Monday, November 13, 2006

what I did at the weekend #1

Go up to Staffordshire to meet Hazel's parents. Well, just the one, actually, as her mum was away in London for the weekend (not specifically avoiding me, or so I was led to believe). Saw a few of the local sights as well, including:

- Penkridge. The nearest town. Officially it is a town, but it's quite small and village-y. Lots of pubs though. There is, apparently, a theory that Penkridge was once (if only briefly) the capital of England! All sounds a little bit dubious to me, but if it pulls the tourists in....

- Newcastle-under-Lyme. A small area round the town centre, anyway, as we only went there to go to the cinema. We saw The Prestige, which I thought was pretty good. Directed by Christopher Nolan who also directed Memento and Insomnia among others, and pulls a few of the same stylistic tricks (fractured timelines, last-minute twists) as Memento in particular. Of course as this is a film about magic and illusion there's a sophisticated meta-textual point being made with the film's structure, no doubt. The ending is a little bit cheaty, really, but not enough to spoil things.

- Cannock Chase. We went for a shortish walk here on Sunday morning, and very nice it is too. Fascinating Cannock Chase fact: it's the smallest Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB, if you will) in mainland Britain, at about 26 square miles. There is also a herd (or whatever the appropriate collective noun is) of about 800 wild fallow deer, but we didn't see any. I took some pictures which I'll post a link to once I've sorted them out.

- Shugborough Hall. We were going to call in at a Food & Craft Fair that was being held in the grounds, and I was all geared up to part with some hard-earned cash to buy a jar of organic pickled onions or some badger pate or something like that, but they wanted £4.50 just to let us through the door! We made our excuses and wandered round the free bits of the house instead. It's not the principle of the thing, it really is the money. Fascinating Shugborough Hall fact - the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal runs through (or near) the grounds, and the lord of the manor at the time the canal was built wanted it landscaped to look like a lake and not some common old canal. So the canal builders built a big bulge in the canal known as Tixall Wide (or Tixall Broad on some maps)...'s a picture.

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