Anyway we decided we would make the best of the trip, after all there was a Beer Festival on. We had to get the train to Sheffield then change for the trip to Loughborough, arriving at our hotel The Ramada at approx 3 p.m. We were given the key to our room but when we went in the bed hadn't been made up so I telephoned reception to let them know. Within 5 minutes the nice man who had booked us in was knocking at our door with the key to an upgraded room - very nice start to our stay. We quickly unpacked (there wasn't much as we were only there for 2 days) and then set off to do a quick reccy of the town centre, mainly looking for places to eat and drink, of course we had to sample a couple of pubs offering real ales on our way round. We found The Moomba Restaurant, which serves Australian cuisine, which we had seen when we Googled places to eat in Loughborough and decided to telephone to make a reservation when we went back to the hotel to freshen up. The food was really good and the atmosphere was very relaxed, a good start to the evening. After dining we went to a couple of pubs but by 10 p.m. we were really tired and decided to go back to the hotel and have an early night.
When we found out we wouldn't be able to have a steam train ride we Googled 'what to do in Loughborough' and found this
John Taylor and Co, Bell Foundry, who continue a line of bellfounding which has been unbroken since the middle of the 14th Century when Johannes de Stafford was active only 10 miles from the site of the present foundry. Since 1784 the business has been in the hands of the Taylor family. In 1839 the business settled in Loughborough and is now proud to operate the largest bellfoundry in the world and is one of only two in the country the other one being in Whitechapel. Taylors are the makers of Great Paul in 1881, the largest bell in the UK, which resides in St Paul's Cathedral in London. Taylors also made Malta's Siege Bell and bells for York Minster.
We were given a tour of the fascinating museum by a nice young man who also explained the process for making bells and we were surprised to learn that one of the key ingredients in making a bell is horse manure! We got to ring some of the bells in the museum and the sounds they emitted were fabulous. I've put together a little slide show of what we saw in the museum and the foundry itself and if you every find yourself in Loughborough with a couple of hours to spare I would highly recommend you visit this fascinating historical place.
After our bell foundry experience we went in a little cafe for a sandwich and a coffee before heading for
where the Real Ale Beer Festival was taking place. We paid £3 to get on the station platform then £10 for a card to pay for the beer and £2 for the pint glass. Expensive you might think but anything not used on the £10 card was refundable (we used it all, surprise surprise) and the £2 was refundable on the glass. Glass and card in hand we proceeded to sample the real ales on offer.
We sampled such delights as 'Roll in the Hay', 'Welcome To The Freak Show', 'Westoe IPA', 'Spellbound', 'White Hart', 'Prowler', 'Rivet Catcher', 'Magnum Mild', 'Big Red' and 'Hoare Farm Rosehip Cider'. Those were between us mind, we didn't both try them all LOL. We met some really nice people and enjoyed some interesting conversations about real ale pubs all over the country.
MWM was happy even though he didn't get to ride on the steam train, he did get to see some and took photos of course. The numbers don't mean anything to me but they may to some of you train buffs out there.
After a great afternoon we headed back for the hotel to have a little rest before going to a lovely Chinese restaurant 'The Laughing Buddha' just around the corner from the hotel, where we had the special set meal for two which consisted of
Special Platter (prawn toast, spare ribs, crispy seaweed, spring rolls and chicken satay)
Crispy Aromatic Duck with pancakes
Sizzling Chicken with Green Pepper and Black Bean Sauce
Crispy Chilli Beef in Bird's Nest
Yung Chow Fried Rice
A nice bottle of house wine
Coffee to follow
a superb meal in very pleasant surroundings with fabulous service, thoroughly recommended.
Full to overflowing we left the restaurant and walked round the corner to the Moon and Bell to finish off the night with a couple of drinks before heading back to the hotel and our bed for a good night's sleep before an early start the following morning on our trip home.
All in all we had a great couple of days in Loughborough. No doubt we will have to go back at some point so that we can actually ride on the train from Loughborough to Leicester, which is why we arranged the trip in the first place.