An Easter(n) Escape part 8 – Some notes from Notts

Tuesday saw us make the drive cross country from the Lincolnshire coast to Mansfield in Nottinghamshire a little under 100 miles away. It wasn’t the pleasantest  of  drives – the high winds that had buffeted Patsy during the night continued but given the fact that we would be heading in to the wind for most of the journey and that Patsy is no lightweight we set off anyway and having taken it pretty gently we arrived on site at around 11:30am. It was easy to find, being just off the A60 on the outskirts of Mansfield and tucked behind a mobile home park. Having paid up front, we checked in and went straight to our pitch. Grass was the only option here and it was a bit soft underfoot so we used the motor mover to position her ladyship rather than churn up the grass with the car – that’s my excuse anyway. All the usual facilities were on site  including – for second time this trip – a shower block with a heated floor. There was only two toilets however and one shower – for the men anyway – and we pondered on how busy it would get over the Easter weekend when the site would more than likely be full.

We did little the rest of the day – I gave some of the ‘van a quick wash in between rain showers – hardly exhilarating stuff but she was getting a dirty cow again. The only real excitement of note was having two little scrotes walk off with our watering can during the afternoon. It was soon retrieved, but its the first time I’ve felt the need to lock our front locker whilst on site.

There was no Wi-Fi and internet access via the phone was poor, so obviously I had to find an office open late to get the blog sent. With main courses at six quid and Wi-Fi thrown in it was good value too!

Wednesday brought with it the promise of more showers so we decided not to go far, opting for a look around Mansfield just a couple of miles or so away. There was a bus stop right outside the site and it would have been nice to have left the car at home again, but having gone online and actually done a bit of research it was cheaper again – much cheaper – like half the price – to take the car in and park and this we did.

Unusually I’d also done a little research on the town and after what I’d read expectations were low – Mansfield being one of the areas that suffered from the pit closures in the 80’s but the market square was pleasant and clean and whilst not exactly bustling there was plenty of people about. The promised thriving market was anything but though with many stalls empty.

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Coffee was procured during our wander and and a couple of garments were added to the Blogger in Black’s wardrobe thanks to a substantial sale rail in one of the department stores. You needn’t ask the colour….

We were getting fed up with dodging the frequent showers and decided to head for the car but not before coming across a set of car keys in the market square. We probably only went around the ring road a couple of times before making the right turn for the police station where we dropped them off. For the record – it was a Citroen key with a Morrison’s loyalty card fob. Hopefully, the owner has already retrieved them.

With noting else of note to report we’ll move straight on to Thursday and our visit to Nottingham – the principal reason for our stop here.

Many transport options were available but we decided instead to take the car to the nearest park and ride and get the tram in to the city centre. All day tickets were on offer and regulars will know what a fan we are of those. The journey once on the tram took just under half an hour to the city centre giving us the chance to see some of the outskirts on the way. For much of the time the tram runs alongside a train line before joining the city’s road network.

I knew very little of Nottingham – other than it had a couple of football teams – was  a big cigarette producer and  now has a bit of a gun problem, so the large old market square that greeted us as we arrived on the tram was a bit of a surprise and a pleasant one too. With the sun out you could almost be forgiven for thinking you were in a plaza in some Spanish city somewhere. Almost.

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First on our radar was the Castle and it’s museum and gardens. Robin Hood inevitably featured in some of the museums displays and exhibitions but there was more to see with clever use of modern tech being employed to keep those of us engaged who spend all day looking and tapping at screens.

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Whilst the museum was interesting,  the gardens were just as enjoyable.

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Next up was a pub. No surprise there then I hear you say, but there was a specific reason so let me tell you. Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem sits half embedded in rock under the castle and claims to be the oldest pub in England. Yeah, another one. Amongst its patrons was one Hilda May Webdale (nee Bradley) A.K.A Trev’s Mum A.K.A. HRH during her time stationed at nearby Chilwell during the war. Anyone who has spent any time in her company will have heard all about her time here. More than once probably. Anyway, at some point during her many visits seventy plus years ago, she – along with many others carved her name in to the wall of one of the little alcoves formed of rock in the pub and our mission was to find it. A needle in a haystack you may think but at first glance we did find the initials ‘HB’. Of course they COULD be someone else’s but they are in the right place according to HRH, so we’re claiming them!

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Of course it would have been rude just to barge in and click off a few photos without having a drink and with nine, count ‘em NINE, real ales on offer we could have stayed all afternoon. And evening.

Still, there was more exploring to be done, so it was back in to the centre and on the tram to the current end of the line at the rail station, before preforming a reverse ferret and getting off at the Lace Market district. As the name suggests, once the hub of the lace trade, now an eclectic mix of bars, clubs, eateries and independent and alternative shops. Oh, and a guy playing a piano on a street corner. Very well. No Burton, Next, Starbucks or any of the usual high street stalwarts around here. I really liked this part of the city and look forward to coming back at some point.

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By late afternoon after a further look around the streets off the old market place we decided to call it a day and headed back to the car park on the tram. Nottingham will certainly take it’s place on the ‘must do again’ list.

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Friday, brought with it rain and a steady stream of arrivals to the site and the mini tractor was employed more than once to get arriving caravans into their pitch across the sodden grass. Much of our  last day, after three weeks away, was spent inevitably sorting out and packing up ready for an early start home on Saturday. However we had a very pleasant diversion in the form of lunch catching up with friends who live nearby that we hadn’t seen for a while.

Saturday, saw an early start back home and we were on the road before 7am for the 210 mile journey south. We drove in and straight out of two service stations that didn’t offer dedicated parking for caravans. It was quiet and we could have pulled up in to the lorry or coach bays but there plenty of signs threatening draconian fines for such transgressions and we didn’t want to risk it for the sake of breakfast. Many will know that it’s against my religion to part with cash for anything other than essentials like beer but it was frustrating WANTING to spend money and being unable to do so without the risk of being fined for it.

And that, everyone was that. Another trip over and some more of Britain discovered and enjoyed. We do live in a truly great and diverse country and in a relatively small space there is so so much to see. Next up at the end of May is Twittercamp which promises to be the biggest yet. If you’re on Social Media and like camping get in touch – it’s at the Caravan Club site at Moreton-in-the-Marsh in the lovely Cotswolds from the 23rd to 31st May Inc. Come for one weekend, a few days or the whole week. You will be very welcome.

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