Winter ramblings around Buxton

It’s been a long winter.  The weather has not been that harsh, just a constant wave of wet, windy and snowy weather.  It’s certainly not been inviting enough to get me outdoors.  For some reason I seem to have hibernated this year, and I must say I really don’t like it.  It makes me feel old and I’m not!  So, this weekend it was all change and even though the weather forecast was not great I was determined to get out on a little local walk.

The forecast was for heavy snow showers and for once the forecast was correct, we set out in a blizzard with cold snow splattering the face – why is it whichever direction you walk, you are always walking into the wind?

As this was a local walk for me it was in Buxton, Derbyshire.  Setting out from home took me first through the Victorian Pavilion Gardens, and then up through the woods of the Buxton Country Park to Solomon’s Temple.  From Solomon’s Temple you get magnificent views of the surrounding hills in every direction.   I was hoping once we got to the top the low clouds would have cleared, and luckily they had. Here are my snaps along the way.

Mr Husband walking ahead as usual

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Nearly at the top

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Low clouds over the tops

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Through the woods on the way back down

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

You’ll notice there’s no picture of Solomon’s Temple, sorry about that.  I’ve seen it so many times I forgot to take a picture, so here’s one I took today from the window of my home, it sits high on a distant hill.

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

You can find out more about Solomon’s Temple if you follow the link.  The 20ft (6 metre) tower was restored by the Victorians in the 1890s.  Spookily, over the years there has been a number of reports of dogs leaping from the top of the tower, which takes a bit of effort as there is a high surrounding wall.  In fact, a dog I know recently did this for no apparent reason, luckily she was not hurt.  Very strange – don’t you think?

During the night Buxton had another fall of snow, which was accompanied this morning by bright blues sky.  So on went my boots and here are a few more snaps I thought you might like to see.

Blue sky over Buxton Opera House

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

The River Wye meandering through the park

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Buxton Pavilion

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Icicles hanging from the tunnel

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

I think the ducks like the snow

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Hope you are awakening from your hibernation, outside is much better than inside in don’t you think?

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Why you should explore Faro, Portugal

We are firmly back on the travel trail as I’ve finally sorted out pictures from my recent trip to Faro, Portugal.  So sit back and let me show and tell.

Now in the past my knowledge of Faro has been an airport for those wanting to escape to the Algarve. Apparently it has 45 airlines flying in, including the largest number of low cost airlines.   Faro sits on the south coast of Portugal and is a town steeped with history….and it gets HOT in the summer months.  You can see many of my holiday criteria are already being ticked.  If you want to find out more about Faro’s history etc take a trip to the Wikipedia site but not just yet!

We landed into Faro Airport late on a Sunday afternoon wearing jeans, trainers and a rain jacket (don’t forget I’d left my house in Buxton UK in the morning). It was baking, the sky was the bluest sky I’d ever seen. I was going to see a lot more of that colour before the end of the holiday.  Having navigated out of the airport, not always straight forward for me navigating out of large buildings.  I once got trapped in Oslo railway station and inside a massive hotel in Los Angeles, but they are other stories.

There was a bus stop just outside the airport and we took the local bus into Faro.  Our backpacking adventure had begun.  The room where we were staying (all the details at the end) was about a 15 mins walk up a gentle hill from Faro bus station. I’m used to hills…..just not heat.  Once we’d settled in and replaced our clothes with something more suited to the climate we were off to explore.  But not before soaking in the view from our terrace, it was fab.

faro view from apartment

Now I’m not going to take you through and blow by blow account of what we did,  I just hope to give you a feel of the place.

The Town

Faro town centre is a very pretty maze of narrow streets that meandered us towards to the harbour front.  The shopping areas are well punctuated with cafes and restaurants, with tables spilling out into the black and white tiled streets, especially by night.  I loved the canopies draped from building to building to keep the streets shady.

The buildings and squares around Faro provide a very pleasing backdrop for a stroll.

And you can also go stork spotting, they seemed to be nesting on every tall build.  Their nests were remarkably large. Spot the two on the tips of the towers

Then a relaxing promenade along the marina.

faro marina

The food

The choice of places to eat and drink was never ending, too much choice is not always a good thing as I’ve said before.  We did a lot of walking trying to decide where to eat and then ending up in the first place we passed, sounding familiar? I like to try local food rather than eat what I’m used to, and if next to the sea love to have a bit of seafood.  Mr Husband is not so keen on the seafood front but was willing to share this big cataplana, which I since found out is the name of the pan used to prepare Portuguese seafood and it was big, the size of a wok. There was much cracking of shells, squirting of juices and generally getting in a bit of a mess, however it was delicious and sitting outside on a warm evening with a glass of dry white, it was perfect.  I also took a trip to the local undercover market.  There was a vast array of fresh bread, pastries, fish, meat and vegetables and if we had been staying in a self catering apartment I would have made much better use of the place. But let’s take a look at that cataplana…..

cataplana faro

The beach

What better way to work off a hearty cataplana than a trip to the beach.  I’m guessing the reason Faro is not more holiday-fied is because you have to make a little effort to get to the beach. I’d already done my research at home (all in the holiday folder!) and saw there was a regular bus to from the town to the beach, about a 20 minutes ride.  However that was all put to one side as the person who showed us around our room mentioned she really enjoyed getting to the beach by boat and pointed us into the direction of the harbour.  There were plenty of opportunities for boat rides around the Ria Formosa, the coastal lagoon that separates Faro from the Atlantic.  If you’re a nature lover its definitively worth an explore (rare birds & seahorses). Our little trip to the beach using the ferry boat allowed us to enjoy the lagoon on the way.  The trip took about 30 mins each way.  The pictures below show the boat and the beach with golden sand stretching as far as the eye could see…… there was no overcrowding here and the waves were great. I’ve inked out the lady lying on the beach!! If it’d been a pic of me I would have left it in but it wouldn’t have been pleasant.

OK so we’ve done the beach, the food, strolling in the streets, so that just leaves the chapel of bones!  I wasn’t going to visit the Chapel as seemed a bit gruesome, but for you I went. Apparently the 4 by 6 meter sized chapel is built of the bones of more than 1000 Carmelite monks and has been inaugurated in 1816. It is situated behind the main church (Igreja do Carmo) and contains also 1245 skulls.  I didn’t count the skulls or stay too long.

To sum up

So what did I think of Faro.  If you like busy streets, a beach on the doorstep, burgers and fries and lots of attractions then Faro is not for you.  However, as these are all the things I try and avoid I loved it.  Small enough to explore on foot and yet enough to do to keep you very occupied for 3-4 days without having to go further a field. I looked forward to returning Faro at the end of my trip, which must have been a good sign.  But for now it was backpacks packed and a downhill stroll to catch the bus to Seville so keep following.

Do you think Faro might be somewhere for you to  visit?

Accommodation facts

3 Nights Bellavita City Apartments Faro.  We stayed in a room on the top floor so had a great view.  Room and terrace was very spacious and clean.  We had access to a shared kitchen and fridge but its not somewhere you would cook, just heat up food if needed. We just used the plates and glasses etc.  About 10 minutes walk downhill to the marina and of course a 10 min walk uphill back to the apartment. I would stay here again.

2 Nights Hotel Sol Algarve.  Central place for one or two nights.  It had a nice little courtyard for breakfast.  Only a few minutes walk from the bus station and main areas of the town (all flat).  Looking at the pictures on the site I think room size varied, maybe ours was not the biggest.  I would stay again but politely ask for a room with a private terrace or balcony.

explore faro

Backpacking for the over 50s? My holiday adventure.

This is the first in a series of posts telling you all about my recent travels. My aim is to give you some ideas for planning your own holiday if like me, as you’ve got a bit older (both Mr Husband and myself are the other-side of fifty) a big summer holiday has taken a bit of a back seat in the hurly-burly of daily life.  Our year instead is punctuated with last minute weekends away, which although nice don’t quite hit the relaxation spot. We’ve been on a few longer trips in the past few years (Jordan, South Africa) since the children have flown the nest, but these have been prompted by family events rather than being for the sole purpose of a holiday.

Now you might say booking a holiday is easy so what’s the issue, just go to a travel-agent site and book a package deal, everything is sorted, flights, accommodation, transfers. However, I’ve only ever done this once and I felt a little bit out of control of my own destiny, yes crazy I known. I would much rather put the holiday together myself and if it all goes wrong…..well I will just have to sort it out. So early this year I finally got my planning head back on and set organising a trip.

The Criteria

When planning I always find it useful to have a bit of a check list, and these were criteria for this holiday.

  1. Needed to be somewhere hot and sunny, guaranteed! Rain was not an option. I live in Buxton I just needed to dry out and warm up (only joking, the weather is not that bad – really).
  2. Needed to be able to fly from my local airport and the flight time needed to be 3 hours max.  I love to travel, just not by plane. Luckily for me Manchester is my local airport so there was plenty of choice.
  3. Needed to be a beach focused holiday allowing me a splash about in the sea but needed to have other things of interest as I get bored sitting on the beach everyday.
  4. Needed to have a good variety of local food and wine.  Most (all) of our family holidays have revolved around sampling local food, it’s just part of our holiday. I’m not an all-inclusive holiday person.
  5. Needed to be somewhere featured in the recent Rick Stein Long Weekend TV show aired last year. For those who don’t know Rick Stein is a British restaurateur and TV chef etc. I know that sounds a strange criterion but every time I watched this show I would say “we should go there”. It also narrowed our destinations, too much choice can be a bad thing you know.
  6. Needed to be able to travel using public transport. Didn’t want to hire a car.
  7. Needed not to be too expensive – budget airline and mid-price accommodation, lets not go wild with the kids inheritance just yet.

So not a lot of boxes to tick – as you can see I’m quite easy to please (ha ha). The place I chose to centre the holiday around was Cadiz, a city on the South West coast of Spain. However it’s a tricky place to fly to so I planned a bit of multi-centre trip, Faro to Seville, Seville to Cadiz and back again.  It was going to be a mini-trek as we were only going to take a backpack each as I do love travelling just with hand luggage.  I hate waiting for suitcases, would much rather cram everything into a back-pack or just not take it, liberating don’t you think?  How many clothes could you need for twelve days in hot weather??  Mr Husband was a bit concerned but we did a practise run and got everything in.

So everything was decided.  Here’s the basic itinerary

Itinerary 

  • Local bus from Buxton to Manchester airport
  • Return flights Manchester to Faro Portugal (Ryanair)
  • Local bus from airport to Faro town
  • 3 Nights in Faro
  • Bus from Faro to Seville
  • 2 Nights in Seville, Spain
  • Train from Seville to Cadiz, Spain
  • 5 Nights in Cadiz
  • Train back to Seville followed by bus back to Faro, all in one day
  • 2 Nights in Faro before getting the bus to the airport and early flight back to Manchester and bus back to Buxton

Here are some pictures to keep you going……..

 

All tickets and accommodation were booked online about 4 months before we went……easy?  It may all seem a bit complicated but not in the era of the internet. I booked all the accommodation through Booking.com as it meant I had all the details together on my phone app – like having a mini travel agent at my disposal.  I possibly could have got slightly cheaper prices booking directly but saving the odd few pounds was not the aim of the exercise for this holiday, keeping it a simple as possible was.

The bus a train tickets were also booked online directly with the various travel companies and all tickets printed before we left. Call me old fashioned but I do like having my tickets and boarding passes printed out.  I have stood behind numerous people younger than me frantically scrabbling on their smart phone trying to find their tickets.  It makes me smile and not always to myself.

So that was the holiday planned, I on my way. In the next post I’ll share with you my experience of Faro. It was all good, if you want holiday nightmares you’ll be reading the wrong blog.

Have you organised a similar trip or do you like it organised for you?

Backpacking for the over 50s

 

 

 

A walk in the Derbyshire dales, Wye Dale and beyond

Ever feel you need a bit of an uplift, I sometimes do, and going out into the countryside never fails to do the job, rain or shine.  It was an exceptionally hot weekend up here in the North of England. Being out in the garden or the local park is great but getting into wide open spaces is even better, and living in Derbyshire as I do there’s a lot of open space right on my doorstep.  So, I thought I’d share with you a favourite walks I did on the weekend in case you’re craving a bit of open space too.

Now I’m not difficult to please when I go out for a walk:

  • I like a few ups and downs in equal measures.  Not so fond of flat walks.
  • I don’t like to see a soul, except for Mr Husband of course. The odd passing walker is absolutely fine but being in a long line and waiting at stiles is not good in my books. OK, I concede I may be a bit selfish when it comes to walking.  I avoid the popular walks especially on the weekend, when it’s just too busy for me.
  • I also love a walk  long enough to justify a bit of a packed lunch.  A couple of homemade sandwiches, yum.

So you see I am easily pleased…….wouldn’t you agree??

This walk I’m going to share ticks all those boxes.  I’ve walked it a few times but on the weekend I decided to walk it backwards, you know starting at the end and ending at the start.  It’s funny how different a walk is when you walk it in the other direction. I’ll give location and stats details at the end, but for now just enjoy the walk.

The walk begins in the Topley Pike layby overlooking Wye Dale and Chee Dale. Why I love this walk is it has huge variety of terrain and generally…. stuff.   Much of the walk is high up on the hillside where you have far reaching views over rolling green fields divided by grey dry-stone walls characteristic of the region.  Very inquisitive black and white cows are dotted throughout.

Soon the walk took us across a wildflower meadow, which a couple of weeks ago was full of buttercups but this weekend a variety of flowers, grasses and cow parsley had taken over.

wild flowers

We were next walking through sheep territory, too steep for cows

…….before a sharp decent into Chee Dale.  A perfect setting for a sit and a drink while spotting the wildlife.  There’s something so soothing about a running stream, don’t you think?  As I mentioned this was an exceptionally hot day and the large horned cows put on the hillside to manage the grass had also made their way down to the River Wye to have a paddle.

long horned cow in river

A butterfly posed for me on the bridge

butterfly on River Wye

Ducklings played in the gentle rapids

ducks in river

and a Grey Wagtail sat still enough for me to take this picture.

Grey wagtail on River Wye

After a short wildlife spotting rest we crossed the river

river

….and slowly took the path up the other side of the valley.  Luckily this was a shady part of the walk.  Eventually we popped out in the little village of Wormhill.

The walk took us to the rear of the farms of Wormhill, across more high-topped open fields.  We then took a bit of a loop up from the head of Monk’s Dale up the wide grassy floor of Peter Dale.  On reaching Dale Head it was steeply upwards again towards Hargatewell before dropping back down into Wormhill again.

This time we took the path through Old Hall Farm and walked in the direction of the quarry in the distance.  It gives a great view of an industrial landscape. This picture was taken from the starting point of this walk.

quarry

There was now an overall downwards push back to the Wye Dale with open fields to one side and thankfully tall trees on the other, which meant we were in shade……we were very hot and desperate for a cold drink, I knew we had a steep finish. To be honest my desire to take photos had waned somewhat by this point.

After a steep downwards path we were back at the bottom of the dale and thankfully there was a bike hire hut where they had a few ices for sale.  I can’t remember the last time I had an ice lolly but I was ready for this one.  The final climb up to the top where the car was parked was not as steep as I remember, I think I was in ‘head down and get up there’ mode.  The drive home is less than 10 mins so we were soon relaxing.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my meander and it’s inspired you to get out and explore a remote spot where you live.

Walk in the Derbyshire Dales Wye Valley wild flowers

The details

The walk starts from Topley Pike layby (Latitude, Longitude: 53.249, -1.833) on the A6 heading from Buxton to Bakewell.  Take the footpath to Blackwell, then down to Chee Dale. Ascend up to Wormhill and navigate paths to the meeting of Monk’s Dale and Peter Dale. Head up Peter Dale to Dale Head then navigate paths to Hargatewell before following the road back to Wormhill.  Take the footpath through Old Hall Farm and follow it towards, and then adjacent to the quarry and back to Wye Dale. Finally cross the bridge over the Monsel Trail and back up the dale side to the layby.  This gives you an idea but you will need to fine tune the details on a map. I used OS Landranger 1:50000 Sheet 119 Buxton, Matlock and Dove Dale.

The Fitbit Stats: 10 miles, 240 active minutes, 117 flights of stairs. Total time of walking, stopping and enjoying 5 hours 15 mins.

 

Explore Leek, Staffordshire UK

I was out and about on the weekend to do some much needed shopping.  It was a sunny Saturday so I thought I’d take a trip to Leek, which is about 12 miles from where I live. It’s a little old market town nestled in the Staffordshire moorlands.  The surrounding scenery and walking opportunities are stunning if that’s your thing and Leek would be a great base for this.  It’s also a great place to have a good old browse around the architecture, covered markets and local independent shops, of which there are plenty. So if you’ve never been to Leek and your passing that way it’s worth a stop, maybe for a bit of lunch.

Here are a few pictures I took during the day to tempt you.

This is the Nicholson War Memorial dedicated in 1925 and just a taster of some of the eye-catching structures. The town is stuffed with architecturally and historically interesting buildings both public and private, dating back to the Victorian and earlier periods…. you can read more on the Wikipedia page.

Nicholson War Memorial Leek

The old market square holds an antique / bric-a-brac market every Saturday with many bargains to be had, including the old bamboo side table I bought  (see it later).  The square is surrounded by independent shops and cafes, which seemed to have multiplied enormously since my first visit about 3 years ago.

leek market square

Alcove provides an eclectic mix of home wares and it was here I once bought a very nice hook for the kitchen. I always pick up a loaf of bread at the  Live Love Loaf  bakery, why wouldn’t you? This time it was tomato bread, which went perfectly with Mr Husband’s homemade hummus.

There are two undercover markets as well.  One is just off the market square with butchers, fishmonger and a greengrocer to name but a few.  The second, Gettliffe’s Yard is tucked away at the other end of the high street and houses independent shops with a focus on crafts and decor. There’s a great space at the end with restaurant seating so you can sit under a glass roof, getting the sun but avoiding the cold, which is always good in my books. A hidden gem of a place

The trip was finished with lunch at the Cock Inn, a Joules pub with a long and engaging brewing history, where I sampled a glass of the Joules pale ale  – it not often we can sit and enjoy a leisurely lunch on the weekend, but its highly recommended. And to finish here’s pics of the bamboo sidetable and the bread and hummus 😘😘😘

Hope this may have inspired you to explore Leek and spend a few hours of happy wandering 🌞🌞🌞

Capture

Last week & this week

I didn’t manage to write a blog last week, it was a strange week.  So, I thought I’d just update on what I’ve been doing and what you can expect on the blog this week.

A quick trip to Edinburgh

Started the week with a short trip to Edinburgh to do a bit of non-blog related work. It was a quick visit as I travelled up from Manchester on Tuesday and back on Wednesday, but I did manage to have a stroll through the park and enjoy the scenery while waiting for the train. The sun was nearly out so and all was well.  Edinburgh is a great city and well worth a trip, even if it is full of tourists like me 😍😍😍.  I only managed to take a couple of pics, including one of the train line with the Scott Monument in the background.  Apparently the Scott Monument is the largest monument to a writer in the world. I’m not a train-spotter but I love the way the line runs through the centre of the city.  In the other picture is a glimpse the Scottish National Gallery from East Princes Street Gardens. I will be going back to Edinburgh during the year so I plan to spend more time taking (better) pics to share.

 

 

Lunch in Manchester

This weekend it was a Public Holiday in the UK and we had a long -standing meet-up planned for a family meal in Manchester. We lived in Manchester for a short time and it’s where my son now lives; we weren’t going to change our plans as Manchester is a great city. We had an excellent catch-up and some hearty food in the Mud Crab.  Pic below is of impressive street art you’ll find in West Didsbury, South Manchester by Brazilian street artist Mateus Bailon. This picture I took a few weeks previously, you may have seen it on my Instagram. There are others pieces I still need to see.

Mateus Bailon Street Art West Didsbury

 

A walk in the Peak District with rather large cows

The next day was spent walking with the family in the Peak District, where we enjoyed the scenery and the weather (Fitbit stats 6.7 miles, 100 floors – I was happy). Saw a great deal of cows including this beauty below, which roamed freely on the hillside to manage the grass. It was sitting right in front of the gate we needed to pass through and needed a little gentle persuasions to move.  Oh and the walk passed by a quarry boundary that appears to have some quick sand! But do not fear the walk ended safely with a calming field of buttercups 🤗

 

 

 

This week on the blog

Now back into swing of things this week I will be blogging about the selection of planters I’ve found to house the houseplants I bought last month.  Also I’m (with the help of Mr Husband) in the final stages of putting up the shelves I’ve been making for my son’s kitchen.  I’ll be giving you all the details on Friday, here’s a glimpse of this morning’s activity fixing on the brackets but please stay tuned 😍😍😍

DIY MDF Shelves

 

2 Must See Cellars With Ambience

A few weeks ago, a new Artisan Market venue opened in my new home town of Buxton, The Arches Artisan Market you may have seen my Twitter post about this at the time. Here’s the picture I took.

The Arches Artisan Market Buxton Derbyshire

I really need to go back and see how it’s doing, as it’s a great initiative to give local crafts people an indoor space in the heart of the town.  When I first walked in I was amazed at the space as from the outside I never guessed what was inside. Such a dramatic space, where the arches lend themselves perfectly to intimate and defined areas for each of the retailers, there’s a great feel to the place. So, this is a lesson to me (and maybe to you) to venture in as you never know what you might find.

The Arches Artisan Market Buxton, Derbyshire

I don’t know about you but the ambience of any space always has an impact on me, positive or negative. In my home, I guess I try and create the ambience through the decor so I always love it when the character of a commercial venue captures my mood, and cellar vibe of The Arches certainly did.

It reminded me of a restaurant I’d visited a number of years ago in Oslo Norway, The Klosteret Restaurant, when I working for a large corporate organisation.  At the time I managed a team remotely from the UK so when I was in Oslo it was always an excuse to go out for a team dinner – I can assure you my team never needed persuading, eating out in Oslo is not inexpensive! As always I left the choice of venue to the team and I could tell this restaurant was high on their list to visit, especially on Company expenses!

It was in a cellar like the Buxton Artisan Market, low ceilings, exposed brick but it was lit entirely with candles, and the ambience was fantastic.  You may think this would be only good for an intimate romantic dinning but it worked perfectly for our team dinner. To be honest I can’t remember what the food was like, and maybe having what seemed like a different wine with each of the courses had something to with that. What I do remember was on our big round table (there was about 12 of us) everyone was interacting and the evening was most pleasant and relaxed.  The candle light kept our complete focus to the discussion around the table.

I’ve taken the picture from the Restaurant’s website, I’m sure they won’t mind. Apparently the building was built in 1899 used as a waffle bakery.

Klosteret Restaurant Oslo Norway

For me getting the ambience right makes all the difference.  How does it work for you?

Ambience quote and definition