The Great British Weekend (with Taylor and Andy)

Welcome back blog fans.  This past weekend, Taylor and Andy (my sister and brother-in-law) came all the way from Louisville, Kentucky to see us and how we live in Derby.  Okay, so they were on a bigger trip that includes the Swiss Alps, but they took a couple days out of their eurotrip to visit good old Derby.

They came a long way

They came a long way

We offered to meet Taylor and Andy in London or Stockholm or something like that, but they insisted that they wanted to visit England and see what it’s like.  So that’s what we did.  We had a proper British weekend and did as many British things as we could.  Tara did most of the planning so she gets the credit.  Here are the big British things that we had on the agenda that we wanted to make sure they experienced.

  • Wollaton Hall (also known as Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises)
  • Chatsworth House (as seen in The Duchess, Pride and Prejudice, and Wolfman)
  • Matlock Bath
  • Bakewell
  • Fish and Chips
  • Curry
  • Rain
  • Afternoon Tea
  • Real Ale

We came up with some other British things to do along the way, but those were the big ones that we wanted to check off the list.  The Americans arrived Friday at noon so we left work early, got down to business and went straight to Nottingham to see Wayne Manor.

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Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises

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Wollaton Hall

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Andy and Taylor

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This room was used for Batman’s bedroom in the movie

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They had Batman capes for the kids to play with….. Andy and I spent more time with these capes than we should have for how old we are

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Got to see the roof!

It’s completely free to visit Wollaton hall, but we opted for the 5 GBP guided tour and it was money well spent.  We had a nice lady show us around the hall.  We got to go in a lot of places that you do not get to see with free admission.  She was also funny and full of interesting information.

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Got to explore the underground wine/beer cellars, secret tunnels, and underground well

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This is where the beer was kept. It was pretty cool down here.

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The tour guide said that this underground well water was incredibly pure. She then drank some to prove it and said that we could have some too. I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity.

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These are like slimey stalactites. Andy touched one and freaked out.

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Tons of bells that go all over the house. Just like on Downton Abbey

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Outside there is a deer park. These guys were not shy. You could get pretty close to them and they did not mind

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Nice Rack!

Taylor in a red phone booth.  Check another English thing off the list!

Taylor in a red phone booth. Check another English thing off the list!

Since we were already in Nottingham, we decided to drive over to Nottingham’s claim to fame, Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem pub.  It is said to be the oldest inn in England.

This is as English as it gets!

This is as English as it gets!

Tara and I had a secret agenda for this trip.  There is a “pregnancy chair” at this pub, which is said to make you instantly pregnant if you sit in it.  Taylor is older than me so that means she is due to have kids before me.  Her and Andy have been putting it off for a while and my mom can only wait for so long.

Alterior Motive

Alterior Motive

Step 1: order pints.

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brittish weekend26 Cheers

Step 2:  Tell Taylor that the chair is famous for giving you strength.

Step 3:  Sit in Pregnancy Chair!  BOOM!  You’re welcome Mom.

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That evening, we made reservations at a nice Indian restaurant.  Neither Taylor nor Andy had tried a proper curry so this was a big step.  Most Americans (me included) aren’t aware of the huge popularity of curry in England.  Or even that “curry” is an entire genre of food.  I used to think of curry just as a spice that I didn’t particularly care for.  Over here in England, the number of places to get an amazing “curry” is pretty outstanding.  For the record, an English/Indian curry dish is an extremely flavor packed sauce that meat is cooked in and served over rice and/or naan bread.  The sauce can be stock or tomato based, but is always filled with tons of flavor from Indian spices and spicy peppers (if you can handle it).  Tara did her research with the help of her Indian work mates and did all of the ordering.  We got 4 different curries, 2 different naans, 1 biryani rice, and a Tandoori mixed grill appetizer.  It was all amazing, as usual, and Taylor and Andy really enjoyed it.  Either that, or they did a really good job of fooling us.  I was pretty surprised that Andy liked it.  Taylor has painted him as a pretty picky eater, but he did not shy away from anything we threw at him the whole weekend, with the exception of onions, but I’m not bothered about that.

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Authentic English/Indian Curry

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Andy approves! Taylor looks genuinely scared that Andy is consuming this exotic dish

I forgot to mention that we got a bonus English experience on the walk to the restaurant:  RAIN.  It was coming down pretty good and we had a 30 minute walk to the restaurant.  Under normal circumstances, Tara and I may have bit the bullet and drove/paid for parking, but this was a great opportunity to do something British:  Ignoring the fact that the weather is rubbish and going about your day as if it isn’t awful outside.

Saturday, we woke up relatively early and headed an hour north to Chatsworth House, which is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.  It took a lot of research to figure out what that actually meant.  I’ll get to the uninteresting history in a little bit.

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Chatsworth House (and a guy catching a fish in the bottom left, which is why Andy actually took the photo)

For now, just know that it is a very popular and beautiful stately home situated in the heart of the Peak District National Park.  It has been featured in such films as The Wolfman, Pride and Prejudice, and The Duchess.  Tara and I watched all 3 in preparation for this weekend.  If you want to learn about history and not fall asleep, I would watch the Duchess.  If you want to see lots of blood and excitement while seeing a lot of Chatsworth, I would watch The Wolfman.  If you want to fall asleep, I would watch Pride and Prejudice.

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Starting our tour. It was nice to get Taylor’s photos because me and Tara are actually in them

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Grand Hall?

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Music Room. The Violin inside the door is actually painted on to the door

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I would like a library like this in our future house

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Now on to the history that I learned from asking the security guard.  You may wonder why the Duke of Devonshire (bottom left county below) lives in Derbyshire (middle county).  The short answer is that it is just a meaningless title for a time when there were lots of fancy titles to go around.  The more slightly better answer is that there was a rich and powerful family in England called the Cavendish family.  William Cavendish, who held various government offices, was gaining power and the the king wanted to “keep his enemies close” so he gave him the title of the “1st Duke of Devonshire”.  This was a pretty cushy position and Mr. Cavendish got to transfer his Dukedom to his sons when he got old or died.  There is still a Duke of Devonshire to this day, but he no longer has any power and he is mainly a wealthy businessman.  I’m hoping that security guard didn’t lie to me because I’m doing very minimal fact checking on this one.

The Duke of Devonshire lives in Derbyshire?  WTF

The Duke of Devonshire lives in Derbyshire? WTF

If you do end up watching the Duchess, you can compare the actors/actresses to their real life counterparts below.  Kiera Knightley (in the center) is big step up from the actual duchess (right oil painting below).  Okay, that’s enough history for one day.

Bess (mistress), Georgiana (Duchess), Duke of Devonshire

Bess (mistress), Georgiana (Duchess), and the 5th Duke of Devonshire (right)

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Left = Bess (the mistress and 2nd wife), Middle = 5th Duke of Devonshire, Right = Georgiana (1st wife and original Duchess)

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On to the gardens

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The Duke has a nice modern art collection in the gardens. I had to do 10 of these handstands to get this right. I can only hold it for 2 seconds at a time.

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The light is just right

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Good jumping picture, but I need to do some sit-ups!

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The Coal Hole

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The Rockery

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Entering the Maze. It took me and Andy a good 20 minutes and some “creativity” to make it to the center. The girls got bored after 5 minutes and left us.

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This is what Tara did while I was crawling around in the maze. Nice Macro mode skills

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Great Sheep Shot!

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Good Group Shot

Good Group Shot

I had planned a nice walk to do after we explored Chatsworth, but the ladies decided that they would rather explore Bakewell and shop.  They sentenced Andy and I to the pub so that they could go shopping.  Sacrifices were made.

On the way out, Tara tried, but could not obey the sign

On the way out, Tara tried, but could not obey the sign

First order of business in Bakewall was to get a proper afternoon tea.  We found some traditional tea rooms and jumped right in.  Andy got steak and ale pie (another British bonus find) and the women got tea for 2.

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So English!

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Cheerio

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Tara isn’t even pretending to be British. She actually loves afternoon tea.

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Brother and Sister

After tea time, the women headed off to explore/shop and the men headed to the pub.

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We found darts

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Tara found bunting

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And creepily took a bride photo. She must have hunted for this while me and Andy were in the pub

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Perfect lighting for this photo

The last stop on the Great British Weekend express was Matlock Bath.  It’s a really quaint riverside town that makes a great place to pick up some fish and chips.  Our visit also just so happened to coincide with the Matlock Bath Illuminations, which is a lighted boat show.  We were a little ahead of schedule so we first stopped off at a pub for some pints.  Luckily, this pub had a carry out deal where they would serve you beer in a giant chinese food container.  I’m not joking.

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Cheers to takeaway beers!

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Pre Sunset Boating Area

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Takeaway beer was a good choice

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And the main event

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Afterwards, we enjoyed some more pints in the pub with some live music.  We ended the night with Fish and Chips (check) and lots of fun catching up with Taylor and Andy.  I think they enjoyed their time with us in Derby.  We really enjoyed having them and hope we didn’t annoy them too much by taking away all choices for them while they were visiting.  All in all, I think we squeezed in as much Britishness as you could in a 48 hour period.

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Live Music. They sounded pretty good

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Farewell fish and chips

The next morning, the Americans hopped on a train and headed for Paris.  That’s all for the Great British Weekend.

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2 thoughts on “The Great British Weekend (with Taylor and Andy)

  1. Great post — funny as usual. Takeaway beer in Chinese food containers? Brilliant! (and hilarious)

    Too bad you didn’t fit the walk in — can’t get more British than that. But, you squeezed a lot in so it all worked out.

  2. Pingback: The Best and Worst of 2 Years in Europe | Schetzels in the UK

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