Continuing on the success of the cottage weekend straggling it in Lincolnshire, the same group and I decided that we go to the highest National Park of England… The Peak District.
Twas the middle of February, and we narrowly managed to go to the weekend as it was snowing in the previous weeks. Only a small layer mind, but enough to get an Englishman worried. If you have many English friends on Facebook you might have seen constant updates about the snow. (rolls eyes)
But seeing as none of us could get there for the Friday afternoon, all of us had to drive pitch black in the middle of winter into a road system having precarious drops down the sides making us peer out of the windows of the car staring into the oblivion. I spent most of the journey nattering to my mum who would ask time to time after hearing our painful cries in the car as an approaching car came at us with full beam headlights. I told her we were practising our singing.
Finally we got to Little Hatfield, a village literally in the middle of nowhere, but that’s what the plan is for a cottage weekend, to get back to basics, become men, hunt deer, make fire, women make food… or a good old jigsaw. within minutes of arriving, our eyes immediately spied upon the enticing jigsaw of chocolate bars and we set to work on it….all night. Literally all night. The damn thing took 8 hours until half 4 in the bloody morning. A few of us stared at each in the dead of the night and suggested, maybe perhaps we should just go to bed but our soulless eyes betrayed our intent and we carried on working. I hate to see a job unfinished.
Besides, there was not much we could do, it was so cold outside to develop icicles to hang from our nipples and so dark! So a jigsaw is what would have been done round the roaring fire in the olden days.
Waking up the next morning with the sun streaming in, I stirred from the bottom bunk and blearily looked at myself in the mirror. It was time to be British! Snarfing down a full English Breakfast, nom nom nom, all of us piled in the cars and set off to the most British place we could find in the Peak District, Buxton!
Renowned for its healing abilities, the spring waters of Buxton gave the boom the town needed to become a health spa. Many of the sick and ailing people would be sent from the smokey cramped cities around England to here to sit in and drink the waters frequently over a lenghty period and hey presto! They will made better! I suspect the fresh air and the cleaner environments may have massively contributed to that.
After larking around the Pavillion Gardens of Buxton, you can clearly appreciate the finer architecture of the buildings and especially the Pavillion itself, which holds many antiques fairs, craft stalls, tea rooms and the amazingness of Englishness itself.
Finally it was time for tea! In the company of the usual crowd, we had a newcomer, Clare. She’s very well travelled and she convinced me to have Chai Latte with her. I was very pleasantly surprised and over that, we chatted about Thailand, Australia and Canada, making me excited for my 2012 Travels!
While we chatted, our lunches were served. I decided to have the Buxton Pudding. You have to try a dish that has the same name as the place you are visiting! It’s not polite to say no! Topped with thick custard, mmmmmmmmmmmmm! I’d definitely recommend this tea room.
Jumping back into our cars as the hailstones threw themselves down from the ominous looking dark clouds, we sped off back to the cottage for the surprise Catherine and Jennifer had in store for the rest of us. Meanwhile, I sighed with content at the beautiful English Countryside that whizzed passed us. It’s one of those things that makes me proud to be British!
Hurling ourselves into the cottage just as the rainstorm started, we were greeted with a smiling Catherine and Jennifer armed with doughy goodness. We were to make our own pizzas…actually they wanted us strong men to pummel the dough ready for pizza making. This was a challenge I would relish! The result? Beautiful lip smacking pizzas! (with copious amounts of wine, yes!)
As the big drew in, while the girls washed up, we played a very violent and name calling inducing game called Bananagram. It’s a variation from Scrabble. You lay down the titles, choose the number of tiles dictated by the number of players. One of you say ‘Split!’ to reveal the tiles and you have to make as many words as you can from those tiles. Should one of you manage to use up all your chosen tiles and there’s still more tiles in the pot, you say ‘Peel!’ and take one tile from the pot but others would need to take one as well. If you can’t go and still have tiles, then you can ‘Dump!’ one of them into the pile but take 3 instead. This goes on rather competitively until there’s none in the pile or not enough for everyone to take a ‘peel’ tile, you ultimately shout out ‘Banana!’ and you’re the winner! However, if you were cheating, you will be found out and thus be called a ‘rotten Banana!’ I know it doesn’t sound exciting and I do admit I raised an eyebrow when Catherine and Dan was raving about it. But after a few games, I was hooked! And thus being called a rotten banana more than once…oops!
We finally chilled out after a game of Cranium and finished off the wine and beer, it’s rude to leave things..and toddle off to bed.
Washing away the cobwebs in my mind the next morning and also having another English Breakfast, we decided to visit anther British institiution…Holmfirth. This is the small sleepy town where the amazing programme of ‘Last of the Summer Wine‘ is filmed. We saw the Cafe and Nora Batty’s steps where she often chased Compo down it with a broom in hand! As Nora Batty’s place has been converted not a tearoom, we thought we would stop by and have the English scone of clotted cream and jam! Yumminess!
On our way back, whatever you do, read your map. Do NOT rely on your Sat Nav. We found ourselves going through many hairy shortcuts and even at one point, went down a very cobble off road lane that turned out to be someone’s drive. That someone stood outside his house scratching his cap at the sight of us!
We came back early as we wanted to wolf down the amazingness that is a Sunday Roast of chicken (accidentally left under the grill!) and all the trimmings. It was so mouthwatering. What a perfect way to end a British Cottage Weekend!
Have you been to the Peak District? What were your thoughts of it??