England: Off the Beaten Path Part II

By Alicia Squillante

I’ve never been a fan of the hot weather we get here in Florida and I was so excited to leave the heat and humidity behind for a nice, cloudy, cool vacation in England. Unfortunately, within a week of arriving, the country went through its worst heat wave in six years and I was bombarded with temperatures as hot as we get here in June and humidity that made my hair curl. Now, whereas we have air conditioning in our cars, houses and work environments, England does not. The buildings are too old to fit central air in them and would probably cost a fortune when, in reality, they only get heat of this magnitude once a year for a few weeks at a time. The house I was staying in had no A/C. The restaurants we visited had no A/C. Most of the shops we went to had no A/C. Yes, it was pretty miserable.

Our second adventure after touring Mansfield was traveling to Nottingham. The history of Nottingham is ex

tremely old. While recorded history begins in the fifth century, in the eleventh century Nottingham Castle was constructed by the River Trent and St. Peter’s Church was built a century later. Also noteworthy is the legend of Robin Hood being centered in the Nottinghamshire region. The Sheriff of Notthingham, these days, is a position of ceremony and has no real authority. On visiting Nottingham, I was extremely impressed with how large it seemed. The never-ending streets criss-crossed every which way and buses and light rail trams seemed to be everywhere and as far as they eye could see there were people. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and the skies were a very deep blue. It was also very, very warm. For the shopping extraordinaire, Nottingham probably would have been a paradise. For me, it was a mess of people shopping, giant crowds and uncomfortably hot weather. We spent a few hours in the city and then left. One thing we did do was have lunch at a strange little shop called Rooster’s Piri-Piri, a fresh-casual restaurant that served up hot food on slate cutting board-like plates. According to the restaurant’s website, Piri Piri sauce (or Pili Pili in Portuguese) originates from the southern region of Africa, when Portuguese colonists introduced the fiery Bird’s Eye chilli pepper to the indigenous population in the 15th century.

The seasoning we ordered, lemon and herb, was very good but still exceptionally warm. One 12 ounce drink did not seem to be enough! After lunch we wandered around Notthingham with no goal in mind except to explore. It was a fantastic day and I enjoyed every minute.

A week later, we decided to head out to Sherwood Forest Country Park in northern Nottinghamshire. The park entrance and visitor’s center is on the outskirts of a small town called Edwinstowe.

The bus ride to Sherwood was very scenic and we passed by many small towns and beautiful rolling hills full of wildflowers. Our bus stop put us about a twenty-minute walk from the visitor’s center entrance. Along the way we admired the beauty of the place and even picked wild raspberries growing alongside the road. Admission was free and we roamed the park for several hours. There were three trails you could take, each more difficult than the last. We decided to visit Major Oak, one of the oldest trees in the world. The tree is 33 ft. in diameter and is estimated to be 800-1,000 years old. The tree’s limbs are supported by large poles because they are so incredibly heavy.

After visiting Major Oak, we wandered around through the cow paddocks and took dozens of pictures of the forest. They have a small Robin Hood museum, book shop and gift shop all dedicated to the area.

On our way home, we stopped by a pub and restaurant called the Larch Farm in the town of Ravenshead. The interior was beautiful with polished wood beams and old farm equipment and photos on the walls.

Stay tuned for the third and final installment coming next edition! For more information on Nottinghamshire county, please visit http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/.