Walk: Clumber Park

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Bridge over Clumber Lake (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

New Year’s Day dawned bright and relatively clear and we wanted to kick off our new “regular walking regime” with an actual walk. But where to go?

We wanted somewhere a bit flat (because we’re just starting). We wanted somewhere near water (because we both like water). We wanted somewhere the poet could have a go on his new “spotting scope” (because it was his new Christmas toy and he wanted to play with it). We wanted a National Trust property (because we’ve paid for it). And we wanted somewhere fairly close-by (because we didn’t want to spend the limited daylight hours at this time of year driving and only an hour of daylight walking).

So where to go?

Our choices included Nostell Priory (but we weren’t sure what would be open), Calke Abbey (but that might be better visited on our way back from Birmingham one day), and Clumber Park (but we’ve been there before – lots of times). We settled for Clumber Park for the flatness, because we know there’s birdlife, and we knew it would be empty … And anyway, as there’s a path all the way round, I wouldn’t even need my walking boots …

Ho ho ho – how wrong were we on those last 2 counts?

So we packed our picnic, packed the car, and headed off. Within 45 minutes we were there.

And it was PACKED.

And very, very MUDDY.

We had to go through 2 different checks to get in on our membership cards and then drove around for a while, in the regular car park, looking for a space. And we found one that was just being vacated.

Clumber Park has lots of facilities for visitors, including bicycle hire (and power cycles), gift shops, nature trails, things for kids to do, several cafeterias, a church, a walled garden – I love the walled garden but (a) the dog isn’t allowed, and (b) it was closed on this visit. The dog, however, is allowed everywhere in the grounds SO LONG AS HE’S KEPT ON A LEAD … there were a number of other dog owners there who really need to know that this applies to them as well.

(Mini rant alert) If there are other people about, especially children, or other dogs, or livestock, or signs that request it, we always keep our dog on a lead. He’s not vicious, but he is playful. Very playful. Quite excitable. And a nuisance. So when other dogs come up to him that aren’t on leads to sniff at him, he may think they’re coming to play and he goes into play mode. But if that’s not what they want, they can go into snap mode – and that causes our dog to go into snap mode too. He also has a massive BARK. And then it risks getting nasty. OUR DOG IS KEPT ON A LEAD FOR A REASON. Please respect that when you see other dog walkers around. And please, please, PLEASE respect the signs. They really do apply to you too. Those who don’t keep their dogs under control risk having dogs banned from that attraction for ever – and that really isn’t fair on those of us who do keep them under control. (End of mini rant)

So anyway, we headed off across the lawn to the lakeside and started our walk. By this time I had put my walking boots on … and my gaiters, as it really was very wet and muddy underfoot, with path-wide puddles up to the ankles in some places. It was incredibly busy and we tried to keep to the grassed and wooded parts, where we saw a rhododendron coming to life after the autumn hibernation and a white squirrel. There were grey squirrels playing too, but the white one was quite a treat.

The poet took pictures of the ducks, the geese, the swans, the other waterfowl. He took pictures of the surroundings. He took pictures of us.

About halfway around, just over the first bridge, there was an ice cream van and a snack bar. We’d left the picnic in the car but I needed some sugar to get me back there. So we both had mince pies, I had an ice cream, and we shared a bottle of Coca Cola. The dog was far too excited to have anything, especially as all of these hundreds of people were obviously there just to see him! (And in fact, some of them were!)

I checked MapMyWalk and we’d done just under 2 miles, so that didn’t feel very good.

We walked a bit further to where the poet could set up his telescope, and we stayed a while to see what he could see through that. We met a labradoodle and a jackshit (a cross between a jack russell and a shiatsu!). The lab was yampy, the jack was very sweet – and quite quiet for a jack.

By the time we got back to the car we were ready for our picnic. The weather had stayed dry and we’d walked more than 4 miles, but the dog was filthy and needed a good rub down before being allowed back in the car. He had a big, long drink, helped us with our picnic, and then fell asleep.

The walk was nice and flat, if muddy underfoot. It’s further than we’ve walked just lately but it was doable. We were both stiff when we got out of the car at home 45 minutes later, and I was quite achey the following morning (so was the poet, but his was gigor mortis). But it was a nice, easy walk to start with and had plenty to see and do on the way around.

MapMyWalk

clumber park mapmywalk

 

More writing homework

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Police house, Moreton in Marsh (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Extra homework
The house pictured above is the old police station in Moreton in Marsh. When we visited, it had recently sold.

  1. Write a short story around the building when it was still used by the police. OR …
  2. Write a short story around the new owners – who are they, what do they do for a living, why would they want an ex-police station, will they live there, will they work there, will they set up a detective agency there, enter your own ideas here … OR …
  3. Research, query and write a photo-feature on historic police stations/police houses in your county/area/state, targeting your local county magazine or any of the heritage magazines. OR …
  4. Do all 3.

Let us know what you do and how you get along.

I was going to say that this past week had turned into another 4-day week – I’m starting to get used to those. But then I remembered that I worked on Sunday too, so while it should have been a 6-day week, it was actually a 5-day week.

It’s been a busy week (again!) with the poet away for 2 days in Scotland. I mean, for those 2 days I had to make my own meals and everything!

Before he went away, on Monday, he fetched home a carrier bag filled with cooking apples. There must be getting on for 10lb in there. I don’t know if he was expecting to return to apple pies and apple crumbles, but he didn’t. I’ve been wondering all week the best way to preserve said apples and I may actually do some cooking at the weekend.

While he was away, an overflow pipe started to run, which turned out to be the hot water expansion tank. On Tuesday I’d bled a stone cold radiator in the en suite bathroom. It was totally empty and took ages to refill. But now we think the hot water system may have been using that radiator as an expansion radiator. The plumber came yesterday (Tom the Gas), and he said the expansion tank has never been supported properly and the base it’s on is now bowing to the extreme that water’s sploshing over the outlet pipe.

It’s going to be a big job that will mean draining down the entire hot water system. And while I can hardly wait for the upheaval, it would have been worse had the tank come crashing down bringing half the house with it. And, fortunately, we don’t have to pay for it, although I have suggested stats for all of the radiators while he’s at it that we may have to contribute to.

I have a busy day ahead, tying up another heavy edit and getting that submitted, raising invoices (hurrah!) – note, that was plural (double hurrah!). And it’s a 2-gig weekend for the band, both in Doncaster. So not only does that mean gigor mortis, it also means 2 very late nights (2 – 3am finishes). I can’t see us squeezing much else in over the weekend, other than maybe a gentle drive to the shops, perhaps some baking (though I may cheat and get some ready-made pastry), and a visit to the poet’s parents perhaps. The poet’s working in the Midlands on Monday, so he’s going to drop into my parents on his way home – if I make apple pie, he may have to drop one in for me.

Have a great weekend.

“Gigor Mortis”

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Monkey Dust at the Horse and Groom in Doncaster (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

I don’t know which of our friends was the first to coin the phrase “gigor mortis” in our world, but if I did I’d like to credit him/her here (and you probably know who you are). I’ve tried Googling it, but it keeps defaulting to rigor mortis, or it gives me something in German, or takes me to an empty page. But anyway, basically it sums up how the poet – and many like him – feel after playing a gig.

Sore. All over.

This weekend was no different, but it was compounded by him then getting “fisho mortis”, which is something very similar but this time as a result of sitting on the banks of a fishery in rapidly decreasing temperatures without moving or shifting position.

I know how he feels, but they call mine “arthritis”. And it is made worse after standing up (or sitting uncomfortably) at a gig for several hours, or sitting on the chilly banks of a fishery. I got to sit down quite comfortably at Saturday’s private party, though, and he was fishing a match yesterday so I stayed home. But he was suffering doubly last night, poor thing, so I doped him up and sent him to bed, where he spent much of the night cocooned within the folds of a continental quilt (that’s a duvet to everyone else).

[EDIT] I have been reliably informed that the person who first used the expression in our circle of friends was Mike “Smikus” Stringer of Motus.

We did have a busy weekend again, despite secretly hoping to be doing diddly squat on Saturday (a do diddle day). We still didn’t plan anything for during the day, but when we got up we decided it was about time we went into the branch of our mutual building society to do three lots of admin that we’d been told we couldn’t do online or on the phone. “Just drop into a branch and they’ll do it there.”

Ha! They couldn’t do anything.

I wanted to change the name on my account and had to take our marriage certificate into a branch. But she couldn’t do it there, she had to send it off to head office. The poet wanted to change some details on his bank account. But they couldn’t do that for him, he had to make an appointment. And we wanted to open a joint account, as we both have individual accounts with them already. But they couldn’t do that for us either, we had to do it by phone …

I’ll pause for a moment while you go back and re-read the penultimate and last sentences of the paragraph three above this one …

It was at that point that I said, very loudly (as I apparently do when in public and wanting to make a point without actually directly addressing anyone … moi?): “Nat West said they could do this for us straight away. I think we should just go there …” To which the poet replied (also loudly): “You’re right. You’d think us both having accounts here already, and with all the ID we need with us, and them telling us to drop into branch, they’d just be able to do it. What a joke.”

And, miraculously, the lady interrupted to say: “Well, if it’s a joint account you want, [we did tell her that] you can do that yourselves just over here …”

We couldn’t. We still had to make a phone call. But at least by the time we came out we’d done at least one of the things we’d gone in to do. We had a shiny new joint account … which is where the new tent fund is going. For starters.

I wish we’d known we were going to be in Barnsley, though, as the third of my 3 errands on Friday was postponed due to the other one being brought forward and me being stuck miles away. The outstanding errand was to drop in the heavy proofread to the publisher, but we didn’t have it with us. I can see me taking that to the post office this week after all.

After the bank we had a wander round the town centre, visited the food festival that was on there, and bought some giant pears from the market. Then it was off to the tackle shop to get his bait for Sunday’s pole fishing match.

The afternoon was spent with him doing prep work, cutting the grass, and tweaking a painting, and me doing some reading, making a few notes for some short writing work, and a few hours on one of the many jobs I already have in.

Then it was off to the party in two cars, me 90 minutes after him, for the wedding of the daughter of a friend of ours. The band don’t often like doing weddings because the audience hasn’t chosen to see them or their particular music. But they went down really well with a rammed dance-floor all night. Monkey Dust would like to take that audience with them everywhere they go.

On Sunday, he was up early and drawing his peg for 9am, which was about the time I was getting up. And again, I caught up on more reading, more writing work, and more client work. He won second in his section and we had a takeaway for tea – mostly because the gigor mortis had already set in and the fisho mortis was starting, and he didn’t feel like cooking. (I would have put a ready-made pie in the oven, but he didn’t want to put me out … 😉 )

And so to today and this week. I still have lots of editing work to be getting on with, but with NaNoWriMo around the corner, I also have something percolating for that and may be ready to start prep work either this week or next. It’s all my work this morning, though, and all client work this afternoon, which is what I’ve been striving for. Then this evening I have to go back for the second part of my new patient check at our new GP, and tomorrow I’m dropping the poet off at the railway station at the crack of dawn as he’s off to Scotland for 2 days.

What are you up to this week?