Donington Park GP07, Race 8 "Nottingham by Night" Part 2
Before the work week got into full swing for the Donington GP, I was lucky enough to spend some time with my friends, Paul and Neil, and early one evening we headed in from Derby (pronounced DAR-Bee), where the team was staying, to the city of Nottingham. Initial plans were to grab a quick bite to eat, catch up, and explore the city a little, since I really didn't know the place. Fortunately, Paul knew where to go, and after we left the car at his workplace, we headed off by foot to see what there was to see, and hopefully stay out of mischief.
These are mostly photos of our night out, and sorry if you have a slow internet connection, because there's a lot of them!
Traffic was surprisingly mellow, so we made it into the town center pretty quickly, despite a section of freeway that was signed to slow people down to unreasonable speeds. I still find it neat that many European cities are based upon the same buildings and designs for hundreds of years, and unlike Hawaii, or other major cities in the US, there aren't a lot of tall skyscrapers or specific financial/business areas. Many of the places I've been to are situated around a cathedral, or church, showing how strong religion was to the community, and how it provided a foundation or focal point, for people to gather around. In the States, we've only got a few hundred years to work with, haha, and I doubt we'll see many major changes in the cityscapes for the next couple centuries. Who knows? We made our way through the town centre to the restaurant zone, all the while talking about the racing and people watching. It was nice, the weather was cool (but not raining!), and the night was young. What more could you ask for?
There has got to be a St. Mary's in every city in England, haha. Words like quaint and charming come to mind when I think about the typical buildings here, mainly made up of bricks and brownstone.
Now here's something I didn't remember about England - their beer dispensers are different! Back home (well, and everywhere else I've been to), the kegs are in the back, or under the bar, and they're pressurized so that you move a lever, and the beer just pours right out.
Here, they actually pull the entire "Tap" down, and pump the beer into the glass. I don't remember seeing it before, and it was pretty old-school, so I grabbed some photos. Everyone thought I was weird. But seriously, look at how she's pouring the beer!
We had stopped in this little place to get some dinner, but the kitchen turned out to be closed (soooo early compared to Spain, haha) so we had the next best thing. I had one for Father's Day, since I couldn't hang out with my Dad.
We backtracked towards this huge church/place of worship, because there was just something a little bit different about the place. There were lots of young people walking around, celebrating a little, and they were all dressed up. Were they going to a wedding or something?
Yup. Girls hanging around outside meant that we had to investigate further.
Stained glass? Check. Fancy light? Check. Long bar down one side of the place? What the heck?!?
Turns out the entire place had been converted into a giant bar/night club, and all the kids were celebrating because they'd just graduated college. We were decidedly under-dressed, but no matter. They even had a guy belting out songs in the back. One really cool feature of the place (and unfortunately none of the photos turned out) was a huge spiral staircase that went up a couple levels and led to more party space and the bathrooms. We continued on, because the boys wanted to show me the Nottingham Castle.
On the way, you have to say, "Hey, how's it going!", to Robin Hood. Thankfully, no Sherriff of Nottingham was around. Actually, the place was super peaceful and everyone we came across was chill.
We went to the oldest inn in England, which happened to contain the oldest pub in England. It was built into/under the castle, and had been around forever. Just how long? FOREVER.
Bars on the windows? Check. Place seemed alright, so in we went. I could write a whole book about this place, and it was filled with characters to match. There were a bunch of different rooms, with little passageways going up and down, all around, and poking your head into the different chambers was neat. People had been congregating here for long time, and the walls must have heard a lot of stories.
Hmmmm. What have we here?
Chief amongst the characters, was this guy! He was located in the main room, swinging a rope tied to the ceiling which had a ring on one end.
I'd never seen anything like this, and it turned out to be an addictive and highly competitive bar game simply called, The Ring. You stand at different spot in the room, and swing the ring across the room trying to hook it onto a horn mounted to a wall. Every two years the rope is changed, and the game has been played here for a long time. Can't remember this guy's name, but he was just awesome, defeating me time and again. First we played individual swings, seeing how long it would take to actually hook the horn, and then we tried a two player variant which had us swinging in opposite directions. It was fun, simple, and cheap.
The Horn. Eventually, the guy stopped messing around, and starting latching the horn while throwing the ring backwards, not even looking at the target. He had the room wired, marking his tragectories from the marks in the ceiling. Skillful? Yes. But how much practice does it really take to get good at it?
Here's a photo of the English Champion from '54. My opponent was Champ through the 60's. He's been playing this for 50 years, maybe more! He explained that there are only ten rings in England, and he's played them all. He invited me to come back later in the week, when he'd be challenging the guy from '54, but I had to pass because of work. Lots of history here.
Now this is traditional, hahaha.
Creepy, dusty old boat? Check!
The night got really interesting when the barkeep took me downstairs into these little caves dug out under the castle.
He was very specific that he was a CELLARMAN, not a Barman. He explained all about their beers, how they stored them and infused them with carbon dioxide and nitrogen, all kinds of stuff. Oddly enough, he didn't even drink, and he worked in a bar! He was straight out of a Lynyrd Skynyrd song.
Like that Technotronic song, "Pump Pump, Pump it Up!"
This cave was made in 1070. AD.
After a couple brews, it was time for some good old, honest British food.
Slap down a couple coins, and get ready for some serious eats! I gotta admit, counting money in England is a bit tricky, because there are so may different coins, but it all works out in the end. Money=Food.
FISH AND CHIPS, baby! Woot! This thing was huge, and I couldn't finish it. Not that I didn't try!
The night wound down rather early, because England shuts down it's nightlife around 1AM. That was a good thing, because it was almost time to start getting ready for the GP. One of the coolest parts of the night was pulling over on the way back to Derby, and Paul showed me the Spondon Factory! It's a lot smaller than you'd think, and some of the stories Paul and Neil shared about Bazza Sheene and the Spondon guys were great. Amazing to think about how much SPEED has come out of this place, and I wish my photos had come out better. Had to totally doctor this one to make it visible. Oh well, there's always next year :)
Well, by now we should all know how the race went, so here's some random bikes I saw. Gorgeous VTR SP2 in Rossi colors I spotted as we left the track after the race.
Police bike covered in reflective material.
And then it was time to leave the Sleep Inn and head out to Birmingham early the next morning after the race. Assen coming up next. This was a slightly unusual post for me, normally don't show a lot of what's it like to roll with me through a cool night. It was great hanging out with Paul, and thanks for the Sheene video and Ducati Book. I'm always happy to spend time and talk racing with great people, and thanks to the website, I've met a ton of awesome people. Looking forward to seeing more of you at racetracks around the world!