Edale

One of my most favourite places.

After completing the Pennine Way with my Dad last year (visit his site for the full write up), it took a while for the urge to go walking to resurface. When it did, it was a fairly safe bet that I’d end up here sooner or later.

After a couple of weeks had passed since the worst of the snow had disappeared from the Midlands where I live, I dared venture further north and onto the smaller roads that would take me into the heart of the Peak District. It was still pretty cold up there – the ground was frozen which, on the plus side meant no sinking in bogs (yay!)

On the way up Icy! TreeThe rest of the pics can be found here… One of those rare, perfect walking days when even a short January day is beautiful

 

Weekend Away

A recent weekend trip to visit a friend was blessed by beautiful weather. I left my house early so that I could squeeze in a quick visit to Nine Ladies on the way and was treated with a stunning cloud inversion…

Cloud Inversion from Stanton MoorThe rest of the photos from that weekend can be seen here, the morning cloud inversion ones were taken at Nine Ladies, foggy ones taken at Chatsworth, moorland ones at Longshaw/Higger Tor and Carl Wark and watery ones taken at Damflask Reservoir!

Deja vu

A lot of time seems to have slid past without my noticing it… I feel like this is a familiar thought…

Not too much has happened since I was here last… more storytelling, more work, more films and a festival thrown in there – Shropshire’s Festival at the Edge – which was brilliant and reminded me how great camping in the sunshine can be!

Not optimistic enough to expect any mercy from the wettest April – July on record, I packed only wellies, and so stomped around the baked dry grounds with sweltering feet for three days – but hey! Rather that than sink in flip flops!

Oh and lest I forget – it does seem like ages ago – it was the Summer Solsitice. My partner and I went up to Nine Ladies Stone Circle on Stanton Moor in Derbyshire for the night and were once again lucky with the weather. Click here for a few pictures. The skies might have held back on the rain but there was enough cloud about to mostly hide the sun setting and rising – but at least we could stand and soak up the atmosphere without getting literally soaked ourselves! The atmosphere was actually much better than at Stonehenge – the celebration was a much smaller affair and seemed like mostly local people rather than tourists from all over the country. Stonehenge – whilst it is brilliant that they remove the fences and let celebrants in amongst the stones for the Solstice – seemed a little stifled by all the rules – no tents, no sleeping bags, no naked flames and the huge gantries of floodlights which blazed all night so that it never truly got dark and what would, I imagine, have been an amazing display of stars on the clear night that we were blessed with, was hidden by the glare. At Nine Ladies, people camped in the woods around the stones, lit camp fires and sang and danced and generally had a much less structured, but much more natural good time. I’d definitely rather go there again than to Stonehenge.

In Training

So the Pennine Way is looming larger every day now, since we passed into March, and I realised that it’s high time I took some longer walks with my pack – just to get into the spirit of things.

A not-rainy Thursday off saw me head over to Bradgate Park in Leics for a 10 mile loop taking in Beacon Hill and passing the ruins of Ulverscroft Priory along the way. For once, weather, mood and scenery merged to compliment one another perfectly, and the walk was brilliant – varied and beautiful – very much through English countryside.

For anyone who’s interested – my pack on this excursion weighed about 12kgs, and I completed the 10 milesĀ  just under 4hrs. This was faster than I would have liked, but the Bradgate Park carpark at Newton Linford closed at dusk and, as I didn’t get there until 12.30 – I was worried that their interpretation of dusk would be different to mine and my car would get locked in – so I hurried rather! But I survived, and surprisingly wasn’t too dead and broken at the end, or even the next day, which filled me with hope for the actual Event.

Here are some pics from the walk – just a few – I was hurrying so only took about 80 photos instead of the more usual 100+ ;-) This is just a select few…

Lincoln

I’d never been to Lincoln before. Not entirely sure why – it’s dominated by the majestic cathedral and castle up on the hill, and there’s plenty of other similar attractions throughout the historic city – the medieval Bishop’s Palace, the Roman remains and the old buildings and streets. All in all a fairly perfect place to go, and not too far away either! So, cue a couple of days off and a spur-of-the-moment desicion to go away somewhere, and Thursday morning found me and my boyfriend Mehul boarding the train in Nottingham heading for Lincoln Central.

The weather was lovely, and Lincoln positively glowed – creamy stone and winding streets leading up towards the cathedral which, despite towering over everything for many miles around, managed to stay fairly well hidden until you’re standing right in front of it. Mehul and I had an exclusive roof tour of the cathedral, and our guide was brilliant – so knowledgeable and full of obvious enthusiasm for the place and its history, as well as interesting fact. I couldn’t take enough photos, and those I did take don’t fully convey the sheer size and magnificence of the building which has Norman roots but is now mostly “Early English Pointed” in its style! :-)

The castle too was interesting – the part under scaffold and wrap is the original motte built at William the Conqueror’s orders as he fortified his rule across the country. Norman castle contains Victorian prison and Gothic Crown Court, and houses Lincoln’s copy of Magna Carta. The charter is housed in it’s own exhibition and again we met very knowledgable and interesting guides, who were only too keen to share their information – without being pushy.

Of the 359 photos I took – I managed to whittle them down to a brief collection of 65 (!) A return trip will definitely be in order – perhaps once the summer season has started and more tours, exhibitions and displays are open. Sometimes you don’t have to go very far for a brilliant holiday!

London Trip

Aside from the holocaust exhibition, the rest of my London trip wasn’t all gloom and doom. Camden revealed hitherto undiscovered market halls – admittedly they didn’t take much discovering but still… and the Imperial War Museum as a whole was fantastic.

Photos of markets and museum… here

The main reason for the trip was to go and see Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. I’d seen the 2004 film and absolutely loved it, but never the musical. It was absolutely spectacular – every bit as passionate and gripping as the film, and amazing for the fact that it was being done right there in front of us. The effects that were achieved through lighting and stage design were brilliant, unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and the full orchestra did complete justice to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s eternally amazing songs and score. I can’t recommend it enough, and I definitely want to go and see more things at the theatre!

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

There’s a sign as you enter the Holocaust Exhibition in the Imperial War Museum in London, “not suitable for children under 14″ and as my Mum mentioned, it’s depressing when you’re considered old/mature enough to delve into the sheer inhumanity of what people do to other people.

Of course the Holocaust isn’t the only example of such horrors, but time hasn’t lessened the shadow it casts, and nor should it. Everyone should go to this exhibition, or one of the many others like it, to know in their hearts and bones as well as academically why it was so awful.

Walking round, the photos, quotes and various interpretations slowly hammer home the truths of what people did to others because of elitist ideals and the power to carry out acts which should never have been spoken aloud, let alone put into practice. I’m usually pretty good at putting myself into other people’s shoes, empathising and understanding, but here the understanding didn’t come. Probably couldn’t come – the scale of suffering and horrors dealt out to ordinary people because they didn’t fit one man’s staggeringly arrogant and just plain wrong plans was so beyond anything I’ve experienced of life that it didn’t compute. The actual footage, of people being shot, and of the clean-up of the camps at the end of the war was harrowing and undeniably real. I fully understood why halfway round there was a “quick exit” routeĀ  for those for whom it was all a bit much. It was all a bit much.

I stayed to the end of the exhibition, and as I mentioned before I think everyone should just once. But I wouldn’t want to go again. I will remember.

Gigs

Standing in the pit – one cell in the body of the crowd-beast – surrounded by people singing the same words as you and being shaken by the same bass as you.

I love going to gigs – live music is almost without fail one hundred times better than the same track on a cd or an mp3 player. For me, as well as the obvious in-the-fleshness of the music and the band, being in the depths of a like minded crowd is something you can’t beat. Of course you get the odd idiot, but I’ve been lucky and only seen them from afar.

As I write this I’ve just got in from a Frank Turner gig. Without wanting to brag I’ve been to a fair few gigs over the years, in various sizes of venue from bar to arena to festival and everything inbetween. Frank Turner’s shows are among the best. And it’s the crowd – several thousand people all linked and joining together to sing the words this one man wrote – that make it so special. He ended this gig with a massive sing-along, encouraging even the bar staff and security guards to sing because, as the man himself said, if everyone sings along right there and then, it becomes something more than five guys on stage screaming at a crowd for 90 minutes, it becomes something special, lifting us all as equals out of the mundanity of everyday life and joining us in something greater and transcendental.

That’s why I love going to gigs, and that’s why I love standing on the floor, despite the times when you can’t always see and you’re crushed between the big sweaty guy in front and the barrier behind. It’s all about being part of something and joining in to make the night something more than you can get at home with your headphones in.

Derbyshire Jaunt

I decided, at about 11pm last night, that I wanted to make use of my day off and visit the Nine Ladies Stone Circle up on Stanton Moor in Derbyshire. Trent Barton run an excellent bus service (Transpeak) upto Manchester from Notts which calls at Rowsley, so I got off there and walked! Once I’d reached the circle, I decided I might as well carry on and check out Robin Hood’s Stride on the other side of Birchover. It’s always nice to revisit places you’ve been to ages ago, and I wasn’t disappointed today!

Check out the pictures here.

Loyaulte Me Lie

I went to Bosworth Battlefield this Sunday just gone for their anniversary re-enactment weekend and had a brilliant day! There was loads to see, the displays in the main arena were great and I managed to get close enough to the ringside that during the final moments of the last battle that I felt the ground shake as Richard III made his last desperate charge to try and kill Henry Tudor.

Richard III fascinates me; the controversy that surrounds him and how even now, after centuaries of debate, no one really knows – or probably ever will know the truth about fundamental parts of his legend. The book that first piqued my interest was Freda Warrington’s fabulous – and fantastical – The Court of the Midnight King. I fell in love with her interpretation of Richard from the first read and then, upon further exploration along such lines as Paul Murray Kendall’s Richard the Third biography, and visits to Bosworth my interest was cemented. If you do visit Bosworth, a look around their heritage centre and a guided tour of the “battlefield” is essential to understand what was lost and gained in this battle where the last Plantagenet King of England led the last charge on a battlefield and became the last king to die in battle.

A couple of pics below: for the full gallery click here.

Even the catering was authentic! ;-)

Cannon smoke drifts like morning mist, muffling the shouts and amplifying the clash of weapons

The King is dead! Long live the King!