Sunday, 3 March 2013

Enjoying the Outdoors Again -- Padley Gorge

Ah, things broke just right for a change and we were able to enjoy some [relatively] really nice weather on Saturday.  Sunny and 8-9C (upper 40's) -- perfect for getting out and stretching the legs again.  I'm looking forward to more walks this year and I've warned the family to expect as such.  We've seen most of the nearby sites (homes, cathedrals, etc.) but the walking paths are limitless.  Our destination:  Padley Gorge.  But more on that in a second.

Alex has been fighting a cough for 3-4 weeks now.  No other symptoms so we haven't taken him to the doctor.  However, we decided to take him to the walk-in clinic on Saturday morning.  Recall that we were quite pleased with our NHS experience when he broke his arm.  We'd heard from others not to expect much for the garden variety visits though.

Net result:  a wasted morning of waiting, no drugs in our hands and likely the intended NHS result of "we won't bother next time".  They are quite reluctant to prescribe antibiotics due to immunity issues (and cost, some would say).  Our UK friend Andrea commented that all we should expect is "Here are two leeches; call me in the morning."   True, true.  No leeches, but the same unsatisfying result!

Whinging over:  'though a later start than normal (noon) we hopped in the car and headed north for our walk.

Padley Gorge is a part of the National Trust Longshaw Estate.  It's in the Dark Peak and not really near anything.  Perhaps Heathersage is the closest town.  It's just under an hour away.  We actually came back via Chesterfield / M1 / A38 and that was a little faster (and easier on passenger #1).

The planned walk was the lower magenta one with the great big black arrow.  We ended up doing the navy blue route since we had to park in the overflow lot (all free for NT members -- woo-hoo).  The cyan and light blue paths were another nice walk (link) that we did to Stanage Edge with the Seppanens.   We haven't done the longer green route yet.

Really enjoying my geeky hand-held GPS (thanks Kuk!).   The walk was 4.8 miles and took us 2:32 (of which 25 minutes were stationary).  We had a slight climb of 600' coming out of the valley.  Nice walk to get back in the swing of things.   Okay, enough stats -- on to the photos!

Check out those blue skies.  Seems like it has been forever.  Nice jet contrail, eh?

I was surprised to still see a little snow around in parts.  We aren't really that high up.  Things were still greening up, but this area has some brown year round.

After walking a bit (and getting everyone, especially the little guy on the left "calibrated" on what we were going to do), we crossed into some woodlands and a little brook that would feed Padley Gorge.

Previously mentioned brook and a typical foot bridge.  We walked along the brook in the open for a little bit.  Lots of families were out and about enjoying the sun.  It was good to be outside and also see others having a good time.

Another shot down at the brook.  You'll note the slightly muddy path.  Nothing too major in terms of mud along the way.  Great day; great scenery.

In the woodland now.  We liked the contrast and this part actually felt like some from our Indiana State Parks.  Kuk particularly liked the gnarly trees.

along the trail by the brook -- Alex continuing his odd facial experessions

the brook is further down in the gorge now

 another family shot-- Alex is apparently about to burst

we've exited the forest for now -- interesting building . . . not sure what it was used for

we took a short stroll by a few houses including one that used to be the old mill -- fairly remote place to live, actually

 a nice one of Nicole on the bridge near the old mill as we cross back over the brook

 I liked this mossy old stone fence

We reached normalcy towards the end as we were climbing out -- Kuk and Alex bringing up the rear (taskmaster Dad was not allowing for many rests).  

A nice look back at the Dark Peak in the distance after we climbed up and out of the gorge.

Sheep and stone walls -- we've missed you!  This was the last bit as we headed back to the parking lot.  Unfortunately about this time, Kuk realized that her "broad jump" was actually a "skinny" jump and she didn't quite clear a muddy patch.  Oh well, a little more laundry to do!

Food Update

After returning home and getting cleaned up we headed over to our friends, the Connells.   Andrea had ordered some Domino's for the kids and the adults headed out to the Viceroy "for a curry" (that's how you say going out for Indian).  We had a great time with good friends and left absolutely stuffed.   The conversation was still going strong so we continued at their place until what amounted to a late night for us (and the kids).  Wonderful time -- thanks Andrea and Derek.  (sorry, no photos for the curry).

Unfortunate timing on my part, but we had booked an early Sunday Roast at the Bridge Inn for Sunday at noon.  This was from a Groupon that I had purchased that gave each of us a 3-course meal for only £20.

I had low expectations since this was more of regular pub fare than a "gastro pub" or a full out carvery.  It wasn't anything special but it was fine (and well worth £20).  The top left was my duck pate (Andrea -- obviously not Kuk's choice).  In fact, this was a poor choice on my part as Kuk's garlic mushrooms and the kids' potato soup were better.

I opted for the roast pork which was okay.  The girls got horse beef and it was okay.  Alex's turkey was the best of the lot.

The vegetables, unfortunately, lived up to the British food stereotype.  Frozen, overcooked and underseasoned.  That's what they looked like when they brought them and that's what they looked like when they took them away.  We didn't even bother.

The girls had a nice apple tart with cream for dessert.  I had a treacle sponge with custard that was also good.  Alex had a fruit bowl.  We all waddled to the car.

Now back to my "15 minute" cooking for the week:

 sausage gnocci with spring greens -- even better than expected
Cajun shrimp with a sweet potato mash with crunchy veg on top.  Not bad either.

New experience with the shrimp.  You can get them cleaned here but it is also possible (and more likely in some cases) to get them whole.   Don't care for the hairy antennae myself.  The recipe called for cooking them whole but I spared the family and de-headed them first.

Let's hope for some more good weather in the weekends to come.  Have a good week everyone.

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