A Canadian in Town #1: a tour of Nottingham

So the end of the summer is where the fun started. Well, as part of the excitement for the year that is to come. 

My friend Michael who is from Montreal, Canada, came to the UK to visit for two weeks. We met when we were both at Ningbo Nottingham University as part of our years abroad. I had had the amazing opportunity to visit him in snowy white Montreal over the New Year as we crossed into 2016 and now he’s come as we cross into the new academic year of 2016-2017. Am I trying to make that sound poetic and meaningful?

Yes, yes I am.

Meaningful aside, Michael was due to land at Manchester Airport on Friday 16th September from Paris Beauvais where he had been to see another one of our exchange friends, Léa! (He’s ticking us off his “exchange friends seen list”! fo’ sure.)

We managed to do a two-day crash course of Nottingham history and culture. 

Outside of the oldest inn in England

Following an evening in the middle of the English Staffordshire countryside, we carried on to Nottingham. But not before devouring a feast of lasagne, apple and blackberry crumble (freshly picked that morning my grandpa liked to add) with both cream and custard first. This was also accompanied by another spread of cheese, biscuits, coffee and tea and jaffa cakes. My grandparents were fantastic hosts and gave Danny, Michael and I a fantastic evening. We also played a board game called Dark Tower from 1981 (google it, it is pretty damn cool) and managed to convince Grandma to join in too.

On Saturday morning, we headed out to the oldest inn in England called ‘Ye Olde Jerusalem Inn’ for lunch. It is built into the sandstone cliff face creating pockets for people to sit in and enjoy the old age atmosphere. As well as taking necessary photos with the Robin Hood statue, we ventured up and into the castle grounds that sit on the peak itself. Unfortunately, the grand castle that once stood there was demolished in 1861 due to a fire outbreak. It was rebuilt as a grand rectangular estate however also fell when Nottingham was overcome with riots and violence throughout the city. The owner posh dude at the time claimed money off of the government to repair it yet it is believed that he never used a penny of it to restore the building. Since then it has been slowly restored however some rooms do remain derelict and unseen. The best bit about the Castle is the hill it sits on that gives outlook point to most of southern Nottingham and I enjoy standing there and looking out at the view. It is not the prettiest that I have seen but to be able to look below at the hustle and bustle yet have a moment of peace is hard to come by these days.

Michael in one of the caves for lunch at the Inn
Michael in one of the caves for lunch at the Inn

From there we decided to visit one of the cave sites in Nottingham. There is one located at the castle but as it’s just the history of the castle itself, we felt that the other tour that is below Broadmarsh Shopping Centre would be a more interesting social and historical tour that covered Nottingham overall.

We were not disappointed. I didn’t think it would be that great to go down into some caves but boy I was wrong! It was only £5.95 for a student and the tour lasted around 50 minutes or less. The tour guide was engaging, entertaining, and even though I feel like I’m basically telling anyone in Nottingham to pay it a visit….. Pay it a visit! A different activity that gives a real indication of Nottingham a few hundred years ago and during the Second World War. After taking a cheesy photo of the four of us in hard hats we fancied having a sit down somewhere comfortable and with hot drinks.

We went into caves below the city!
We went into caves below the city!

This led us to a café called 200 degrees for two hours before heading home and letting day two to come around… 


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