My road trip with Martine….

(Guest post from Elayne)

Well now where does one start!

The fun began last Thursday when I left Kerry for the first leg of this road trip and took the bus to Cork… the giggles started almost immediately after we caught up in Wilton Shopping Centre… we then had to get up at stupid o’clock the next morning so I decided to have an early night and headed to bed about 12.30 a.m… up bright eyed and bushy tailed for a quick cup of tea (made by LSH) before departure with one crammed to capacity jeep, almost forgetting the ED’s plants…  Martine wended her way through the narrow roads of Ballinhassig and environs and after we got some diesel I took over the driving to Rosslare… the puns and jokes flew, the journey to the ferry was over before we knew it and it was bright and sunny when we arrived… lovely day for a ferry crossing!

Pembroke Ho!

Nigel (the sat nav) brought us safely to our first port of call in Chingford at 8.00 p.m. that evening somewhat tired and hungry but we checked in to the hotel and went in search of food and drink… had a nice walk to the pub to stretch the legs and as we tried to gain entry to said establishment I was asked to remove my baseball cap (much to my horror ‘cos my hair was so flat and awful looking) while on the premises and Martines rucksack was searched (we obviously looked fairly dodgy at this stage after a long day) but we gained admission and settled down with a nice cold pint of lager for me and a not so cold glass of white wine for Martine – I discovered she doesn’t like her drinks too cold!  I saw steak and ale pie on the menu and thought how typically English it was so decided to taste it…. mmmm yum yum…. Martine’s ED arrived at the pub with her new boyfriend and we headed to nearest off licence and back to hotel room to catch up… think I may have got a bit tipsy that night… (tired, dehydrated etc….) Martine reckons it’s first time she ever saw me like that… anyway onwards and upwards.

Yummy Steak and Ale pie

Saturday morning we went for a walk in beautiful sunshine and then went to check into our new hotel that was near to where the ED was moving… Martine had booked a twin room and when we arrived we were shown to our room which consisted of a double bed, a wardrobe, wash hand basin and shower… the toilets were down the end of a long corridor and the double bed was pushed up against the wall at one side… think 50’s style boarding house… with no other room available we decided we could live with it for one night… and we did… lol!

The very strange Rose Hotel

Saturday afternoon was spent with the ED and her boyfriend, helping move into ED’s new house share, had lovely lunch in Nando’s but it appeared not to agree with some of us…. (I say no more ’bout that) being a bit pressed for time to head to our show that evening Martine decided to splash out on a taxi to take us there, I have to say the taxi driver looked very relieved when he saw Martine taking a map out of her bag and kept asking her if he was going the right way….

Looking unconcerned in the taxi, despite the driver’s confusion

We arrived to see the show War Horse, Martine had told me it was a story about a horse done with puppets… went to the show with pretty much an open mind… and was totally blown away by it all… I admit I thought the start looked a bit… not sure how to describe how it looked but it wasn’t really what I was expecting but all of a sudden there was a loud bang and a flash of light and the show proper began and oh my gosh what a show it was… words escape me in trying to describe it but suffice to say that Martine’s description left a lot to be desired…  finished the evening off with a few drinks and meze, (have to say the calamari was one of the best I have ever had)…

My next car! On display for London Fashion Week

Sunday we went to a few markets, talk about choice of everything… an assault on all the senses… amazing…

…then off towards Manchester to stay the night with Martine’s brother in the Peak District… what a beautiful place… almost as nice as where I live… pleasant evening spent with him and his wife, a few drinks and a catch up…

Martine’s brother’s house!  No, just kidding, this is Chatsworth!

Next morning we were heading towards Nottingham to visit my son who is studying there… stopped off en route for a visit to Chatsworth House, we didn’t have time to do the house and garden together so decided as it was such a nice day that the gardens would be the one to do… it was absolutely beautiful… I think Martine was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy it but I have to say I did… we finished our long walk around the grounds with a lovely cup of tea and a cornish pasty in the courtyard… the chaffinches loved the crumbs off our pasties and one of them had a punk rocker hair-do…. cute beyond measure…

On to Nottingham to visit my son (and first meeting with his new girlfriend) went out for dinner on our best behaviour (for me anyway) had lots of laughs and have to say its wonderful to see him so happy and contented looking…

Toasted Tea Cake and Tea

…Tuesday morning it was back towards Manchester again to spend our last night in Martine’s brother’s house, on our way we stopped at an old mill in Matlock Bath (it was an outlet centre) because we needed shelter from a horrendous downpour… we decided a cup of tea and a scone were in order but when  I got to the counter I saw that they did toasted tea cakes and decided to try this other English delicacy that I have heard about… it was yummy… a bit like toasted barm brack the smell of cinnamon and other spices was lovely… Martine being a good girl had a cheese scone… (she is trying to stop eating too many sweet things, hah, good luck with that!)

Winnat’s Pass, near Castleton

We went higher into the Peak District and went to visit Speedwell Cavern where you go down an old mine shaft in a boat… not a lot of head room and pretty cold but it was another first for me… and due to my malfunctioning internal thermostat (it’s an age thing!) I found the temperature quite agreeable… then into Castleton to have a look at the Blue John stones that they mine in the area and craft into jewellery and other beautiful things, I have never seen such a varied stone, it looks quite ugly in its natural state but a beautiful finished product… if we can believe the guide in the mine shaft they use epoxy glue with the stone in an oven to bring it to the pretty state that we saw… Nigel the SatNav at one stage made it look as if we were flying rather than driving because he didn’t recognise that we were on a minor road (a very minor one as it happens… glad Martine was driving that time)…

Back to Martine’s brother for the night, a few drinks, lovely Indian take away and a supposed early night… late start this morning (we weren’t up till 7 a.m.) and then shared driving to Holyhead for the fast ferry to Dublin… it has been a great week with lots of driving, laughing, reminiscing and believe it or not a lot of sunshine…

In Chatsworth Gardens

I have had a week full of fun and first times for a lot of things for me…

       1st time driving a jeep
       1st time having steak and ale pie
       1st time at a west end show
       1st time having a toasted tea cake
       1st time writing in a blog
       1st holiday without a significant other or children in tow
       1st stately home
       1st Cornish Pasty
       1st garden maze (and made it out unscathed thankfully)
       1st trip down a mine shaft in a boat
       1st time eating Amber Bikkies (Yum)

Barry Flanagan sculpture by the lake at Chatsworth

On a more serious note… Martine and I have not always had the time to spend together when we would have liked to… family stuff and kids etc got in the way… we always had the ability to pick up where we had left off or at least that’s how it always felt… this week has given me a much needed break from my home life and a much needed catch-up with my best friend as I suddenly realise she is leaving the country and it feels like she will be so far away, but then modern technology is great and we are probably more in touch these days via Facebook anyway… my sides are still sore from the laughing but I really think it’s time to be going home for sure because we are absolutely thinking and reacting the same as each other now!

Friends for nearly fifty years – it’ll never last!

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