August seemed to be a good time to get out of London which has been hot, busy and crowded. So I accepted the chance of a three week tour with a group from Australia which looked as if it was going to some interesting places. Sherwood Forest was not on the itinerary but it always seems like a natural stop between Cambridge and York so we diverted there for an hour on the way northwards, a short detour off the A1. I have always enjoyed the walk around the path which takes you but the Major Oak, a tree which is over a thousand years old and would have been known by Robin Hood, albeit as a much smaller one when Robin and Maid Marian strutted their stuff in Sherwood around 800 years ago.
No-one knows much about Robin Hood but that does not stop the stories and films coming. He is one of those folk heroes who has been recreated by film and television companies and always appeals to the people of England, both young and old. Like Lady Godiva from nearby Coventry he stood up for the local people against the tyranny of taxes, which were used by the upper classes to oppress the common people and fight their various wars.
Australians are familiar with these English legends and, having heard of Robin, were happy to stop there and take a walk. The only problem was that there was no gift shop as the old visitor centre had been closed and was being taken over for redevelopment by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds of all people. They do not seem the obvious organisation to take over the centre but Nottinghamshire County Council, who own the site, chose them. However, it was good to be away from the shops and we all walked the mile or so back to the coach park. Our group leader Vanessa was even keen to leave a little earlier for York.
Then we hot the coffee wagon. I was informed that Melbourne, where the group came from, was the coffee capital of Australia and they were very particular about their brews. Complicated coffees are the bane of the tourist guide’s life if he/she has a schedule to keep. However, we live in the age of the cappuccino, macchiato, latte and – one I had not heard of before – the piccolo. Every coffee has to be individually crafted by the barista, who was working alone in her Volkswagen van and so we ended up leaving fifteen minutes late. No big deal. We saw the church where Robin and Marian were married and still made it to York in good time to see the Minster and the newly restored and unveiled west window. It was a change, however, to be held up by the coffee cart rather than the gift shop.