Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Brighton-in-the-Dales, 21 & 22 September 2007

Matlock Bath bridgeFurther to our first Fuji Finepix f10 failing, we found that our follow-up Fuji Finepix f30 failed in a frustrating familiar fashion; fabricating fuzzy figments in the frame meaning we had to make-do with miniscule megapixel montages from the miserable lens of my Motorola mobile

We returned to our favorite area of the Derbyshire Dales, for a late summer weekend and spent the day in the area around Matlock and Matlock Bath.

Petrified toast-rack and friendsMatlock Bath was a spa town in Victorian days and is now a very attractive tourist destination. We did an interesting tour of the old Victorian health spa, now an aquarium, with a very healthy group of carp swimming in their 20-degree spa water; and, apart from the interesting hologram display, the other interesting display was a collection of items under a shower of spa water, which resulted in them being "petrified" in a mineral coating.

Stylish styleThe town is just like a British seaside resort with wall-to-wall fish and chip shops, amusement arcades and other fast food outlets and the obligatory 'rock' shops. Fish and chips seems somehow rational at the sea-side but in the middle of the Derbyshire Dales they all seemed a little out of place.

BonsalMatlock is a larger town a little further north. It too is a picturesque town, and we did a 10-mile walk from here along the 'Limestone Way', passing through two extremely picturesque limestone towns.

Ship-in-a-bottleAfter a tasty pub meal in Matlock, we returned to Matlock Bath, for their annual Venetian Illuminations. The whole town is covered in coloured lights, but the special event is a parade of illuminated boats, which are rowed along the river Derwent. Ambulance with it's lights onThe winner this year was an ambulance boat, entered, not surprisingly, by the local St Johns. It reminded us of our childhood in NZ's Hawkes Bay, where the annual blossom festival had a similar feel of civic pride and family fun day out. We could not work out where 'Venetian' came into it all. The plastic injection-moulded boats they were mounted on were anything but Venetian.

The DalesWe can't visit the Peak District without a trip to our favourite cheese factory shop in Hartington. On Sunday, before we stocked up with cheese (you can freeze their Wensleydale and Stiltons), we did a 7-mile loop walk starting from the town. Tissington trailThis area has a great selection of dales, and the walk was an excellent mix of level disused railway cuttings (Tissington Trail) and limestone outcrops in four different Dales: Peak scenery at it's best. Unfortunately the weather was not at it's best, but at least it didn't rain.

Half sizeFollowing this, we stepped back in time by visiting the Cromford Steam Rally. There were steam engines of all different sizes and all different purposes: stationary steam engines; steam trucks and cars; traction engines, Full sizefull size and models; steamrollers and a steam powered merry-go-round. It also took our minds back to country shows of our childhoods, with their displays of farm equipment etc. A parade of classic car was an added bonus.

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