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Rock City Notts, Mansfield, and Rampton, Friday 3 April 2015

April 9, 2015

“I’ve Rock City umbrellabeen up to no good. I’ve been dissed in the ‘hood. I’ve been locked in the Rock City, Notts”

Tonight Matthew I’m Going to be with Jesus

Trying to be Mansfield’s very own Steve Malkmus”

Lark Descending

“When your mum’s in Rampton bouncing off the walls and singing Who’s afraid of Virginia Wade?”

Outbreak of Vitus Gerulaitus

Picking up our life’s work after another prolonged hiatus, we meet in central Nottingham on a damp and dreary Good Friday. The purchase of two new GPS devices hasn’t changed anything (partly because Nick has forgotten to charge his up) and true to form we struggle to navigate the half mile journey to Destination Number One, the once great music venue, Rock City. After taking some artistic pics, making sure people with umbrellas are in shot to provide some gritty local colour, we head north in the pouring rain through Arnold and Ravenshead.

Clipstone CollieryDestination Number Two is Mansfield, which is up there with Tredegar and Blaenavon as one of the grimmest post-industrial towns we’ve ever been to. I’m starting to get peckish, but Nick is resolute in his opposition to having lunch until we’re well clear of the town and its hostile white van drivers. Remembering that he doesn’t like me when I’m hungry, he eventually permits a lunch break at the Whitegates Hotel in Clipstone. It’s a funereal, eerily silent kind of place, unwelcoming to the point of forbidding us from charging up our digital devices because they haven’t been “PAT-tested”.  “When’s Pat coming back then?, quips Dawes. His wit falling on deaf ears, we eat our fishfinger sandwiches hurriedly, deciding against sticking round for the meat raffle taking place that evening. Riding past beautiful old Clipstone Colliery, which didn’t actually close until 2003, we’re reminded that this used to be a proud and thriving mining community.

The scenery becomes more bucolic around Sherwood Forest, famous home of Robin Cook and his merry men, and Sherwood Pines, which sounds like an American politician (as in “Republican Senator Sherwood Pines has voted against 57 gun control measures”) Then as we head north-eastwards the sun comes out, the terrain takes a flatter turn, and we find ourselves cycling through quiet fields with views of wind farms as far as the eye can see (the turbine blades are all turning rapidly, generating vital renewable energy for all, so in your face, UKIP.) After Rampton Hospital, we plot a route northwards through villages that become quainter the deeper we get into Lincolnshire. Epworth is another Busy Little Market Town (I always think we should get some sort of bonus for those) and the Red Lion is a decent hotel.

Our excessively calorific Steve and Wind Farmsdinner is accompanied by a soundtrack of Heart Radio’s ‘Club Classics’, and we impress each other with our respective knowledge of early 90s dance music.   After our third pint, we sink back into our armchairs and reflect that Rozalla was right when she voiced her opinion that “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good).”

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