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Thoughts of a wandering soul The "IT WAS TIME" Trip!

Trip to Derby

UNITED KINGDOM | Tuesday, 15 January 2013 | Views [214]

​The next morning I head back to St Pancras International and even manage to find some time to get some breakfast. I'm hooked on croissants from Paris, so I get one as well as a pain du chocolat for good measure and a bottle of water.

There's wifi at the station so I can message Gillian and tell her which train I will be on and can she please be there! She assures me she will be. And then the first thing we need to do is get me a SIM card. No problem she tells me. Great!

There's a ticket printing machine & it gives me SIX tickets!

I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with them all!

I finally figure out which one to put through the turnstile and as I'm walking to my carriage, I hear voices calling out behind.

Oh, turns out I've dropped my tickets! That was nice of them to let me know.

I get on the train and head to my seat...only to find someone already sitting in it!

Hmm...I tell the lady that I think she's in my seat, and she makes a big fuss about how there's no reservation written anywhere, even though there's an electronic display next to the seats that tells you the seat is reserved.

Man, do I really need to deal with this?

Thankfully a steward comes and explains that exact thing to her and she and her friend move to another seat.

Oh thank goodness! Please let no one come sit here!

Unfortunately, a guy comes along and asks if anyone is sitting in the seats in front of me. I look up and tell him, well it looks like one is reserved but there's no one there now.

He plops his stuff, and proceeds to eat what I assume is his breakfast.

2 containers of hard boiled eggs - the kind with the crispy coating - followed by two containers of sushi.

I try and figure out where he's from. He looks like a cross between Jason Statham & Antonio Banderas, but he's got a red sacred thread tied around his wrist like Hindus get after a prayer. He's also got a magazine which looks like its about architecture or design. At his second container of sushi I make a comment and we start chatting.

​Turns out he's from Naples in Italy and an architect, although right now he's working in construction.

I'm reminded of Gael - does everyone work in construction?

So he came over to London do his masters, and then went back to Italy, and then came back and has been in London for a total of six years.

His English is really good, but he still had that gorgeous Italian accent.

He's on his way to a business meeting in Sheffield for the day. I tell him about my trip and he tells me that he's just spent the last three weeks in India, on holidays that included a visit to Varanasi.

Ah, that explains the red thread. He tells me that he learned to cook while there, including making his own masalas and even making chappatis from scratch!

He describes the process in detail using all Hindi words. I'm super impressed.

He tells me about the work he does and specifically a project he worked on converting all petrol stations into service stations (where you can buy fresh foods) and it just sounded incredible!

As my stop approaches, he gives me his number to call when I get back to London. Sure thing.

I arrive in Derby and thankfully Gillian is right there at the barriers.

Yay! I'm so happy to see her! We walk to her car and she says we're going to this big shop where she's sure they will have SIMs and we can pick up food for lunch as well!

Yay! That sounds like an awesome plan! We drive along as she tells me about the area.

We arrive at the shop, and it is huge! Like a Kmart and Coles combined.

We pick up the SIM card as well as soup and bread for lunch. And some fruit pastilles 'cause I haven't had them since I was a kid. And Gillian spots some mince pie ice cream, so of course with it being Christmas season, we need to try this out.

I try and give her money, but she says no, I'm not to spend anything while I'm up there since I've spent so much just visiting.

She is too sweet! We head to her house and it looks huge from the outside! The glass on the front door matches the glass on doors inside and has this beautiful etching of flowers.

She keeps apologising for the mess, but that's only 'cause she hasn't seen my place I tell her. Her place is lovely and has a very welcome feeling and is quite light and airy. She shows me the conservatory that was built last year.

It's beautiful, but my favourite thing is the double shelves that she has in the dining room filled with books & DVDs!

We have lunch - chicken and mushroom soup - aye, tis delicious!

And then we try and get this SIM card sorted. It doesn't seem to work straight away so we leave it and go for a drive around the area instead.

It's a nice day - and by that I mean it's not raining or snowing. It's still freezing, but thankfully we're in a car so it doens't matter! We drive to Crich which is lovely and the scenery is beautiful. Despite everything wrong with this time of the year, the landscape always looks like a huge big watercolour painting to me.

We chat and I find out more about her, 'cause surprise, surprise, we've also only ever met once, when she was on a visit to Australia!

I tell her I realise it's quite strange my relationship with the people I've had the chance to stay with. I'd only met Adrian through my flatmate a handful of times during a single trip he made to Australia.

Gael, I've only met once in my life through an ex I no longer even talk to, and of course Gillian herself - we'd been out together one night with our mutual friend, Aaron.

I feel really lucky to have all these people in my life. She tells me she completely understands as it was the same thing with her and Aaron - as that night was the first time that she met him!

We continue to talk about her life and where she's been and where she's going.

She's an amazing person! Both in terms of how she's dealt with all the things in her past and just how frank and honest she is with me.

She seems really happy and I feel very happy for her. She's definitely a terrific example of going with your instinct and everything having a purpose.

Her fiance is meant to catch up with his groomsmen later that night, so she suggests we could all have dinner beforehand. Sounds great!

We get back to the house, and while waiting, put on a DVD - Bridesmaids - while snuggled under a doona eating antipasti! About halfway through, her fiance comes home and we head out to dinner at this pub. It's all done up in Christmas decorations and because we're pretty early it's relatively empty.

We make a beeline for the seats next to the only fireplace and check out the menu. Gillian recommends a dish that is like a pizza on a tortilla kind of thing. I check out the ingredients - they have one with rocket, caramalised onion & goat's cheese. Done! She gets the one with ham & her fiance gets a burger, that when it arrives, it's about five inches high!

We eat and chat and then it's time for her fiance to head off. He's taking the car and we will catch a cab home. With this in mind, we order "dessert". Gillian gets a hot chocolate with cointreau and I get one with creme de menthe. Both come with whipped cream and oodles of marshmallows! Oooh! They taste SO good!

Once we're done, we head home and finish watching Bridesmaids (it was okay) and then watch The Ugly Truth, while again snuggled under the doona with our peach wines, and swoon and sigh over Gerard Butler while making lists of other Gerard Butler movies both of us need to watch.

So engrossed are we that we don't stop even when Gillian's fiance comes home, moving instead into the bloopers and deleted scenes. Finally, it does get late, so we head to bed.

The next morning, what I had hoped was an allergy to all the animals in Arles actually turns out to be a cold!

Doh! Thankfully Gillian had some cold & flu tablets which I took and then after breakfast, we headed off to Chatsworth - the location of Pemberly, the home of one Mr Darcy! The landscape was as beautiful as ever, although today was a more overcast day. Gillian tells me again about the areas that we're going through.

She is astonishingly knowledgeable about it all. I am also super impressed with her driving. Like Gael, narrow lanes hold absolutely no fear for her, nor do the winding lanes! She checks her phone every now and again, and it seems like we should only be about a kilometre from Chatsworth, but it doesn't appear. So I try and help out by using my phone and discover we are in fact about 30kms from where we should be! How?

Turns out, we were almost there, but because it had been a while since Gillian had driven this way, she felt we were going too far and had overshot it, so she had turned around and gone back! Doh! Oh well, we knew where we were going now. Plus we got to see all this extra scenery that we would have otherwise missed!

We made it to Chatswoth, and headed for the Farm Shop...just as it started to snow! The shop was brilliant! There was so much food & wine in there! And chocolate and honey and jams. I wanted to get it all! We picked up a couple of sausages for snacking before dinner and some vegies for the curry that Gillian was going to make 'cause her fiance hadn't had it in a while. Did I mention she's one of those super considerate people? We got home - in a much shorter time frame than it took us to get there and started dinner.

She tells me about this particular tomato salsa her fiance loves that is served at the Indian restaurants with papadams, but which she can't seem to get right. I offer to give it a try. She's got two small tomatoes in the fridge. Perfect! I make the salsa, and she confirms that yup! That's the one! Yay! Now just to eat!

The curry is delicious! It's a Jamie Oliver version of chicken tikka masala - with coconut milk! After dinner we have the mince pie ice cream and then it's time for me to head back to London. They both come to drop me off at the station and I'm quite sad to leave. These two days have been really good, and I'm really looking forward to catching up with them very soon! But somewhere warm, we agree - like Thailand or somewhere else in Southeast Asia.

My train arrives a short while later, and again, I have vague issues with my seat, but both the women seated next to and in front of me get off at the next stop. Once back in London, I catch the tube home and am surprised and pleased to see that the people are actually smiling and talking to each other. So my previous experiences must have been peculiar to rush hour only. Good to know!

I get home about 10 minutes before Nick and Davina's sister, who also lives near them.

Shortly after, Davina arrives home with Darcia, and as Nick puts her to sleep, Davina's sister, Davina & I sit around and try and organise jewellery for her work Christmas party and then go to sleep.

Tags: chatsworth, crich, derby, sheffield

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