Saturday, May 31, 2014

Derbyshire: Shopping at Masson Mills

Masson Mills was Richard Arkwright’s ideal mill. It is built of red brick which was much more impressive. He had already made the greater part of his wealth and he wanted to show it off and still make more money of course.
Today you can take a factory tour here, visit the museum or do what we did, go shopping. Now granted, I can’t tell you how good the deals are any other time but in this first full week of January, there were plenty of bargains to be had. 

Edinburgh Woolen Mills has a large shop at Masson Mills. All the things they sell aren’t wool, they have cashmere as well. Now I am allergic to wool and I can’t wear cashmere either but neither of these things applies to our friend Joe. He was looking for cashmere, he really wanted a red sweater with a crew neck, and unfortunately red was only V neck. He settled for a beautiful blue sweater. In American dollars about $150, not cheap but for the quality of the garment, a decent buy.

While he and Al were poking around the men’s department and trying on hats and belts, I headed for the food department, big surprise there! They had an excellent collection of Walker Shortbread products as well as mince pies (left over from Christmas) and other sweet treats. They also had a wall full of jellies, jams, and chutneys. There were plenty of choices with or without good Scotch whiskey. Speaking of Scotch Whiskey they had a very nice liquor department including some ale.

On the lower floor was the woman’s section of Edinburgh Mills and the shoe department. I did some serious looking but I wasn’t quite up for trying to figure out what size shoe I would wear in England, it is totally different than in the states. Meanwhile, Al decided he wanted to get two belts for £8 which are a bargain on either side of the pond. Joe also bought a Sherlock Holmes type hat which actually looked rather good on him. Al, however, had no luck finding a hat. Least you think I bought nothing, I did buy a really cute magnet for my friend Jackie.

On the upper floor at Masson Mills, there are a lot of designer clothes and actually a designer by the name of Iz, not me of course but I was almost tempted. More shops and a restaurant are located at the river level. I was amazed to see that they sell Yankee Candles here. Good old New England ingenuity has made it to England.

Masson Mill has its own parking lot but it isn’t free, you pay when you park and if you spend a certain amount of money, you get a refund on your ticket. We had an excellent time here and I would allow anywhere from an hour to two hours just for shopping, more if you want to take the tour or look through the museum.

We visited here the same day that we toured Cromford Mills and had lunch at Willersley Castle

Friday, May 30, 2014

Derbyshire: The Bear Inn Sunday Carvery

Sunday Carvery is a great favorite of ours. Having arrived in Wheatcroft at the Old Granary, we decided that since it was Sunday we would like to get a pub carvery dinner. We talked to Martin and Amanda and they had a few suggestions. The first one we called was only serving until 3:30 and it was 2:45 so they suggested the Bear Inn. 

Martin started to give me the directions; they were so detailed and lengthy that I decided I had better write them down. It is a very good thing I did. It was one of our real adventures; we had to go through several one lane roads, up hills so steep the wheels spun, down hills so steep it took our breath away. It took us about 45 minutes to ride less than 10 miles. Was the ride worth it? Oh my yes. It was a very good Sunday carvery.

We knew as soon as we pulled into the huge parking lot that was very close to filled with capacity at 4 p.m. when service ended at 5 p.m, , that this was a popular place.  Entrance is at the rear of the building and you walk up the hall to the front right of the building. This is where the Sunday Carvery is set up. It is very popular, we made reservations, and I suggest that you do the same. You will be assigned a table number. You take your seat and then you go to the bar and order your drinks. You can pay for them right away or put them on your tab. You then get in line to get your food.

The first thing you do is to choose which one of the joints you would like sliced for you. There was a large beautiful roast beef for Al, but it was a little too well done (Paul the cook told us that the meat is rarer earlier in the day so if you want rare come at noon); a juicy pork roast, perfectly cooked lamb, and turkey breast. You can have one or all and the portions are as generous as you want.

You then move on to the accoutrements. There are three types of potatoes, boiled, roasted, and mashed. You will also see a pan full of Yorkshire puddings, the individual sort. There were serving dishes filled to the brim with sliced carrots and parsnips, cauliflower au gratin, stuffing, and green peas. Proceed to load your plate. Next you will find the appropriate condiments, delicious beef gravy for the roast beef, mint sauce for the lamb, cranberry sauce for the turkey, and applesauce for the roast pork.

Lastly, pick up your silver-wear and head back to your table to have a feast. You may return to the buffet as many times as you like. Not only was the quantity of food astounding but the quality was excellent. Everything was homemade and tasted of fresh local products. Dessert is not included but if you are so inclined there is a board by the bar listing at least ten choices among which I noticed profiteroles and ice cream. we really enjoyed the Sunday Carvery at the Bear Inn and would highly recommend it to anyone.

Alderwasley - Belper

Derbyshire, England, DE56 2RD

+44 (1629) 822585

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Derbyshire:Self Catering at the Old Granary

While searching the Internet, I came across a site called It was here that I first read about the Old Granary. Okay, I’ll admit it, the fact that it had a four season hot tub did influence my decision but it really was the picture of the kitchen that convinced me that this was the house for us. 

We needed three bedrooms and not only does the Old Granary have three bedrooms it also has three bathrooms. What could be more perfect?

I followed the link to the Old Granary website and after looking at all the photos we knew we had found the place we wanted to stay. I emailed the owner and after several emails, we had a bank draft drawn for the full amount done in British Pounds and sent off to Amanda Brown.
The Old Granary is just that, an old granary conversion. Martin, Amanda’s husband, did the conversion himself and is justifiably proud. The house is lovely, way beyond our expectations. The kitchen has every modern convenience, a five burner stove with two ovens and a grill, a microwave, hot pot, washer and separate dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, and freezer. 

The center of the kitchen is dominated by a farm table and six chairs. Plenty of dishes and everything else you might need including dish soap and washer soap are provided. A bottle of wine was left for us as a welcoming gift, you can see it on the table.
The living room is very comfortable with a couch, loveseat and wing back chair. Amenities include a wood burning stove, satellite TV (also in all the bedrooms and the kitchen) and a stereo that allows you to play your DVD or CDs in any room you want; there is even a PDA –MP3 docking station. A powder room is located on the main floor so you don’t need to run upstairs when you need the facilities. We really appreciated that powder room!!

Upstairs there are three bedrooms. We choose the king room with the half tester bed. It had a wonderful light and bright look with white bedding. The room has a vanity with a three part mirror, an armoire that holds the safe, blow dryer and plenty of hangers. The window looks out to the back of the house and has stunning views. In the distance, you can see the towers of Hardwick Hall and Bolsover Castle. Our bathroom had a shower and was ensuite.
The twin room had blue toile bedspreads and had a large bathroom with a humongous tub but it is located in the hallway. The other king room has a French style bed with red toile spread, embroidered pillow cases and an ensuite bathroom with shower.

Everything about this house is 5 *, the floors are tile and are heated. It was a wonderful treat to feel really warm and cozy. Not only are all your physical needs cared for but the house is aesthetically beautiful.
The Old Granary near Matlock, Derbyshire
The house has plenty of information about what to see and do in the area and of course, the hot tub is just as beautiful as it looks on the web. Yes, we did bring our swimsuits and yes, we did use the hot tub. It was amazing looking across this beautiful landscape while sitting in the steamy water with snowflakes falling. 
We absolutely loved The Old Granary, it was and still is our favorite among the many homes we have rented in England.

Among the places we visited while staying here are Bolsover Castle, Masson Mills,  Cromford Mills and Chesterfield.  

Beech Farm, Wheatcroft Lane Wheatcroft
Matlock, England, DE4 5GU
+44 (560) 2931292

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Derbyshire: Reasons to Visit Chesterfield

Chesterfield is a small town located in the county of Derbyshire. We came here for a couple of reasons, first to see the twisted spire and second, to visit the Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery. You really have to see the spire to actually believe it and after you visit the museum, you will understand what causes the spire to twist. 
St. Mary and All Saints Church, Chesterfield
You really don’t need to spend an entire day in Chesterfield unless you want to do other things, like shop. We went to Chesterfield in the morning and then went to Bolsover Castle. It filled the day nicely.  

Derbyshire is filled with an almost endless supply of fascinating towns and villages and it is one of our favorite counties to visit in England.