19 September 2012

(5) UK - Oakham Market/Museum/Castle + Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue + Hambleton Bakery

We woke up to a gorgeous blue sky yet the wind is still rather chilly! After a few days of muesli for breakfast we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast in Oakham. As we had enjoyed a good meal at The Crown Tavern on Saturday, we popped in for the mega breakfasts. Sitting at the bar was a gent enjoying a beer!! At 9.00 am? Gross! Anyway, same gent went out for a smoke but left the door open. Hating the smell of smoke, especially at breakfast time, I dashed to close the door. Awhile later, we hear this frantic banging and shout of "You have locked me out, love!" Apparently, the handle only works from the inside. Anyway, he was very jolly and said " It's all fun, love" This seems a meeting spot for the gents who are now chatting away merrily - at least one is drinking coffee! It is indeed a popular meeting spot as it is market day in Oakham and there appears to be some sort of retirement complex close by!

The Oakham Market was in full swing in the square - lovely fresh fruit and veg - 3 ripe figs (last seen when I was a child) for 1 pound, raspberries, huge banana's etc etc. One gent wanted 6 potatoes - "do you want dirty ones" asked the stall keeper. Yes, the customer replied. I must assume dirty potatoes are cheaper than clean potatoes! The re were beautiful bunches of flowers on sale plus ENORMOUS BLOOMERS!! Now who on earth would want to buy their panties at an open market?

Loads of meat, fresh fish, chef made frozen meals - a one stop Wednesday Market.

Oakham Castle is a misnomer - it's not a castle at all but rather a village hall where the court cases took place. Oakham has a very long history and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. That's a very long time ago! The collection of over 200 Horseshoes make the walls very different to anything seen elsewhere. An old custom decrees that every peer setting foot in the town has to donate a horseshoe to be hung inside the castle. It's like a modern "who's who" with Queen Elizabeth visiting in 1967. The horse shoes are hung upside down so that the devil can't sit inside and bring bad luck! This is the Rutland way and they are not about to change.
Rutland Museum is another interesting piece of history - it's not too big and daunting and does not take very long to go around. Old farming implements, a wonderful old Milk Cart and Bakers Van were my favourites - never seen those before. The gruesome bit was looking at the gallows - first used in 1813. The drop was too short to break the neck cleanly - how awful - and people used to watch this?

After a short break for a light lunch we set of to view Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue. The village of Clipsham is gorgeous - beautiful homes - Rutland seems a fairly wealthy area as he homes are not small and all appear well kept. We passed a family out for a ride on their horses and they all waved at us as we drove past. Whether they are so friendly to all passing cars I have no idea but it was a lovely friendly gesture and made us feel very welcome in the area!
The Yew Tree Avenue stretches way down and one walks with massive Yew trees on either side. The trees did seem as if they needed trimming - however, perhaps this is done at certain times of the year only? There were huge spider webs on the trees so it would not make a good hiding place - I shudder to think how big the spiders must be! The avenue is over 200 years old and there are approx 150 trees - most with strange shapes cut out at the top. It makes for a pleasant 10 minute stroll - perhaps the ladies of the gentry used to wander down here when they felt the need for some gentle exercise?
Who knows! Yew Clippings are used in the manufacture of cancer tablets so these ancient trees serve a good purpose.

Teatime loomed so we stopped off at the Hambleton Bakery to buy some sweet treats for our tea. Julian Carter and Tim Hart opened this bakery in 2008 to produce bread for Hambleton Hall and Hart's of Nottingham. They now have many other customers plus retail outlets. Quite a success story for these times of recession. The bakery is set in the middle of nowhere, practically in a field. There breads are made to go back to tasting "good bread" without all the added bits such as olives, onions, poppy seeds etc. It all looks delicious and the lemon tart, fruit and almond tart and the chocolate brownie are all so yummy that we may just require a return visit! To top it all, the lovely lady in the shop hails originally from South Africa and has friends in our home suburb in Cape Town. How is that for a small world? We enjoyed a great chat and she still throws in a few Afrikaans words here and there although they have now lived in Rutland for nearly 24 years.

After all this scrumptious tea, we need some exercise so set off from Barnsdale Country Club to Whitwell, a distance of about 2.5 miles. This walk passes through Barnsdale Woods and is wonderfully peaceful. As there are a number of inclines, I require extra oxygen so have to stop, inhale and swing my arms behind me, then exhale and swing my arms forward. A sheep thought this was just too much, stopped munching to stare at me as if to say "You are crazy, woman!"
To make matters worse, I had to walk like a drunken sailor on a section of the path which is very obviously frequented by these black sheep. It was either that or get back home with very smelly shoes stinking of sheep's pooh. Walking crooked seemed the better option.

The evening has turned out perfectly with such clear skies that we can see the numerous jet trails passing high up above.

Let's hope the weather lasts and that my knees get me out of bed in the morning after all the exercise!


© Judelle Drake

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