Newstead Abbey

Childhood home of Lord Byron, burial place of his favourite dog and only childhood friend (poor lonely little Lord Byron) and once the location of wild parties, it’s a beautiful place with lovely gardens. But like so many places I take my family to visit, it is absolutely freezing in the winter!

Masson Mills


In 1783 Sir Richard Arkwright built his impressive Masson Mill, just up the River Derwent from the existing Cromford Mill. Masson was a cotton mill, from bales of cotton to woven cloth, the only thing that didn’t happen here was any colour dying of the cotton thread. It was the oldest continually running mill in the world, finally closing in 1991. Now the old paper mill that stood next to the cotton mill is a shopping village, but the lower floor of the cotton mill is a museum, still full of machinery for preparing, carding, spinning, and weaving the cotton. When we visited one of the doubling machines was busy making string and some of the weaving machines from the 1800’s were started up for a demonstration. Just 3 machines were incredibly loud, a whole factory must have been deafening -apparently the workers had to communicate with sign language and lip reading. It’s a fascinating place; a building full of history, lost knowledge and huge equipment all powered by the river. Most of the machinery is no longer in use but this place was a part of the industrial revolution, this kind of machinery and factory system completely changed British production and the way people lived and worked.

I find it really interesting but I can’t identify much of the machinery! From the top left: Jacquard looms for weaving fancy patterns using punch cards, a doubling machine, ‘the Devil’ cotton bail shredder, an 1800’s Lancashire loom, and part of the cotton preparation process.

Thread, string, and cotton fabric manufactured in the mill using the old machinery, as well as old bobbins and shuttles are available to buy – I have a couple of offcuts to create something with πŸ™‚


Masson Mill is located between Matlock Bath and Cromford in Northern Derbyshire and is open Monday to Sunday with 2 machine demonstrations each day. Go in the summer, it was freezing in March!


Today seems like a good day to share my photos from last Saturdays trip to London. My brother lives down there now, and although it’s not a cheap journey it’s only 1.5 hours to get there and it’s slowly occurring to me that it doesn’t have to be a major event to go to the big city.

Yesterdays news was heartbreaking and incomprehensible, like all such events. I can’t stop myself from feeling a little nervous but I refuse to let a few hateful and destructive people stop me from enjoying living and travelling. London is a wonderful city to explore and with my irregular visits there’s still so much I haven’t seen, so I’ll definitely be heading back soon. And out to see the world too, I believe there’s still a lot of good out there.

From the top: view over Greenwich to Canary Wharf, Buckingham Palace from St. James Park, Big Ben viewed from Westminster Pier, the Tower of London, the Shard, and Tower Bridge.

A sunny day out

Today I travelled North and Space_wolf (hello!) travelled South to meet up in York, somewhere in the middle. And a good day out was had by all πŸ™‚ It’s a beautiful city, I always enjoy visiting, and I have so many photos of York Minster by now but here’s a few more!

I have also gained some cake from Betty’s tea room’s, another favourite place πŸ™‚

Month of Letters day #4:
This postcard of York city walls and Minster is headed to a postcard pal in India…

Chatsworth at Christmas

I’d heard about the beautiful Christmas decorations at Chatsworth House, but until recently I’d only visited in the summer. This years theme is ‘The Nutcracker’ – cue ballerinas and nutcracker soldiers, along with all the trees, light and baubles necessary for an amazing Christmas event! Chatsworth is a beautiful place normally, but the Christmas decorations made the visit extra special. Only part of the house is open in the winter (some rooms are already closed for cleaning and renovation) but there’s still plenty of festive rooms to admire. I might have found a new festive tradition πŸ™‚


Down in the big city

London is only 1.5 hours from here but it still feels like a big adventure. It’s everyday life for so many people but I’m not used to the crowds and noise and size of the city. There’s so much there that I’ve never seen, and I could have a great shopping trip if I ever go without other plans that keep me busy!

I spent the afternoon of the Friday by myself in the Victoria and Albert museum – there’s some amazing displays of world art and culture, fashion, jewellery, sculpture, antiquities… It’s easy to get drawn in for hours!

From left: V&A Museum entrance hall, Natural History museum, V&A Museum courtyard

Of course it’s getting dark so early now. Unfortunately the full Christmas lights weren’t lit when I was there, but Christmas is definitely approaching. I love visiting Liberty’s – I can’t afford much in there, I now have my diary for next year but I managed to resist the fabric this time πŸ™‚ We also did a lot of wandering around some of the more well known areas. Sometimes I just need to be somewhere different, and London has plenty of distractions!

From top left: Liberty’s, Carnaby Street rebel Christmas lights, Leicester Square Christmas market, Covent Garden market

Bonfire night 2016

In 1605 a group of people plotted to kill King James I by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. Last night I took a steam train to a fireworks display. And weirdly those 2 events are directly related… I’m not sure anyone crowded around the bonfire in the railway yard last night was celebrating the preservation of the monarchy, but I really enjoyed the fireworksΒ  πŸ™‚ Today is actual bonfire night but I went walking earlier so I haven’t gone out again. The explosions haven’t stopped since it got dark, and while it’s great to be able to see the tops of 4 displays at once from the balcony the irregular bangs have started to get to me – so the music is on loud tonight!