January in the Landi

What an amazing difference in the weather today! For the last couple of weeks it has been freezing with a severe covering of snow over most of the western side of Great Britain.

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                                              08.00hrs in Hatfield

 Here in South Yorkshire we got snow too but not a patch on what covered South Wales. Today was mild, a bit blowy with a smattering of a light shower here and there. Deffo an outdoor day! Julie was as excited as all the horse riders in South Yorkshire. “Saddle up!” must have been the buzz word this morning, Julie was going out with Kath on RIO and LIGHTENING so I decided to “mooch” out in the Land Rover, my motorbike was still sat under cover waiting for the return of a couple of newly painted parts. I would normally be quite suicidal at the prospect of a perfect day for exploring and having no bike to ride..I would be as suicidal as the girls on FB, who by now would be mucking out, feeding and grooming and getting quite excited getting the horses ready for the first ride out for weeks!

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                                                               Footprints.

I gathered the camera, scarf, furryat, gloves car keys wallet and climbed aboard the big red Landi. I took along some old friends, Otis Redding..Nat King Cole..Isley Brothers..Police..Deep Purple and the lad from Sheffield, Joe Cocker. Yeah the landi had a cassette player!  I trundled down the lane with the music cranked up high.

I drove south to Retford cruising down the A614, I had the window down and was singing along, the metal roof provided the chorus as is bowed and flexed as we hit 50 MPH, some mud and small stones were peppering the underside of the wheel arches like bullets. The window didn’t stay down long, it was still quite nippy even so it was great fun! Most folk who know me are probably shaking their heads as I go on about how much fun driving the landi is. For years I’ve been very negative about cars and driving. When I went to Norwich for a weeks intensive driving course I very nearly left halfway through, I found it hard to generate much enthusiasm for driving a car. For the following 18 months I’ve been driving a Ford KA and the Nissan JUKE. It was OK and handy, especially in the crap weather but still nothing to get really juicy about….until we bought the Landi that is. I absolutely love driving it! The long manly gear stick..the slight play in the huge steering wheel that makes the vehicle swan about a tad on long straight roads..the workman like hand-brake down by my left foot..the big bus like heavy clutch..the faint whistle from the gearbox when I move up through them..the feeling of the 2.5 ltre engine as it reverberates through both vehicle and me..and the bit of a draught from the bottom passenger door depending which way the wind is blowing..and the amount of logs and stuff I can actually chuck in the back is brilliant. Whats not to like about it?….There I’ve said it now!

I turned away from Retford down there in Nottinghamshire to head for Clumber Park. It was around 10.30hrs so sunny with the most beautiful clear blue sky.

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                                                   The fields, south near SCROOBY

One wouldnt credit the difference a day makes, snow and grey skies one day green fields and brilliant sunshine the next! I saw a rainbow behind me whilst taking the above photo as a light shower passed in the distant fields.

Clumber Park is Robin Hood Country just off the A1 and just south of Worksop and is where I was heading for. Clumber Park is over 3,800 acres in size including woods, open heath and rolling farmland. It contains a serpentine lake covering 87 acres. The park was originally left to the people of Worksop by the late Duke of Newcastle but the National Trust bought it in 1946.Some of the park’s estate was subsequently closed to the public. There is vehicle access for the areas that are open to the public. On the way to the main parking area there is a cricket pitch with a thatched roof pavilion in the style of a cottage clad in rustic split logs. Along the road side are large open areas to park and picnic.

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                                               Lime Tree Avenue Clumber Park

The above always fascinates me, did you know that Lime Tree Avenue was planted in 1840, is the longest of its kind in Europe, is 2 miles long with 1296 trees?

 Id mislaid my National Trust card today so just took a few photos before deciding to explore elsewhere. Julie found it in the back of my wallet when Id got home! Ill return with my card and show you more next time OK?

I drove back the way Id come stopping at an unusual sight of a tree that had been decorated in shoes, it’s on the A57 at a pull-in just before the roundabout to join the A1. Id noticed it ages ago but didn’t have my camera.

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                                           On the A57 with the tree of shoes.

Its littering but not in the way we know it! God only knows who started it or why it is. My guess is someone threw someone elses shoes up into the tree as a prank Like sometimes one sees over telephone cables? I guess it just caught on after that, there is a sigh nearby and it states NO LITTERING. I saw a salmon coloured tie with a small spanner lied to one end (weighted to allow it to be thrown…have you ever tried to throw a tie?) This item was hanging over a branch. It’s only a matter of time before a ladies bra and knickers are added to this unusual wardrobe!

FOOTNOTE……..

Ref the above “shoes in trees” photo’sIve had a couple of e-mails from folk already …Chrissy says its a signal used as a meeting point for poofters! I can’t see this working in summer when all the leaves are on, but hey if your that desperate for some cokupyerbum you will find it. Rosh, who is in the know says its a marker that drugs are nearby. Both ladies..who don’t know of each… but have spent their yoof in Australia, hows that for interesting trivia!! Maybe its an ozz thing? 

I drove along clear dry roads alongside HMP RANBY, to Ranskill then on towards Mattersley and Drakesholes, still just inside Nottinghamshire.

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                                              Squinting into the sun…..smile!

It’s pretty flat around these parts of North Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, so heading to the nearest hill could be considered a challenge! I knew of a great vantage point on the main road to Gainsborough near the aptly named village called Gringley on the Hill. From here one could see a looong way south.

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                               Looking South towards Nottinghamshire

   I took the above photo from the roof of the Landi, over the tops of the shrubs, what a great view. I sat there just soaking it up, the flaps on my furryat waved madly in the stiff breeze, a passing Land Rocer tooted its horn and I waved back. Was I on safari or what? I turned round and drove through the village to the view over the other side where one could see a looong way North!

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                                             Looking North into North Lincolnshire

    Looking north it’s as “flat as a fart” as they say! Home is about 10 miles as the crow fly’s ( and about 3 inches to the left of the photo!) By road it’s about 18 miles. I twisted and turned along the small roads towards Misterton on the slow roads. Can you recall when your out driving (or riding) and you pass the same road entrance for the umpteenth time and you’ve wondered where that road goes? I was always wondering that! Well today I was finding out!

 I was now on the A161 heading towards Haxey before turning off route yet again, this time along a feeble excuse for a tarmac road towards a clutch of derelict looking farm dwellings, farms once but now just ramshackle looking properties with all kind of wrecks and the occasional 4×4 sat in the long grass. There is no name on the map but it’s there trust me! Just don’t go down  in an expensive low slung car like a Jaguar or something similar. There are severe swillies, dips and humps and bad tarmac corrosion with car swallowing dykes either side of the “road” Without wishing to offend, the place looked like the equivalent to the “Boonies” in the U.S or the rougher parts of Romania / Bulgaria..been to both on the bike..nightmare!

I was now on a much improved road heading towards Wroot,  its still narrow two cars can pass with care…just! I say improved, I wouldn’t like to drive more than 40mph along it. Even though it wasnt like driving along the apex of a potholed roof anymore because its got fresh tarmac, Its not as rough with open wounds or deep holes in the tarmac, no its not that bad now, its more like a roller coaster, now and again there are the remnants of crash damage, today someone had left all of their front bumper by the roadside. The road is arrow straight and about 5 miles long with the same car swallowing dykes running parallel just a yard or so away, today both were swollen with water. 

IMG_2783                            The roller coaster road from Wroot to Sandtoft.

Allow me to explain why the roads are the way they are. Back in 1627 a Dutch engineer called Sir Cornelius Vermuyden was commissioned by King Charles 1st to drain the land, much of it was under water, ther major rivers were diverted and smaller ones drained. Many drainage ditches were built too. Epworth was on an inland island surrounded by numerous rivers and lakes hence it became known as The Isle of Axholme and made up the eight parishes of this…my area. There are over 302 Kilometres of drainage ditches and  moving the water along are 18 pumping stations! The soil is very rich and makes for excellent farming conditions.

IMG_2779                                    Not all the dykes run alongside the roads

From this road I turned yet again and meandered towards Epworth and the flooded showground I stopped to take a photo of a family of three young swans

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                   The young swans see me and begin to turn away  

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                                          Mother Swan comes towards me.

  I took this before getting out of her way, Id only just spotted Mother Swan. I hadn’t noticed what she was doing to begin with, she had crossed to the dyke that came up to where I was standing and was soon just yards away from me. Her feathers were ruffled and her wings began to open, she was coming quickly towards me. The three youngsters were safe in the other waterway but she still saw me as a predator and was doing what any mum would do bless her!

I found a “swan-less” dyke further along and tried to get arty with the reeds whilst trying my best not to fall in and keeping one eye out for killer swans at the same time!

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 I turned the camera right upto 1/400th sec to freeze the flailing reeds.

From here I drove along another long bumpy straight towards the homing beacon that is The Green Tree public house at Hatfield Woodhouse. I was now back over the border and into South Yorkshire. I arrived home in Hatfield after a nice four-hour ride through three counties and in less than a hundred miles.

I washed the landi as I had driven through every puddle like every big kid does! I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing washing it, after all its a Land Rover. Is one supposed to wash it? Doesn’t having it covered in mud show good kudos and doesn’t it show one has been somewhere different? I’ve also joined a Land Rover owners club to learn the ins and outs of owning a landi, I’m sure I’ll be told at some point what I should and shouldn’t be doing! or maybe one of you guys can put me straight?

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