Sunday, 29 January 2012

Derby Cathedral & Bolsover Castle

Hello Readers,
We broke down and had a sling box installed at Bob and Lona's this week.  The TV is okay for me but terrible for Lori so now we have American and British TV.  I did use it to watch Way of the Dragon this weekend.  How can I not watch a film with Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris?  Especially during Chuck Norris month.

Kalle had another sleep over this weekend.  Her friend has the cutest little British accent.  She also had her own little make up kit.  I am not ready for make up.  Lori took the girls to see Chipwrecked and the girls put on make up before they left.  Oh man I am not ready for this.  Kalle had fun which was great and we allowed the make up this once since we didn't know about it beforehand.  Lori and Kalle "discussed" make up after her friend left so that Kalle is fully aware of our feelings.  Plus she had an allergic reaction so her face is all red and broken out so it ended up being a learning lesson about make up.  I hope.

Saturday was a short day for us because of the sleep over.  By the time Kalle's friend left it was into the afternoon so we decided to head downtown to check out the cathedral and wander around town.
 Ever since our Scandinavian trip I want to see more cathedrals, I'm not sure why but I could tour cathedrals all day long.  You can tour its website at  Much smaller than the ones from our trip but interesting none the less.

Outside view of cathedral.  40 F and sunny - beautiful day.

Walking into the cathedral.

Cathedral pulpit. 

The Bakewell Screen, a decorative gate into the altar and worship area.

Kalle by the lectern.  Note the lions at the base holding up the structure.

The effigy dates to about 1527 and is rare because it is made from wood instead of stone.  The creepy part is the small shrouded cadaver underneath.  You can see it in the picture, it looks a wooden log.

We found Bess of Hardwick!  For those not familiar with local history Bess is very influential in the area.  You can read about her here.  She was the owner of Chatsworth which is one of my December posts and is buried here in the vault below along with 45 family members.  This was also kind of creepy, thinking of the 46 people buried below.  The monument was designed by her and built in her lifetime.

Stained glass window overlooking the baptismal fount.

Altar area.

View looking towards the entrance.

Monuments are very common in cathedrals here and in Scandinavia.  I'm not sure if they are as popular in the US cathedrals as here. 

Handy little tour guide or butt spanking paddle.  I only used it as guide this time. 

The European Bistro.  Tasty but expensive Italian restaurant run by a small hunched man named Guiseppi (sp?) who speaks broken English.  Meet you there Becky?

City Hall, another Scandinavian theme.  We didn't go in this one either.

The Old Bell Hotel, a haunted establishment built around 1680.  You can read more about its ghostly past here.  I haven't been there yet but this place goes on my "places to swill a pint" list.

This part of the inn is from 1700.  Very neat carving.

Further down the road we found a gate from 1675.

St Peter's Church.  I saw the gargoyles on top and it reminded me of reading something a long time ago.  The something was that monsters on top of towers, churches, castles, etc. aren't real gargoyles unless they drain/spit water.  I guess I will have to come back when it is raining to see if they are real gargoyles or not.

Sunday was not as sunny or warm but we haven't been out exploring the sites for a few weeks and were feeling cooped up so we went for a short jaunt into the country.  Most sites aren't open for a couple more months and the weather is still a little cold and damp so our options are a little limited now.  One site that is open now is Bolsover Castle which you can read about here.  The castle was originally built in the 12th century by the Peverel family, fell into neglect and sold in the 16th century.  The Little Castle or Keep (tall square building) was reconstructed as a castle by Charles Cavendish (one of Bess of Hardwick's husbands) starting in 1621.  Charles eventually died and his son William finished the rest of the buildings in the 1660's.  The castle is a motte-and-bailey design with the keep built on a raised earthwork called a motte surrounded by an enclosed courtyard or bailey.  The design is Norman (French) and is easily built but still defensible.  Another example of the Norman influence in the area.        

Standing the The Great Court.To the left is the Terrace Range which includes lodging rooms, kitchen area, artwork gallery, dining room and other areas.  To the right is the Little Castle.  The Little Castle was built as the house but William Cavendish soon found it was to small to entertain large groups so he built the Terrace Range.  Out of the picture to the left is the stables which William built to satisfy his obsession with horses.

The Riding House where William would train his horses.  Once he became to old to ride he built a viewing area to watch the horse trainers.  This picture is taken from the viewing area. 

Stables to the left, Terrace Range straight ahead.

Model of the estate

I thought this two sided fire place was a great idea to warm large rooms.  I don't recall seeing this in the few sites we have been to so far although they did have a few at Bolsover.  I will have to look for these in the upcoming sites.

Copy of a 1600's saddle.  We all took turns sitting on it

I thought this was funny trivia.

Cliff notes version of the castle construction.

Modern day The Gallery.

The Gallery information board.

The foggy valley reminded me of reading The Hound of the Baskervilles many many years ago.

The Kitchen Service Area information board.

The Kitchen Service Area.  We found it interesting that the kitchen and servants all were underneath the guests.  I imagine the enclosed kitchens would have been hot and miserable to work in once the stoves were fired and the servants filled the space. 

17th century window sills.

Sweeping view of the little folk beneath the castle owners.

Front of the Little Castle.

The undulating steps caught my eye.

Original painting above the panelling.  The paintings in the room high on the walls were impressive.  They all had good versus evil motifs sprinkled with Roman god and biblical scenes.  And they still looked good after 350 years.  The wall panelling and painted ceilings have all been retouched to reflect what they think the original room colours were.

I think Hercules is wrasslin' a bull here.

The dark panel to the left of the fireplace is original panelling.  The rest of the panel has been refurbished.  This place had richly coloured rooms that made you feel like you were inside of a painting.  A very neat feeling for me.

Refurbished ceiling.

Another diorama, this one of angels interacting with people.

The Marble Closet.  Marble floors, ceiling and fireplace.  This was probably the wife's closet.

Today's Lori Seppanen pic - the bread ovens.

The kids next to the Venus Fountain.  The Stables are to the left and the Terrace Range is to the right.

The fountain wasn't running but if it was I could imagine the kids giggling as the little boys "peed" into the fountain.  The interesting part of the picture is the white marble Roman emperor busts along the wall.  It seemed a little cheeky to me that they are placed underground and slightly hidden but maybe that is just me.  Plus they have little boys trying to pee on them, not very dignified if you ask me.  

Today's Kevin Coleman pic - Chuck is happy holding his Soggy Bottom.  Nutty taste that was different in a good way but nothing special.

Lunch was at The Cavendish.  Food was okay but I was busy talking and didn't get any pictures - sorry Dana.

This is the Chuck Norris sad face because the month is almost over so Chuch has to leave us.  We had a great month together.  Not sure what Lori thought of The Chuck Norris as she kept saying she didn't have an opinion.  At least she didn't say it was "hideous" like the Ebenezer Scrooge.

Our final Chuck Norris Facts:

When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.

Chuck Norris can strangle you with a cordless telephone.

Thanks for listening,

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

January Bits and Bobs

Greetings Readers,
A quick entry this week.  Weather was not great last weekend and I was a little under the weather during the week so I comtemplated taking the weekend off.  Throw in Kal's sleep over on Friday and the cake is iced!  Home it is.

My Les Nessman weather update for last week: Frost overnight and -3 C (27 F) to start the week.  Mid week was 50's and sunny - beautiful weather.  Low 40's and rain rounded out the week.  The good with the bad I guess.

Lori and I ordered an online Geometry workbook for Karl to work on this year after learning the schools "plan" to work with Karl to keep him on par with his US mates.  Basically they aren't going to do anything extra for him.  Overall the schools are disappointing us (Lori and I) over here.  Karl frequently comes home and tells me about subjects they are learning (math, English history) for the first time that he has already covered in Brownsburg.  Thankfully we will be back in time for the kids to catch up before they get to far into high school.  Very frustrating but it does make us appreciate Brownsburg schools much much much more.

A funny little observation - Kalle told me it is weird to see me talking to the mothers when she comes out of school every afternoon.  And I have to agree, it does feel funny to be out there every afternoon.  I think Kalle is still adjusting to me being home all the time.  In the past Lori and I would split these types of activities with help from Bob and Lona (thanks again for all you did for us with the kids) but now it is all me.  Definitely an adjustment for me.

I started a Rolls Royce spousal meeting group last week.  Five of us met at Starbucks in the Westfield Mall.  Our next meeting is at Zizzi ( on Friar Gate which is downtown plus the group has expanded to seven.  I had a lot of fun the first time discussing our UK experiences, vacations and backgrounds.  My thought was starting a group for the spouses to get together once or twice a month to get out of the house and have some American interaction.  (Side bar - The people here are pleasant but the comfort level of talking to people at home just isn't there.  You constantly think of your wording so that you don't say something off handed that would offend anyone.  Plus there is just a feeling of being kept at arms length by some people as you talk to them.  It's not true for everyone but is true for most people... but maybe it is just me.  Kalle had the second of her "home and home" sleepovers this weekend and the little girls mother is as friendly and talkative as can be.  Maybe it is just me after all.)  Interestingly enough all of the spouses who attended quit their US jobs to come here so we are all feeling a little lack of fulfilment (for lack of a better term) now that we are all working at home instead of in our professions.  Another part of the adjustment process I guess.   

One funny story from our meeting came up during our discussion on what we are doing with our Indy houses.  Most of us are renting and one family that is renting was getting messages from an easily excited neighbor about lots of activity at the house.  They contacted another neighbor who assuaged their fears about the renters.  The neighbor even went so far as to say how nice the family is and they invited the renters over for dinner and all had a great time.  As the spouse is telling the story she starts laughing and says, we've lived there for seven years and those neighbors haven't ever invited us over for supper.  So the group laughed and made a few jokes about the neighbors liking the renters better than the owners.  Hopefully that doesn't happen to us.  Gulp!

Without going into much detail on the group - there are two younger spouses without kids that are here on short assignments and will be returning stateside shortly.  One tweener (between middle aged and younger) is pregnant with their first child and one middle aged whose kids are living on their own.  Three of us are middle aged with kids still at home.  I am the token male.

This week's "Dan Stine extreme self restraint in the face of surmounting adversity moment of the week" is people who are allowed to drive cars smarter than they are.  I had my first English "run in" this week.  No damage to the car, just some minor cosmetic blemishes that I can live with.  It happened on the way home from picking up Kal.  Short version is that I am stopped on a roadway to allow a car to turn off of the road into a parking lot.  I couldn't go forward because I was three cars back from a main road intersection so I was waiting for the cars in front to get onto the main road.  Once the cars got onto the main road and the turning car pulls into the parking lot I was about to move forward and suddenly on my left was another vehicle backing out of the parking lot onto the roadway right towards me.  I press the horn and miss by an inch, instead pressing on the airbag which doesn't make any sound.  SCRAAAPPE!  Long story short is the damage is cosmetic so I decided not to pursue anything but she really peed me off.  She did see me behind her but didn't stop backing up because her rear sensor wasn't going off so she thought I was backing up.  To top it off she was talking to some guy (husband maybe) next to her car before she started backing up.  Talk about suppressing road rage.  Surprisingly (insert fake sarcasm) she had nothing to say and I did my best to calmly resolve the situation - make sure no one is hurt, no damage to vehicles, etc.  But seriously - DON'T BACK UP WHEN YOU SEE SOMEONE BEHIND YOU!  Am I alone in thinking this?  You don't drive forward when the space in front of you is blocked so why back up when the space is blocked?  Dumb dumb people.  And sorry blond readers but she was a blond.  Fortunately she was in an older Land Rover so her bumper was higher than my front end so instead of bumping into my front end she just slid on top of it.  Plus I had my POS cruiser instead of the Rolls leased car.  I really hope we don't have to experience the joys of auto repairs while we are here.  Serenity now, serenity now...

A little black spot on my hood from her bumper I need to rub off.  You can see the trim that is pushed out a couple of inches on the side of the vehicle also.

We put up our first wall decoration last week.  We are not allowed to put up any wall hangers so anything we do put up has to use the existing wall hangers which really limits our decor.  While we were at Ashby last weekend I bought a poster that lists the English rulers and some historical tidbits that happened during each reign as a history lesson for us.  I then picked up a cheaply built and ridiculously priced frame and <Viola!> we have a decorated wall. 

Pic of The History of England above the fire place.

Close up of English rulers.  The country rulers date back to about 43 AD according to this poster and they still haven't figured out how to brew tasty beer.  How long will it take them? 

Kevin Coleman gets his own line up this week.  L-r: Warsteiner (beer from Lufthansa flight), Weihenstephan (world's oldest brewery - thanks Steve), Bud (that fine Belgian beer), Carling (okay but nothing special) and his own horseradish flavored English mustard.  I really like the mustard but they spelled your name wrong Kev.  I also added my Cadbury cup in the left background because the chocolate is WAY better over here than at home.  Much smoother tasting without being sickeningly sweet.

This week's Chuck Norris facts:

Chuck Norris' hand is the only hand that can beat a Royal Flush.

Ghosts sit around the campfire and tell Chuck Norris stories.

Chuck Norris has a grizzly bear carpet in his room.  The bear isn't dead it is just afraid to move.

And finally, I passed my UK driving test this morning with zero faults!  Yeah!  The test went more smoothly than I anticipated which is great.  Both the written and driving tests were easier than I thought they would be, I guess I worried about them for nothing.  Now it's Lori's turn but with work, family, and restarting her course work she will be very busy.  She does have a year to obtain the UK license in case she gets to busy.

Thanks for listening,