Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hardwick Hall, Hardwick Park, Darfoulds Garden Centre, and Langold Lake Country Park

I've been posting a lot more often on the blog recently, that's because I've been walking and going out with my support workers at every opportunity for the last two months. I need to keep busy; something happened in May that I'm having difficulties coping with. I'm really struggling to self-actualise at the moment and I'm needing a lot of support and feedback. Basically, I wake up every morning not knowing who I am and what my place in the world is, what I need to do to feel that I'm contributing to society...how I can become the best person I'm capable of being.

I'm stumbling about in the dark and so I've decided that the best short-term solution is to keep busy, tiring myself out, both physically and mentally...leaving me with little time or energy left to fret about things or do anything stupid.

So...I went for a trip out to Hardwick Hall today with Siobhan, one of my support workers. I'd checked online and there wouldn't just be the Hall and gardens to look at though, there's also extensive parkland areas with lots of walking routes.

Hardwick Old Hall is nearby, less then a hundred yards away actually, and I would have liked to see both sites. However, the Old Hall is managed by English Heritage and we're only members of The National Trust and I wasn't prepared to pay £13 for the both of us to visit the ruins.

It's situations like this that really pisses me off about contemporary Britain; not only having to pay once, but then you're expected to pay again. Why on Earth are there two rival competing heritage organisations in England? 

We arrived at Hardwick just after eleven o'clock and were told that the hall was closed, as it is every Monday and Tuesday, and so we'd only be able to look at the gardens and the parkland. I told the staff who worked there that it wasn't obvious on their webpage that the property wasn't open today....they disagreed and thought I was some sort of time travelling saboteur. 

Here's a link to the page stating the times and openings; in order to find out that it doesn't open on a Tuesday you need to scroll down the page...something that's not obvious - and shouldn't be necessary. THIS INFORMATION NEEDS TO BE PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED.

We still enjoyed ourselves though; the weather was lovely - a little too hot really though, especially for Siobhan. I bought a new [secondhand] camera yesterday after breaking my previous one on Saturday, and so had a lot of fun experimenting with its features...and took a lot of photographs.

After we'd eaten our sandwiches we drove down the hill to the bottom part of Hardwick Park and walked round the fishing lakes and through some very nice meadows.

At this point I noticed that Siobhan was struggling a bit in the heat; she's a few years older than me and walks with a slight limp anyhow, and so I decided to abandon my plan to call at Creswell Crags on the way back and walk through the gorge, having a look at the caves.

I formulated an alternative plan; cream teas at Darfoulds Garden Centre, and ice creams at Langold Lake Country Park. At the garden centre we sat right next to a 'geranium wall;. Everyone seemed to be very impressed by it - we were told that the set-up would cost £900.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thrybergh Country Park and Ravenfield Park

Another walk today with the autism group. There was a 'Fun Day' being held at Thrybergh Country Park which was a disappointment; fortunately the walk wasn't, the beck and the fishing ponds at the bottom of the valley were a pleasant surprise - they wouldn't be out of place in the Peak District; a steep 150ft deep wooded valley with a series of ponds and weirs at the bottom. Although Ravenfield Park is clearly marked on Ordnance Survey maps, no footpaths going down into the valley are depicted; yet, although access is restricted in certain places because the ponds are owned by an angling club, there's a lovely walk which skirts one side of the valley, eventually taking you down to a pleasant spot where we had our sandwiches, and were able to see plenty of large fish.

We started and finished at the Lakeside Cafe  right next to the reservoir at Thrybergh - pots of tea, cakes, and hot sandwiches were enjoyed by members of the group.

Because I broke the camera viewfinder yesterday, today's photographs were taken 'blind' - a lot of guesswork was involved...but several turned out to be okay.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tideswell Wakes Week, Wheston, Peak Forest, Old Dam, and Castleton

The journey on the bus from Sheffield to Tideswell was very cramped and uncomfortable, at times even being painful when I couldn't get any relief by moving my legs. I had to fold up my sun hat and use it as a cushion for my right knee, and kept rubbing my left thigh to maintain the blood circulation, being careful not to touch up the woman who was sitting next to me whose thigh was tightly wedged up against me. In the process of rubbing my thigh my left elbow was positioned very close to her right tit; she did seem to be helping me out though by turning in towards me so that my elbow could nestle in her cleavage; the extra couple of inches available made all the difference. I'm sure she would have liked to move a bit further away but couldn't because she already had one leg and half of her body in the aisle, as did the large man sitting opposite. There's not much room on some of these buses.

When I got off the bus I spent a bit of time to make sure I hadn't suffered any injuries, strains or pulled muscles in my legs or lower back. I was fine, did a few basic stretching exercises and then wandered round the town taking photographs; there was plenty for me to snap - it's 'Tidza Wakes Week' and today is Carnival day.

The highlight for me was the 'Victorian Street' where all the houses were dressed as traditional nineteenth century shops and businesses. It seemed to be open house in every home, with various local charities and community groups organising displays and holding a coffee morning. In truth I would have liked to stay longer, and did consider changing my plans and cancelling the walk. The problem was that the main street through Tideswell would be closed during the Carnival and the buses wouldn't be serving the town and I didn't know what, if any, alternative arrangements had been made - I didn't know in advance that it was Carnival day today and so hadn't checked.

After briefly popping in the church I found one of the country lanes that leads of to the west, to Wheston, briefly passing through the village before walking down into Hay Dale - I had to use my backside though.

I continued heading north along Dam Dale until I reached Peak Forest where I popped in the pub for a pot of tea and a slice of apple pie; the landlady reckoned I was more of a Bakewell Pudding type of man though.

I soon reached Old Dam, then climbed up to the grasslands above Castleton, and finally scampered down Winnats Pass hoping to catch the 15:55 bus. 

I was a few minutes late arriving at Castleton and so had an hour to wait for the next bus. I decided to go and have a drink in the Peak Inn, just across the road from the bus station. By now the sky had clouded over and so any photographs I took probably wouldn't be that good...and there was another reason; I'd broken the electronic viewfinder on my camera and so I would be taking any photographs 'blind'...just like I did with the last two shots here of Mam Tor.

Not only did I break my camera today, the third one in five years, but the zip on my trousers also came apart. I think I can repair the zip with a short piece of string and some pliers...but not the camera of course.

By the way, if you're wondering why I seem to break a lot of cameras; it's part of my general clumsiness caused by my Asperger's syndrome. I've got no proprioceptive sense and so therefore can't work out where my fingers are in relation to the rest of my body and my immediate environment, and how much force to use when grabbing or lifting an object...or just touching something. Although I'm really awkward and clumsy during the daytime, I have no loss of dexterity at night. Before my diagnosis I seriously thought that I could see in the dark. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Using Google Maps

This is something I noticed a few months ago: when I click on a bus-stop icon for a location in South Yorkshire I now get the actual scheduled times of the buses that are due in the next two hours, a service that has always been provided for the Derbyshire bus-stops.

I've only got a desktop computer, I can't be bothered with fiddling about with an i-phone, smartphone, or tablet...I imagine this service would be very useful for those that have continuous access to the internet on mobile devices.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Howell Wood Country Park

Another short local walk with Marshall, my support worker. Howell Wood is in the extreme far north west of Doncaster Borough and consists of woodland, open areas of grassland, and a fishing pond, located in rolling countryside.

The weather wasn't very good again, cold and cloudy; certainly not good conditions for photography.

Until we reached this sign at the far side of the woods we thought we had stayed within the bounds of the country park...obviously we were mistaken.

We didn't have any problems with tanks though...only a woman and her dogs.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Visit To Beningbrough Hall, Near York

Another trip with Siobhan, one of my support workers, to Beningbrough Hall, a few miles north west of York, a trip that was originally scheduled for a fortnight ago but had to be postponed due to an administrative error.

The weather was rather disappointing, cloudy, with a bit of rain...and cold again. The weather forecast yesterday was so much more promising though.

The hall is nothing special, just a typical eighteenth century grand country house: the walled gardens are impressive though, the best I've ever seen - well maintained with a large variety of fruit trees and vegetables, all clearly labelled.

The farm shop was poor; no rabbit pies or game pies.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Eyam, Housley, Burnt Heath, Great Longstone, and Bakewell

It was a rushed start this morning. I didn't wake up until 07:30; the cocktail of painkillers I'm taking at night for the dry socket pain after a wisdom tooth extraction makes me drowsy...which is good I suppose.

It was a lovely day today, it actually felt like summer; mostly sunny, warm (hot at times even), and no cold wind...and the wildflowers, they were blooming everywhere - clover, campion, vetch, and buttercups; entire fields of them in places.

I got of the bus at Eyam and walked through the village, taking plenty of photographs.

Towards the far end of the village I took a lane that leads to the south, then a footpath across meadows and then down to Horseshoe Quarry through the grassland and woodland - a lovely spot for picnics.

Because the entrance to Horseshoe Quarry isn't marked on the map I wasn't sure how far along Middleton Dale I'd come out at; regrettably I made the wrong decision and turned right and had to walk for half a mile along a busy road without a pavement until I found a path at Housley.

It was level going along a byway and then some fields until I reached a location which is identified as Burnt Heath on the map, but every time until now when I've been there the sign would show 'Cavendish Mill' - well, now it's called 'Glebe Mines'. It must have new owners.

I then descended down Black Harry Lane into the upper reaches of Coombs Dale, and climbed up the other side to reach the top of Longstone Edge.

I found the safest way down, along a beautiful dry dale and then a lane which comes out near to the church. No chance to photograph the church though because it was covered with scaffolding.

I popped into one of the pubs in Great Longstone and bought a very expensive glass of Diet Coke; in the process of sitting down my map case knocked over a very slender vase in which two lilac-coloured cornflowers had been very carefully positioned. I might have apologised...but I probably just blamed gravity.

On the way from Great Longstone to the Monsal Trail, and then later as I was walking along the Trail, there were some stunning views of fields carpeted with yellow buttercups.

At Bakewell I treated myself to fish and trips in the restaurant - the mushy peas were served in a small stainless steel bucket.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Denaby Ings Nature Reserve

Another short walk at a local beauty spot with Marshall, my support worker; today was a chance to talk in a different environment, away from my front room...and there's a lot I needed to talk about, there are a lot of issues on my mind at the moment.

Located close to Mexborough, Denaby Ings is a lovely spot right next to the River Dearne, featuring a variety of landscapes, ponds, waterways, pastures, woodland, and meadows; all formed when mining subsidence caused the land to sink and permanently flood.