Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Out and about on August Bank Holiday

It was great to have friends (from Oz) Crosby and Susanne come up from Cambridge to spend the long weekend - not least of all because they have wheels and so we could traipse around and look at some of the sights without wearing our little legs right off (... if you know what I mean).

Eyam - Plague Village

We went to visit the village of Eyam - that's "ee-'m" - which is famous for the villagers' valiant attempts to prevent the spread of the plague in 1666 by isolating the village and not allowing anyone to enter or leave when they realised the plague was present in their village.

This little graveyard is where one woman buried seven members of her family at that time.

All through the olde worlde English village there are plaques on the houses telling how many died in that family. There is a lovely little museum, too, telling the whole story, but we got there just after 4pm when they stop selling tickets. We pleaded with the lady, telling her we had come all the way from Australia, and she relented and let us in. "They're from Australia so I had to let them in ... " she explained to the people who came just behind us and wanted to know why they couldn't come in.

Well Dressing

We also arrived just in time for the annual "well dressing" ceremony. This involves a Christian type service in which they thank God for the annual provision of water to their village. The three old wells in the village are lavishly decorated - this design is made with petals and leaves.

The ceremony also involves crowning of the new festival queen, princesses and even a "Rosebud" from among the young girls in the village.

There was a parade through the village from one well to another, and a brass band playing, and maypole dancing. We were there on the first day of what would apparently be a week-long celebration.

Peter was particularly pleased with this photo he took of the brass band because when you look closely at the tuba you can see everyone reflected in it. You can even see Peter with his dark red shirt and with his camera right next to the reflection of the tuba player.

A long day

At the end of a long day it's always good to have the boys in blue to rely on. Crosby and Susanne had gotten up early in the morning to begin their long drive up to come and see us. We are living in one room here, and we have nowhere to put anyone up, so they had booked into a Sheffield hotel - a nice cheap one, naturally. As it got to be evening and we had talked our way through the day and enjoyed dinner together, it was time for them to go to their hotel.

Crosby had a piece of paper with all the necessary information ... but had accidentally come away with the wrong paper when they left in the morning. The hotel had a funny name, which he couldn't quite remember. We looked through the yellow pages, and we tried to find it again on the Internet, but it didn't seem to be there.

In frustration Crosby went next door to the police station, which is joined onto our flats, so see if they would have any ideas. They did all the same things we did, coming up blank.

Finally by using various unusual Google searches we came across it. The police had nothing much else to do, apparently, so they insisted on giving Crosby and Susanne a police escort to their hotel, which was on the seemier side of town. (I noticed they slipped into their bullet-proof vests before they did so!)

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