Thursday, 17 January 2013

New Year in Leek

December 28th, 2012:

We collected the van and literally threw everything into it in bags. We'd been to Newcastle the day before and were late getting back and had little time to pack  as we wanted to get to Leek in daylight so we could have a walk.
Katie and Stewart were already at the Caravan Club site  at Blackshaw Moor  so we were welcomed with a coffee. It's a typical Caravan Club site though part of it was closed. It's a tiered site and we were up at the top away from the road noise. We had a lovely view.  
After lunch, Pete and me went for a walk  to Tittesworth reservoir, not far from the site. We walked down the slight incline and took the footpath to the right . We found the engineered log jam which acts as a  flood defence and a refuge for wildlife. It's the first one in Britain and if it works well, more of them will be made. The grass around the reservoir was absolutely soaking wet but the paths made walking easy. 
We called in at the Horseshoes pub, which wasn't open last time we were here. We had to have a pint or two of Director's beer, purely for research purposes of course. The beer was very well kept and the young Deputy Manager certainly knew her beers- there were five real ales on.  We walked back to the site in the dark but it's only a few minutes walk away. I cooked a spaghetti carbonara and settled down for the night listening to the strong winds blowing outside.

December 29th.
 We had a bit of a disturbed night due to the strong winds and heavy rain. The toilet block at the top of the site was closed but the other block was warm and clean.  There seems to be only a couple of wardens working. We all got the bus into Leek from the stop just after the pub and had a lovely afternoon in Leek wandering round the shops and looking at the old buildings. We went into the Red Lion pub on the market square for lunch and the food was good as was the beer and coffee. We got a taxi back as there wasn't a bus for ages and it cost £8 for four of us - only 20 pence each more than the bus fare. Tom and Lucille had arrived and we went round to their caravan for fish pie. We were a bit concerned that our fridge didn't seem to be working properly  ( again) but thought it was because we hadn't switched it on and got it cold before we put lots of food in. We emptied it out and put food into bags outside- it was quite cold.

December 30th 
We all went for a walk to Tittesworth reservoir. 

We called in at the  Visitor Centre which has lots of information and lots to see. Tom and Lucille braved the long walk round with it's steep bits while we walked quite a way round till it felt like pub time and Pete heard the call of the beer. 

We went back to the Horseshoes and had drinks and checked out the food menu which looks good.  Lucille did vegetable soup while I did loads of different salads, tuna and sweetcorn bake and a cheeseboard to use up the Christmas stuff. The fridge seems to be working now it's chilled down.

December 31st.
We woke up very late and went back into Leek with Tom and Lucille. We went into about eleven charity shops and I got a fantastic Denby jug for five pounds! Lucky! We went back to the site and into Katie's for gluhwein and mince pies- lovely! Pete changed the gas bottle because, as usual, it ran out while I was cooking.
We went to Katie's  where  Tom, Stew and Lucille made us laugh with a bit of dressing up.
She'd made a starter of mango, ham, and smoked salmon with a white cheese dip. I did stuffed chicken wrapped in parma ham, red cabbage and apple, creamed leek and spinach, lemon potatoes and mashed potatoes which we ate with Lucille's roasted vegetables. It was very colourful. 

We had sticky ginger pudding then a game of 'Articulate' before watching the Olympic highlights and fantastic fireworks in London on tv. 
We welcomed in the New Year with champagne and a few giggles.

New Year's day 2013
Well, New Year dawns and the fridge isn't working....great start.We went for a walk turning right out of the site up to the Roaches- 
'The Roaches where Buzzards fly and Wallabies still roam. The Roaches (or Roches) is a wind-carved outcrop of gritstone rocks straddling the parishes of Leekfrith and Heathylee in the Peak District National Park about 4 miles north of Leek, Staffordshire and 8 miles south of Buxton, Derbyshire.'

We met a couple who saw us looking at a construction in their garden and they came out to tell us about their 'bughouse'. It has lots of pipes and holes and it's a great place for creatures to live in. We walked up the hill and round past Roaches Hall and down a lane back to the Old Rock Inn. We had drinks and the smell of food was tempting - Stew bought two big bowls of chips to share and they were great. When we got back, Lucille did soup, I made a leek and bacon croustade, mackerel pate and vegetables. I went back to the van early as I was tired. The weather had not been wonderful but we didn't get too wet or cold. Pete and I decided to go to Castleton tomorrow to see friends Phil and Karen who were staying there.

January 2nd 2013
We had toast then set off for Castleton, stopping in Buxton Aldi for shopping and a bunch of flowers to go in my new Denby jug. Phil and Karen were pleased to see us at Losehill Caravan Club site- it feels like being home here! We went for what we now call 'Phil's walk' but halfway up the hill we turned right instead of left as it was very muddy. We had an interesting slip and slide down a muddy lane where Pete managed to keep his walking boots almost clean and I was up to my ankles in mud and far from clean. Fortunately the Nag's Head pub doesn't mind muddy boots or dogs so Robbie dog and Molly  dog were happy as were we- warmth and good beer. Pete and Phil thought they ought to check out the Castle and the George while Karen and me met up with Tom , Emily and little Sophie in the Cheshire Cheese. We ate there - the food was okay but nothing special. We had a quiet night in feeling relaxed and comfy and happy to be in Castleton. 

January 3rd 2013
We had a message from Greek friends to say another friend had had a heart attack. We were really sorry to hear that but sent a message back. Tom, Emily and Sophie went home. Karen and Phil came round for coffee and we decided to go for a walk via back lanes to Hope. The Old Hall pub was as welcoming as ever but was closing early as all the pubs in the valley have their Christmas party today. It didn't stop them cooking us a lovely meal- I had a pork and stuffing baguette with chips and it was gorgeous! We walked back along the main road in the dark and once more had a quiet night watching tv. The fridge woke me up in the night making a bleeping sound and showing an error message- will sort that out when we get back as I didn't bring the manual. 

January 4th 

Karen left  as she needed to go into work. Phil left later after coffee. We went for a walk up Mam Tor and back down via fields. We had a pint and a coffee in the Nag's Head then stayed in the van for the evening watching a dvd we'd been saving to watch.

January 5th 
Back home, van cleaned and washed ready for the next trip.

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