Thursday, December 15, 2005

Derby, not the hat... its a town.

I say trouble, but I what I really mean is the breakdown of all time and space around us. Stephanie was the one who really put forth the effort for this trip, and we were planning on staying the night in Derby (finding a place upon arrival) and then leaving the next morning and travelling to Matlock to get a bus to Chatsworth House and the Peak District, spend the day and then head back to catch the last train home.

We arrived in Derby and walked around a bit, there was a Christmas Market in the centre of town complete with an oversized windmill, but it was really cool, and it smelled amazing. The visitor information centre was in the town square, so we headed there and got some information, proceeding to the nearest (and cheapest) bed & breakfasts. The first we tried was full up, and although we were in a dodgy area we felt it was fine to check the one down the road as well… The place didn’t have Sylvia or the loving atmosphere of the Sylvia’s place (those of you who are religious readers know Sylvia from Stratford-upon-Avon), but it would do. We dropped our stuff and I had a nap while Steph watched television, and after an hour we headed back out to find some food. We went to a local pub, had some dinner and a local bitter (tasty) and then wandered the city. We found out later that the area we were staying in really was dodgy, and the guy that we’d been making fun of thinking he was probably a drug dealing: sitting in his car all he time listening to music and reading the paper, probably was a drug dealer, as they hang out in that section of town.

We ended up heading home shortly thereafter and getting to bed. We had to share a double bed, but we were fine with it, and it was much more comfortable then the crappy p.o.s. mattresses we had to sleep on at our flats. We ended up in bed around *ahem* 10pm…

The next morning we got up early had showers packed up and headed down to a full English breakfast. It took a while to get all of our food, but it was really quite good. I even got my back-bacon crispy… ish… We headed to the bus station and bought a Wayfarer ticket (which meant we could wander all of the Derbyshire area for the day using most all of the rail and bus transport for free after paying the £7.50 for a ticket. Upon heading to the bus stop and being quite confused by the times and schedules (very unlike the ‘easy’ ones in London) we waited at what we hoped was our stop. This started the downward spiral of waiting and being late so we could wait more. The bus came after about 30 minutes, and after a long ride we arrived 5 minutes too late for the but to Chatsworth house.

Chatsworth House is a huge house located in the South East corner of the Peak District (Britain’s first national park founded in 1955). It is basically a gigantic mansion, and you can tour it for a small fee. So when we arrived in Matlock and discovered that the bus that we’d wanted we just missed, this was after waiting for a while to get the bus from Derby as well we were a little miffed. The schedule said that there’d be another bus in a little over and hour. So we walked around the downtown of Matlock. It was a cute little town, and it was built in a kind of valley, so we headed up a high hill to look down over the town. It was a beautiful view of the valley, with the quaint little homes and stone walls that had been there for a long, long time. You could even see a large castle on the hill looking down over the town, as if guarding from the battlements of an encampment. I really wanted to walk to it, but Stephanie wanted to wait for the bus. It was her plan, I didn’t want to argue. We found that on this hill we’d wandered up, was a field, right on the hill, where there were two cows and a horse just chilling in the sunlight. It was funny to just have them hanging out up there we could have walked right up to them, no fencing, just them on a hill. We gave them a generous berth as we passed, not wanted to disturb them, and after taking a few pictures from the hill headed back into town.
We arrived back at the bus station after stopping in a Yeoman’s camping store to look at backpacks, and waited for the 1:05 bus. 1:00 came and went… 1:05 came and went… 1:10 came and went… 1:15 came and went… I know because I was watching the other buses come in, and the fat drivers conversing and enjoying a midday bite. Finally, at 1:20 I went back to the schedule and next to the 1305 bus time it said… British GMT only… this indicated that it was only during the summer… we were very disheartened. Finally we just said, “fuck it,” and jumped on a bus to Buxton, into the depths of the Peak District.

Except for the extremely dirty windows on the bus, the view was amazing. The Peak District is 555 sq. miles and is incredibly beautiful. I was dazzled by the rock formations, the fields, the plants (that would have had flowers had it been in season). We alighted in Buxton and wandered the city for a while. We went to a downtown shopping centre and enjoyed a Chocolate rum truffle heart, and bought some excellent travel books for really cheap at this interesting little bookstore. The store was located in what used to be the Buxton bath house. The interior was covered in tiles that were robin’s-egg-blue and had very ornate pearl coloured inlays every metre or so. We left there and headed to the High street and shopped at the Clarks store, and a few other places, but finally headed back to the park in the centre of town to take a couple of pictures before going to the bus to head back toward Derby. We stopped in Bakewell to have dinner, by then it was getting dark. We wanted to try and see as much as we could, especially since we couldn’t get deep into the national park without a tour group or a car of our own, so in Bakewell we wandered the village and found a little shop that sold sweets. We walked out a few minutes later, after chatting with the other patrons and the workers about Bakewell and our trip, with two Bakewell Christmas tarts and two gingerbread cookies.

At this point we were a bit hungry, so we stopped into this Aussie place for dinner, and then headed back to the bus, then an hour later the train, and then were back in London a few hours later. All in all a pretty relaxed trip out of town, but still with all of our timing problems, we didn’t get to see as much as we’d wanted. Oh well. Maybe another time, we both vowed that one day we’d have to go back to the Peak District…
Back at home we had to go thru King's Cross, so we went to 9 3/4, yes it is there, and it was fun to just see it... even though the REAL platform 9 3/4 is platform 4... so we went to that too, then headed home. We're dorks, but we love it anyway.

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