Simon has whisked the girls away to visit his sister and her family in Swansea, leaving me and Owen at home.
There they go!
After a blissful day of peace and quiet (and uninterrupted screen time for Owen, possibly his rationale for wanting to stay behind...) we decided to get ourselves up and off this morning, and headed to Castleton, a village in the Peak District.
Texting big sis on the bus.
I'm really appreciating some one-to-one time with Owen; it's usually the girls who accompany me on charity-shopping-and-cafe missions, and it's good to shake up the status quo a little.
We headed up the hill to the picturesque ruins of Peveril Castle.
We might have had a little rest on the way up, at Mama's request.
The castle was commissioned by William the Conqueror and built in 1080 for his illegitimate son, William Peveril. The wooden structure was rebuilt in stone in 1175, and had a role in overseeing the King's Royal Forest of the Peak, but fell into disuse and disrepair from Tudor times.
Part of the keep and walls remain.
The views are spectacular.
We had our picnic sitting on a bench while admiring the panorama like two pensioners - it was great!
Owen did Boy Stuff too...
while I did arty-farty look at the fabulous textures stuff.
Castleton is very pretty, with a river and lovely cottages...
and the largest natural entrance to a cave in Britain which welcomes you to the Peak Cavern.
Or to use its proper name, the Devil's Arse!
It was renamed Peak Cavern in 1880, for fear of offending Queen Victoria's royal sensibilities when she came to visit, but its original local name is making a comeback - and so it should.
Castleton has a long history of lead mining, dating back to Roman times, and its four main caverns were discovered and enlarged by extensive mining activity.
It is also the only place in the world where Blue John is found, and Treak Cliff and Blue John Caverns still produce a small amount today.
One of these days, I'll get some Blue John jewellery, but for now, these two pieces are on the Sheffield Shelf, along with various silver plated items bearing Sheffield maker's marks.
Time for coffee and duck whispering.
We noticed the same family names repeated on the War Memorial...
and again in the churchyard.
St Edmund's church is Norman, and dates from around the same time as the stone rebuilding of the castle.
Thomas Hall had his name engraved on the door of the family pew in 1661; there are Halls on the War Memorial too.
That half-face and dramatic eye is a wall painting recently revealed in the church when work began to remove the plaster. There is probably a larger 15/16th Century fresco underneath, but money needs to be raised to pay for professional conservation.
In memory of Hannah and James, the children of Ellis and Ann Needham of this place.
Hannah died the 9th of May 1816 in the 6th year of her age and James died the 7th of September 1819 in the 12th year of his age.
It was always a bit of a family joke between my sisters and I that our mum used to take us to churches and graveyards when we were kids; now I find myself doing exactly the same thing.
We got the best seat on the bus coming home - top deck, front right!
Huge skies and swathes of heather.
Everything charity shopped.
I am an urban girl through and through, but I do love having the beautiful Peak District on our doorstep to enjoy, just now and again.
Hope you're having a great weekend!