Not Martha

My Vacation Slides: Day 7, Ye Olde-est Pub in England and a giant space suit

a corner street in Nottingham

After sleeping in we headed out late to explore Nottingham, which was sadly rainy most of the day. I’m sorry I didn’t get pictures of breakfast, Laura and Andy had an enormous variety of delicious foods for us to sample. It was downright luxurious. Best, though, was their own homemade bread with lots of real butter. Mmmmm.

the Sky Mirror, reflecting a nearby building and sky, upside down, like in a spoon

Above is the Sky Mirror, and it must be stunning on clear days with blue skies. As is it was pretty impressive. Next we went to the castle, an ancient structure that I didn’t get any decent pictures of. The grounds allow you views across the river and below you can see this old house set into the cliff, notice the roof of the round room in the corner.

a house built into a recessed carved into a hill

Then it was over to see the statue of, what else?, Robin Hood.

Robin Hood statue

And at this point it was nearly 11 a.m. and we happened to be near the oldest pub in England, Trip to Jerusalem. Here is the base of the hill below the castle, on the way to the pub. I can only imagine what is on the other side of these doors.

old doors built into the side of a hill

Here it is:

Ye Olde pub

“Ye Olde” is actually in the name! It was interesting inside, all the rooms are carved from the stone and they are connected by narrow staircases, making the whole thing feel like a very civilized ant colony. With beer.

a pub room carved out of the rock in the hillside

Looking up at the ceiling.

a skylight carved out of the overhead rock

Proof that we actually had beers:

two glasses of beer

a scary, spiky chain

Next we wandered into the shopping areas and had a peek inside of Paul Smith. I really liked his perfumes, but was too intimidated to take a picture inside the shop. Just outside are two old red phone boxes, which Laura reports are disappearing.

two red phone boxes

Next we were off to Nottingham Contemporary art gallery to have a look at their space related exhibits and eat lunch in the cafe there, nice presentation for a humble burger:

burger on a rectangular plate with a smear of ketchup artfully painted in front of it

I had to take a picture of the Royal Shield of Arms coins designed by Matt Dent, that all fit together like this. We only had three:

three UK coins designed by Matt Dent

The most impressive thing on show at the gallery was this giant space suited man:

a 40 foot space suit

You can see the room guard sitting against the back wall just off to the right near the shoe, that black smudge? That’s the guy.

We could walk inside of the giant spaceman, here is Scott and Laura peeking into the helmet area where a pod chair was positioned so you could sit and look up out of visor:

interior of the space suit, like a round white tent

detail of the lacing at the foot of the space suit

I liked the details, these eyelets must have been made with the rings that go around burners in stoves? Or something?

They had held a futuristic fashion show inside the spaceman, here are a few of the outfits that were on display:

three futuristic dresses, one covered in eyeballs

We ended the day with a trip to John Lewis. I tried to be discreet about taking pictures so please excuse the following, but I wanted to show how they sell fabric and yarn right in the store:

dress fabric at John Lewis

yarn at John Lewis

Upstairs was yardage of home design weight fabrics, lots of it also came laminated:

laminated interiors fabric at John Lewis

a car-less street corner in Nottingham

Downtown Nottingham was lovely, despite the overcast day. The interior roads are closed to traffic except for transit vehicles, and there are wide areas just for pedestrians. People were walking all around, it was calm and quiet without the sounds of rushing traffic and so nice. I really wish there were more cities in the US that were able to treat the main areas like this. Between all the great shops and the fantastic transportation I’ve decided I’d like to live in Nottingham, though Laura and Andy assure me I’d like Manchester a bit better.

A small traveling version of the London Eye happened to be set up while we were there. (Ok, fine, it’s just a regular ferris wheel, but look! a ferris wheel!):

ferris wheel in the Nottingham main square

update: I completely forgot to talk about our trip to the Muji store here. It was fantastic. I was so involved in shopping I completely forgot to get pictures. I bought a travel organizer (I’ve been throwing everything into one barrel shaped bag and, well, it doesn’t work all that well), three ice trays (marbles, spoons and diamonds!), two foaming soap containers which work much better than my very-reused old ones, some office supplies, some of those wooden block city sets (Paris and London) and I narrowly escaped before buying some furniture.

Back at Laura and Andy’s home we were treated to Toad in the Hole with vegetarian sausages, it was delicious. I think they said this was a Jamie Oliver recipe.

toad in the hole

And dessert were two puddings we had picked out at Marks and Spencer foods the night before. Spotted Dick! and Sticky Toffee Pudding!

spotted dick!

sticky toffee pudding

We wound down the day by getting comfy with Daisy:

Daisy sitting on my lap

And eating as many Cadbury Easter chocolates as possible. The creme eggs and mini eggs taste so much better than the ones we get in the US.

Cadbury creme eggs and mini eggs

Things I Learned the Hard Way

Buy stuff: I wish I had bought much more stuff, especially yardage at John Lewis and chocolates. I thought I was showing restraint in spending and luggage space but there are dozens of things I’m sure I could have found room for. (Not really, we had zero room left in our luggage, but I am good at revising my memories.)

Bedding sizes are not the same:Heartbreakingly!, I learned that the bright and cheery Orla Kiely Stem duvet covers are a good 10 inches too narrow to fit on our kind-sized down comforter as US and UK sizes are different. I’m glad I checked before buying it at John Lewis, it would have been really difficult to return.

Previously: Day One arrival and beating jet lag; Day Two big impressive monuments, unexpected meetings, needing to pee; Day Three The Metro, a museum, and French onion soup; Day Four dogs in paintings, startlingly large arches and towers; Day Five pastries and scoldings; Day Five the bit about the mangosteens; Day Six trains and vegetables

Next up: Day Eight Rain Gods and cake for elevenses

· comments [28] · 03-18-2010 · categories:travel ·

28 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sarah // Mar 18, 2010 at 6:16 am

    This is so interesting to read as an English person – Nottingham is gorgeous, but has a reputation for gun crime in recent years. Many city centres are pedestrianised – even only they would transform Oxford Circus!

    JL have a fab haberdashery section, barely any of which is online. Many of the branches have highly-informed staff who sit at sewing machines making projects for displays, and will give really good advice for crafty newbies like me.

    Btw half the cities in England claim to have the oldest pub – I’ve lived in Oxford, St Albans and London, and they all do. But that one looks positively medieval!

    And English chocolate is the best :)

  • 2 krista - urbanite jewelry // Mar 18, 2010 at 6:20 am

    I’m an American who used to live in Manchester! While it’s nice for a time…it’s definitely a city that is rough around the edges. It’s modernizing and becoming more ‘polished’, if you will, but you can definitely tell it was the center of the industrial revolution, both in appearance and culture.

    Oh and have I mentioned the weather? Brutal–and reportedly much worse than many other English cities. My American expat friends and I used to joke that there’s four seasons in Manchester: Rainy, REALLY rainy, Windy & Rain and Cold & Rainy. And this coming from a girl who LIKES rain!

    Manchester (and Mancunians, as the locals are called) definitely holds a place in my heart. It takes a bit of getting used to for sure, though! :)

  • 3 Bev Hahler // Mar 18, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Awww you just made my heart ache!!! I’m from the north of England (Leeds, which you would LOVE!) but am living in Michigan now. Cadbury’s chocolate tastes COMPLETELY different in America, I’m sure they use a different recipe – my OH even thinks the Pepsi tastes different too. Marks and Spencer food hall was my little treat on a weekend, John Lewis was just orgasmic if you’re crafty and real chips! You have a picture of real chips! This is my first visit to your blog and even though I’m feeling homesick for England right now, I will be back!
    Amazing pictures, thank you :o)

  • 4 Suzi // Mar 18, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Looks like you had a fab trip!

    Don’t listen to them though – it rains all the time in Manchester :-)

  • 5 herschel // Mar 18, 2010 at 7:11 am

    i know the feeling: i could have purchased entire bolts from the cath kidston store in covent garden. darn you, luggage!

  • 6 betty // Mar 18, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Guess you should have packed a box with all the extra loot,fashioned a tape handle and carried it home with you. NOT that I’ve ever done that, mind you… Oh wait, yes I have. LOVE your travelogue, thank you ever so much for sharing!

  • 7 Seanna Lea // Mar 18, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Wow. One of my friends is always getting fabrics laminated for her cloth diaper business. It would be great if she could buy more of them that way from the get go!

  • 8 Allyson McCombs // Mar 18, 2010 at 8:03 am

    “And eating as many Cadbury Easter chocolates as possible. The creme eggs and mini eggs taste so much better than the ones we get in the US.”

    Funny story, I was in Europe for 9 weeks of my sophmore year of college enjoying all the delish chocolate. It was sad when our parents decided to send us Easter packages with bad US chocolate. There was no comparison and while we enjoyed the sentiment, the chocolate went right into the trash!

  • 9 Susan // Mar 18, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Your travel posts are all great! I’m going to England this summer & will take your tip on ‘buying more’ to heart. :)

  • 10 ana // Mar 18, 2010 at 9:23 am

    John Lewis is the best place ever. I grew up with one on our local high street, and it was always the first place I would go to look for anything. From your photos, it looks like the fabric and haby departments are better in Nottingham than in London. I live abroad at the moment, and miss John Lewis like crazy – how can anywhere be civilized and not have a John Lewis?!
    ps. they are online, but you have to shop via their export department if you live outside the UK – see

  • 11 megan // Mar 18, 2010 at 9:59 am

    the first time i went to england, i regretted not buying any fabric. the second and third times, though, i packed lightly just to be able to bring home yardage. john lewis in london was a 3-hour shopping trip! i got some wonderful graphic prints and a few meters of oilcloth, which i later made into reusable grocery bags. sigh… i want to go back!

  • 12 Paola // Mar 18, 2010 at 10:13 am

    You’ve made me homesick again, though Nottingham would be VERY far down on the list of English cities where I would live. (And don’t listen to them about Manchester, the rain there makes Seattle seem like the Sahara).

    And yes, John Lewis is the most useful shop in the world and one of the places I miss most. Did you go to Habitat? You can’t go to the UK and not go to Habitat…

    As for chocolate, you can buy imported British chocolate online here in the US (I currently have a couple of huge Cadbury’s eggs on order).

    Oh and I’ll buy your Orla Kiely bedding from you in a heartbeat if you want, as we still have our UK-sized duvet here. Let me know.

  • 13 K // Mar 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

    I just found out that UK and US crib sizes are different too, which is going to cause us HASSLE. America!! Your babies are not that big!

    Paola, re: St Pancras station in the last segment, have you seen the NEW St Pancras? It is truly gorgeous. With the longest champagne bar in the world (or Europe, or something).

  • 14 Tina // Mar 18, 2010 at 10:36 am

    It is really too bad that you have too be so “discreet” taking pictures in shops and such. I do understand why but if only you could get some sort of credentials, all these places would become only too happy to have you take even more pictures…since, as I’ve said in a previous post, your presentation of so many of your trips and experiences really makes one want to try these things out — a great advertisement for everything presented!

  • 15 Callie // Mar 18, 2010 at 10:54 am

    It looks like you are having a great time! On the phone boxes- I live in MS, we have double decker buses and the same red phone boxes on our town square. Which, I guess, is a little weird.

  • 16 Entertaining foreign visitors « Busywork // Mar 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    […] writing about her visit to Nottingham this week: part one, part two. She’s got some good pictures of the giant spacesuit that’s on display, so do go and […]

  • 17 Patty // Mar 18, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Everything looks like so much fun I’m so jealous! Hope you had a great time there.

  • 18 lauren // Mar 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    WOW. This looks like the best time. Do you know if that is a private residence on the cliff? How amazing to live there.
    And is that a fancy ketchup squeeze next to the burger? Love it.

  • 19 amy marie // Mar 19, 2010 at 9:34 am

    “ye olde” looks like such an amazing place and i’d love to one day have a pint there, too!

    also, love your pictorial documentation of your trip, just lovely!

  • 20 jeannie // Mar 20, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Must have been wonderful to see this all in real life!

  • 21 veryanniemary // Mar 20, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Fabulous! I love inviting Americans to supper and offering them toad in the hole followed by spotted dick! Sure fire panic…..

  • 22 corrin // Mar 20, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I might have to order some Cadbury eggs and buttons online now! When I came back from London, I think my suitcase doubled in weight thanks to chocolate.

  • 23 suzanne // Mar 21, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    John Lewis was one of the highlights of a trip to London a few years ago. Everyone talks about Liberty, Harrods, and, Harvey Nichols but they didn’t float my boat like JL since the latter was like the US department stores I recall from my childhood. The departments included fabrics, notions, yarn and the like where I spent many hours of my childhood waiting for my mother to make choices.

  • 24 Emilia // Mar 22, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Hey Megan, I’m a new reader and fellow Seattleite. Thanks for sharing your vacation photos … the rest of us are lucky that we can get a glimpse into all those great sites and tasty treats!

  • 25 Jan // Mar 23, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Ooooh, this makes me want to cross the pond so badly. I’m a Mancunian myself. Yeah yeah yeah, it rains. It’s still lovely. Thanks for sharing all the great pics.

  • 26 Kristen Rask // Mar 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    oh man, this is a great travel journal and I want to go to all these places! it looks like you had a great time!

  • 27 Lana // Mar 26, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Cadbury chocolate in Canada is the same! Hop over the border and stock up. :)

  • 28 amy // Mar 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Agree on the “buy stuff” tip. I feel so proud of myself for showing restraint when I travel & think all the great photos/memories are my souvenirs. Then I get home & think ‘I should’ve picked up a few more cans of mint balls.’ or ‘Why didn’t I buy those awesome booties?’

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