The Heights of Abraham



Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes...

In order to make me feel better about the world and everything that’s in it - specially after the Mysterious Case of the Flying Fridge - Kathy decided that, on the following day, she would indulge one of my greatest and most shameless weaknesses. Trams.

Not far from her flat in Chesterfield lies the large and charming Derbyshire village of Crich. (The name, incidentally, is one of those not uncommon place-names that seem to have been designed to slip up the unwary outsider. Locally, think of Ulgham, Ponteland or Boulmer, none of which is all that it seems to be. In this case, the ‘i’ of Crich makes the same sound as the ‘y’ in by. So if you didn’t know that before, you know it now.)

Where was I? Oh, yes...Crich. Pretty though it is, its prettiness would not be nearly enough to draw the tourists. After all, Derbyshire overflows with picture-postcard towns and villages. What makes Crich so special - so VERY special - is the National Tramway Museum. Why it’s located in deepest rural Derbyshire is anyone’s guess and I’m afraid I wasn’t able to ask anyone for an explanation. Because, upon arriving at the suspiciously empty car park, we discovered that the National Tramway Museum was closed.

Those who know and love me - damned few - will confirm that I never, ever EVER over-react to ANYTHING. AT ALL. EVER. So it was unfathomably uncharacteristic of me to burst the bonds of mere disappointment that morning and transform the rostered closure of a museum into an incident of catastrophic proportions. Loss of self-control is always an ugly phenomenon, but in someone as normally sanguine, measured and temperate as me... All I can say is that it’s a good job Kathy had the presence of mind to remember that Cromford was nearby.

Having lived in Sheffield for 10 years, I’m ashamed to say that I had never been to Cromford (or to Crich, for that matter). It was a real eye-opener. We tend to think, rather smugly, that we in the north-east can take the credit for the birth of the Industrial Revolution, what with all our railways and coal and suchlike. To a Cromfordian, though, such claims are stuff and nonsense. The gaunt - but by no means ugly - buildings that cluster in the gorge of the River Derwent are a World Heritage Site; the place where Richard Arkwright invented his Water Frame for the spinning of cotton into yarn and cloth in the 18th century.

It very fiercely reminded me that industrial heritage and importance differs depending on whereabouts in this crowded and fascinating country you find yourself. Coal, steel, railways and engineering - yes. But also the spinning and weaving of cotton and wool; glass, pottery and porcelain; quarrying; shipping and transport; services and finance; and many, many others.

The buildings at Cromford Mill are as awe-inspiring - and historically at least as important - as the Causey Arch, Bamburgh Castle or the Tyne Bridge. And even better - just across the road, in the old wharf buildings of the defunct Cromford Canal they serve a mean cream tea.

As a matter of fact, a couple of miles up the road, and still very much deep in the gorge of the River Derwent, lies the unlikely town of Matlock Bath. The gorge sides are very steep but somehow houses manage to cling to their sides and carry the wondrous eye to the Heights of Abraham, as the gorge rim is called at this point. It is possible to struggle up the gorge side to the top on foot but it’s much more fun to take the cable car.

So you see, one way or another Kathy managed to extract the precious seed of enjoyment from what appeared at first to be the unbreakable nut of disappointment.

I wish to nominate that last sentence for the 2009 Ugliest Metaphor Award.

...that the next AGM (all other things being equal) will be at 1100 at the Tanfield Railway on Sunday 24 May.

AND...’s just occurred to me that I still haven’t told you about my weird trip to Glasgow and Edinburgh or about my latest abortive adventures as a culture vulture; I think I’ve been to see the dullest ballet and the dreariest play ever performed. Must tell you all about them...

I’m in London with Brian for a few days now but I’ll keep checking in to read your vibrant and pithy comments.

So behave.

Post comments on this blog or email me:


Maureen said...

I've actually stayed in a lovely little cottage in Cromford and you are right it's a lovely area, although on a weekend Matlock Bath is a Mecca for bikers. Such a surpirise as you enter the town to see a line up of 'hairy bikers' peacefully licking their '99's. (and no, Ian it's not code!)

Ian Robinson said...

Oooer missus...actually Maureen, we stopped in Matlock Bath and indulged in 99s (one each) with plenty of monkey's, this is sounding pervy. I'll stop right there.

Hildie said...

Ian, you innocent, is Maureen leading you astray there?!
Thanks for the new posting ... I really felt your disappointment when you got to the Tramway Museum and found it was closed ... my heart sank for you ... did you maybe have a bit of a temper tantrum, petal?
Hope you are doing better
for weather in London than we are up here. We were so lucky a mere week ago, at Birkheads, to have all that sunshine. Did you go home with sunburn that day? The rest of us did.
I had a phone call from my daughter (Kelly) in Manchester on Monday night. She was telling me she had had a catch-up with her friend, Eleanora, on Sunday. She casually said, "I haven't seen her in ages because she has been away to Mexico."
I didn't say a word ... I just kept on listening to what a lovely day they'd had, whilst having a
silent scream at this end of the phone.
Kelly rang back last night saying that it had only just occurred to her ... Eleanora .... Mexico ...
the implications ........I told her then that, as soon as she had spoken the words on Monday night, they had come over to me in capital letters!
Oh, well, apparently Eleanora is feeling fine and well .... so keep your fingers crossed , truckshunters, that she stays that way.

Sid said...

That's kids for you Hildie. They ring you to tell you what they've been doing, and then set your heart racing.
I sneezed in our street yesterday, and a young woman on her way to school to pick up her child said "bless you". I said "Thanks, it's a good job I haven't been to Mexico lately". She replied "If you had, you would have cleared the street". Then went on her way!.

Sid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sid said...

I deleted the comment above, it didn't read the way I meant it.
I knew Maureens 99's would get me into bother.

Hildie said...

Here's an "On Your Doorstep" session for you truckshunters .... tonight on either Look North or The One Show
( I'm sorry I can't remember exactly what Colin Briggs said
early this morning) .....
they are featuring the story about what happened at Monkseaton on
30th April 1989 when a gunman named Robert Sartin went on the rampage. He had become obsessed with guns after the Hungerford Massacre in 1987.

Hildie said...


mim said...

Hi Ian, Well, the end of an era, Mike Parr has left the building and I have to say , just like the day you left I had a tear in my eye. My Newcastle litening days are over I have to find another ststion. Where are you when we need you and when are you getting your own radio station!!!
Love Margaret x

Maureen said...

And so say all of us Margaret! I'm afraid that Paddy is the only presenter left on my list, it's like 10 green bottles isn't it? I understand that Alfie finished this afternoon to got to the morning programme. Anyone know who is replacing him? How long do we have to wait for Radio Robinson?

Sid said...

Radio Robinson...I like that Maureen. I like it a lot!

Hildie said...

Hi Maureen .... I've just had a look at the Radio Newcastle schedule in order to try to answer your question - the following schedule is for Friday 8th. May - I just selected a random date:
01:00 The Nightshift
Music and chat throughout
the night. (That's a bit
pie in the sky , I reckon!)
06:30 Alfie & Charlie at
10:00 J. Miles
- an afternoon of
conversation and
music. (Maureen, I've
no idea what they
mean ... no presenter
was ever mentioned!)mista
16:00 Jon & Anne.
18:00 More than soul.
22:00 Paddy MacDee.

Hildie said...

'mista' was my word verification ... Heaven only knows how it sneaked in where it did!
I hope you are all enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend, by the way
...... and hi to Margaret .... pop back to see us soon.

Sid said...

I also wonder why radio Newcastle are so coy about putting a name to the shows presenter. Surely they should name the person prior to the show, giving us the chance to look forward to either him or her.

I hope and pray its going to be you Ian!

Vivienne said...

Good evening folks,

I'm guessing it will be Jamie or Sue Sweeney, depending upon who is available. Of course they may have to bring in Gilly Hope if JW & SS are otherwise engaged!

One by one the crew are either being made to walk the plank or they are jumping ship. I'm waiting for the captain to go down with his ship, and then 'Radio Robinson' can emerge from the proverbial ashes.

Hi Margaret, I'm glad you're still keeping in touch. Will you be able to come to the next AGM (Tanfield Railway) on 24th?

As the train leaves at 11am we will need to be there in good time, rather than arriving for 11am.

mim said...

Hi, I would love to come but am busy at the moment. I make and sell 1/12 dollhouse dolls and have 3 orders in at present. We also just moved out our eldest son to his own house but I have my youngest back in 4 weeks from uni. I've also just been to Paris for a few days to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary! I think Jamie Wilkinson might be on in the afternoon in which case I will listen but if not it's smooth for me!!

Love Margaret x

Maureen said...

Hi, I think that Alfie might have mentioned Nick someone? Not sure, to be honest, I'll be listening to Smooth as well, Magic isn't bad either ...
It looks like we are all having busy times at the moment. Whatever happened to sitting on the beach with a knotted hankie on your head, during the holidays? I'm looking forward to that ...

Hildie said...

Hi Margaret
the Tanfield Railway AGM falls on the next Bank Holiday, don't know if that makes it better or worse for you. x

Vivienne said...

Hi Folks!

It was only a matter of time before the jokes started circulating about Swine 'Flu. Sorry, but some of them made me smile!

Is Swine Flu the past tense of "Pigs might fly"?

I've just tried to phone the NHS Swine Flu help line, all I got was a load of crackling on the line!

Think I've got that Swine Flu...I'm coming out in rashers!

Blonde phones her husband, "I've run out of petrol, and scared to get out of the car to fill up because of swine flu".
Husband says, "Silly moo, that's Mexico, not Texico".

Just won a holiday to Mexico, can't go...I'm pig sick!

Vivienne said...

Hi Folks,

Maureen, your sister has left a comment on Posting 139, inviting us back to Birkheads. It's good to know we haven't been banned for overstaying our welcome!

Maureen said...

Christine and Mick said that you are all very welcome and Mick is sorry that he missed a photo opportunity of the Robin on your Lemon Meringue Hildie. He's wondering if he can recreate it for their website!
Now does anyone know of the whereabouts of our redoubtable leader?