Due to some international phone kerfuffles, Aidan's parents reached Sheffield a day before us. Luckily, both of us spent some of our university years studying there, so we were able to give them some tips on where to go without us.
After a good nights sleep in a Manchester hostel, we jumped on a train and were greeted by Aidan's parents in Sheffield. It didn't take us long to get our Sheffield groove back on and we gave Aidan's parents the royal tour. This consisted of the centre-staged Cathedral, the peaceful botanical gardens, the well-stocked Sheffield Museum, our old student accommodation blocks and, of course, the quirky Arts building lifts. Both of us had entertained many hours riding this lift last time we were in Sheffield, and couldn't wait to show Aidan's parents. The 'attraction' is literally a conveyor belt with platforms constantly running up and down the 20+ story Arts tower. To get on or off at your desired floor, you simply jump while the relic keeps moving. Andy and Rosey seemed to get just as much amusement from it as the two of us ever did!
After visiting all that we considered worthy, we took the folks on a traditional bar and ales crawl. We thought it would be funny to start with the Walkabout, an 'Aussie' bar which is full of tacky Australian memorabilia, including fake Aboriginal artwork and horrible fosters beer! When we couldn't stand it any longer we moved up a class to a few of the local pubs with a wide variety of tasty, flavoursome ales and ciders.
England's beautiful Peaks District is only next door to Sheffield, and with Rosey a bigger Jane Austen fan than even Jess, a day trip out to Derbyshire was compulsory. We stocked up on all sorts of goodies for lunch at a farmer's store and continued out to Mr Darcy's estate, Pemberly (more accurately known as Chatsworth House). We only intended to spend a few hours here before exploring more of the peaks, however the huge gardens and impressive collection of antiques kept us there for most of the day.
Although the gift shop was the only link to 'Pride and Prejudice', the house was jam packed with treasures from all across the globe, and didn't fail to keep us all entertained. There were Chinese tapestries, Roman statues, collections of rare minerals, old coins and thousands of paintings. The house was full of history. We were even able to visit the bed chambers prepared for Queen Elizabeth on a Royal visit. The gardens were equally impressive. With exotic greenhouses, all-supplying veggie gardens, impressive rock gardens, a very difficult hedged maze and heaps of weird, obscure statues, we barely saw half of it.
After our adventures in Chatsworth House, time had run our for Andy and Rosey's trip and we said some sad goodbyes before they left Sheffield to catch their flight home to Aus. We hung around Sheffield for a while longer to catch up with some old mates, and shared our nights between Jess's mate Richard and Aidan's mate Tom's spare beds. The yarns and laughs would quite easily take us through to 6am, catching up on lost time.
One night Tom took us to his work where they were having a Welsh beer festival and the ale tasting continued. We even tried an orange and coriander beer!! We stayed behind after closing time and Aidan had a go at pouring his own ale. With a few top ups and some nicely aged whiskey we all took advantage of the empty pub by doing the worm down the isle (just for old times sake...!).
We quickly fell back into old routines of cheap bad food, great ales, a bit of pub quiz action and a lot of yackin'. To balance, Aidan happily dragged Jess and up-for-anything Richard to a few sessions with his old Cordeo de Ouro Capoeira group. It was great seeing some more familiar faces and it felt great to be playing and singing to the familiar Brazilian rhythms once again.
After a good catch up with some of our old friends, we're keen to get back on the road to see the best of the British countryside. We decided hiring a car was the best option for optimal flexibility and freedom and are now about to go pick it up. We've got one more quick stop in Newcastle to visit Richard's family and then Scotland here we come!!