(PS. Yesterday we drove through the Pennines and there was snow everywhere and it was stunningly beautiful)
However, today was also wonderful. We were up early to take advantage of the enormous and delicious breakfast provided by our lovely host, Liane, over which we chatted to the other people staying here, a retired couple from the seaside (so quintessentially English and adorable). Afterwards, we got ourselves ready for the day and headed back to the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre. We watched a video on the history of Sherwood Forest, which covered everything from pretty much the Bronze Age, Robin Hood’s time, through the Dukeries, right up until today where efforts are being made to preserve old customs and conserve the remaining forestry. Then we walked up to the Major Oak again and took more photos, went through the walk-through exhibition they had on the folklore of Robin Hood, grabbed a drink at the Forest Table restaurant and went back to the Major Oak where I had a go at shooting a longbow. I missed the target every time, until we were told to shoot a deer and I got it right in the business end. Also, I was probably older than everyone shooting by about 15 years. That’s how much I wanted to have a go and I’m so glad I did. While I ran – hobbled – around being an outlaw, Sean tagged along because he’s lovely. I bought up big at the gift shop and then we drove back into the main village to grab a small lunch, because we were still quite full from our enormous breakfast. We walked to St Mary’s Church on the High Street, rumoured to be the church in which Robin Hood married Maid Marian. We took some photos of the churchyard, and just as we were leaving, the sweetest, friendliest little old lady came up the steps with the altar cloths over her arm and asked if we’d like to come in and look around. She let us in and took us on a tour, showing us the difference in the walls and the arches that mark the various additions to the building over the centuries. There has been a church on the site since 633 AD and the first stone was laid for the current structure in 1175. She showed us the hidden face in the stained-glass window and a Parish Map, constructed by the local community and it looks like a big quilt. Her passion for her church and her country’s history was obvious, but so was her passion for people. I love these moments while travelling the best, when a completely unplanned and spontaneous interaction with a stranger can make your day.
After we got back to the B&B and had a wee rest, we hopped back in the car and drove another 1/2 mile in the opposite direction to Edwinstowe and went to Rufford Abbey, an old monastery and country house. It’s fallen into disrepair, but it is now possible to walk around the ruins and the grounds. We didn’t have too long here because we went quite late in the day, but we still saw plenty of it and it was quite beautiful. After this we drove down towards Clipstone. Several people have told us about Time Team coming to do an episode on the ruins of King John’s castle, located in a paddock off the main road. People said it was nothing special, but it was worth a photo, so we parked and walked a little way back to see it. It really just looks like an ancient wall sticking out of the field. But y’know. Still older than any building in Aus! We headed back to the B&B because Sean was starting to feel a bit sick. We thought it might have been the sausage roll he had for lunch. I think it might have been that exactly, because it’s a few hours later and the poor guy has been thrown up several times. I got him some ginger ale and water, but there’s not much else we can do for now. He feels a little better now after bringing it up, so here’s hoping for a good night sleep. Cross your fingers for us, everyone!