Sunday, 22 January 2012

Father/Son Day & Where Exactly is Derby?

Fairly slow week in terms of blog-worthy items so I thought I'd give a quick geography lesson.  But first, a quick weekend recap:

Alex's school had a teacher's workday (call an Inset Day) on Friday.  I believe they get 5 for the year.  This one was a little unusual in that his school was the only nearby school to have it so there were no holiday care options.  Since I have a few more vacation days than Kuk, I took the day off.

You may recall that we had a nice outing last year during an Inset Day (link). Alas, the weather was not conducive to outdoor activities and some of the possible indoor options were closed (as are many of the tourist sites this time of year).  So, we went to see a movie, had lunch and ran a few errands.  Alex enjoyed the movie (Puss in Boots) and we had a nice day.  There are some photos below.

On Saturday we had our friends the Connells over dinner.  We met them through Nicole (Derby High) and Andrea also works at Rolls-Royce.  We had such a good time that I forgot to get any photos.  [rats]

For today (Sunday) the weather was a little risky for an outdoor activity.  It's decently warm here (50F) but very windy.  It was going to be cooler and perhaps rainier up in the Peak district where we would have gone.  Nicole got a better offer and Alex and Kuk were angling to be relieved of their family obligations so I decided we would just stay at home.

Highlight of the day for sure was Scrooge McDad springing for some popcorn and a soda at the movie theater.  A rare event indeed!

Unfortunately, the lights just went down and my little flash was working hard.  Tried to capture the fact that we had the place to ourselves initially.  Huh, go figure, empty at 11 am on a Friday.  One other father/son (from Walter Evans Primary too) also showed up.

We had a nice, albeit slow, lunch at Nandos home of the "legendary Portuguese flame-grilled Peri Peri chicken."  We each got some wings and they were good.  It's not really fast food but you do order at a counter.  It reminds me of BW3's but much slower.  I assume that nothing is pre-cooked.  In fact, they might not kill/pluck the chickens until you order based on the elapsed time.  Nice lunch, outside of the food wait.

Okay, now on to the geography lesson.  After visiting folks at Christmas I thought some pictures might help explain where we are living. 

Derby is very close to being in the geographic center of England.  It's also close to be the farthest from the coast.  As you can see from above, we aren't in London!  In fact, we are around 2 hours away (to the NNW).  Some will daytrip to London but that's not our preference.  We will visit over a long weekend in February.  The closest major airports to Derby are Birmingham (1 hr) and Manchester (75 mins).  It's about a 2.5 hour drive to Heathrow in London.

Derby is a city of 236,000 people in 30 square miles.  Indianapolis has 820,445 people in 372 square miles (about 30% as densely populated).

Scotland is to the north.  Edinburgh and Glasgow are about 4.5 hours away but there's a whole bunch of rural Scotland further north than that.  We hope to get there in June.

Wales is on the west coast (Swansea and Cardiff shown on the map are in South Wales).  We visited the wonderful North Wales back in April 2011.

The green area to the NW of Derby (W of Sheffield) is the Peak District NP where we have gone for hikes many times.

The next two green areas to the north are the Yorkshire Dales and Moors NPs.  Further north and west (above Barrow in Furness on the map) is the Lake District, a popular (and pretty) NP that we hope to visit in May (about 3 hours away).

In August, we plan to take the quintessential English holiday (vacation) and go to Cornwall.  Cornwall is the county in the extreme southwest corner of England.  That should take 6-10 hours depending on traffic (no, really, everyone goes and it can be quite backed up).

I've zoomed out a bit here so you can see most of Europe.  First, a few definitions:

Derby is in England, the largest country in the United Kingdom.  Great Britain is (generally) the island consisting of England, Wales and Scotland.  The UK is Great Britain + N. Ireland.  The British Isles are GB + Ireland (the island).  The Republic of Ireland is a separate country not part of the UK (they use Euros, etc.).

I found 2 humorous (and educational) You Tube clips explaining this.  Give them a try:

Clip 1:  Get it Right

Clip 2: The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained

England is 95% the size of North Carolina (NC is roughly 54,000 sq miles).  Scotland is 80% the size of Indiana (36,000 sq miles). 

Great Britain is almost 89,000 square miles; roughly 2.3% the size of the US, but has 19% of the population (i.e. 8 times as densely populated).  If you just consider England, it's 12 times as densely populated.

Now, back to the Europe map.  We are obviously a lot closer to many countries than in the US.  For reference, the distance from Derby to Istanbul, Turkey (way to the south east) is 1641 miles which is about the distance from Indianapolis to Las Vegas. 

Ireland, France, Belgium and The Netherlands (Holland) are quite close.  It's particularly noteworthy how close France is (26 miles from Dover to Calais across the English Channel).  It's certainly easier to reach the countries of Europe from Derby (than the US) and we do aim to take advantage of that.  However, it does tend to take at least a half day (or more) to travel to any other country.  

At first, I thought we might visit more countries because of their proximity but I'm finding that one-at-a-time generally works best for us.  In fact, most of our destinations this year will be in the UK!

Now I've zoomed out farther so you can see across the Atlantic.  The thing you should notice is how far north we are.  As a result, we have very short days in the winter and long days in the summer.

Our latitude is 52°55'.  Here are some US places for comparison:
Indianapolis    39°46'
DC                 38°54'
Bangor, Maine   44°48'

In terms of European cities:
Moscow   55°45'
Copenhagen  55°41'
London    51°30'
Paris  48°51'
Rome  41°54'
Madrid  40°25'
Athens  37°59'

I hope you found the geographic lesson informative and perhaps even a little entertaining.

Finally, we have Nicole's meal-of-the week.  She picked out and made a new pasta dish with ham, mushrooms and creme fraiche (that French "sour" cream).  We used some very colorful farfalle (bow tie) pasta that we picked up in Rome.  The green beans and beets were forced on her to round out the menu.

Have a good week.


  1. Love the clips - great find. Informative also. Nicole's dish looks really good, you must be z good teacher.

  2. A good teacher - stupid little iPhone screen. Great post for a slow news week.

  3. Thanks for z feedback Jay. Glad you liked the clips. Did you see the stunt cycling one I posted on Facebook?

    Nicole's doing great and seems to be enjoying it.