Crime and punishment..

Today being Cat’s birthday, we took advantage of a day off work to head into Nottingham, principally to grab a spot of lunch – as well as take the opportunity of getting an elevated view of the city from the ‘Nottingham Eye’ – a temporary Ferris Wheel that’s currently operating in the Market Square.  Definitely well worth a fiver of anyone’s money if you want to see the underrated Nottingham from a different perspective.  I took a few photos which are available here.

I’ve fiddled around with the photo above, using the principles of ‘tilt shifting‘ which is basically a photographic techique that works well on elevated photos like these, and through a process of tinkering with blurring at the boundaries as well as adjusting the contrast and saturation, basically leaves you with a picture that looks like a toy!  I quite like the affect, although the pigeon crap above Schuh an the proliferation of people wandering about the Square perhaps make that less than convincing!

After the ride, which basically saw you go over the wheel four times – once while they were ‘loading everyone on’ and then three times uninterrupted, we opted to head over to the Pitcher & Piano for a spot of lunch, which was rather nice – decent food, decent service and great surroundings.  Rather than head off immediately we decided that we could take advantage of a free afternoon to do some of the cheesy tourist things that folk tend to ignore in their home town.

So, like the true romantic that I am, I suggested we pop to the Galleries of Justice, which is basically a museum of crime and punishment opposite the Lace Market Hotel – and is the site of Nottingham’s old county court, and scene of many executions and imprisonments.  It’s quite a morbid place really.  I thought £9 was a bit steep to get in, but the tour was really good, and lead to a revelation I will come on to later – as it bears in depth discussion.

You are initially cleverly handed between tour guides – starting in a Victorian courtroom that was in use until the late 80’s, before descending into the cells below and discovering the joys of being emprisoned at this particular time.  After a brief walk out into the exercise yard, where some gallows stood menacingly, you’re back inside and on your own to learn about the transportation of prisoners to Australia before regaining your freedom outside again!

Definitely worth a visit, I can see why it gets such good reviews – probably better in a large group rather than as part of a collective of couples/families as the guides do like to interact with people, and being amongst strangers naturally makes most people clam up a little.  But should you fancy something a little different of an afternoon, then it’s definitely an hour that you should find interesting.  But anyway, I made mention of the revelation that I would return to – and I most certainly shall.

The first tour guide described Nottingham as traditionally a ‘Rebel City’ – indeed, it’s not hard to imagine given our associations with the likes of Robin Hood.  However, he made mention of something even more amusing – us Nottinghamians, it seems, are not to be messed with.  Back in the 18th Century, during Goose Fair (which at this time was pretty much a big market, and hosted in – funnily enough – the Market Square), the visiting traders had put the price up of cheese by around 3p.

This caused outrage amongst the good folk of Nottingham, who – rather than boycotting the rip-off dairy produce – proceeded to overturn tables and riot, hurling the large round cheese all over the place.  The Mayor of the time was quickly on the scene to try to restore the peace, and was promptly flattened by a rolling cheese heading down Wheeler Gate just off the market square!  The great cheese riot of Nottingham, I feel, is a hidden gem of an event which should be commemorated by some kind of eccentric event in Nottingham.  Maybe a big cheese-fight in the Market Square?

So there you have it, Nottingham from above, some nice food, rioting over cheese and reflections on crime and punishment!  Not a typical Valentine’s day list of activities, perhaps, but quite entertaining nonetheless!

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