Thursday, 20 November 2014

Buses, Basketball and Bakewell Tarts

It’s taken a bit of getting used to, but after two weeks tucked up in our marina in Derbyshire, we have stopped waking in the morning wondering where we are, and whether we need to move or stay put, and roll over. Slowly, a daily routine has emerged which involves a fair bit of hanging around bus stops, chatting to our neighbours (there’s a lot of that), a regulation longish walk along the towpath, marina or neighbouring countryside, and the occasional excursion with our “pontoon pals” to The Boardwalk, the new pub/restaurant on the other side of the marina. It’s all quite pleasant.

An autumnal towpath walk close to the Marina on the Trent & Mersey

One of the reasons we like it here at Mercia Marina so much are the transport links. Most marinas are in very rural locations. Not having a car any more means we have a certain reliance on buses and trains, and we have a lot of choice here. The bus outside the marina goes to Derby one way, and Burton-On-Trent the other and runs every hour. We are about half way between the two.

We went into Derby on Tuesday with my old work colleague Hubert, who had joined us onboard for a couple of days. The plan was to do a bit of a road trip up into the Derbyshire Dales. The forecast was for a brightish day, and we had pencilled in Matlock and Bakewell as destinations. It was a long old journey, about 90 minutes each way, and we did make it to Bakewell, had two hours there and then caught the bus back to Derby. Stunning scenery from the bus and Pat and Hubert had to have a Bakewell Tart while there, taken with afternoon tea in a very ostentatious tea room, down a little alleyway in the centre of the town.

Hubert & Pat in Bakewell

Pat enjoys her Bakewell Tart in Lavender Cafe
Last Saturday we switched to the train and visited Sheffield to see Pat’s Great Nephew Cameron in action. He is playing professional basketball for a local team just outside the city and also working as a teacher in the city.

Cam & Pat

Six foot six Cam hails from just outside Melbourne in Australia, and has played extensively in college basketball across the US, but though our international wanderings are extensive, we had never seen him play. So we were so glad when his team “The Arrows” won their match, beating a talented team from Loughborough by the narrowest of margins – just one point in it. We both thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Cam, though, was a little disappointed with his performance. He is playing down in London early December and we are hoping to be able to get along and see him then as we will be staying in Hendon the same weekend.

Cam in action with "The Arrows"

Back in the summer, when we were in Yorkshire, I travelled a fair distance to Huddersfield to check out a particular brand of ukulele, that I really fancied. Eagle Music in Huddersfield is the only importer of this particular American brand called “Mainland”, but they were quite expensive and I put it to one side.

I did contact the company though about buying direct from them in Illinois, after realising that we are going to be in the US and Canada this December. The price was right and they agreed to make one for me to my specifications and it was delivered to Pat’s sister Monica last week. I think it looks magnificent and can’t wait to play it. I also ordered a brown hard crocodile case for it, so it should be safe on our onward journey to New Zealand and back to the UK. So I have a Kala Tenor Ukulele for sale if anybody is interested out there. Just restrung, with a very nice tone.
My new Mahogany Mainland Ukulele, waiting for me on Vancouver Island
I must say, even if we did want to go out on the boat now, our options are limited. Our nearest lock at Stenson, whose gate paddles have a fearsome reputation, is undergoing a huge facelift and it looks like they are replacing the gates. It’s just one of dozens of locks closed during the winter months for maintenance across the country.

A lot of activity at Stenson Lock, just down the cut from the marina

So that’s about that. We have around two weeks left here, before shutting up shop and heading south for a few days before we fly out. Hope to blog before that though.



  1. Lovely photo of you with Cam, Pat!

  2. That's how small I look Pat next to my tall grandsons looking forward to seeing you both next Sunday x