Way back in May or June a fellow Fulbrighter, at our Denver meeting, told me about the Robin Hood Festival, held in Sherwood Forest just outside of Nottingham. Her name is Rebecca Smith, from Alabama, and she is living and teaching in Woburn Sands, south of us near Milton Keynes. She wanted people to go to this festival, and I said it sounded like something my family would enjoy.
Both of us decided to stick to our plans and attend, albeit on separate days. Nottingham is about a 45 minute drive NOT on country roads, but a combination of the country, the outskirts of other cities, and dual carriageways (large highway, but just smaller than a motorway, which are the largest freeways). My family attended last Saturday, so after getting cleaned up and packed up and selling the kids on a great adventure (and building my confidence for the longest drive yet), we exited our home to our car only to find…
A flat tire
And a really flat tire it was. Had a huge screw stuck in the front passenger side. So, all clean and ready to drive, I opened up the hatch of the Audi to assess our roadside tools. Thankfully Rob keeps an updated car, so it was easy to find the jack, roadside emergency markers, and the spare (which is not the typical American donut, but rather a regular tire). I called on my inner Rick Steed (who loves cars) and walked myself through on how to properly jack up a car and remove a flat tire. Which I did. Successfully. Rebecca, meanwhile, found a place to get the tire patched up.
With new tire on we left Annika at home and Zachary with William, the boy next door, and set off for the tire place. It was getting warm out by now and I was perspiring quite lovely. They took the tire and patched it up for 15 pounds, and it only took about a half hour. We decided to leave the spare on because, again, it is a regular tire and not a smaller size. Eventually we will put the other tire back on but Sherwood Forest was calling! I was not about to be beaten down by a silly tyre (the proper English spelling).
Right, so off we set for Nottingham. Gorgeous day, quite warm (hitting 33 Celsius by midday). The drive went quite well! I felt like a knight on horseback each time I approached the ubiquitous roundabouts, challenging them to confuse me or throw me off!
I only lost twice……
ROBIN HOOD FESTIVAL: SHERWOOD FOREST
We found the festival and went in. It felt like a Renaissance Fayre, with Maidens and Knights and other folk all dressed up in period costumes walking around. This fellow below was The Dentist, carrying antique tooth extracting tools in his hands and with a necklace of teeth hanging across his chest. Annika has two loose teeth and we threatened to pull him aside and give him some work. She started to cry, so we decided to move on.
We walked around and found a live play going on, telling the story of Robin Hood using children from the audience as participants. The story, whether true or not, does have some written records going back to the 1400’s, which is old enough for me to be a believer. We ate some food, where the queue was nice and straight, the ladies selling the burgers and dogs were very polite, and thus our stomachs were satisfied as you can tell in the photo.
We walked to find the Master Oak. This oak tree is purported to be around 1,000 years old. There were signposts discussing the English Oaks, showing photos of this particular one from 100 years ago. A preservation society has been working with the tree since the 1970’s to keep it upright and alive, and it seems to be doing quite well. I was impressed.
All in all it was a fun day, tyre be damned! The kids enjoyed themselves, we visited the famous Sherwood Forest, and we conquered the roundabouts.
School for me is pending and I am getting back to work, so the family adventure posts may slow down as I prepare for teaching. I have already been to my school and my classroom and met some of the staff I will be working with. Lovely people and very supportive. Teaching, though, will be a challenge as everything will be vastly different from what I am used to (except for the room full of children).