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2020 - Swanage, Chester, Derbs
September, children were back at school and so it was time to escape again. We joined our friends Keith and Frances Gander for a quick trip to Swanage. Campsite within walking distance of the town. We wished that we had planned to stay longer as the weather was lovely and there is so much to explore in the area.
(left) Swanage had an almost Mediterranean feel about it. The white blob on the sea is a large cruise liner, anchored in Swanage Bay, waiting for the Covid pandemic to go away so that they could start cruising holidays again! (below left) The stone globe at Durlston Castle, which is alleged to be the largest in the world. It is made from the local Purbeck stone. (below right) an interesting piece of garden artwork that we spotted on our walk. These model trees are made from various coloured pieces of slate. A novel idea.
We left Swange to travel up to Chester. We had arranged to meet up with a number of Carthago friends as we were now a breakway group from the main Carthago Owners UK club. Six motorhomes met up (12 people). We had to respect social distancing but we still managed to sit around in a large circle and have a good old natter.
We organised a group cycle ride into Chester. From the campsite, it was a beautiful ride, south, along the Shropshire Union canal which took us right into the city centre. We had a quick lunch and a walk around the charming old buildings of Chester City centre.
The following day we rode north along the same canal, up to Ellesmere Port. It is here that the Shropshire Union Canal joins the River Mersey and there is an excellent National Waterways Museum, which is managed by a team of enthusiastic volunteers. It was a really interesting visit. (below) some of the ‘team’ at the National Waterways Museum coffee shop. Foreground: L-R Jon Page, Derek Cornish, Gaye Page. Next table: Philip Bell, June and John Pearson- Gee.
The museum buildings make up the background
On the return journey, George, Jon Page and John Pearson-Gee visited the BMW motorcycle showroom for a look around. John P-G was very tempted to treat himself to a new 750cc machine. Guess what? He went home to Barrow in Furness and bought one! Here it is (right). Very envious but I know that my motorcycling days are over. Everyone enjoyed the few days together and agreed that we should do it again in 2021.
We left Chester and made a short hop into Derbyshire. We stayed at Beech Croft Farm campsite in Blackwell (about 9 miles west of Bakewell). This was a beautiful campsite, which had a well stocked shop on site. We were joined by Jon and Gaye Page. The purpose of choosing this particular site was that it was well placed to enable us to cycle the length of the Monsal Trail into Bakewell and back. We had a lovely sunny day for the ride and the scenery was wonderful. (below left) Coffee break at Millers Dale, and (right) one of the, well lit, old railway tunnels on the route, (underneath) views of Monsal Dale from the Monsal Head Viaduct.
The following day was a bit misty and cooler. We walked over the Dales to the Church Inn, Chelmorton for lunch. Very good it was too!
The next day, the sun came back and wearing our facemasks, we took the local bus, from the end of the lane, into Buxton. The highlight of Buxton is the warm water baths, the municpal park and the architecture. Buxton was a very popular tourist town in the early part of 20th century before package air holidays became popular. In the park we found this dead tree which had amazing wood carving cut into, what is left, of the main trunk. Look carefully you will see the ladies in the lower section and a variety of animals looking out at the top.
(below) The Pavilions in the park and the lovely properties which overlook the park.
(right) the magnificent Opera House (spot Desnée just behind the tree). It was time to return home for a while as we had appointments to keep and family birtdays to celebrate. The twins were 10 years old on 26th September - how time flies by! 30th September was Desnée’s 70th birthday! However, it was quite a quiet event because Covid 19 restrictions did not allow more than 6 people to socialise. We intended to get away again in October, with Keith and Frances, but the weather turned cold and wet. As October progressed and the chill and damp of winter arrived, so did the Covid 19 virus! It had been under control during the warmer months. People started going abroad for holidays and students returned to school, colleges and universities.
But now people were mixing again and sheltering indoors from the bad weather so the virus infection rates soared, particularly in the northern English ciites and university towns. Brian and Alexa had bought Desnée an afternoon tea voucher for Leonardslee gardens as a birthday present. It was very kind of them and we invited Keith and Evie Branson to join us. It was a glorious day and the tea was simply delicious. Thanks Brain and Alexa!
The good news arrived around 6th November, that a vaccine had been developed that looked promising and after testing it was considered to be effective for around 90% of people. Further safety testing was needed but world leaders are talking about getting the vaccine distributed to the most vulnerable by the end of the year and to most of the population by Easter 2021. We shall see!
The governments of Europe reacted quickly and re-imposed national lockdowns. In UK, it was attempted to keep the virus under control with regional restrictions but, by the end of October it was apparent that another full national lockdown was needed. On November 3rd, England shut down again until December 2nd. Consequently, November was a quiet month at home for us and a chance to catch up on some projects and hobbies.