January 18, 2007

January 16: Nottingham

Nessa’s dining room, Histon: Wednesday 9:30 GMT

On Tuesday we said goodbye to Nathaniel since he’ll be with his dad till we see him one last time right before we leave on Friday. Then Vanessa dropped us off at the Cambridge train station.

Before when she’d take us down to Cambridge, she’d go the long way about and when I asked her why she said it was because the traffic going straight into town was horrible. But this morning she went straight into town (the way that we walk back) and it was Craaaaazy!!! It took us forever just to leave Histon and another forever to get to the station. So we ended up setting off later than I had hoped.

We got our tickets without any problem, but then we had no idea which platform to go to. We couldn’t find any signs that told us (though I think if we’d been brave and just walked out to a platform, we would have found a tv out there that listed it... maybe. If we’d known what we were looking for. Which we didn’t.) The problem was that we knew we had to switch trains but the ticket agent hadn’t told us where. So we weren’t even sure which train to get onto. So Rob got back in line and asked and that got us to the right platform. Then we weren’t sure where to get off so we had to ask the conductor to help us out. Whew!

We managed to make our way to Nottingham and then got lost again trying to find out way out to the train station from the platforms. ivy basically guided us in via cell phone.

From the train station we promptly set out for the castle (and grabbed some food that we ate on the way).

The original castle was built in 1067 by William the Conquerer (apparently also called William the Bastard). When he realized that the Saxons up north (I think they were Saxons *shrug*) were not going to simply bow the knee to him, he decided to set up a fortress from which he’d gently and mercifully bend them to his will. It was a wooden structure built on top of a hill with sheer cliffs on three sides.

Later, one of the Henrys, I think it was, came up and tore down the wood structure and replaced it with stone. This was expanded several times by various Plantagenet kings (think Richards, Henrys and Edwards) who liked to come up to Nottingham to kick back and kill things (mostly animals out in the forest. “Forest” by the way, didn’t necessarily mean wooded areas like we Americans tend to assume, but any land that was covered under the king’s “Forest Laws” which could include not only woods but fields and heath as well.)

Edward II's wife, Isobel, took a lover at one point, Roger Mortimer. (They used to have secret meetings at the bar that we went to after visiting the castle.) Mortimer killed the king but forgot about doing away with this son, who became Edward III. The king knew of a back passage into the Nottingham castle so Mortimer and the queen thought they were safe but Edward snuck in and killed him.

Once Henry VII took the throne, the Nottingham castle fell into disrepair. (Mostly because all the Plantagenet fighting was, for the most part, done, and Henry had other things to do with his time than chase about game in the forest.)

Somewhere in the 1600 or 1700s the castle was passed on to some duke or earl or some such and eventually razed. Then some dude in the 1700s built his own little hideaway there and that’s the building we saw.

The building has been turned into a museum. One part holds the history of the castles that have been there. One part holds art (the kind that goes on walls, mostly). There’s a large display of Wedgwood Pottery. (Rob was majorly impressed by that.) And there was a room dedicated to the Sherwood Rangers including information on several rangers who had earned Victoria Crosses as well as equipment that they used or commandeered during various battles. (There was a really neat compass that some POW’s made during WWII that enabled them to escape. They used a razor blade, a button, a shoe polish container and a pin.)

After looking around inside the museum we wandered around the outside, noting where Ivy goes to school, where the English equivalent of the IRS is located, and getting queasy as we looked over the sides of the cliff.

We then decided to grab a pint and headed down to the oldest pub in England. Started in 1189, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Inn may very well have been a stop along the way for the Crusaders as they left England for Jerusalem. The back of the pub was carved out of the same rock that the castle was atop of, and it is said that Mortimer and the Queen had secret trysts there.

After leaving the pub we hit a thrift shop or two (Rob is trying to find a cheap (lol!!!!) long coat made of wool here. So far the cheapest he’s found is about $200 or made of synthetics.) and then went and had crepes. I had a tomato, basil, mozzarella crepe. Rob had a ham and cheddar cheese crepe. And Ivy had a chocolate and banana crepe with some sort of shake. I think it had a cookie in it or something, right Ives?

We had to go soon after that so Ivy led us back to the train station. I should stop here and say that Nottingham has a very cute downtown with many marvelous old buildings in it. I didn’t snap any pictures of them, but they were certainly cool.

We got to the train station (we would have been sincerely lost without a guide) and headed back to Cambridge on the train.

On the first leg of the trip (we had to switch trains in Ely, pronounced either ee-lee or eh-lee) we ended up sitting across from a Scotsman who saw that I was reading How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest nation Created Our World & Everything in It. We ended up chatting with him for awhile. He had a wonderful sense of humor.

We got back to the Cambridge train station at 20:00 and Vanessa drove up just as we were walking out of the station. Perfect timing. We got home, had some dinner, chatted for awhile (and discussed what personality types Vanessa, Katie and Rebecca were) then went to bed.


  1. Well, squirt. I'm sure you have lots to add here, eh?


  2. I had a shake which had cadbury's fudge and milk mixed up together (cadbury's fudge is a bar of fudge covered in chocolate.)
    I'm surprised you didn't say about the Cursed Galleon and Pregnancy Chair ;)

  3. well, i took a picture of the pregnancy chair, but it didn't come out. i meant to mention it also, but i'm kinda getting rushed for time to get yesterday's pics posted before we've really overstayed our welcome here at the cafe. :-P

  4. It looks like an upside down UFO...

  5. G'day Ivy, nice to see you girl hugsss

  6. Yeah I think that is what we call them too rofl

  7. This reminds me of a pub in Tassie, it too is the oldest pub only in Tasmania rofl..say is that fella taking a picture of you???

  8. I would have loved to have seen some pics of the train from the outside and of the stations too. Is that first class or do all the seats have tables?

  9. It leads into the castle grounds and stuff :)

  10. No, it's not first class, that particular company doesn't do first class. Most carriages have a mix of seats with tables and those without.

  11. hmm, i guess they didnt let you try it on:-(

  12. as far as tables on the train, some seats were facing each other and had tables between them, but i think even the seats without tables had little pull down tables on the backs of the chairs in front of them, kind of like airplanes have.

  13. When I was in England in the 80's I also had a beer in the oldest pub in England. Except I think it was somewhere else. I suspect the title is contested.

  14. Given there are 3 pubs in Nottingham alone that vie for the title, I'm not surprised. (The Trip, The Salutation and another one I haven't been to.)


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