We have a weekend guest. Mr H, who has taken a sabbatical from the hard slog of the civil service to visit pre-historic sites, standing stones, circles, underground chambers and the like around the UK. (We offered him the chance to look down the cellar here in Nouveau Basford but he declined). Attempting to be good hosts, we asked him what he would like to do while he was in Nottingham.
And so Saturday afternoon saw the three of us upon top of the Castle walls, looking out over the city. It seemed ages since we’d been up there. Despite it not being particularly old, or castle-like anymore (Ducal Palace with Victorian restoration) it still has an air of grandeur and despite the hordes of badly dressed tourists wandering around and the detritus of the open-air Shakespeare productions on the castle green, I enjoyed the visit. It somehow seemed … fitting… in a nice, middle-class genteel sort of way to wander up and down the shrouded shrubbery walks, to wander through the Museum and for the three of us to eat ice creams, on a bench, in the slight chill and the drizzle.
The two of them decided to round off the visit with a trip down Mortimer’s Hole. No, darlings, not a euphemism for smut at all but one of the secret passages with which the castle is riddled. And the one that Roger Mortimer, lover of Queen Isabella escaped through when wanted for the heinous murder of Edward ll. Ohhh yes, that particularly nasty murder. But really, they should have seen it coming. That marriage was never going to work from the beginning. She being 14, Edward being gay…..
Being dressed in heels and a silk frock, I’m not quite dressed for wandering up and down cramped sandstone passages and steep crumbling steps and so I arrange to meet them in Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem (I’m sorry about the extra ‘e’, but it really is there….) the pub carved into the walls underneath.
They arrive, buoyant with the trip and the history, although our visitor, being more used to Bronze Age tunnels and passages, is inclined to dismiss this 600-year-old antiquary as a mere parvenu. But all in all, Nottingham gets the official seal of approval from him.
But then he does live in Birmingham.