Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Day 32 - Buxton in Derbyshire - June 1st

The L shaped room...

The Opera House - Buxton

Inside, Jo-Jo's bistro for a great lunch

A new month and a back down on the weather with a distinctly chilly start, as the temperature dropped from 15 degrees at the start of our trip to about 12.5 degrees within an hour or so.

Of the 52 English counties, Derbyshire has to have just about the lowest profile or is the most understated of all.  Ask anyone from overseas what they know about Derbyshire and the response is quite likely to be a short one.   With the UK’s major motorway, the M1, going up from London to the north, Nottinghamshire is alongside on the east and Derbyshire on the west, but where Derbyshire really scores is on the scenery stakes, through the Peak District to the north.  Best known via the TV series “Peak Practice”, it is an unspoilt county and its other main claim to fame as far as we are concerned is Thornton’s Chocolates, manufactured in Belper.  On TV in the UK at the moment though, is a series that may well do more for the county than “Peak Practice”.  Called simply “Chatsworth”, it is an inside look and a behind the scenes look at Chatsworth House – upstairs and downstairs for real.  Our next door neighbours in NZ are avid fans of this country estate, so they will be thrilled to bits when/if it makes it to NZ.
We weren’t going to Chatsworth though, but the spa town of Buxton.  We arrived at the large somewhat stately Palace Hotel on the edge of town about 11:30am and were thrilled to be able to park right outside the front door and to find that our room was ready.  Room 202 is an odd shaped room.  If you can imagine a reasonably sized square room with two windows opening to the rear, then someone comes along and takes a chunk out of the room, including one window, to use as an en suite, you are left with an L shaped room with one window, with the TV set installed just in front of the window and at 90 degrees to the bed.

Bob Hunt, Pete Rudeforth, Mike Henry
 We strolled the few yards into town, well wrapped up and found the Jo-Jo’s Bistro situated in the Miltons Head public house in a pedestrianised street.  Jo-Jo was just writing the special of the day on the blackboard “spaghetti carbonara” – but we had to correct her spelling!
This meal was a revelation.  The spaghetti was perfectly cooked, was a massive portion and although not strictly authentic (thank goodness, as it contained a pile of mushrooms), it came with half a very fresh wholemeal baguette - with plenty of butter.  Considering this was about the 6th pasta carbonara on the trip and we had already done Italy and France, it was a real surprise to get the best of all in Derbyshire.
We strolled through the attractive Pavilion Gardens and back to our oddly shaped room. 
No big deal for one night but our friend Richard, the former road manager for the Chris Barber Band for 25 years was in the room next door, with wife Betty and his room was much larger, so we had a cuppa and a catch up in his room as there was no space in ours!
Richard has many stories of various musicians and supporters such as sound engineers, not just from the Barber band and is an excellent mimic so we were entertained until it was time to head out for a bite to eat, at an establishment right across the road from the concert venue.
Sadly, my cod chips and peas didn’t live up to the Skegness sea front standard.  We then went to the Chris Barber concert in the Opera  house and once again, we marvelled at how 82 year old Chris can play the trombone so well, sing - and do all the announcements, without even being out of breath.
Chris Barber

During the interval, most of the front line of the band enjoyed a drink across the road whilst Chris was still in the foyer, meeting his fans, selling CDs and DVDs, as he was both before and after the concert.  Amazing, and an object lesson in how to communicate with your fans, though many are our age and it is highly unlikely he'd be mobbed!

Afterwards, we headed back to the Palace.  Once we’d escaped from a rowdy bunch of girls celebrating a birthday and found a quieter spot for a drink, Richard managed to continue his story telling.  He should write a book.  (So should Chris...)
A great day even though it has got a bit cooler; we retired to our odd, L shaped room with very squeaky floorboards, which means that if I get up tonight, it will more than likely wake Paula.
Incidentally, today we celebrated 27 years since our first date.

Paula & Betty

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