Boat was prepared; bags were packed; goodies ready for the trip - we headed off at about 8:30, first stop was Tesco to fillup and then we were really off - straight up the M1.
I guess being a Saturday morning, and in the middle of school holidays for some we should have expected a fair amount of traffic, but we were all moving as usual - trucks in the left hand lane alonmg with other slow movers; 70mph drivers next out from them plus the others who couldn't be bothered moving to the left; and thenprogressing to the real idiots in the right hand lane.
Why is it that with cars fitted with indicators, it seems impossible for drivers to show that they intend to change lanes by simply flicking a little lever on the steering column?
Anyway the variable speed signs soonenough brought everyone back to one speed as not one, not two, but three "incidents" (they used to be called accidents) slowed those in front so that they could gongoozle at someone else's misfortune.
As with most other times that we hire a car, we had decided to pay a visit to a National Trust property - this time it was Calke Abbey at Ticknall in Derbyshire.
|Lovely on the outside...|
It is advertised as the "un-stately home" - the reason being that it is the only NT property that has not and will not be restored to its original grandeur.
Why? When it was given to NT back in the 1980's it had been going through the process of falling into decay over the previous 100 years and it was conciously decided to preserve it that way as an example of many other stately homes that had gone through similar decline.
|...and in some rooms inside...|
|...the animals belonging to the heads weren't all shot...|
|...the heirs were fascinated by natural history...|
|...but just stored things everywhere they could.|
|top right hand corner - you can see the deterioration starting...|
|...and it continued...|
|...into most rooms.|
|more stuffed birds - stuffed into rooms|
It was a statement that demonstrated the conditions that the heirs of the estate were living in - eccentric as they were.
|some areas were quite good...|
|...very good in fact.|
|but the views were still lovely.|
It achieved the desired result.
After spending a few hours there we were once again on the move, although not too far at all.
We were in Derbyshire, and only a few miles away from a place very dear to our hearts.
Lord Melbourne, after whom the wonderful city of
Perhaps not quite as large as our own home city or a place synonymous with great sporting events, this particular
The road to Bollington was one of three choices, of which we selected the more picturesque - through the Peak District - along with narrower roads - narrower winding roads - not really Diane's favourite, but very much the choice for the driver.
|the drive was great, as was the countryside|
We pulled up in the car park at Bollington a little over an hour later - one of us exhilarated - the other not too shaken.
Elaine and Paul were already home from their adventures south in the new motorhome - Paul almost recovered from his cold and sore throat; Elaine looking as lovely as always.
Whilst the Chinese order was being cooked, Paul and I ducked across the road for a quick Guinness - it certainly would help with any residual illness - according to any good Irish medicinal book.
We did have a late night for us - Diane had already headed off upstairs, not long before I had fallen asleep mid-way through MOTD - in my defence I did wake up to see the second half.
Needless to say, I was not awake early in the morning, Paul beat both of us.
After a traditional Bollington continental breakfast, and a walk with the dogs, it was about time to undertake one of the main reasons for the visit.
The short 40 minute drive into
After our previous effort of arriving just on kick-off time, we left a lot earlier; found a parking spot right near where we wanted to be, but able to have a drink before the match at a United pub - The Quadrant.
It was heaving when we got there, but through a stroke of good timing and a lot of luck we ordered drinks immediately we got there.
The early game between QPR and Chelsea was being shown, but the real enjoyment was seeing the crowd and listening to the singing going on amongst all of the supporters - quietly confident of a red victory.
|at The Quadrant, we were the lucky ones...|
|...waiting for a drink.|
The walk down to the ground is about 15 to 20 minutes, which allowed us a chance to look through the club store; have something quickly to eat; time enough for Paul to use the outside conveniences; and pick up the tickets.
|It was a peaceful walk to the ground...the horses in the background co-operated|
for the picture
We then made our way to the entrance - Paul and I had no problems - we were without any bags; poor Diane had to turn the taps on to convince the steward that she wasn't going to leave the bag containing the camera and iPad at any bag depot - apparently they have stopped people taking cameras and tablets into the ground - cannot understand why.
She is a marvel at getting her own way - I should know it has been happening to me for over 30 years.
Our usual seats at the Stretford End - the place was noisy early - we hadn't seen it like this before, but this was our first derby.
Then the players were filing out; handshakes; a quick run around and they were lined up for the kick-off - and underway.
|before the action began|
Devastating first 10 minutes and we were 1-0 down; then the scores were levelled and after that we we not headed either on the scoreboard or on the pitch.
This was the best I have seen them play in over three years - there was purpose to every move; the full width of the pitch was used; the creativity was there and there were no passengers.
Hardly surprising that they finished ahead and with the score line at 4-2 (only inflated for City's benefit by a very late meaningless goal) it now almost certainly means Champions League football for Old Trafford next season.
We thought we would wait a bit for most of the crowd to leave the stadium before heading off, thinking it would be less crowded on the walk back to the car - not so,
|Happy faces after a great win.|
|Just the crowd to contend with.|
The journey home was an easy run and we just caught Elaine's brother Trevor as he was leaving; Elaine, herself, displayed her usual enthusiasm for the game and scoreline - "4-2, is that a good score?" - Paul you have failed that girl by not instilling the understanding of sporting events.
Diane and I had a cuppa and a bit of a relax, and resisted the offers of another night's stay - we do like to be back where we must be when we wake up rather than a morning trip back, and so after a stop after a couple of hours driving to refresh; avoided the possible crash when an outside lane car ignored my indicator that showed I was changing out by 1 lane and just moved in 1 lane - no indicator neceesary apparently to the driver.
We made it back to
The car needed to be returned; work needed to be done; and an overdue blog also was required.
Now that it has all been completed, I can rest easy until tomorrow.
Also I can be reassured that our marriage will apparently last forever.
As I was writing the blog, Diane was gong through an on-line quiz that she found on Facebook - "How long will your marriage last?"
After filling out all of the answers it came back that we are perfectly suited and we will be together for the rest of our days.
That might have been the case had I not said, just a little too quickly "it seems like that already."
over 400 miles by car