Thursday 30 July – Nottingham

Well the day dawned a good deal more congenial weather wise this morning than yesterday’s effort.  Thank goodness for that or we’d be stuck in a very very very tiny tiny hotel room for the day.  To put you in the picture of how tiny, the biggest space is in the bathroom!  Two beds with about a foot between them, one against the wall under the window and the second with just enough room for the bathroom door to be opened on the other side.  Two cases – yeah, well that is a challenge getting them both in the room!  It’s tiny! And, up stairs – no lift!!  Oh and no parking either.  I parked illegally so we could get the cases down the street and up the garden path steps and then up the stairs to the room – with a turn at the top of the stairs to the landing of course.  Not pretty at any time but especially not good in a torrential downpour – by the time we got indoors everything and everybody was way more damp than was comfortable.  Then to move the car way way way up the street to a legal parking spot. Too far away to reload tomorrow morning especially as it is UPHILL so there will be more illegal parking and really, I just don’t care!

But that’s enough of the whinging.  The trick is we have to avoid any place to stay with the word Waverley in any part of the premises’ name, address, owner, absolutely anywhere.  The two places that we have stayed with the word Waverley have had no parking, stairs with a turn half way up and NO LIFT!  Oh and rain.  So that’s it, no Waverleys.  The hotels themselves have been OK (except for the absolute tinniness of this one’s room) but the access, no fun at all.

Anyhoo, to Nottingham.  So we moved the car to the park & ride (I’m seriously enamoured of the park & ride system) which in Nottingham is a tram.  How very Melbourne of them – LOL!  Short tram ride later and we are in the City.  We stopped at the Tourist Info when we got to town last night so there is even a plan – and a map!

First off – the Nottingham City Caves.  Now, caves in the City?  What’s this I hear you say?  Staligmites and stagligtites under the City of Nottingham? Nope, these caves are not natural holes in the ground but are in fact all man made.  As the City sits on a sandstone shelf it is very very easy to dig it out and over the centuries hundreds of caves and tunnels have been dug.  The caves were “rediscovered” when the shopping centre that sits on top of them was built in the late 1960’s and sense prevailed after a fight and the caves were saved.  The way to see them is by guided tour and so we duly stood in line only to be told the tour was full and the next one was in 1/2 hour.  It was cheaper to buy a combined ticket with the Galleries of Justice Museum tour so we did that, booked ourselves into a later Caves tour and went around to do the Justice tour first.

While waiting for the tour to start there was an exhibition to take a look at and Bear of course had to have a photo playing at being guess who…

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The part of the exhibition we got in before the tour was about the legend of Robin Hood, we didn’t get to the rest of it which was about crime and punishment through the ages but got to keep something for next time!

Based at Nottingham’s old courthouse and goal the tour is conducted by actors taking you through the centuries of justice and the goal system starting with the Sheriff of Nottingham.  The tour ticket has a prisoner’s number on it and as you progress through the tour you check to see who are at that point in time and what your crime and punishment is.  My first person was transported to Australia!!!  In fact, all my aliases were transported. I was just destined to be sent home!!!  How funny is that!

Anyhow, the actors are really good and after leaving the Sheriff, the next “tour guide” is a Turnkey from before the prison system was reformed in the 1800’s then a Women’s Prison Matron from the 1800’s.  It is really well set up and after finishing with the “guides” you can see pits where prisoners were held (holes dug down in to the sandstone and prisoners put in with no way ot getting out), enter a transport ship to the colonies, land at Botany Bay and progress through the various scenarios of prison life until the present day.  Treatment was barbaric and citizens actually used watching gruesome punishments as a form of entertainment – ugh.

It is necessary to go outside for about 10 metres when the Matron finishes her part and at this point the thunder clapped really really loud and it started to HAIL!  Not content with just plain old rain was Nottingham, it had to go one better!  We had to get back to the Caves by a certain time so rain coats on, hoods up and across the yard we go.  Aussies are tough, the Brits all stayed back and waited.

Coming out of the Courthouse I found the Tardis.  No sign of The Doctor though…

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Next stop was the Caves.  Hard hats on we proceeded to step into a labyrith of caves and tunnels dug into the sandstone.  The caves have been used for all sorts of things over the centuries including a tannery, for illegal activities such as gambling and plotting, even living in up to as recently as the 1930’s.  Once again actors bought history to life.  During WWII they were used as the City’s bomb shelters and we had a Marshall to guide us…

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Both these tours were really well set up and performed and a nice twist on a way to present history.

We also went for a bit of a walk around generally and walked around the castle.  There are references to Robin Hood everywhere. Outside the Castle…

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In the Castle grounds…

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Then it was back on the tram and a stroll around the Arboretum (the nice park across the road from the hotel we stayed in).  The aviary has some very familiar looking inhabitants…

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Then it was onwards to Oxford which won the toss of where to go next.  Cambridge was too far across, Oxford was much easier to get to and as we are fast running low on days we didn’t want to lose time traveling across county.  So, we are in Oxford until at least Saturday.  Tomorrow we will check out the city of Oxford and Saturday probably head slightly back north and Shakespeare at Stratford-On-Avon.

Until next time…

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Posted on August 1, 2009, in Britain, England. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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