Sunday, 11 December 2011

Scouts, kid's classes, and downtown Derby museums

Howdy y'all,
Kind of a slow news week.  My time has been spent cleaning the house, running errands, studying for my UK driving theory test and planning for our Scandinavian holiday.  Busy but uneventful.

Karl and I went to Scouts Wednesday night for the first time across the pond.  It was interesting and he had fun so we will try this troop for a while.  Next week is an end of year laser tag party then they are off until the new year so our timing was pretty good.  Notice that they have Scouting over here, not Boy Scouts.  The troop was formed in 2000 so they must accept girls and boys.  Mid 1990's incorporation was the cut off date for only boys in troops, all troops incorporated afterwards must accept girls.  Sixteen kids were at the meeting and if memory serves correctly five were girls.  I will expand on scouting once Karl has been to a couple of meetings and has done some activities.  This week they made Christmas cards for their parents and did some group games.  An interesting note from the meeting was one of the leaders told me that Flagg in Derbyshire is the highest elevation village in the UK.  Put that on the To Do Check List.

A school update for the teachers and educators in the blog audience:
Karl's classes are Geography, German, Science, Maths, TD (Technology Design - currently working on drawing isometric and exploded views of objects), English, History (just finished on the suffragettes), ICT (computers - currently working on data bases), Art (studying the work of John Piper), PRE (Philosophy Religion Ethics - focusing on learning about different religions now), Drama (acting out a part Midnight Summers Dream now), Food Tech (cooking class - he made chocolate truffles this week that were awesome), Music (playing keyboard or studying music genres), Assembly,  and PE (field hockey or football so far).  The school is still working out a plan for him to do his American math here so he doesn't fall behind.  The UK math is about two years behind for Karl, he left Brownsburg working on Geometry and came here to work on multiplying fractions.  Wow is all I can say.  He did say his Geography, Science and English coursework is similar to what he did in the States.

Kalle's classes are Numeracy (she is a year 6 math class), Phonics (spelling), Literacy (writing), Topic (similar to art), Assessment (like taking exams back home, this is not a weekly class), Music (she is playing the cello and really likes it), Golden Time (part of their behaviour reward system - this is free time where you can go outside and play football/basketball or stay inside and draw), Assembly (where teachers and administrators address the whole school on topics like recess safety), and Golden Assembly on Friday (where the school recognises exemplary behaviour by placing students names in the Golden Book - not sure what the Golden Book is).  Next year when she is in Year 6 the school will bring someone over from the Community School for her to learn year 7 math.

One interesting note about the schools, female teachers are called "Miss" and male teachers are called "Sir".  Kalle is still following the American nomenclature and calls her teacher Mrs. Stevenson.  It is nice that her teacher is allowing her to follow the American rules including spelling and addressing teachers.  Karl has to spell using English words which he is fine with.  Kalle's favourite English word is "rubbish" which means trash, Karl's favourite word is "Oi" which loosely translates to hey you.  You shout "Oi" to get someones attention.

Saturday was sunny and 40 degrees F so we went on a downtown Derby museum tour.  First up was Pickford's House Museum which is a 1770 built Georgian house restored to original era furnishings.  You can check out some information on Wikipedia at or on the Derby Government site at  The house museum website must be under construction so you will have to settle for a couple of second class websites and my pictures.  Sorry about your luck.

Kitchen where servants prepared meals.

Space saving drying rack in the Laundry Room - it is connected to a pulley system which raised and lowered it.

Indoor water pump and trough in the Laundry Room.

Hot water basin - under the water bowl was a little stove to heat the water. 

Snapshot of the street outside the Pickford House.  I didn't see a year on it.

Bell Service.  See next picture for an explanation.

Bell Service.  I thought this was neat because each bell had a different tone which told the servants which room to go to.  If you read the plaque it says this service ended the practise of servants sitting on hard wooden chairs in the hallways waiting to be beckoned.

One of the gardens.

Air Raid bunker.  Obviously an add on from the Georgian era.

The Morning Room.

Same room different angle.

Plasterwork on ceiling.  They sure did like their decorated ceilings back then. 

Drawing Room.

Dining Room.

Dining Room plaque out of order.

Drawing Room plaque out of order.

Working 1930's bathroom.

A lace sewing class they were giving.  Kalle picked it up quickly.  Very tedious.

Cantilevered Stairwell picture.

Silk gowns from the era.


Same room different view.

Dressing Room.  It is connected to the bedroom by the door in the back left.  Note that all of the rooms have fireplaces to heat the rooms.

Servants Room - smaller and without a fire place.

Karl trying out the toy theatre which are neat little entertainment boxes.  Each side had handles which moved the characters into and out of the stage area using slots in the stage floor.  The big handle in the back moved the background scenery.  This box has three scenes you could change by sliding the big handle left or right.  The house had a room full of The Frank Bradley Collection of Toy and Model Theatres.  You can read more about them at

You can tell the foot path by the worn areas of the steps.

Outside view of Pickford House.

After Pickford's was the Derby Gaol, or jail to us Americans.  You can check out its website at  The visit was better than I expected.  I figured it would be a ten minute look-see but we ended up getting a mini tour which was very informative.  I will leave out some of the gorier details but a few items he told us were saying origins. 

Tip of the hat, shake a leg, and off the wagon are related to hangings.  Tip of the hat - the vicar would signal the hangman to actuate the drop gate under the condemned person by removing his hat and pointing it at the hangman. 

Shake a leg (be warned - kinda gross) came about because once the drop gate opened the body had to hang by the noose for one hour until it was cut down.  Normally the neck would break right away but sometimes it didn't so the person thrashed about until they suffocated.  If this happened and the hanging person was your buddy you would go grab his legs and pull down trying to break his/her neck.  Once the neck broke and the person died their body control/muscles would relax thereby releasing all the fluids hence the expression shake a leg.  (Gross note of the day: after people died and their bodies emptied mothers would dab the draining "fluid" with their handkerchiefs and dab it on their kids skin imperfections.  18th Century Clearasil I guess.) 

Off the wagon came about because the condemned man would be brought from the jail to the gallows in a two wheeled wagon.  Per custom the wagon would stop at every pub along the route and the person would get off of the wagon to have a last drink at each pub.  At the last pub before the gallows the wagon would stop but the person would not get off. 

Another interesting tidbit was if you were convicted of lying back then you would get a large "L" carved into your right palm as punishment.  Then when you went before a judge and raised your right hand to swear to tell the truth he could see if you were a condemned a liar or not. 

The steps walking down to the jail.  Kalle stood at the top of the steps and asked if we had to go down there.  A little on the grungy looking side.

Looking down the main hallway.  My battery is dying at this point and my back up battery was dead so pictures were carefully taken after this point.

Poor picture of an original carving from 1807.

The debtor's cell.  Per our tour guide people thrown into debtor's cell were able to work on their trade in a separate room in the jail to make goods that were sold in order to pay off their debts.  They also had to make a little extra because they had to pay their jailer for items such as food, water, candles, straw bedding, opening and closing the door to let them in and out of the cell, etc.  People without trade skills would be in jail a long time.  I am sure I don't need to tell you what a woman's "trade" was.

The hangman had his own business card which struck me as odd.  Hanging were quite popular in the 1700 & 1800's.  They were like a social gathering where hundreds would attend. 

Condemned cell.  Note the lack of a window.  This was because a condemned person was not worthy of seeing the light of God.

Vernon Gate jail.  Another former jail but the only remaining structure is the facade.

After the gaol was The Derby Museum and Art Gallery.   You can check out some information on Wikipedia at or on the Derby Government site at  Both websites are pretty poor though.  The Museum was interesting, my favourite parts were the log boat display and military section.  The art gallery was poor to be kind.   

Porcelain from 1770.  A lot of neat porcelain in here, it ranged from 1760's to 1950's.

I thought this process was neat.

I also thought the Viking sword was neat.

From, St. Almund was "Born a prince, the son of the Northumbrian King Alcred. King of Northumbria after the murders of his father and his brother Osred. Known for his charity to the poor and orphaned. Exiled to the area of Pictish Scotland and later murdered by agents of the usurping king Eardwulf of Northumbria. There are six churches in England dedicated to him."  The funny part is on the SatNav's over here there is a St. Alkmund's Way and the SatNav voice turns Alkmund into al-K-mund with an overly placed emphasis on the K.  Probably one of those had to be there moments.    Northumbria is now northern England and southeastern Scotland for the geography buffs.  

The military units featured in the military section of the museum.  Karl and I thought this section was very cool, Lori and Kalle sat down and waited for us to look around.  Girls just don't appreciate old guns I guess.

WWI woollen gas hood.  They tried immersing the hoods in a chemical treatment but it didn't block the poison gases so they were deemed ineffective.  I imagine the soldiers who wore these in combat died gruesome deaths.

Remember Bonnie Prince Charlie from our pastoral walk?

Prince Charlie planning his defeat I guess.

I love these information boards.  Succinct, colourful and pictorial.  What else can you ask for in an information board?

This was cool but creepy.

Creepy close up.  The teeth are filed down because of the sand constantly in their food, common in the Egyptians of this time.  Yum.

Hanson Log Boat (  A Bronze Age boat found south of Derby.  The boat was found in one piece but had to be cut into sections to transport because it was so heavy.  I should have taken a close up of the middle of the boat.

After the last museum we stopped at a Spanish restaurant called La Tasca ( which was really good.  We went into the restaurant at 3ish and when we left at 4:30ish it was pitch black.
Our first Spanish restaurant and we weren't disappointed.

Finally a Dana Johnson pic - They served two types of Spanish food, paella and tapas.  The paella dishes cooked for 30-35 minutes after the ingredients are mixed together so we opted for the tapas.  Above is a sampler tapas where you can try multiples dishes at a discounted price.  In the middle is a salad with balsamic dressing.  Starting at 6 o'clock and going clockwise; we have fried potatoes with a sweet salsa type sauce, Spanish omelet with egg/onion/potato, chicken paella, pork/beef meatballs with sauce (my favourite), mushrooms in gravy, and chicken/seafood paella.  The food on the wooden trays were the kids meals which were very disappointing.  If we go back we will just get two sampler meals instead of a sampler and two kids meals.  

Another Dana Johnson pic -
Deserts from left to right - vanilla and chocolate gellato which I ordered and was excellent, profiteroles which came with the kids meals (profiteroles are cream puffs covered in a chocolate sauce which were okay), and churros Lori ordered and are fried pastry that is dipped in chocolate, sometimes referred to as a Spanish doughnut.  That was very good but Lori tried bucking me off again with it - there was some kind of nut flavouring/liqueur in the chocolate dipping sauce that only I could detect after eating it.  I knew I shouldn't have bought that life insurance policy from Dana.  Nothing Benadryl couldn't cure though.

Sunday was a lazy day for us.  We went to church in the morning at St. Peter's Church ( which was our first trip to a Church of England.  They had a small band comprised of three guitars, two singers, a piano, a cornet, a flute and drums.  They also had a teleprompter who was always late changing the screen during the songs which was amusing.  The church itself looked to be older, masonry construction inside and out with newer remodelling done in wood.  The arches inside looked to be original block construction but the ceiling was white wood panelling.  The windows were mostly glazed with only a few stained glass windows.  The exterior itself looked worn down.  And it was cold inside - my feet were cold by the end of the service and I almost put my jacket on for warmth.  There were about 100 people in the congregation and the vast majority were grey haired.  We went to the 10 AM service, they also had 8 AM and 7 PM services as well as a Saturday evening service.  The pews sat on a raised floor and during prayer you had the option of sitting or kneeling.  Everyone sat, probably because they weren't enough kneeling pads for all of the pews.  The service was similar to most of the churches we have been to recently.  We sang a handful of songs, there were scripture readings, a sermon, a passing of the offering plate, and communion.  Lori and I skipped communion when we saw they used the "pass the drinking cup" method.  For the bread offering they tore pieces off a small loaf of bread which was different.  I left feeling spiritually unfulfilled but Lori liked it better than the Woodlands Church.  Kalle liked them both and Karl is a typical teenager. 

After church we went to Sainsbury's to get dinner ingredients (homemade mac and cheese with burgers) and then home to watch it rain for the rest of the afternoon.  We had to get shell pasta because the store didn't have elbow pasta.  I will have to check other stores for elbow pasta now.

And finally, this month's facial hair style is ... <insert Clark W. Griswold's obnoxiously long drum roll when lighting the house Christmas lights in Christmas Vacation> ... the Ebeneezer Scrooge side burns.  I figured since we are in England and it is the Christmas month what better time to grow massively bushy 'burns as a tribute to Dickens' timeless classic A Christmas Carol?  Lori hates them so far and the month isn't even half over yet.  Poor Lori.  In my defence I did warn her what to expect if she married me when we were dating, I even pointed out my Uncle Rick as an example. 

Thanks for listening,


  1. Love the Ebenezer look . . .

    We've not been to any of the places you mentioned today. We'll have to try them out sometime. The Gaol sounds similar to the one in Nottingham.

  2. Nice Steve....Don't egg him on the Ebenezer look!