayed by the major monotheistic faiths, and neither of us actively support the monarchy - it's anachronistic and unnecessary. We probably wouldn't have stood for "Land of Hope & Glory" either (although I would do so for "Flower of Scotland" at a sporting event...). I think the ladies that were also at our table were slightly non-plussed by our stance (or non stance!) but then we were city folks...

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

Wow! Sounds like you had a great time together. Thanks for sharing your photos.