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D'an'Di’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 29 Jun 2008

Location: Buxton, Manchester, Nottingham, UK

MapDave here again. Bikes sorted, we headed for Buxton, Derbyshire, for a few days 'oop north'. Nice town, lovely area in fact. Sue at Ash Court B & B on Ash Street provides a warm, friendly efficient service. Stay with Sue if you want to visit the Manchester area; you'll be well fed and comfy. 3 flights of stairs on my cripple sticks was a challenge - and pretty funny for the queue of fellow guests watching me flailing around in my regular battles with gravity. I'd have laughed too, if it wasn't me providing the entertainment.
And we finally got see Circulus - the band we missed seeing in Rye. This is evidence of my bloody-minded stubbornness. The only other gig they were playing for the next few months was at the tiny Dulcimer club in Chorlton. I had no idea if Circulus are good or complete crap. I just got a bee in my bonnett that a little matter of 2 weeks in hospital wasn't going to stop me seeing them. The manager of the club set up chairs for Di and me ( it's standing only) near the stage so I could attend ( I can't stand for more than a few minutes). That was nice of them. The Support act was 'Sam & The Plants" - whimsical, eccentric, very 1968. They reminded Di of Donovan in some of their poetic and gentle approach. Anyway, they were really good. And - RELIEF! - Circulus are GREAT! If there's anyone (a) old enough and (b) sad and obsessive enough to remember a band called Gong who sang about pot-head pixies and flying teapots, then if I say Circulus own a few Gong albums...but they were funny, trippy, chatted to the audience as if they were friends, sang songs about travelling to Jupiter and played a mixture of instruments - fuzzy distorted electric guitar mixed with medieval wind instruments. Funny, happy, great gig. I'm going to join their mailing list and buy their albums. I actually told Tom, the bass player, my story of missing them in Rye and why we were at the club that night, hoping for a nice gig. So no pressure then...he was friendly and polite and didn't even back away nervously from this obsessive jabbering away at him while he tried to get his stage clothes on in the club's bogs.
We tried to find my father's family house in Wellington Road, Ashton-Under-Lyne. Many landmarks like his old primary school are there, but where his house should have been - a block long, modern brick wall with the rears of houses behind it. Such a shame. We snapped some photos and video'd a drive around the block for him. It's an area with it's share of battlers I think it would be fair to say. We had better luck with my mother's family house in Carlton Road, Sale. It's on a lovely leafy street and has the British rarity - a front garden.
After several frustrating hours we tracked down my paternal grandfather's grave. There's 2 cemeteries in Ashton-U-Lune, and of course we spent ages in the wrong one first. It took ages but we found the grave site. He died when my dad was about 13, and there are no photos of him. So this is the closest connection I'll ever have with this man who's genes I inherited but who no living member of my family except my dad ever met.
The same day (we can certainly be obsessive) we headed south to Nottinghamshire to look for evidence of Di's maternal grandparents. Her Grandmother's family home in Byron St, Bestwood Village is long gone, and we couldn't even find the street number. We think a big block of public housing type flats has erased the history at that end of the street. I witnessed a pair of idiots in a hatchback screaming abuse at someone in a park - and I'm dead sure I heard them firing off a hand gun several times before they tore off, still screeching foul mouthed threats.
We found the Church of St Mary The Virgin in Bullwell where Di's grandfather sang in the choir as a boy. Again, the house he grew up in is long gone.