Monday, 27 October 2008

birthday weekend part three - hungry

Saturday morning we were up bright and early. Bob went downstairs and bought a litre of milk and 2 bags of doughnut type things. I thought that would help us get on the road, as we didn't want to eat at the Eat In again.

The night before, I had Taryn look in my "Where to go in Britain" book and see what she liked. She picked out the National Tramway Museum in Criche. We looked at their website, and they were having a haunted tram ride thing on Sat night. We thought it was worth looking into to see if the daytime rides were acceptable.

Anyway, we got on the A50 (the road our hotel was on) toward Derby. About where we were to turn up on the A6, Bob spotted a McDonald's. As everyone was still hungry, we exited. This McDonald's was at a sort of shopping center. I haven't seen a worse organized one since we tried to get to Fry's electronics in the DFW area. It was a big place, with a Toys R Us, an electronic store, and some other stuff. Lots of parking. But each section was separated from the other by roundabouts and one-way roads. The McDonald's was backwards to the rest of the place, so we had to drive all the way around it and then turn in at 180* to hit the parking lot. But there was a parking lot. And empty tables inside. So we went in, got a table, and went to order. >insert shocked emoticon with buggy eyes here< They don't have biscuits. Pancakes (which in England is considered dessert, so don't tell me biscuits don't translate), McMuffins, and bagels. Hum. Oh, and there was a "bacon roll" - bacon on a roll - with your choice of "brown sauce" or ketchup. So Bob and the children got bacon and sausage egg cheese McMuffins, and I got the bacon roll no sauce. The bacon is really smoked ham. At least we were mostly full.
We made our way across the parking lot to the grocery store, and Bob went in to get a soda and candy bar.

We found our way out of the place, back on the road, and headed to the tramway museum. I went in to see what it was like, and all the employees were in dracula costumes, and were busily hanging witches and ghosts around the room. So we decided to skip it. I think my parents would really like to visit this place with us when they come, so we can wait til then.

On our way there we saw a tower, so we went to see about that. It was a war memorial thing, and cost 1 GBP per car to go in. So we went. High on a hill, it was very windy and cold. (I can't remember if it was raining already at this time or not.) Oh, and I forgot to mention on part 2, that we noticed Ella didn't have a coat in the car. I know I'd got out 2 for her, but they didn't make it. So she wore Naysha's sweater, and here I also put my sweater over that, tied up at the bottom, and she had a hat and a scarf. We walked around and admired the misty views and got wet and cold.

Back in the car, Bob asked me to drive. We were headed to Castleton, in the peak district. It was past lunch time, so I pulled into a pub in a picturesque village. It was pretty much deserted when we went in. We found a couple of tables, made our order, and Bob showed the children how to play pool while we waited for the food. Other people came in, and they sat in the other side of the building. :-) I followed William around, and looked out the back door over the "beer garden" and down the hill to the river. It was very pretty. The food finally came, right before the pool game was over (Naysha hit the winning shot). We sat down to a decent lunch, and then (after, of course, trips to the toilet) we went out the back to see the river. There were ducks. And yes, it was raining, but it was so pretty we didn't mind.

I drove on to Castleton, which was less crowded than in the summer, but I still had a hard time getting a parking space. Got parked, and walked across town and up the mountain to Peveril Castle (also written about by Scott). I had William in my "pouch," and that extra 20lbs on me was a good reminder of the weight I've lost. I don't want to go back. It is a long, steep track up to the castle, and I got out of breath. Bob was just strolling along like it was nothing. Which reminded me how important regular exercise is. At the top of the hill there were great views over the town and surrounding hills, and some castle remains. Then there was a bit more hill, to see the main part of the ruins, which I was sure contained more stairs. So I sat on a bench that didn't look too wet and talked to William while the others went on up. I was nearly light-headed from the climb, and really needed to rest. It stopped raining as we headed back down, so that was nice.

We collected the car and went to the cave on the far side of town: Speedwell Cavern, a former lead mine. There wasn't a line this time, so we went on in. We paid the fee, picked out hard hats and waited a minute for the crowd to gather. Then we went down 105 steep wet steps into the mountian. Bob had Ella and I carried William. The stairs were made a little worse for the fact that the ceiling was low and we had to bend over. But we made it. Bob slipped once, and Cedwryck slipped once to a hard sitting down, but caught himself by his grip on the rail. At the bottom of the stairs was a boat, about 4 feet wide, and 6 seats long. We climbed in, and went down a little river/cave about 4 1/2 to 5 feet wide, and about 3 feet high (above the water line). There were occasional lights along the way to break the darkness. At the end of the journey we got out in a large-ish cavern and looked bown the "bottomless pit" and up at the stalactites. Then back to the stairs. Our guide tried to make things interesting and dramatic. At one point Riah asked him if the boats ever sink. He laughed at how serious and worried Riah was, but reassured him it was all very safe.

Back to the car. I drove on around the hill and toward home. As it was getting dark, and no restaurants in sight, I pulled into a grocery store and Bob went in for a loaf of bread to tide us over. William had about 4 slices on the way. Bob drove after that. One town we drove through was VERY crowded. Stores were open, people massed on the sidewalks, parking lots had men in reflective vests directing traffic. What was going on? Then I saw a sign at a shopping area on the edge of town - parking for the fireworks display would be charged. Ah! Fireworks. We kept going, not being crazy about crowds (or standing around in the rain).

We sort of accidently ended up back on the A52 at Derby, and there was the same shopping center we'd had breakfast at. Why not? I suggested the Pizza Hut, but it was packed. So we tried to get to the Burger King, but missed a turn and were on the highway's onramp (going to wrong way)!!! So Bob took control of the situation, and did a tight U-turn back into the shopping center. We got to Burger King, which was completely empty. We sat down, and I got high chairs while Bob used the toilet. He said there was blood everywhere, like someone had gone in there to wash a cut. So I took the boys to the girl's room, but it was out of paper. So I took the girls to the handicapped toilet. It had everything.
Then we ordered, but they were out of fruit bags. Anyway, the Angus burgers were delicious. They were also out of napkins in the dispensers. I think we embarrased the manager, because we kept finding all these things that weren't done. He was personally cleaning the dining room as we ate.

We found our way back to the hotel, and settled in for the night. Only one snag - we got booted off the internet (which is part of our home package to have unlimited service in hotspots), so we couldn't look up things for the next day.

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