For my first official blog post, I thought I'd share with you all the photos from my amazing two week holiday to the Midlands. It was such an good experience and it was exactly what I needed.
I'm attempting to write a fantasy novel. Which has been so much fun, especially because fantasy is one of my favourite genres, but also because of the freedom you get with writing one. You can literally do anything. You can have talking unicorns, flying pizza, men with D cup boobs, you name it, it can happen because it's fantasy. And that's pretty incredible. You can create a completely different world and fill it with a completely new culture. That's what drew me into writing this genre, and I got over excited and planned about five new kingdoms and two new realms all with their own cultures. I was really happy with this, but then came the realisation that I need to create seven new places and their culture. I needed to make rules about social order, history of the kingdom, food and drink they eat, what language they speak, if they have any traditions etc. It was quite the realisation. You may be thinking 'why does she need to do all of that?'. Because you have to know your world as well as your own, just as you should know your characters as well as you know yourself so to avoid plot holes, inaccuracy, and confusion. I've had a great time with it, but I needed more inspiration. Thus came this holiday.
I've titled this summer as the Summer of Inspiration and please allow me to show you why.
Day 1: Matlock
So I arrived Saturday morning in Matlock and found this adorable tea room and antiques shop called Miss Marddles. It was really sweet in there and the two ladies that work there were really nice!
This shop was filled to the brim with amazing wonders and I could have easily bought everything in the shop if I were able to bring it back home!
The sunsets I saw each night were beautiful. I sat up on the roof as much as possible and I manage to finish writing the plot for my novels. Turns out I've got enough material for at least five books, possibly seven! Completely shocked by this but proud of myself and I hope to God that I can actually write all of them.
Day 2: Carsington Water & Ashbourne
Carsington Water was somewhere I found by accident en route to Ashbourne. It was absolutely lovely there! You can walk the entirety of the lake, and there's also paddle boarding and boating there. There's a lovely cafe and some impressive shops!
Ashbourne was just your typical English village; lots of roads like the one shown here, and there was bunting everywhere. It reminded me a lot of the village from Hot Fuzz!
Where I stayed was the home of badgers, literally, and I had to feed them every night. This was so amazing for me because I've never seen a badger in real life before! They were cute, but definitely do not want one as a pet!
Day 3: Heights of Abraham, Matlock Bath
Okay, so main fears for me are spiders, heights, enclosed spaces, and deep water. So what did I do on my holiday? Went on a cable car that stopped halfway up and I hung in midair for about two minutes before it carried on. Longest two minutes of my life.
I then went in a cave. Two, actually. Not as terrifying as I first thought. It was actually really good fun and I want to go and do more!
So this is me on top of the hill where the cave entrance was and here's me inside the cave... Handrails and lights made that experience much easier for me!
Heights of Abraham is a must if you're in the Peak District or in the Midlands. £12 (for a student, £15 for an adult) gets you into the cable car and free entry into all Heights of Abraham has to offer. Two cave tours, exhibitions, play area for kids etc. There's plenty of places to eat and wherever you are, you're treating to an amazing view over Matlock, Matlock Bath and the horizon. Absolutely beautiful views! Completely worth while and so much fun! Highly recommend this treasure.
Day 4: Derby.
After the excitement of the caves I needed a bit of chill time, so I went to Derby for some shopping! I bought more books than I could carry as well as lots of clothes (oops!). The Waterstones there was amazing (see below), but what I loved more than anything was this Book Cafe. It had piles of books and it was so lovely just to sit and read in there. I don't know what it was about this place that I loved so much, but it was truly wonderful.
Day 5: Nine Ladies Stone Circle and Hathersage
Listed as one of the most mythical places in England, I couldn't not visit the Nine Ladies Stone Circle. Set in the clearing of a fantastic woodland area, it was hard not to feel just a little bit mystical. The story goes that nine ladies were turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath (aka, a Sunday). Apparently we're not meant to do anything on a Sunday, which is why I'm writing this blog post in my pyjamas in bed.
I'm slightly superstitious so I didn't dare stand in the middle of the circle.
It was pretty cool there, and it's still used by Pagans for worship around solstices, and I was lucky enough to see some of the offerings they left behind. I say I was lucky to see this because other religions fascinate me and I'm always eager to learn more about them.
Afterwards I went to a little village called Hathersage. For those eager-beavers who believe in Robin Hood will no doubt recognised the name. It's the village where Little John was buried and I paid him a visit.
As someone who believes so strongly in Robin Hood, I got quite emotional when I was here. I'm going to do a separate post about my belief in Robin Hood, so I'll leave this here.
Day 6: Dovedale
Dovedale was amazing. 4 mile round trip hike at about 10am in the morning was pretty good going for me considering I hadn't done much exercise in a while! It was lovely to walk through and there was plenty to see there including stepping stones, a cave, a lion's head mound, and a couple of wooden walkways that made me feel like I was in an Enchanted forest. In fact, the whole place made me feel like I was in an Enchanted forest!
I then made a trip to another mythical place in the Midlands: Arbor Low.
You have to walk through someone's farm to get there (after a donation of £1 per person) but it's truly magical. It's a Neolithic henge monument and the placement is fantastic; it's on a mound and it felt as though water should be surrounding it, protecting it. It was fascinating. I admit, I was a bit creeped out when I found out human remains were excavated nearby; safe to say I left promptly after this.
Day 7: Bakewell
If you thought it impossible to fall in love with a place then you've never been to Bakewell. Oh my, this town is gorgeous. Not only were the buildings beautiful and there was just a general happiness about the place, almost every cafe/restaurant was offering gluten free and dairy free options. I recently found out I've got a tonne of allergies (9 to be exact) that all affect what food I can eat so I was pleasantly surprised when I wasn't as restricted as I am in the South. Because I Like It is a brilliant cafe in Bakewell that caters for basically every diet and I wish I had gone there every day. The food was fantastic and the staff were really friendly. Another place I recommend!
While I was there I caught up with some family friends I haven't seen in years which was so lovely!
Day 8: Buxton
I came here because I was meeting (more) family friends who have 3 young children, and Buxton has a magnificent park that is perfect for families! It was truly lovely to be there and I even went for a paddle in the stream that runs through it (it was bloody cold!). If you fancy a chilled out afternoon in the park or just looking for somewhere to take your children, go here! It's got two different playgrounds, one for toddlers and one for children. It's also got cafes, restaurants, indoor gardens, and it's only a short walk from the shops. It's also situated right by the Opera House which frequently has plays and comedians performing.
Day 9: Matlock
Day 9 was spent in the cottage with a quick trip to the pub to use the free wifi. Not very exciting, unfortunately!
Day 10: Sherwood Forest and Edwinstowe
I won't dwell on how much this trip meant to be in terms of a Robin Hood trail as I'll do that in another post. But Sherwood Forest and Edwinstowe are places you must visit.
Edwinstowe is where Sherwood Forest is, and the village itself is home to the church where Robin and Marian tied the knot, as well as a statue of Robin proposing.
Day 10: Matlock
I stayed at the cottage (again) this day - not very exciting!
Day 11: Nottingham
Now, firstly, if you're going to Nottingham for the purpose of getting some Robin Hood time, then do not bother going to the castle unless it's a weekend. The castle has two things about Robin Hood: some info on the walls and a dressing up room, both of which are in the cellar. On weekends they have tours of the dungeons that Robin was kept in, so that's the only time I'd recommend going to the castle with a Robin Hood mind. If you're not Robin Hood minded, then go to the castle any time. When I went they had an exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci's early drawings which was a glorious thing to see, as he's one of my favourite artists (Van Gogh is my favourite).
If you are Robin Hood minded, go to the Robin Hood Legacy. It's a bright green building just down from the castle and it's absolutely fantastic. It's completely worth a visit, especially as Robin Hood himself is there. I had such an amazing time - Adam Greenwood as Robin Hood was fantastic. It was so nice to meet someone who is as passionate about Robin Hood as me but someone who has written books about Robin's adventures. Best part was he gave me a hug and complimented me on my necklace (Robin Hood themed!) It's people like Adam who will keep Robin alive and I hope this attraction sticks around. The Robin Hood Legacy is much better, more fun and better value for money. Highly recommend this little treasure in Nottingham!
Day 12: Hardwick Hall
I'll admit. I only went here because it was the filming location for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 1). It's Malfoy Manor! It was amazing inside though, I had a lovely time wandering around. There's two parts - Old Hardwick and Hardwick Hall.
Day 13: Chatsworth House
I grew up reading Pride and Prejudice so coming here was incredible, which was my first reason for coming here. The second was because The Duchess is one of my favourite films and I've been intrigued by the life G had here. It's a fantastic place to visit, but be warned - if you're scared of crowds, I would be careful when to visit. It's busiest on a Sunday (apparently) and it was really busy on Friday when I went. But, it's only busy in the house. There's so much of the grounds to explore, you need a whole day to visit.
Half of the places I've created for my novel have stemmed from inspiration I got at Chatsworth House, and no doubt you'll be able to see why. These are only a few photos I've put on here - I took over 500!)
Thank you for reading and I hope you've enjoyed following my adventures. If you want to see more photos, check out my instagram account: zjtyler13. I always follow back!