In honesty, visiting the dog track was Plan B for us. We (70 of us!) had booked onto a trip (organised by my fantastic and beloved Reddish Blues Supporters Branch), for the evening meet at the race course and one nights stay in the centre of Nottingham. Unfortunatley, as June and July (2012) has been a complete wash-out, the horse racing was called off due to the rain. So, we all went to 'The Dogs' instead!!
The facilities are great. There are plenty of clean toilets, different places to put on your bets (queues can be huge), a food kiosk, and two bars.
You can either book a meal and have a seat with a view of the track all night, stand or sit inside, or stand or sit outside.
The bar queue was huge and we doubled-up (bought two drinks each) when we eventually got served. We were told that the volume of people was never usually that large - it was because the horse racing had been called off, many people had the same idea as us to go to The Dogs instead. So don't be put off by my experience!
I do need to point out that the prices of the food is excellent. You get good sized portions and there is a variety. It is all fast food type food apart from the jacket potatoes!
Nottingham is built on caves: the ground under the streets was dug out for centuries and the caves served as flats, work shops or hiding places. It is very interesting to learn about this rather uncommon history of the city, and the best place to do that is the City of Caves. After entering the labyrinth of caves in Broad Marsh Shopping Centre (sic!), you can explore several rooms that are well-preserved and partly decorated with objects used or found in the caves. However, the cave system was much bigger and plans exist to open more rooms to the public.
In my opinion, this is Nottingham's best sight. The museum, based in Nottingham's former courthouse and jail, is dedicated to the city's dark history - how villains were punished over the centuries. While elsewhere this might be done with a rather boring exhibition, the Galleries of Justice are designed as an interactive museum. Visitors receive a ticket with an ID number when they enter the building and they can later find out what they have done and what their punishment is. Very well informed and friendly guides wait at certain points in the museum to give more information on several aspects of the history of the place, such as how a typical court hearing looked like, what kind of punishments were used for what kind of crimes, or how inmates were crammed into the small rooms of the prison. Altogether, the museum is a very interesting place to see. We hadn't planned to, but stayed almost 2 hours!
By the way, my crime was that I (a governess) had killed the family's two-year old child. My sentence: to be sent to the gallows. Sigh.
Wollaton Hall, built between 1580 and 1588, is Nottingham's best known manor house, located north of the centre on a hill in a huge park. The house looks nice up on the hill, particularly if you come from the lake and stroll through the little botanic garden before. Inside Wollaton Hall is a museum of natural history which may be interesting for children. I found it a little misplaced and would have enjoyed some information about the house itself more. There are only two rooms in which you get a brief overview about that. Entrance to the museum is free.
This pub claims to be the oldest in England and was established during the crusaders' times (hence the name) in 1189! It's a very interesting place to have a drink and some pub food (try Beef and Abbot Ale Pie) if you manage to order something from the somewhat unorganised staff that prefer taking phone calls or walking away while you have for the third time started to order... Apart from that, the pub is great: low ceilings, crooked walls of rough stone, narrow passageways that lead to yet another room. They also have a "Cursed Galleon" on display. This model ship looks like it has been covered in dust and cobwebs for centuries. According to local legends, whoever cleaned it died an awful death soon afterwards. So for the guests' safety the "Cursed Galleon" is now kept in a glass case.
Theres a small fee to entre the castle grounds. Theres beautiful gardens and a few topiary's of Robin Hood & Maid Marion. You also get free entry into the museum they have on site. You could spend a decent ammount of time here if you like looking into museums in fine detail. We were in a bit of a rush, so we breifly looked at everything and had to leave. There were signs about some cave tours, but we didnt have time unfortunately.
It's an obvious thing to do in Nottingham, but just don't expect anything that looks like Kevin Costner's castle from the film. The entrance to the Castle is on a cobbled pedestrianised street, and make time to explore this - there's a lace museum and shop opposite, the Robin Hood statue (get the obligatory photo) and at the bottom of the hill is Ye Olde trippe to Jeruselum - the oldest pub in Britain (http://www.triptojerusalem.com).
From the grounds of the Castle, you'll get great views over the City and on a clear day, see for miles around. The building itself is home to a vibrant museum and art gallery housing collections of silver, glass, armour and paintings, plus fifteen centuries of Nottingham history. The galleries also bring the best regional, national and international artist's work to the city.
There is of course, a nice cafe and gift shop too. There are also cave tours - see the website for details.
Entrance fee is a few pounds for adults, but the ticket is also valid for the nearby Brewhouse Yard museum of life. See the website for up to date info on ticketing.
With the introduction of the tram to a part of Nottingham comes the 'beer by tram'. The tram runs from Hucknall into Nottingham (City Centre up to the Train Station) and costs £2.20 for an all day ticket). The tram website shows 25 pubs along the way which would be a beer drinkers paradise! I've not yet tackled this route but am planning no doing so soon....maybe I'll alternate alcohol with soft drinks to make sure I can get to the end!
My favourite local pub is on the route where I'll definatley have a Fruli beer!
This museum has a collection of household items from the early 20th century with the focus on Nottingham life in the war years. Downstairs gives access to a few of the many caves beneath Nottingham, and used to serve as air-raid shelters.
Before 1066 castles were pretty much unknown in England. Within five years of the battle of Hastings, William the conqueror had built more than thirty castles to preserve his grip over the English.
One of these castles was the fortification of legend. - Nottingham Castle.
The original castle was not built of stone but was of earth banks topped by palisading built atop the castle rock with its collection of caves and passages. Over the years it progressed to a massive, self-contained stone fortress.
Sadly, following the end of the English Civil War, the year 1651 marked the destruction of the Castle to the general dismay of Oliver Cromwell.
Around 20 years later the first Duke of Newcastle built a Renaissance-style palace on the site of the castle remains. But the turbulent history of Nottingham Castle was to continue as, 150 years later, the palace was gutted by the Luddites angry at the Dukes opposition to Parliamentary reform.
Nottingham Castle remained a gutted shell for nearly 50 years until it was bought by the Nottingham City fathers in 1875 and restored as the first Provincial Museum of fine Art.
Tel: 0115 915 3700
Castle is now open 10 - 4pm daily (last entrance 3.30pm). (From February half-term the opening times will be 10 - 5pm.) )
Weekdays FREE, weekends and Bank Hols £2.00 adults, £1.00 children/concessions.
Family ticket £5.00. Group rate: one free ticket for every ten tickets purchased.
WOLLATON HALL AND PARK
Set in over 500 acres of historic deer park, Wollaton Hall is a spectacular Tudor building, designed by Robert Smythson and completed in 1588, it is now the home to the city's Natural History Museum. Wollaton's Courtyard Stables are home to the city's Industrial Museum, Steam Engine House, Wollaton Visitor Centre and the Yard Gallery, a vibrant exhibition space with a changing programme of exhibitions exploring art and the environment.
Natural History Museum with a fantastic array of specimens and minerals on display, including favourites like George the Gorilla and the impressive Giraffe upstairs! Exhibitions include 'I is for Insect' living displays and creepy crawlies on show with an educational twist, Why Change Things? an exploration of the changes that Wollaton Hall has been through with the opportunity for you to comment and influence future changes, The Green Trail and Nature Trail will keep all ages occupied there is also the opportunity to tour the hidden elements of the Hall including the leaded roof and underground cave system.
Opening times: Open Every Day 11:00am - 4:00pm November to March, 11:00am - 5:00pm April to October, Except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.
Admission: Weekdays FREE, Weekends and Bank Holidays £1.50 adults, 80p conc. Family Ticket £3.80. Joint Ticket for all at Wollaton Hall and Park: £2.00 adults, £1.00 conc. Family Ticket £5.00, Car park £1.00 (up to 2 hours) £2.00 for the day.
Nottingham Castle sits at the heart of the city, and was built to enforce the Norman Rule of the city. The original castle fell to the ground after many centuries and eventually the Duke Of Newcastle purchased the land and this ducal palace qas built in 1674 and eventually converted into museum art gallery in 1875.
The Castle is open daily from 10:00 - 5:00mp, last admission 4:30pm
Fee is free on Weekdays but Weekends & Bank Holidays its £2.00 per Adult and £1.00 per child/senior citizen
A monthly farmers and craft market is very popular. It stretches over 3 or 4 days so you can fill up on Jamaican patties one day and paella the next. In 2010 the Christmas market theme is 'Dickens', this jostles for space with the ice-rink so creates a busy festive atmosphere.
I always warn visitors that the castle wall is all that remains of the original fortification , don't expect something matching Warwick or Caernarfon!! However what it does have is the first ever museum and gallery that was open to the general public . It was created in the Victorian era and is still going strong, owning some lovely art and craft and hosting regular exhibitions. Currently the ground floor has a Robin Hood exhibit relating to the Russell Crowe film.
The grounds are lovely especially in Spring, the cafe and terrace is great. A ticket for the castle also entitles you to visit the Brewhouse museum below it's walls.
I have seen 3 exhibitions now at Nottingham's new modern art gallery (because it's free!!)and they have all been interesting or disturbing. Themes included; the space race from an east european perspective and economic disparity. The latest exhibition had paintings by Gert and Uwe Tobias that are very unsettling but what we loved, including my 10 month old, were the photos by New York photographer Diane Arbus plus having our lunch on the downstairs cafe's terrace. Our french fries were served in recycled tins and the burger on slabs of slate, the cakes and coffee were delicious.
The building is on the edge of the Lace Market district and if you look carefully the exterior concrete is imprinted with a lace pattern. Unfortunately I don't like the brassy coloured metal covering most of the roof but at least they've tried to do something interesting architecturally.