After seeing both Wollaton Hall and central Nottingham, 3″ Thorin went off to the local beer festival, despite it not being on until October. When I picked him up again to take the bus home, he was completely plastered and ended up vomiting on the pavement. Cheers for that, mate. For today, I thought I’d get him into nature, and where better to finish off our sightseeing trip than by visiting the renowned Sherwood Forest? Everyone who comes to visit us always end up getting carted up to Edwinstowe to see the Major Oak, and Thorin is certainly not going to be the exception!
Thank goodness we got that car battery charger so we could drive up here, Thorin! Without a car, this journey would be awkward, as Sherwood Forest – what’s left of it, anyway – is about a half-hour drive north of Nottingham.
Urrrghhhh. Could you maybe talk a little less? And pass me some of that ginger you were taking earlier.
What are you talking about? I haven’t got any ginger on me in the car. Look in the glove compartment, I should have some peppermint gum there, that should help.
I guess the ibuprofen hasn’t kicked in yet. Did you know ibuprofen is a Nottingham invention? It was developed by the Boots corporation, and their head office is still in Nottingham.
Fascinating. Now, please keep your voice down for a while while I try to refrain from spilling the contents of my stomach on these seats. Why are the front seats red and the back seat grey?
Because I got covers for them, but the backseat cover doesn’t quite fit, so I left it off. Do you like it? I thought it would give a splash of colour to the 50 shades of grey interior.
Yeah, sorry, probably not the best idea to bring that title up when you’re already feeling sick as a dog. On the plus side, if you look outside, it’s a pretty day today.
I take it we are still ignoring how inconsistent the pictures you show are with the current season and the fact that it’s actually a drizzly, cold mid-March day today?
Yes. Yes, we are.
Because that looks a lot like, what, late May?
Yes. Three years ago. Anyway …
That picture was not even taken from a car, was it?
No, it was taken from the train I took at the time, but it was in north Nottinghamshire, so it still counts. It’s from somewhere between Hucknall and Kirkby-in-Ashfield. Speaking of which, that train also passes through Newstead, if I remember it correctly.
Is that supposed to mean anything?
Newstead Abbey was the home of Lord Byron.
I am not acquainted with any lords of that name.
He was a poet. Err, I mean … a … bard?
A bard was given the title of lord? He must have impressed your king greatly!
I think he inherited the title from his father, but speaking of wordsmiths from the area, you won’t have heard of the infamous D.H. Lawrence, but he came from Eastwood in Nottinghamshire, near IKEA, which is about a ten-minute drive from home.
Who is Ike Eeah? What a peculiar name.
Uh, never mind. Oh look, we’re there! Sherwood Forest!
Well, it certainly looks … forested. Not like the great forests that we have to trek through back home, but at least there are trees.
There used to be a lot more trees hundreds of years ago, but it was cut up and used for fuel and that sort of thing over the years. Now, Sherwood Forest, or at least a part of it, is a tourist attraction. Yes, it’s that Robin Hood thing again.
He certainly gets around.
Yeah, I probably wouldn’t have heard of Nottingham if it wasn’t for him, to be fair, but I’m from Sweden. Uh, a country across the North Sea. IKEA is Swedish too!
Then I see why he would have a peculiar name and why you seem eager to meet him.
Show me the forest now. If you would be so kind.
Right. Here we are. There’s a visitor’s centre, where you can buy souvenirs, and a small exhibition about the forest. Very small, but they are going to build a new visitor’s centre, like a Robin Hood theme park. Which will be interesting. Nice to know the powers that be have finally realised Robin Hood is the biggest tourist draw for foreign tourists the county has, and do something about it.
Have you purchased anything to use as giveaways?
No, I haven’t actually. I’ll do that next time I’m there.
We’re here now, aren’t we?
Umm, yeah. Right. I just, uh, haven’t got any spare change on me, you know? I left my purse back home.
Silence! That is not the correct way to address a king! You will tell me what is there to do around here, because I do not believe humans put a forest here just for the sake of walking around in it.
Well, there’s the Major Oak, which is a big and very old oak tree. It’s one of the fifty “Great British Trees“, and legend has it that this was the tree where Robin Hood and his merry men had their camp.
Much like us dwarves.
Sort of, yes.
Why has it got poles supporting it?
The Victorians started it. It’s to make sure it doesn’t split apart, because it’s a very big tree, so it’s very heavy, and it’s very old.
Congratulations on finding a picture that looks almost in season. When did you create it?
End of April …
So we are finally getting closer, well done.
… Aaaanyway. This place becomes rather crowded every August, because of the week-long Robin Hood Festival. There is jousting, medieval markets and things. Lots of people come to visit.
Guy of Gisborne, you say? THE Guy of Gisborne?
Well, he doesn’t look like Richard Armitage, if that’s what you mean, but I have to admit rooting for him nonetheless.
Madam, you have a very odd taste in menfolk, I have to say.
Hey, that’s not what I meant! And besides, if I have an “odd taste in menfolk”, then you do realise that you’re in that category too, right? Or at least the full-sized in-the-flesh version. So there.
You have a point. This countryside is calming, and whatever it was you gave me earlier has certainly lifted my spirits and eased my painful skull. I think I might enjoy it here after all.
Good, I’m glad. Oh, and there’s a Center Parcs around the corner from here. Quite literally. Is there anywhere else you would want to go? Not Center Parcs, please, because I haven’t pre-booked, and you have to stay a few nights and it’s not cheap. It’s nice, though. Great swimming pool.
I have heard of a castle where a King John died? Maybe we could go there?
Sure. Newark isn’t exactly on the way home, but why not? It’ll take about half an hour.
I have nothing but time.
Seeing as how I’m driving, maybe you could remind the readers of your upcoming advice column, Ask Thorin?
Certainly. Honoured reader, please ask my advice as the King Under the Mountain by leaving your question as a comment to any of these posts, or by sending an email – what is this email thing? – to email@example.com . The first “episode” will commence this Sunday, and then continue on consecutive Thursdays.
… Depending on how many questions actually come in for you to answer, because I don’t want to have to make them all up myself. That wouldn’t be half as much fun.
Right. You not interrupting me here would help.
So please, give me your questions, your concerns, your queries, and I will do my utmost to answer them in a satisfactory manner.
And wouldn’t you know, we’ve arrived! Newark Castle was probably built in the mid-1100s, and is where King John, or “Prince John” of Robin Hood fame, drew his last breath in 1216.
But it’s a ruin?
I never said it wasn’t.
Oh. Well, it is a good ruin, nonetheless. Still not built by elves, I take it?
Nope. Still all human.
If it had been dwarven made, it would still be intact.
It was deliberately destroyed in 1648, during the English Civil War. I don’t think even dwarven buildings would have withstood that.
They can take a good battering.
I’m sure they can. Anyway. Let’s head back home. All these sudden seasonal changes has really screwed over my body clock, and I could do with a nap.
And I could do with looking at the email to see if there is anything waiting there for me. Thank you for showing me around your Shire. It is very different from Bilbo’s Shire, but I have enjoyed myself. Maybe you could even take me around some other places and explore your Middle Earth.
Sounds like a plan!
~ The End ~
(Or should we perhaps say
“to be continued another time”?)
P.S. And finally, the photo galleries:
- North Nottinghamshire from a train (2010)
- Sherwood Forest (various, but I should go back when it’s warm and sunny and take more pictures)
- Robin Hood Festival (2008)
- Newark-on-Trent (various)
P.P.S. If you thought it’s funny that we have a Newark, there’s also a Boston and a Gotham (pronounced “goat-hum”, as opposed to “goth-um”) not too far from here. 😉
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