Thursday, 13 September 2012

Late Summer Adventures, Part One: The Peak District

Why, hello.  The blog has been rather quiet lately, hasn't it?  I think I have a good excuse - I've barely been at home in the last two and a half weeks.

First, Tim and I took advantage of the August bank holiday (and the fact that I had to be in Sheffield for two days at the end of August for a conference anyway), and had a wee Peak District vacation.  I felt a bit like Elizabeth Bennet the whole time, though there were no Mr Darcys to be seen, sopping wet or otherwise.

We stayed in a little country cottage, with a great view across the Rivelin Valley to the hills beyond.  Oh, the hills.  Coming from Saskatchewan, whose southern half is extraordinarily flat, it was lovely to see hilly country, all partitioned into pasture land for cows and sheep.

We took a bus to Peveril Castle, which is Norman and still has a standing tower and bits of walls.  We also wandered around the completely delightful and literally named Castleton.  And we took the tour through the Peak Cavern, which marked the first time I had ever been inside a cave.
And then, we rented a car.  Because we were out in the country and therefore without great transit links, I figured a car would be the easiest way to get to and from my conference site and get down to Chatsworth.  Of course, this meant that for the first time ever, I had to drive in the UK, on the "wrong" side of the road!  Happily, I discovered that the driver's controls are set up exactly the same as they are in North America.  I had had visions of the gas and brakes being reversed and thought of the horrors that could ensue.  Having cycled around Oxford for a year, I was pretty used to staying in the left lane.  What I wasn't used to was 1) downtown Sheffield's horrifying, multi-lane roundabouts and 2) keeping to the right of my lane, so as not to hit cyclists or parked cars.

But it all turned out all right and by end of the trip I was confident enough to actually go the speed limit, even though the roads were much curvier and narrower than the ones I was used to.  Especially on the way to Chatsworth, I ended up driving on some very narrow country lanes that could only accomodate one car at a time.  I don't know how British drivers don't get killed in head-on collisions all the time, going up and down hills and around corners on roads like that.
We both really liked Chatsworth, especially the library.  Pride and Prejudice (2005, the one with Keira Knightley) fans might recognize the house as the one they used for Pemberley.

We also liked the nearest attraction to us, easily reached by the public footpaths - the Rivelin itself, which once powered up to twenty mills, including some of Sheffield's famous cutlery making ones.  It was great fun to walk along it and see the various man-made weirs and canals.
 And then Tim had to head back to Oxford, leaving me to attend to first two days of the annual conference of the British Association of Victorian Studies, otherwise known as BAVS 2012.

More to come...

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