Today was Father’s Day in Australia so the plan hatched at the recovery BBQ yesterday was for the Kinnane clan to assemble for breakfast at The Dragon in Willington and have a group FaceTime chat with Vince. That was scheduled for 8:00 am to match a workable time in Australia. After that we would go our own ways.

We had established 7:30 am as departure time to give us a buffer for what should be a 15 minute journey to Willington. Departure on schedule had us there before 8:00 am with time to spare. The rest of the party arrived soon after with numbers reaching about 20 in total. All 5 Kinnane siblings were there with varying combinations of spouses, children, and grandchildren. Coffees were ordered and served before breakfasts.

Hannah called on FaceTime with Callum before the main event but her call was cut short when Callum had an incident with one of his recently acquired soccer trophies. The call with Vince and Dulcie was technically smooth but as socially complex as might be imagined with 20 or so people wanting to make even a brief appearance. Despite that it was a hit at both ends and everybody was satisfied with the event. Breakfast followed. Nick and the kids called me on FaceTime during that and managed to make themselves heard for a while before the clatter of cutlery overwhelmed any chance of serious conversation.

DSC_6338After breakfast we all gathered on the edge of the canal outside where we saw several narrow boats in varying condition and a number of swans. It did look very peaceful and relaxing until we watched a man use a notch in the canal to execute a U-turn. Liam was especially interested in that performance because he and Angela and some friends are spending the next 4 days cruising a canal in a narrow boat. I hope the experience is as relaxing as it appears that it might be. After the past few hectic days of wedding celebrations Angela and Liam should be ready to enjoy a few days of life in the slow lane.

By 10:00 am we were back at Ramsley Fields for a quick stop to sort out some gear before heading off to Nottingham. We saw the beginnings of the ploughing competition in the fields below us. There were at least 20 vintage tractors that had begun by ploughing a single furrow each. By the time we returned this evening they were all gone but the field was covered in furrows.

Jane had done her homework on Nottingham and selected the City of Caves tour as a suitable activity for us to explore something of the local history. We managed to find a parking lot nearby and walked to the venue in a 1960s shopping centre that is beginning refurbishment. We were a bit early for the 11:30 am tour but booked in and then spent some time in shops around the mall. The tour was interesting and informative if a bit confronting with some of the details of sanitation, or lack of it, over the centuries. The caves are not natural caves but have been dug out of the sandstone under the city over at least 1000 years during which time they have been used for a variety of purposes including human habitation, storage, pub cellars, tannery, and air raid shelters. The young woman who took just our group through the tour delighted in recounting some of the less pleasant details of the unsanitary life in the caves. Despite that it was an enjoyable tour and left us feeling glad that we live now and not a century or two ago.

After the tour we spent some time in the shops. There were some interesting items but nothing I was tempted to buy. That was not the case for any of my companions, all of whom bought at least one item along our trek. On the way back to the car we stopped for coffee at Caffè Nero on Bridlesmith Gate.

DSC_6347From Nottingham we drove further north to Sherwood Forest Country Park. Jane reasoned that Margot had spent much of her early life at Sherwood Forest child care centre in Brisbane and should see the real thing. It was after 2:30 pm and threatening to rain when we arrived there so we opted for a quick walk around the circuit that took us by the Major Oak tree. It is about 1000 years old so it would have been there, though much smaller, at the time of Robin Hood. The fence around the area is to prevent the ground being compacted and robbing it of nutrients and for the past 100 years or so it has had branches propped to prevent them breaking. It is still growing and could go on for a century or more yet. Although it may be the largest tree in the area there are others that are also large and impressive. The park area is being restored to something closer to what it was a few centuries ago when grazing animals allowed more heathland than exists now.

sherwoodSomewhere along the line Margot had acquired a green Robin Hood style cap complete with feather. Virginia was keen for a photo of Margo in the forest with her hat but that was not the end of it. We had some fun posing with the hat in the forest before returning to the visitor centre to watch the video about the park. By that time there were a few sprinkles of rain beginning to fall so we hurried back to the car and away.

Back in Melbourne we stopped at a store to pick up some additions to the larder for dinner before driving back to Ramsley fields. The ploughing was all done and the tractors gone by then. Dinner was sausages with onion, mushrooms, and bread, followed by strawberries with pistachio and almond ice cream. It was a good example of ‘what is in the refrigerator’ cuisine. The major task of the evening is packing and preparing for tomorrow’s flight to Amsterdam. That will keep some of our party occupied for some time.