I realised I hadn’t dispensed any advice for a little while and I worry about my devoted followers drifting along life’s meandering streams without the benefit of sound guidance. Therefore, in a bid to open your eyes and minds to the wonders of the world around us, I have travelled far and wide and I am overjoyed to be able to introduce you to the wonders and delights of… Alfreton (or Olfreton, as the locals say, for some unknown reason).
Alfreton is a former mining town (going back to my roots) in Derbyshire; on the website about the town, it stated that there were 10 pubs in the town centre, which seemed as good a reason as any for visiting and spending a night there (and a cheap hotel deal helped), so off I set to meet up with youngest sibling (siblings really are such useful creatures at times).
The first thing you need to know is that time has no meaning in Alfreton – it exists in a space-time continuum which may have been the inspiration for Dr Who. This is particularly the case with taxis, where ten minutes turns into forty. (Actually, I think there may only be one taxi in the town.)
Secondly, I don’t think they can have had any ‘numeracy hours’ in Alfreton schools because there were nowhere near 10 pubs in the town centre – more like three! The first pub had a DJ and disco, complete with glitter ball, and a clientele with an average age of 60 – and it was only that low because sibling and I walked in.
The second pub described itself as ‘a traditional pub’ – that depends entirely on your definition of ‘traditional’, of course. If you have a picture of a quaint pub with a roaring fire and locals drinking pints of real ale, try again. It was actually the locals who were roaring, not the fire.
You may decide to try a local Chinese restaurant which comes highly recommended – once again the ‘time-space continuum’ comes into play because we had the fastest service ever and there was one point when I thought they were going to remove our plates before we’d even finished eating!
After this fine dining experience, you decide to try the relative sophistication of the nearby Wetherspoons and ask what dry white wines they have. The barman reels off a list: ‘Do you want Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon?’ You gently reply, with a small smile, ‘Those aren’t white wines.’ ‘Oh, aren’t they?’ says the barman. ‘What colour did you ask for?’ Sigh.
And then you return to the ‘space-time continuum’ as you find that the local taxis (or rather, taxi – singular) seem to stop working after 11 on a Friday night, so it’s time for a quick yomp (or slow in the LSG’s case) back to the hotel, entering the grounds via a gap in the hedge to save having to walk all the way round to the proper entrance. You just hope that no one is watching you from their room as you clamber through the hedge and scramble up a grassy slope towards the hotel.
And that, dear devotees, is Alfreton done and dusted. The next stop on my whirlwind tour of ‘places to visit before you die’ is Halifax. Can’t wait!
PS The people of Alfreton were very friendly and helpful. Even when the aforementioned sibling asked in a local pub if there were any good places to eat, ignoring the carvery directly in front of him, the landlady’s smile never faltered!