Monday, October 23, 2006

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding Through the Glen

After our debacle of a holiday in France/Germany this summer Spouse and I felt a little pampering was in order for half term. Sadly Spouse has used up all his holiday, so a little pampering was all it could be. However, something being better then nothing, I duly went online a few weeks back to search for that elusive thing - a weekend break in a hotel, that was a) affordable and b) practical for a family of six. A cunning friend put me on to Hilton Hotels who are running a series of breaks which amazingly fulfil both criteria. Not only that, but for the first time ever we got a family room with a connecting door ensuite (normally we're all cramped in together, which is why we don't often stay in hotels...).

So, the next dilemma was our destination. Given that the offspring are still severely anti castle following out last trip en famille, I had to discount Warwick, even though Spouse and I both really want to go there. I thought about Bath, but that too, is too full of old ruins to be very attractive. In the end, hearing via one of my writing friends that Nottingham Castle was holding a reenactment weekend featuring none other then Robin of the Hood (the tv version holding up fairly well in this house as a substitute for Dr Who), that seemed like as good a destination as any. I figured (rightly) that no 1, who is more anti castle then the rest, might be persuaded to go to one where she got to see jousting. I also had the ace up my sleeve that my sister and her offspring live not too far away and arranging for the cousins to be there, proved a master stroke.

My friend was slightly concerned that we would bring the rain with us - given that it was pouring here on Friday, I not unnaturally shared her concerns. However, fortunately the sun came out late on Friday afternoon. Spouse managed to get off early, we picked the sprogs up from school and off we set. Of course the M25 being what it is, we then sat in a traffic jam for the best part of two hours. But luckily we had Chris Evans' All Request Friday to keep us going. So that was all right then.

Getting into Nottingham itself was something of a trial, however. I had downloaded some instructions from one of those online mapping companies. Which is all well and good, but of course, they lack any kind of discretionary input, and you don't get any sensible instructions like, turn left after the second set of traffic lights. Instead we were looking for the slip road, before the roundabout and managed to miss it - not knowing precisely which roundabout the computer meant. I am never ever going to get sat nav...

Luckily our Road Atlas had a city plan of Nottingham. And I realised were heading along the south side of the square we needed to be on. Great, all we had to do was turn left and left again, and we should hit the road we were after.

Unluckily, we missed the tiny left turn we were after.

Luckily I could see if we kept going on the road we were on, we could get round the back of a shopping centre and hit the right road.

Unluckily, our map ran out round the back of said shopping centre, so we had to follow our noses to get to the right place.

Luckily we managed it and the road we were on was meant to turn into the road our hotel was on.

Unluckily it didn't. Or rather it did, but we weren't allowed to enter it.

Luckily I found another way round.

Unluckily, I forgot to tell Spouse to turn right at the correct moment.

By now we weren't speaking, and no 4 was desperate for the loo. After heading several miles in the opposite direction, we found our way again, reached the road we were after, only to discover we couldn't turn up it. Spouse managed to do an illegal U-turn, to get to the road we were after, and finally, hey presto we had arrived at our destination. Phew.

It's been over ten years since I was last in Nottingham and it's changed a bit...

Anyway, once that stress was over, everything else was great. The kids had a huge room and we had the bliss of one next door.We got a wonderful meal for nothing as part of our deal - and for once the kids got offered something more substantial and healthy then chicken nuggets and chips. Eat your heart out Jamie....

The next morning we had a huge breakfast, before going for a stroll. We were so excited by the sight of a Primarks (we don't have one near us) we had to go for a bit of shop. Which is how our children have all ended up with hooded jackets/puffa jackets. Oh dear. We have four little chavs now. But at least they were warm...

Then it was back to the hotel for a quick swim before meeting my bil, sister and their five sprogs at the castle.

The sun amazingly shone all day, so we were able to enjoy the jousting and other events around Robin Hood's life. The kids enjoyed cheering Robin and booing Guy of Gisborne and the sheriff - no 2 enjoyed it all so much she kept accosting all the actors, who must have been soooo glad that they came and stood by our section of the stands....

Hats off to the organisers. It was a great day out. And we were rewarded at the end of it by the sight of our offspring joining in a group of Dutch mediaeval singers who roped them in to play instruments. Between my sister and I we managed to provide about half the children...

I was also rewarded by meeting in the flesh my efriend, Elizabeth Chadwick, who had told me all about it. She was busy slaving over a cooking pot while we were enjoying ourselves, but it was great to meet her.

The two big ones went to stay the night with my sister, while we tried to persuade the little ones that the Sheriff of Nottingham had kept them prisoners till the morning, so they wouldn't feel left out. No 3 wasn't at all convinced by this and rumbled us as we got to the hotel. She had worked out that her sisters were with her cousins, but assumed they were all back at the hotel. Which of course they weren't. The inevitable It's Not Fair! scene ensued, before we managed to pacify her with the end of Robin Hood. Despite entertaining some misgivings about the series still, I did think the best line of the programme had to go to Keith Allen. When one of the character said I shot the sheriff, Keith appeared from the shadows to say, no you shot the deputy. Well it made me laugh...

No 3 was further satisfied with the promise of more swimming so by the time we got to my sister's yesterday she was completely pacified, so we didn't feel too guilty.

We had a lovely relaxing afternoon before heading off in the rain home. Sadly our journey was horribly slow, ensuring we missed the beginning of Torchwood, but, still. It was better then driving 150 miles and putting up a tent in the pouring rain....

Tuning into Wogan this morning I heard the very sad news of Paul Walters untimely death. Like thousands of people up and down the country I am sure I am not alone in mourning the loss of this wonderfully talented man. Mornings just won't be the same again. Hats off to the magnificent Terry Wogan and his team, for pulling off such a wonderfully moving tribute to Pauly without the slightest mawkishness, and much great humour. I'm sure he'd have loved it.


carwynfowler said...

Yes, it was a superb show this morning. Hope you made it through Monday morning OK :-(

Jane Henry said...

Yes I did thanks.

Highlight of the show for me was the joke about Pauly at the pearly gates being made to empty a harbour as a means of getting in. When he asks St Peter if he can do something else instead, St Peter says, make Terry Wogan funny. So Pauly goes back to get his bucket...

That sums up the brilliance of the show to me. They are never afraid to take the mickey out of themselves. And it is so superbly understated, and the wordplay second to none.

So wish I could write a Janet and John episode!!


Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Goodness, everyone seems to be around in the small hours of the morning!
Having been woken by snoring husband, I am trawling the net whilst drinking mug of tea and eating choc digestives. Will return to bed anon.
Excellent reading about your full day at Nottingham Jane. I never think about Nottm having swish hotels with swimming pools! You definitely had the best day Saturday. On Sunday afternoon it just tipped it down - and then we had to take down 4 tents in the deluge (you will know the kind of experience!) Still, all part of the fun.