A Drizzly Day at Quarry Bank Mill



A grey, misty morning gave way to an overcast day full of drizzle. We met our friends, Katie, Mike and their children, in the car part at Quarry Bank Mill. Unfortunately, we didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts as one of us Aidan had forgotten to pack the picnic lunch. We won’t mention the fact that I didn’t put in a coat for Dexter either, just a waterproof suit. But he did have a thick jumper on and was layered up with tights under his trousers, so I still maintain he was warm enough… Anyway, I had to go and find some food for us. It was up to me, because I was in a huff about it having been forgotten. So yes, I’m sorry Aidan, I easily could have picked it up as well, but as you’ll probably never read this… then here is my apology. It is written, therefore it counts. I’m sorry. Sorry.

But as it turns out, it worked in my favour. I drove off in a huff. Found a Tesco. Parked up. Found a charity shop. FOUND A LAVA LAMP. Yes, you read that correctly. A lava lamp. I’ve wanted one for years. Since about 1998 at least. One would have gone perfectly in my room at that point (green carpet, orange walls, purple curtains and lots of posters of smiley faces and Leo DiCaprio) but as my parents aren’t psychic and I never actually verbally expressed the wish to obtain a lava lamp, I never had one. So, I was pretty chuffed when I saw one today. Proper Mathmos one, purple and pink and it’s a biggie one, as Dexter would say. Everything’s ‘biggie’ at the moment. His new biggie boy bed, biggie dark when it’s nighttime, biggie chair instead of his high chair. His willy and balls when I managed to squeeze him onto the world’s smallest potty at playgroup once (“Too biggie!”). Anyway, another digression… Biggie lava lamp, branded, good condition… surely it was going to be a stupendous amount of money. Everything else in the charity shop had been overpriced up to that point. But this, was my lucky day. It was £10. Ten pounds! Ten. Pounds. Quick check on eBay – would sell for more than that. I clutched it to my chest and wandered around the shop not daring to let it go.

My new lava lamp – keeping the 1950s West German Scheurich pottery collection company


After another perusal around the chazzer, I found a basket of ‘Well-Loved Tales’ Ladybird books. They were asking £2.50 each so I spent far longer than I should deciding on which four I was going to get, only to get to the till to find they were charging 25p a book. I didn’t know what to do. Had they been deliberately reduced, and so should I go back and get more? Or was it a mistake and if I asked if I could get more, would I then get charged £2.50. I decided to keep it as it was. I was happy with my selection, and if the price was wrong then at least I’d got a bargain and the charity shop wouldn’t lose out more by me being greedy. It made sense in my head at the time, anyway.

Well-Loved Tales by Ladybird books

I do love this particular range of Ladybird books. We’ve got a few others too: Cinderella and Snow White. I’ve got it in my head that I’d like a shelf of retro story books; to this end, I’m collecting these and the 1960s Enid Blyton books. I’m not even pretending that they’re for the kids anymore.

After returning to the others and in less of a huff, we spent the next few hours enjoying a look round the mill, playing in the play area and eating an impressive picnic outside. In the rain. We noticed no-one else was attempting to do the same.

Dexter playing in a tunnel in the play area

It was pretty muddy outside so the kids were fairly covered! Our friends are amazing cooks, and they very kindly shared some of their picnic with us. Mike had made some soup and cake – both of which were amazing.

After we’d eaten our own weight in food – and attempted to feed some robins some of the leftover seeds from my salad (yes, it’s that time of year again), we ventured indoors to look round the mill. Mike and Katie were married here in 2012, so they’ve been a few times to look round it. However, we’d never been here, other than for their wedding reception, so it was really interesting for us. I think we all enjoyed the look round the mill, and there really is a lot to see.


I can’t even remember how many floors there are to look round but it displays lots of engines and machinery associated with the weaving process, many of which were used in this mill or ones nearby. The whole process is shown, and we saw a quick demonstration of spinning and weaving which the kids seemed quite interested in. There were a few little areas where they could try their hand at this too. Corliss and Ted were quite good at weaving some little strips of fabric; Dexter had no interest whatsoever, but he was preoccupied with waving around a stick he’d found outside so, you know, priorities and all that.

Trying her hand at weaving

There was some impressive machinery.

Cotton weaving on an industrial scale

The kids loved looking at it all. Dexter kept stomping round, pointing at things and declaring, “Lookin’ at engine!” Corliss and Ted just wanted to see everything they could. I suppose these huge machines – which are impressive to adults – must seem like some kind of ginormous creatures when you’re only three feet tall! All in all, a pretty great day out, despite the dreary drizzle.

What’s in there?


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