Saturday, 16 December 2017

Beeston Vertical Map update — a new Café, a name change and coming soon

A quick post. For the next month or more my priority is caring for Susan after her operation, so my posts will remain few, but I have picked up on some changes in the last week or so, so I have updated my Beeston map and here are pics of the changes:

The closed Odin Cafe has become Christine's Delights. The frontage has still to get signage, so there is an A-board on Beeston High Road outside the cafe.

It describes itself as a 'mediterranean style bakery' and what food I have bought from the cafe to take home for a light lunch has been tasty and the pastry crunchy. Early days yet. I wish them well.

The Dessert Haven 'opening soon' poster has been in the shop window across from The Coffee House for a few weeks now.

And lastly The Greyhound has morphed in The Jesse Boot with signage which describes the pub as a 'Craft Union Free House'.

I admit to not being a pubby person these days, but the makeover makes the building look like a bastion of sorts. A place of dark secrets.

Its new owners, the Craft Union Pub Company describe The Jesse Boot as a 'community pub'. I'm sure it's friendly inside. In the four years I have been doing this map there have been a number of re-namings (or is it re-brandings?). Sometimes the owners have remained the same. I still think of The Coffee House as Mason and Mason and The Rye as Jerome & Kern (I never could get the name right, but it reminded me of the songwriter). Then there is The Lounge Bar named after a local Boxer. I know the signage says Bendigo but I don't call it that.

I suspect a good few of us have our own names for places. I can see a map coming on...

Monday, 20 November 2017

Ten days with a sting in the tail, more Relish, plus a 'Home from home' on the High Road and a Tram epitaph from someone who should know!

My chest infection persists, so I have yet to venture out on my own, and the only two occasions (Friday and Sunday just gone) so far have been to accompany Susan to the City Hospital's Breast Institute. Close friends went with her on Wednesday because I was still too poorly and on medication.

10 days ago Susan's visit to The Ropewalk for a mammogram was 'routine', except by Saturday just gone we knew there was nothing routine about it. Susan had breast cancer again, the last time being in 2006. The worst part of the process is the days of not knowing. You go 'with the flow'. It is what it is.

Over the next couple of weeks at least we have two more hospital visits, then Susan will get a date for the operation, which will be 'before Christmas' — that quick. Susan feels fine in herself — a bit like I did with my lungs and heart. No symptoms, no discomfort — just a life-threatening physical condition if left untreated.

In the real world I had another Henderson's Relish moment the week before last in Skipton, where we went on a day out to collect a small table we had bought on e-bay. It was a glorious day and enjoyable. Where we are today not even a speck of dust on the horizon.

I asked the waitress in the Skipton fish & chip restaurant we were in (Bizzie Lizzie's) if they had any Worcester Sauce or Henderson's Relish. She said 'no' to the former, but 'yes' to the Relish, adding 'We use in the kitchen to make chilli. No one's ever asked me before' and here we were in Yorkshire — the home of Henderson's Relish.

The one thing I have never quite got about fish and chips north of London (even though work took me to Birmingham in 1969, then Mansfield in 1975) is how the choice of fish is limited to cod (or haddock if you're lucky). No plaice or rock salmon (dogfish). The highlight of our all too rare visits to my sister in Hastings are paddles in the sea and battered rock salmon, mushy peas and chips. I buy it very occasionally when I see it in Hallam's. You will never taste a sweeter fish.

The view from our table in Bizzie Lizzie's. Skipton is a 150 minute drive including a 30 minute break about half-way.

Our destination. A small plant nursery on the side of a hill overlooking Airedale, just south of Skipton. The ducks and geese were all birds saved from slaughter.

Because I have been unwell I missed the opening of the Bendigo Lounge, but Emma, the Community Manager in the Bristol HQ, kindly sent me some photographs. I'm looking forward to my first visit.

It looks very impressive from the outside. It seems a bit pricey, but they must have a segment of the market they are after. Rye may have to respond.

The interior is light and airy and I like that.

When the sun goes down Bendigo's looks a lot different. The large windows will draw in the customers of that I am sure.

And just in case you're not sure where Bendigo's is here is a close-up from my Beeston Map. I wish them well.

I will end with a reference to The Tram and its future development.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I firmly believe there will be no more street tram lines in Greater Nottingham and that what extensions there are will be minimal (from Toton Lane to the HS2 station whenever that is constructed and opens will be it).

Bus technology and changing public transport patterns have made The Tram outdated already. In terms of cost it has been as wasteful as HS2 will be.

I'm not alone. Others are of the same mind. In the December 2017 edition of Buses magazine this new item appears quoting Jeff Counsell, the Managing Director of Trent Barton buses:

(large text my addition)

Just in case you don't know, or have forgotten, Trent Barton is owned by the Wellglade, who also operate the NET (Nottingham Tram). If the MD of their largest company is saying The Tram is not the future, then we should all take note.

Trent Barton believe the future is electric buses, bus lanes and traffic lights which favour all public transport and not just The Tram. The way we use public transport is changing, even here in Beeston. Back in January this year I argued the case for looking at creating a Beeston Buggy Bus Network, rethinking the way we use (and subsidise) community buses.

At some point Nottingham City Transport will have to invest in more comfortable buses — as Trent Barton have been doing for sometime. Buses can compete with The Tram in Nottingham on so many fronts. If roads and traffic lights gave priority to buses as well as The Tram, and all public transport in the conurbation was cashless, then bus journey times would be become better.

The future of public transport in the Nottingham conurbation is not The Tram — it is the bus in guises yet to be realised as we adapt to a world in which public transport is more personalised — you might say 'taxified' at a price we can all afford.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Foolhardy me and a 'thank you' to whoever put me on Facebook

My last blog post about attending the Middle Street Resource Centre Annual Public Meeting has attracted 500 hits to date. 'Thank you' to whoever it was who gave me a mention on Facebook. As I have said before I just blog.

Monday evening , as much as I enjoyed it, has resulted in a chest infection and a sore throat — not good things to have when you have lung disease. I am about to start a week of antibiotics and going nowhere. I do these things when I know better. Foolhardy me!

It means missing a Five Leaves Bookshop meeting at Nottingham Mechanics Institute on Saturday about Parks, Council Housing and Essex, and a Michael Wood's lecture about Vikings at Lakeside Arts Centre next week. The only plus side is that I remain an optimist who thinks I can still do these things when, as Monday shows, I can't!

I will also miss the opening of the Bendigo Lounge on Beeston High Road next week to which I had an invite.

So, I'm signing off for a good week and whilst I feel like I do right now the most I'm going to do is watch daytime TV — yes I feel that bad right now.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Middle Street Resource Centre, its café (oops), Beeston's forward thinkers and remapping our town

Yesterday evening (Monday 6 November) I went along to the annual public meeting of Middle Street Resource Centre and took with me some A1 size copies of my Beeston maps (the first time I'd seen them so large). Simon at Pixels & Graphics on Chilwell Road printed them. Here they are on display in the Centre:

There was quite a bit of interest. One of the maps was 'exclusive' in the sense that it was a blank master, which I have never made public before.

As simple as this looks it is something I would re-build and may well do so. Given the time available to me it may take a few months, but I am tempted to do it so that others can use the map more easily. When I say 'others' I mean in and of the community. Commercial companies wanting to use the map will have to pay a negotiated fee, which I will use to publish my bus maps or short stories.

I deliberately left the detail on the Nottingham University Campus inset map and it was only whilst I was at Middle Street yesterday evening that I realised the Centre had no café icon, so I have added one. Here is the amended section of my map close-up:

My reason for going to the meeting last night was to link up with Resource Centre volunteers involved with the Let's Go 2 Beeston website, which the Centre took over a couple of weeks ago. I met Karen and Colin and look forward to working with them. Councillor Pat Lally encouraged both of them to address the meeting, which they did briefly. They clearly have the vision to take it beyond Beeston High Road and its retail emphasis. Councillor Lally told those present that he thought the website had the potential to do much for the Centre and I'm sure he's right.

Beeston does need a web focus and this could well be it. Anna Soubry and Broxtowe Borough Council both publish forthcoming events, as does the Beeston Express, but not online, and this is one of the points made at yesterday evening's meeting more than once — that a good few folk are not into web and online social media. Bringing the two together is the challenge and partly explains why the Beeston map cover makes a reference to web based media:

The Beeston map as presently designed does not mark hotels or B&Bs, nor nurseries. It has to be about more than attracting shopper, it has to be about attracting visitors to search the town's Blue Plaques, to use Beeston as a holiday base. The town needs to promote its connectivity (which is something my Beeston centred public transport map tries to do) and we should remember 'connectivity' goes more than one way.

Karen and Colin understand this — as do Judy Sleath, Chair of Beeston Civic Society, and Matt Turpin of The Beestonia. For connectivity to be a success this is where it has to begin. With forward thinkers. There are others of that I am sure, but they have to be 'outside the box' by which I mean not naturally of 'The Establishment' in all its manifestations. 

Middle Street offers a good starting point in so many ways. Its users and owner for one and off the community. My blank Beeston map heading challenges viewers to 'See Beeston a little differently' followed by 'What would you put on this map?'

I would actually like to take the exercise back a step and invite Beestonians of all ages, interests, groups to sit down with a sheet of A3 paper and map there own take on Beeston, where they place themselves on the map they create? This exercise tells you a lot about what people like, want and where they spend most of their time. I know this from experience. For 21 years I was a supported housing regional, then national, Housing Management Officer and I would bring staff and tenants together in towns as diverse as Nottingham, Newark, Mansfield (to give you local examples) to create such maps. It really did help us to improve the quality of lives, especially in terms of individual and group support.

It is easy to miss the obvious and it is difficult to know if others are equally as blind as me or are terribly polite (eg. my Middle Resource Centre café slip)? Mapping tells you such things. It is an amazing way of learning I promise you.

And with this thought I will leave you, plus a reminder to visit the Middle Resource Centre café soon!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Walking wear to bags and and my favourite relish

I spent an hour the past Wednesday afternoon drinking tea and eating divine cake full of large chunks of crystallised ginger which filled the mouth after every bite with childhood memories of Tate & Lyle black treacle. Jo at the Local not Global Deli is a star. I took two slices home with me plus a bottle of Henderson Relish, about which there will be more later. I also did some writing. Stories are often prompted by location and cafés are great starting points.

If I had the time I would blog about no more than Beeston and what it has to offer. It keeps me happy. Oh it has its little frustrations, but everywhere does in my experience.

A year ago this month I had intended to visit a new shop about to open in the original Mish Mash Gallery shop, but tiredness was then beginning to creep over me and I had little energy for anything. I was close to becoming an invalid as I waited for open heart surgery to repair a faulty aortic heart valve I had lived with for 73 years. The operation took place on 27 February this year and was a complete success. Most days go by without me giving it a thought. I go to Chilwell Olympia twice a week to attend cardiac exercise classes, which I enjoy, then there's the shopping, the cooking and the garden (Susan and I share the chores). My family have become more attentive and I enjoy that. I have friends I don't see as often as I wish, stories I write, I want to write and to type up, then I want to walk more. So I could go on, suffice to say that my days are full and enjoyable, apart from the fact that it is now Susan's turn to have health problems. I simply cannot do everything I want to and I have to pace myself. My doctor has advised me 'to slow down' and, as Susan says, I listen to her, and she's right. Anyway, about a month ago I finally went into Base Camp on Chilwell Road to have a look around intending to post this piece within a couple of days, but I didn't! So apologies to Basecamp for being so late(reach their Facebook page vis the Mish Mash Gallery - I don't do Facebook).

The shop is a bit like a tardis, far more inside than you would think possible from the outside. It specialises in high end outdoor clothing, shoes and leisurewear, but there were some good offers the day I was there. Having bought a new lightweight down stormproof winter coat from Jack Wolfskin in the last month I thought Basecamp prices were comparable.

The owner of Basecamp was his travels the day I visited, but the person in charge told me that all the crockery and 'home extras' (my phrase) on display and for sale had been found by the owner on his travels. 

If you're looking for good quality outdoor gear then Basecamp is worth a visit. Even if you're in search of a bargain. Go and see for yourself, then drop into the Mish Mash Gallery and end up with a coffee and a waffle in Froths, which has re-branded itself The Froth Waffle House.


On one of the family visits recently we all went down to The Last Post for Sunday lunch. Six grown-ups and we got a table at 12.30pm (the rush began not long after). The service was good, so was the food. Weatherspoon's falls into the 'reliable' category. Its portions are good and usually come to the table hot. The chips are crisp and fluffy, which is good, but a little too salty for my taste, but 'over seasoning' is something all too many eateries and restaurants are guilty of. However, what got them 5 ✮s was this:

I grew up on Worcester Sauce in Wembley. It sat on the table every meal, put on toast, cheese, fish, soup you name it. Susan thought when she met me that I 'murdered' some of my meals with the stuff. Pop, my grandfather, was a great fan. In truth I limited myself to soups, Welsh Rarebit and Fish 'n' Chips.

Then in 1975 I moved to Mansfield to live with Susan and my boss at the time suggested that I base myself in the charity's Sheffield office. That is where I was quickly converted to Henderson's Relish — a more subtle taste than Worcester Sauce. So for a good few years we had both relishes (for that is what they are) in the house, but when the charity left me in 1983 my Sheffield days came to an end and eventually Henderson's Relish disappeared from our larder when my supply run out, occasionally replaced when my new job took to me Barnsley, as it did every few months.

Henderson's Relish came back into my life big time when the Local not Global Deli opened and I was an early user, years before we moved to Beeston, and, there, there, on a shelf for sale was, yes, Henderson's Relish! In the end it replaced its rival completely, which I now only use when out, although few places have Worcester Sauce. let alone Henderson's Relish. I particularly like it on Fish 'n' Chips and cheese on toast. I know I've said that already, but I like it so much it bears repeating.

Weatherspoon's Beeston Last Post is the first place I have ever found outside South Yorkshire, on the table or available, Henderson's Relish, so I will be going there for more meals (Worcester Sauce is something you always have to ask for and, sometimes, the kitchen will let you use their bottle, standing over you as you do. This act tells you that Worcester Sauce is more treasured than truffles because the latter they allow you to eat alone).

If anyone from The Lost Post reads this, I beg you to make sure Henderson's Relish is always, always, available.


Another shop I like is Iguazu. When I can't get to Five Leave Bookshop in town (as I think of Nottingham City Cente — a hangover from my Wembley days which ended 51 years ago) I usually buy blank cards from them for letter writing.

In the window there was this notice (see below), but it wasn't until last week I finally went into see what was new for myself.

I left with some goodies, three presents for family and friends. The bags at £6 I thought a good buy. I've been using a similar bag from the Eden Project in Cornwall for well over then years, so I know how well they last. The socks are made from Bamboo. Until I saw them I didn't know that Bamboo was used to make clothing. My feet are size 12–13 and had Iguazu had them in my size I would have a few pairs for myself. They felt lovely and have beneficial properties which makes bamboo better than cotton. My daughter is going to be the lucky recipient of the socks in the photo.

Oh I could write about recent visits to Beeston shops, but there will be other mornings to blog I am sure. 

The week ahead has already filled up, so invites I intended to make or accept are on hold until I have 'a window' free. What was the doctor said about 'slowing down'? No doubt the nurse will remind me next week when I go for my half-year 'oldies' check-up.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Beeston maps going A1 and posts to come

It's almost a month to the day since my last post. Time goes by at an alarming rate of knots, so I have made the decision to find new homes for my maps and bus boxes. The Beeston maps may well end up with Let's Go To Beeston which has passed to a group of volunteers based at Middle Street Resource Centre.  'I am in talks' as they say and will be taking 4 x A1 size versions of the Beeston Maps to the Resource Centre's annual public meeting on Monday:

Over the past few years I have been supported by Judy Sleath, Chair of Beeston & District Civic Society, Simon at Pixel & Graphics and Matt Turpin, he of The Beestonian, and they have seen it morph from a single line to what it is now. I will stay with it until others are confident to take over, but 'the branding' will change if my maps are taken over so to speak.
To see the first ever A1 versions of my maps come along to Middle Street Resource Centre on Monday evening. I'm particularly pleased with my Beeston Nights map even though it remains a work in progress (see section of map below). In a room with the lights off and Aaron Copland's Quiet City suite in the background I love what I've created so far. Before I take it further I hope to get some feedback, so watch this space.

Click on image to enlarge.

Tomorrow morning I will post some pieces about Basecamp, The Last Post and Iquazu I have had waiting weeks to be posted, all delayed by family taking top spot, including a visit to North Somerset to meet my 82 year old half-brother for the first time (another story I have to post). Then there is the data about HIMOs and council tax exempt properties in the Borough of Broxtowe which is nearly ready. When I publish that map I really will retire from Beeston Week.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

New 35 History Bus Leaflet

My new 35 History Bus leaflet will be printed next week for launching at the Lenton Priory Martinmass Fair on Saturday 14 October 2017. My only disappointment is that I have had to reduce the font size to get everything in and there are fewer images than I would like, but I do produce the leaflet to a budget — hence the leaflet being A3 size and not A2 size.  Usual rule applies. Click on the images to enlarge.

Monday, 18 September 2017

New version of Nottingham City Centre Map

This updated version has a number of changes. It includes more streets and marked locations.

There is a map template showing just the streets which others can use for free providing it is not used for profit.

The printed edition when I can afford it will include a map extending westwards to Beeston which I have yet to complete. In the meantime feedback is always welcome.

Friday, 25 August 2017

The little café which escaped me (and nearly everyone else)

I know what I said about more posts but when the café at Beeston Station steamed into view I had to give it a post all of its own.

Beeston railway station has a little café named, well, I'm not sure what. Type in Beeston Station cafe and two names come up: 'Rose Café' and 'Cafe 1839', the latter of which appears to be the current name as far as the new owner of the business is concerned, but, as of yet, there is no clear signage as to name.

At the end of the day a café's name matters little if the drinks and food are good, especially when it has a location as good as Beeston railway station (which suggests an obvious name 'The Station Café').

I took this pic yesterday when I went in search of the café. By chance this little train was leaving as I arrived. You can see a 'Cafe Open' sign to the right of the picture.

Cassy here has recently taken the café over, so it's still early days and she's trying to find her feet. It doesn't help being August, it being a holiday month. She's trying to make passengers and those meeting them more aware of her little café. If I had to describe it in a word it would be 'snug'. Four customers and it would be crowded, but there is the platform and that is where waiting passengers will probably want to be — an experience made immeasurably better with a cup of Cassy's coffee or hot chocolate and a generously filled panini.

There is another sign outside which again gives no indication as to name. I know I've just asked if the name really matters and I suspect, on reflection, it helps — why else would businesses spend a fortune on branding (and re-branding)?

A chance web-search found The Nottingham Food Blog's post for February 2013 and the then Beeston Station Rose Café, since when it has come and gone a few times. The above photograph comes from the post, which said:

Even before we left the station at Beeston I had spotted somewhere to get some food, and if it was not for the fact that we were heading to the Victoria for lunch I would most probably have stopped in there for a little snack. “Cafe Rose” nearly pulled me in with that little green star offering a Hot Roast Chicken and Stuffing roll for £2, further down the board there was the offer of Lasagne for £1.40, although it does say ‘from’ £1.40 so I wonder if you pay by the layer or by the bite? I will find out one day. Apart from all that the note that ‘All produce homemade’ made me happy that it was not just another generic coffee chain housed in the station.
I don't who is The Nottingham Food Blogger, but back in 2013 I was still in Lenton doing my Parkviews blog. If I can find a name I will add it. I would also like to know if he or she ever returned to taste the lasagne?
I suspect I am not the only person to stand on Beeston Station countless times and not notice the café. One of my all time favourite cafés is at Moor Street railway station in the centre of Birmingham. I love it best in from about October to March and I have had a visit in mind for a little while now, just to drink coffee, eat, write and look. Beeston Station has similar feel and how I would love for Sassy to have a larger café because in just one short meeting I established the fact that she has the temperament to run a cafe.
Well, now like me, you know about the little café at Beeston railway station. In a few minutes Cafe 1839 will makes its first appearance on my latest Beeston vertical map. I hope it stays there for a long time and I wish Sassy every success.
One final thought for Sassy to consider. How about one tasty signature item of food? — a bit like Jo's Pork Goulash at the Local not Global deli on Chilwell Road or Laura's poached eggs at Time for Tea on Wollaton Road — something which will bring customers in even they have no intention of catching or meeting a train.
A FOOTNOTE: 1839 is the year Beeston railway station opened. The reference to 1847 on the station building is to the year the building was erected.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Beeston Vertical A3 Map squeezes yet more on

Since my post last week, the next edition of the Beeston Vertical Map has been tweaked yet again to get more on. The Scouts are proving a challenge and may to have to wait until next time. My apologies. I have stretched and pulled the layout and this is the maps great strength the roads being mainly vertical and horizontal.  Usual rule. Click on the images to enlarge.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The latest version of my Beeston 'Vertical' Map will be printed soon. In the meantime... can see it here. To enlarge simply click onto the map. With every edition come more requests for inclusion and I really do my best — hence three Scout groups have been included. There are name changes to schools and cafés as well.

The map is created to be printed A3 portrait, so to include more shops, places and streets I would need to enlarge the size of the map/leaflet (easy enough, but cost is a big factor). This one has been tweaked. I will leave it to you to guess where. I will be sticking with my 'Beeston Vertical Map' because of its flexibility.

The lower 'box' is the map's cover side minus advertising boxes (this will be the first map to include advertising by Beeston businesses. Simon at Pixels & Graphics has been a supporter from the word go and I cannot thank him enough for his assistance over the past four years (yes, four years!). The first version was published in The Beestonian by Matt Turpin, then Judy Sleath, Chair of the Beeston & District Civic Society, got me to create a version for the 2015 Heritage Open Days. I'm sure we all know that a little support goes a long way.

And if you're wondering about what I said about no more posts bar one (about council tax exempt properties in Broxtowe Borough), then my maps will be the exception.  Feedback welcome.

I have another map in the pipeline which I am quite excited about. It's been in my head for a good couple of years and now I think I can do it. The map will have three insets showing bus links to Bulwell-Old Basford (River Leen), Borrowash–Derby (River Derwent) and Ilkeston–Langley Mill (Erewash–Cromford canals). These have yet to be added and I have yet to decide how. In the meantime this is what my Beeston Buses & Tram Water Walks Map looks like:

Saturday, 5 August 2017

One more post to come

Parking a blog is something I have now done several times - Parkviews about life and around Lenton Recreation Ground after seven years; Crocus Gallery which I did for a couple of years.  Looking back I would now describe the space in the now demolished Church Square, Lenton, as a 'pop up' community art gallery and then the West End Bowls blog, a local bowling club with Lenton and Radford community roots. I played with the Club for five years and was Secretary for three, until I resigned in 2014, the year we left Lenton for Beeston. I enjoyed them all.

It is now the turn of Beeston Week, with a final post I hope towards the end of September 2017 when I have current council tax exemptions data for Broxtowe which I will post without comment. 

I want to type up what I write, post an e-book I am working on to Amazon I've no idea when. I want to do it, then there is my 35 'History Bus' I want to write more about and My Wembley blog memoir - and I haven't mentioned my garden yet or playing bowls again next year, or seeing more of my friends.

So I am making a start of sorts now by parking Beeston Week - something I have enjoyed doing and have tried to park before without success. This time I am more determined! Just one more when I have the data.

My maps will stay here, so there will be some activity.

Robert Howard

Friday, 4 August 2017

A wander through border country aka Kegworth and Sutton Bonington

Last Saturday (29 July 2017) Susan and I took ourselves off to explore Kegworth and Sutton Bonington villages to check the accuracy of the map of I was working on with Nottingham University's Students' Union.  I posted a second draft of the map yesterday, completely changed from my first draft. I had not got anything wrong, it was just a case of seeing things differently.

We  have known about Kegworth Museum for a long time but never visited before. We were not disappointed. Notice the bus stop right outside, which is normally used by Trent-Barton's Nottingham SkyLink service, which is extended hourly Monday–Saturday daytime from East Midlands Airport to Loughborough, but the stop is temporarily out of use whilst the road bridge across the M1 between the A453 and Kegworth is closed. The good news is that Kegworth Museum is just a five minute walk from the Market Place.

The Museum is a wonderful eclectic mix of the everyday and far more besides. 

It is run by a small group of volunteers who keep the museum looking immaculate. I did not see a spect of dust.

This picture shows the upstairs exhibition area. They have a large collection of photographs which have been linked to reminiscences. We stayed well over an hour and left determined to return.

For a place the size of Kegworth to have a museum makes you wonder why towns like Beeston have never managed to have museums. The Museum is open Easter – September, Saturdays & Bank Holiday Mondays 10–1 and Sundays 1–4. Free admission.

We caught sight of this little bus three times during our visit. It was empty every time. The 865 is a Nottinghamshire County Council subsidised service which runs 4–5 times Monday–Saturday daytime in each direction. The destination blind showed 'Kegworth' on each occasion, which is a little confusing because journeys only call at Kegworth, never terminate. It actually runs between Normanton and the Clifton South tram terminus in Nottingham. It also calls at East Midlands Parkway Station. I am a great supporter of rural bus services and believe the need to be frequent and daily. However, I suspect even this 'little bus' is too large for the 865 and what is need is a more flexible 'bus-taxi' service like I have advocated for Beeston in blog earlier this year.

We went into Oliver's Cafe on the High Street for a light lunch. It looked (and was) clean and comfortable.

Whilst there we got chatting with Irene (who said that was her name, but she liked to be called Rene) who was hoping to see someone who did not arrive. In the course of our chat we found out that we had a few things in common. Last year she had a heart valve replacement operation at Nottingham City Hospital (like me in February this year). Her defect was found by a chance blood test at her GP and when she asked if, at 95, she was too old for the operation, the doctor replied '95 is just a number to us'.

Rene came from Teeside to live with family in Kegworth a few years ago and volunteered that she had been a English teacher until she retired and that she was 'a socialist'. She went on to tell us about her life as a teacher and growing up in Norton on the edge of Stockton-on-Tees. A remarkable woman by any measure who was great company for all too shorter time. Just over two hours in fact. As fellow socialists we hope that we will still be as lively and good company as Rene when we reach 95 (96 next month she told us).

I chose a delicious panini filled with Halloumi cheese, Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto. Susan had a beef sandwich. Oliver and his assistance were having the day off, so we were served by their mums. We will be going back. The cafe was small, but when it came to service and quality it packed a mighty punch.

One of the things I was not expecting in Kegworth was steep hills and we found a couple. This is one of them. Borough Street (I know it doesn't look 'steep' but I promise you my camera is lying).

We went down Borough Street in search of this pub, the Cap & Stocking, recommended by a student. We didn't go in, having not long left Oliver's cafe, but its looks nice enough.

Across from the pub is a council estate made up of houses like these. Good looking, substantial and a reminder of the fact that council houses were built in villages, even hamlets, and small towns as well as cities, often by Conservative councils. I had relatives in Great Chesterford, Essex, who lived a craft-style cottage-like council house, just a row, seemingly on the edge of nowhere until post-war housing went up on the other side of the road. It would be interesting to know the history of this nice looking estate. A question for our next visit to Kegworth Museum.

At the end of Borough Street we crossed Nottingham Road and stood watching a cricket match for ten minutes before moving on.

We climbed another hill towards the church and entered via the back gate, then up some steps, along a path through some trees to be confronted with this view of the church, our eyes drawn to the six tiny gravestones all dating from the 19th century. Best described I think as 'a thoughtful place'.

Round the front of the church and this view from under the Yew. 'Timeless' describes it best as far as I am concerned.

We bade farewell to Kegworth, vowing to return for a longer visit next time, and headed to Sutton Bonington, which is now home to the University of Nottingham's veterinary school as well as its long established agricultural college. Another place we will return to, but the need for tea and cake...

...pulled us onto what I had marked on the map as 'The Gallery & Tearoom'. In fact they when we arrived we quickly found out that they are in the process of a rebranding exercise. Their new name is above.

What we also found out that for the past five years one of the owners, Martin, has been creating an outdoor model railway. As you can see the railway has yet to catch up with the building's signage.

The important thing is that we found what we had come in search of — cake with Earl Grey tea! Everything you need on albeit overcast, barely warm English summer afternoon. We found out the Tearoom was busy with locals and welcomed students. We also learnt a thing or two about Martin and, later, a connection with Lucy in Beeston's 2 Little Magpies craft and gift shop. Both were students at Nottingham-Trent University at the same time, albeit in different years, studying theatre & costume design.

As we ate our delicious Victoria sponge cake Thome the Tank Engine kept calling at Soar Point Station. Maybe such a station once existed on the nearby Midland Mainline Railway which runs through the village, cutting it off from the University campus.

Martin told us students were always welcome and the indoor tearoom was where students came to escape the gaze of others. From now on I will think of this place as the 'Assignations Tearoom'

The art gallery is morphing into Bonington's Gift Shop and Tearooms which I think can be described as 'a destination in itself'. I will be going back for more cake and to take a photograph of a Trent-Barton Nottingham SkyLink bus as it passes by. During our visit we were busy eating or looking the other way when the SkyLinks zoomed by. Buses really are the agents of democracy and need to championed at every opportunity.

A walk down to Queens Road and you can catch a Trent-Barton SkyLink direct to Kegworth and Sutton Bonington once every hour during the daytime Monday–Saturday, or an Indigo from Beeston Interchange to The Green in Long Eaton, where you can change to a Nottingham SkyLink.

Anyone with in easy reach of a Nottingham SkyLink of Indigo bus really does have access to history and village England in a way many elsewhere can only dream of.

We came away from Kegworth Museum with three short walk leaflets determined to return on a Trent-Barton bus, perhaps in the company of others interested in a day out in what can fairly be called 'Border Country'.