Monday, 14 November 2011

Movies, Used Cars, Matlock Bath, and a Mackworth Walk

Greetings.  An interesting weekend filled with more English firsts.  Not good or bad firsts, just English firsts.  No other way to describe them so I will just call them English firsts.  Now onto our misadventures...

Friday after work we snap decisioned (that's new English Aunt Joanie) to go see a movie.  The local theatre was showing Arthur Christmas for the girls and The Immortals for the boys.  Since we were in a hurry Lori bought tickets and I bought snacks/supper.  At least we tried to.  The theatre's over here have different ratings.  They have U, PG, 12, 15 and 18.  U is universal for all ages, PG is open to all ages with parental approval, 12 is for ages above 12, 15 is for ages above 15, and 18 is for ages above 18.  No exceptions.  The Immortals was a 15 so Karl's couldn't go so we decided to all see Arthur Christmas in 3-D to his great displeasure.  (Side note: 3-D glasses are not part of the admission prices and are sold separately so we kept ours in case we see another 3-D movie during our stay.)  While Lori and I are straightening this out across the movie theatre admissions area I found out that they do not serve butter on popcorn, the options are salted or sweet.  Salted is plain popcorn with salt, sweet is basically kettle corn you get at summer festivals/fayre's.  (We go to fairs, they go to fayres.)  So we opted for one of each and went to see the show.  Kalle liked it, Karl not so much.  I agreed with Karl.  Popcorn was okay but I missed the butter.  We did find out that they show 15 minutes of previews before the movie starts over here like they do at home.

Also on Friday Karl asked me to talk to his school about his math class.  He is in Year 8 here.  Year 1 here is our kindergarten so US school 7th Grade is English school Year 8.  He is in Brownsburg's High Ability program (as is Kal) so most of his classes are a grade or two above his grade level.  Math in particular he is very good at so he is taking high school level math classes at home.  Here he is in Pre-Algebra which is the highest math class for Year 8 students.  Unfortunately he is doing work now that he did almost two years ago.  So in class Friday he was tapping his pencil on his hand to relieve the day dreaming boredom when his annoyed teacher called on him.  Karl answered the question immediately and the annoyed teacher was momentarily speechless.  So I need to talk to his school today and see what needs to happen to get him into a different math class.  Kalle has moved into Year 6 math class here also.  She took a math assessment test and afterwards her teacher said to me "she's quite good in math isn't she".  So she was placed a year ahead for math.  She said some stuff is new but most stuff isn't so we'll monitor her as well.  Apparently they are a little behind in math over here.  Karl also said the US does more work on computers than over here.  He misses his GTT class where you could design something on a computer than have a machine make the three dimensional object out of wood. 

Onto Saturday - We decided to go used car shopping to see what options are available since the taxi (me) is very restricting to Lori's work hours.  What an exercise in futility.  I did an internet search before hand and found eight used car dealers.  So Saturday morning we piled into the car (more on that unhappy subject later), punched the postal codes into the SatNav and off we went.  To nothing.  Five addresses that were not car dealers, one dealer that had four cars, one dealer that had cars but nothing in our price range, and one address we didn't even bother trying.  Car shopping is pretty low on my enjoyable activities list normally, over here it is just above eating dirt.  One dealer did tell us about a used car lot in Mansfield which was 35 minutes away northeast so off we go again.  On the way through town we drove by the geographically bunched car dealers and checked out their stock.  We found a used Smart car - automatic, seats four and 4,000 pounds.  Higher than we wanted to spend but at least we have an idea of what the market is in the Derby car lots.  But we trudged on, finally making it to Mansfield and checked out a couple of car lots.  They did have a used manual Rover hatchback for 2,500 pounds but we passed for now.  So we ended the search without a car but with another idea - look into car leasing options.  So that is my task this week.  I'll update y'all on my progress.

On the afternoon ride back from Mansfield I spotted a tourist attraction sign for Heights of Abraham cable car rides.  After more snap decisioning by Lori and I we detoured to the Heights of Abraham.  The rides ended up being closed for the season (bummer) so we decided to check out the little burb called Matlock Bath whilst we were there.  You can check it out online at ( if you wish.  I'm not sure we will be back once the cable cars are running, kind of a far ride for a cable car ride.  Semi-interesting town but I am pretty sure we saw all of the attractions.

A husky watching the meandering crowds.

View down the main drag - reminded me of Cincinnati or Hancock with the houses perched on the hillside.

Can you really pass up a photo op like this?

The store is a ceramic pot/figurine painting store.  I am guessing the store name is intentional although I have not heard any Brits say they are going to the potty yet.  Usually they go to the toilet or the loo.

Do the steps remind you of anything Jim and Tammy?  They did for Lori and I.

Stone wall I thought was neat.  The top blocks alternating heights is what captured my eye.

Matlock Bath claim to fame.

The Petrifying Well - reminded me of the geological rock and mineral exhibit at Tech.

Not sure what the fish is but it's a big 'un.


Steve Frey pic - turtles sunning themselves.

Steps into the bath and fish pic.

A little bath history - 20 deg C is 68 deg F for the US folk.

View of the entire bath.

Big mouth pic I found interesting.

Close up info on the Mako Shark info sheet.

Teresa Robinett pic - a holographic horse.  This one was only 3-D.

An interesting hologram of Frankenstein's monster.  Now he is sad...

Now he is happy.

A brief history on Matlock Bath.  The first bath was opened in 1698.  As a comparison the city Philadelphia was founded in 1682 (by the Quaker William Penn).  The long history here is one thing I constantly find interesting. 

Supper at some slow serving pub.  KJ ordered the New York burger.  I don't think you will find this burger in NY but I could be wrong (yes that is English bacon on a NY burger).  One note on his salad - they have salad cream over here to put on the salad.  The cream looks and taste like greasy mayo.  Mayo is very popular over here btw.

The Dana Johnson pic of the day - I tried a local dish.  Sausage Toulouse Casselouet.  Full of white beans, vegetables and pork sausages but not flavor or taste.  Nothing heaps of pepper and a little salt can't cure.  Typical English dish.

On Sunday morning  Lori and Kalle baked a pumpkin pie as a practice run for Thanksgiving at the Lheureaus.  Taste was good and she has her required "tweaks" so we'll be ready.

After some deliberation we decided on doing our first local walk.  I bought a 30 Walks in Derbyshire packet for some weekend sight seeing.  With the weather changing we probably won't get any more walks in so this was our first and last walk of the season.  It was the closest walk and included castle remains so I thought why not?  As usually happens when I start thinking I didn't quite know what I was getting into.

Walk card.  6 miles - 4 hours, definitely doable.  Next time I will read the back of the card.

We started out in Markeaton Park - between the park and the Derby University building in the back ground is where our temporary flat was located.  Quite the harbinger of what to expect in hindsight.  The directions out of the car park didn't make sense so off we went looking for the path.  After walking to the other end of Markeaton Park we noticed that there are TWO car parks.  Would have been nice to know but at least we found the path. 

Markeaton Park Rose Garden and Cafe.  Note the sun position as we left around 2 PM.

Geese pics - not sure what the ugly colorful fellow is but he was big and the geese all moved for him.

White and Gray colored swans.  I really need to get an English bird book.  Not sure if the gray swans are a different specie or just dirty.

On the path to Markeaton Stones farm.  This bridle path was started in 1735 and served as a route to get into Derby.  It is rumored to have been travelled by Mary Queen of Scots (remember her from Tutbury Castle?) and Bonnie Prince Charlie (more on him later).

Steve Frey pic of the day - a lot of sheep on the walk.  The back of the card said pastoral which means walking through the animals pastures.  Kind of weird opening a gate into a sheep pasture then walking through the middle of their field.  Impossible to not step on their droppings also, not sure what to do with the shoes but they'll never be the same.  We should have brought our hiking boots along.  We also could have brought our wellies, or rubber boots as the Brits say.  Why are they called wellies you ask?  Per Wikipedia they "are a type of boot based upon leather Hessian boots. They were worn and popularised by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. This novel "Wellington" boot then became a fashionable style emulated by the British aristocracy in the early 19th century."

Jim Seppanen pic of the day -  I thought the entwined limbs looked neat.

The troops marching on.  We are about one quarter of the way through at this point.  All uphill so far.

Representative shot of trees - most trees limbs are bare, a few leaves are green, some are yellow, and a lot are brown and barely hanging on. 

Quite a lot of hedgerows over here - reminds me of reading about the murderous hedge rows in France during the Allies D-Day invasion of WWII.  I definitely see why they were so difficult to get through.

Another Jim Seppanen pic - I also need an English tree book.

Upper Vicarwood Farm on the bridleway.

The Lona Jacobson pic of the day - if only it were by an apple this pic would be perfect.

View of the pastoral land.

Off the stone path and onto the dirt path.  Boots would have been nice about now.

Another view of the scenery - we are almost half way and KJ's winding up his "this is boring" speech.

Mackworth Castle.  Much smaller than I anticipated.  A little more info on the castle is at  Apparently it was more of a manor house than a castle. 

Front of castle.

Houses attached to front castle wall.

Looking inside the gate.

Some cows for Steve - with the domestic animals on this walk he would have loved it.

Bonnie Prince Charlie showing us the way.  You can check out Wikipedia or another source for the complete story of Bonnie Prince Charlie but the abridged version is as follows:  Prince Charles was the grandson of Stuart King James II of England and VII of Scotland.  James had ruled the country from 1685 to 1689, at which time he was deposed by the Dutch Protestant, William of Orange, in the Revolution of 1688.  James II exiled and Prince Charles was eventually born in Rome in 1720.  Charles tried taking back England for his father in the Jacobite rising of 1745.  Prince Charles' forces landed in Eriskay, Scotland on 23 July 1745 and fought their way down to Swarkestone Bridge in Derbyshire (6 miles south of Derby on the river Trent).  His forces ended up stopping at the bridge and returned to Scotland because of a rumored British army that really wasn't.  He was eventually defeated at the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746 but part of our walking path was on Bonnie Prince Charlie's retreat path back to Scotland. The little arrow above Charlie is representative of the small signs/markings that are used for paths over here.  

All Saints Church.  Not sure if this a called a garden or a cemetery but it is full of graves.

Gate to the church.

Back of church.

More Steve Frey pics.

These smaller guys reminded me of Roger's growing pig farm.  How's the snow up there Rog?

Markeaton Craft Village back at the park.  The park has a few shops open in the day time.  Quaint would probably best describe the village.  Notice the sun now?  It was 5 PM when we returned, muddy shoes and all.  Quite the walk but I did learn two things.  1) Read the whole card before going on a walk and 2) start the walks in the morning.  Still beats watching the Travel channel though.

Some miscellaneous items:
Our washer - slightly larger than our flat but still about half the load size of our home washer.  The soap tray is open because we have been told to leave it open when not in use to prevent mold growth.

Part of the kids PE kits.  From left to right; Kalle's trainers, Karl's football boots, and Karl's trainers.  Karl has football for PE every Friday and a different activity every Monday.  He was surprised how competitive it was, kids have suffered broken arms and legs during football PE.  He played keeper (goaltender) last week and had fun.

Radiator heat.  No air conditioning at all over here.

Heat adjustment.  Settinsg are I to IIII, the snow flake next to I tells us it is the coldest setting.

Our dryer, small as well.  See the plastic tray sitting on top?  That tray collects the water and must be emptied after a couple of loads.  None of the dryers here vent outside.

Wall outlet.  Each outlet has an on/off switch.

The pool car, a BMW 116i.  Trading in a sports model car for mom's grocery getter model is tough. (No offense mom.)  No Virginia, driving is not fun anymore so Lori can drive now.

And this week's facial hair winner - the lower lip hair!  More popular than the Chuck Liddell because it is not as visible.  Not as cool though. 

Thanks for listening,



  1. Yes, Coit Tower steps...were there as many as in San Fran? How did the kiddos like the climb? And really, a Tar Heels shirt at the end of what was a very enjoyable accounting of the weekend! And the grocery getter is still a BMW...I'd say that's not all that bad.

  2. Go Heels! SIX in a row Tam, better hope we don't meet in the tourney again this year.... Nowhere near as many steps here. I've never climbed steps like we did to Coit Rower..... BMW isn't bad but sure is a let down after driving a sports model BMW.... Kids did not like the walk, to long for them. It didn't have much to see either which was kind of a let down.

  3. Nice post, Jay. Had me laughing as usual. I have a feeling you are going to learn a lot of the same lessons as we did -- I'll have to help speed you along.

    still have our 3-D glasses from Kung fu Panda . . . just Alex and me . . . I think the movie out cost the same for our DVD player

    I bet Kalle's teacher said she was good at MATHS. We always emphasize the S in our house.

    I can send Lori some names of a couple people that have purchased cars here. I see you are slumming with the same car I have. Very basic, but not too bad. Glad it is our 2nd car though as Kuk's is much nicer.

    We have the same Going Potty photo:

    Thanks for the animal shots (though reptiles don't count). Much better walks if you go slightly further afield (Dovedale, Hartington, Bakewell, Calke Abbey, even Kedleston Hall among others). Poke around the blog again now that you are here. The one constant is getting lost though!


  4. . . . as our DVD player (correction)

  5. Sparty represented decently I thought. I told Jim that NC is going to beat a lot of other teams by a lot more than they beat MSU the other night. Now tonight MSU takes on Duke at Madison Square Garden(seriously, we're a glutten for punishment) and its Coach K's chance to break Bobby Knight's all time win record. Could be 903 tonight. REALLY - does he have to do that against MSU, NO! But we'll be watching anyway.