Sunday, 25 September 2011

Derbyshire Day

Yes, that is my daughter holding a big, freaking tarantula.  I'll explain in a minute . . .

I just happened to catch on the radio that Sunday was the 5th annual Derbyshire (County) Day.  They came up with a county flag 5 years ago and have been celebrating it since.  This year it was at Sudbury Hall which is a National Trust property only about 20-25 minutes away.  We'd not been so we thought we see the house and see what they had set up for Derbyshire Day.

Sudbury Hall is "the country home of the Lords Vernon, a delight of 17th-century craftsmanship, featuring exquisite plasterwork, wood carvings and classical story-based murals."  The house was also used as the internal Pemberly scenes in the BBC dramatization of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  We were also told that Mt. Vernon in Virginia was named in honor of one of the Lord Vernons that owned this estate (not sure if it was the first one or later on).
There were 20-30 small tents set up to promote/sell local goods and activities.  The animal rescue tent in the back corner was the biggest hit though some of the food booths were good too.  I've got some "fruit cheese" to try with our next guests!

Alex with the guinea pigs.  They had a huge white rat (yuck) and a chinchilla among some of the others shown below. 

A little later it was reptile time (turtles, lizards, snakes, etc.)

 Nicole's favorite was this little (dwarf?) lemming.

 big-eyed close up

And another.  That's Alex's red cast by-the-way.  It will come off in a week from Tuesday (only 3 weeks total).

And here is Nicole with the spider.  I'm expecting a delayed case of the willies later (from me, if not her).  I'm guessing I'll still be the one to take care of the smaller ones in the house though.

Yes, we did go inside the house too.  We weren't able to go on the official tour though (no kids allowed!) but we managed to wander through on our own.  The house was a mis-mash of styles but the stair case and woodwork were notable.  This painting was sloped under the stairs.

dining room

another ceiling shot

Catching up with Friends

Our social calendar has been quite full the last 2 weeks.  That's one of the reasons for not posting last week.  We've enjoyed the company, many from Indianapolis, and wanted to say thanks for visiting! 

Enjoyed lunch with Nathan H. and dinner with Ryan M. while they were here on separate business trips a few weeks back.

Lori and Jay S. had a hectic week on their pre-assignment visit and it was good to see them.  Sounds like it all worked out in the end.  (We hope so).  We look forward to their longer-term arrival.

It was good to see Danny and Kerry whom we met in Indy and are now back home in Derby.  The long dinner at the pub was great for conversation (but not so much for the kids).

We welcomed Tanner and Yuka H. as they start their 6-month stay here yesterday.  Good luck!

We also managed to have a nice dinner with our neighbors again last week.

Friday and Saturday this week are also booked as we see friends old and new.

I spared everyone and didn't pull the camera out for photos, but I thought I would at least give a "shout out" here.  It was good to see everyone.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Thorpe Cloud

I couldn't let the weekend pass without doing something, especially since it looked liked we would have some semi-decent weather.   So, I packed a picnic and took the kids back to the Dovedale area.  It's the closest Peak District area and where we had our first hike in the district.  For that one, we circled clockwise around some hills and came down the river.  This time, we set off to climb to the top of Thorpe Cloud (it was too rainy last time) and walked up the river a little bit after we were done.  All in all, a nice morning (and picnic lunch).  We topped it off with ice cream, as usual.

Alex was a trooper.  It was wet and he did slip once up the hill, landing on his broken arm.  It hurt a little but it probably startled him more than anything.  He was pretty good about holding my hand after that.  Fortunately, he wasn't after we descended and were walking back.  I had a little spill myself.  We were on a slight bank and my foot slipped out, kinda fell forward and then rolled about 5' down the hill.  It was an 8.5 but would have been higher except for the Russian judge.  Minor bumps but I do think I gave the kids a scare.  Superman doesn't fall, you know.

On to the pics . . . 

Back to the famous stepping stones.  Alex is still sporting the temporary cast.  We actually had to keep an eye on the weather as he's not supposed to get that one wet.  It was nice and sunny when we left but clouded up when we arrived.  We did get a few sprinkles but not enough to worry about.  "Sunny spells" came later.

We took the path shown behind the kids which led around to the back of Thorpe Cloud (i.e. the big hill).

Compare that to last time.

 Close up with the base of Thorpe Cloud in the background.

Passed some sheep on the way around back.  This one was carrying on quite a bit.  She wanted to be with the sheep on the other side of this fence.

 Looking back, gaining a little elevation (more sheep too).

random cow at the top of the adjacent hill (sorry -- no mega zoom)

 world's largest thistle flower -- I think I sat on another one taking this shot (ouch)

mountain sheep?  we are getting closer to the top

whoa -- looking down, we climbed 900-1000 feet I believe

View from the top.  The building in the middle is the Izaak Walton Hotel, where we started our hike back in June.  The Dovedale parking lot is in that mass of trees in front of it.

a view in the other direction

The picture at the top of the page is the kids at the top of Thorpe Cloud.  This one is actually farther down the  river (at Lover's Leap I believe).  Compare it to our soggy venture last time.

In the afternoon, we finally took Kuk to see the last Harry Potter movie (with grumpy Alex who had already seen it).  This was her birthday wish as she read all the novels since we got here.  We then watched (or re-watched) all the movies until we caught up.  I'm not a big fan (haven't read the books) but the last move was pretty good.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Touring the Derby Royal Hospital

Well . . . we had a little more excitement Friday morning than we had planned.  I got a call from Alex's school that he had an "accident" and was "upset" and we should "probably have it looked at".  Just what every parent wants to hear.

Turns out, Alex slipped/tripped/fell off the monkey bars on the school playground (before school started).  He landed hard on his right hand, and as you can see above, has a nice new temporary cast.  He was fairly miserable when I arrived but was calm.  I stopped at the house for reading material and change not knowing how long it would take and then we headed to the Royal (i.e. National) Hospital in Derby.  This is on the way to Nicole's school so at least we know where it is.  I now know where to park for Accidents and Emergencies too.

You hear horror stories about the waits, etc. when using the national health system (NHS).  The staff wasn't exactly running around, but we didn't have to wait too long.  They did cycle us through quite a few people though:  receptionist, triage nurse, nurse practitioner, x-ray technician, back to the nurse practitioner, the cast nurse (?) and back to reception.  All in 2 hours, so that's hard to complain about -- could have been worse.  The NP and the lady who put the cast on were particularly friendly and empathetic.  The X-rays were the worst part since he had to move his arm around and the tech did a horrible job explaining what she wanted (it wasn't clear to me either) but we made it through.

They gave him a temporary cast to allow room for further swelling and he gets the real deal on Tuesday.  4-6 weeks??

I've included the x-rays below where you can see the break in the radius towards the wrist (you can see some swelling as well).  Unfortunately, it is his right hand.  We'll struggle through together -- Nicole is already "whinging" about the extra chores she's going to have to pick up.

He was much better after the cast and some minor pain meds. I like to think the rainbow we saw later in the day was a sign of good things to come (and a healthy recovery).  See picture below.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

End of Summer / Start of School

Today was the first day of school for Alex (Day 4 for Nicole).  It's tradition to get a porch shot on the first day.  I had hoped to capture the fact that it was a bit chilly (50F?), windy and wet (good ole  English weather).  

Nothing fancy to report from the weekend.  We had a bit of catching up on domestic issues.  However, we did attend the traditional end of summer classical concert in Darley Abbey park.  Fortunately, that's our neighborhood and we were able to walk to it.  Even better, our neighbors allowed us to tag along.  Since the price is right (free) it draws quite a crowd.  Estimates were north of 30,000 but I'm not quite sure if I'm buying into that.  A few photos below.

Here's some of our group (including our 2 kids) walking to the concert.  We are outside the "the village" and had crossed the street and are now walking down into the village.  The park is along the river at the bottom.  It does make for a harder walk back (up the hill) but it's still nice to have it so close.  We took enough for a weekend with chairs, food, drinks, etc. (wouldn't want to have to pay for any of that at the concession stand you know).

The weather was looking dodgy early in the day but the blue skies came out at just the right time.  The rain held off until we were just walking home (just a few sprinkles).  Perfect.

Quick shot of the stage set up in Darley Abbey park.  The Derwent River is just beyond the stage where all the trees are.  We arrived an hour before it was set to start and it had started to fill in already (but more would come as well).

Quick candid shot.   Our neighbors had both sets of grandparents with them and then we met 2-3 more families from the greater neighborhood--two of which were classmates of Alex (the benefits of going to the local, public school).  It was really nice to chat in this setting (this is before the concert started).

The boys were all chums.  Even the addition of a plate of chips (fries) couldn't get Alex away from his DS.  (That boy . . . . we hadn't planned to bring it but his friends were -- they show better restraint than he does though)

The evening was capped off by fireworks.  It was a nice 5-10 minute burst and we were sitting much closer than we do at the 4th of July ones in Indy.  My photographic skills and equipment aren't up to the task, but they were nice.  Great time all around.