This morning Missus Moonbase and I set off for a day in the local town of Doncaster in South Yorkshire.
Named after the River Don running through it Doncaster was formerly a wet northern outpost of the Roman Empire, which they called Danum.
It was the modern Apple Empire we were seeking today though as our Ipad was on the blink.
A Saturday in Doncaster has always revolved around three particular shops and a cafe. We hadn't been for a while so we were keen to finish with Apple and check out these favourite spots. It had been two years since we last visited them.
The drive to the Park and Ride began as normal, passing the derelict house I've blogged about before, Ivy Farm Cottage. Once crammed with classic cars this roadside property, though still up for sale, is now a sad ruin, overgrown and abandoned with nothing of its looted saloons and coupes visible from the front anymore.
I wonder how many more derelict piles there are across the globe hiding classic vehicles like this?
The bus journey was without event as well. £4 for two return tickets into the Town Centre. The windows were steamed up as usual but I couldn't help thinking about the other more famous house nearby, Home Farm in Burghwallis, former home of one Jeremy Clarkson.
His Mum produced the first Paddington Bear toy figure there for him in 1971 and the rest is a suitcase of marmalade sandwiches. The firm no longer exists as reported in the local press but the red-wellied Paddington can still be found in Charity shops and antique fairs. There were even some in the Town's Tourist Information Centre alongside models of Doncaster's famous Vulcan bomber!
With the first glimpse of the dark Don through the driver's windscreen I couldn't help thinking of the riverside hamlet of Kirk Sandall to the east. It was here that one John McLaughlin was born in 1942, later to become one of the most influential guitarists of all time as Mahavishnu John McLaughlin [once home again and googling I see that John's on tour in Europe and the States all this year!]
Once in the town and having been suitably Appled we headed off to find our clutch of past haunts. Things were looking good when we found the first, a long standing vintage toy stall in the Wool Market. Stuffed with goodies, the stall, on both sides of the aisle, is not big on presentation but large on quantity.
In the various ancient cabinets, boxes and shelves I saw carded Space 1999 figures, countless TV related die-casts, loose TV action figures, tons of annuals and a stack of Gerry Anderson jigsaws including a few 1960's Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons boxed puzzles by Waddingtons. Seeing an Avengers annual I couldn't help smiling since my favourite Avenger Emma Peel aka Dianna Rigg was born but a bowler hat's throw away on the Thorne Road.
We then went in search of more of our prior destinations but alas it was not to be. The fabulous old VHS second hand video stall I adored was no more. In the Market's bid to improve it's stalls, a form of gentrification I suspect, the old double front had vanished completely along with its hundreds of small and big box vids.
A sad day for a VHS collector like me as sources for big boxes dwindle every day in the UK. I had bought many fine collectable cassettes off the knowledgeable young owner over the years. Today was the end of an era.
The search for our next venue was as equally fruitless as we found that our favourite Polish deli-counter had also been gentrified out of existence. It had been a goldmine at one time, with five friendly staff serving countless customers every type of European sausage, cheese and delicatessen going, We regularly stocked up on Knoedel, Zweiback, Mettwurst and Pumpernickel there. It was gutting to see it gone.
Seeking solace we sat down at a Mediterranean market cafe. The freezing temperature of the cavernous market hall was not lessened by the waiter's obvious warmth. It was simply too cold but we ate nonetheless, the mediocre meal doing nothing to raise our spirits.
My visit to the adjoining cake decorations stall also proved unsuccessful. Despite bundles of beautiful small plastic ballet dancers, footballers, pirates, cupids and more, the owner looked non-plussed when I enquired about golden or silver astronauts for cakes.
This was the last straw and we left for the return bus journey to the Park and Ride, a journey on which windows were steamed-up, babies cried and we realised that a lot can change in a town centre in the space of two years.
Do you have favourite places in your town readers?