In those rare weeks when we seem to have a free weekend, The Boy and I seek to explore uncovered English ground. Last weekend, we planned a day trip to Barnsley, Worksop and Doncaster and like good tourists prepared for our outing by researching our route and reading some background information about each potential destination.
Barnsley boasted the promise of a Saturday market while Worksop's title “The Gateway to the Dukeries” suggested majesty and Doncaster promised “Delicious home-made baked goods” at its branch of Cooplands. Tempted by Wiki's blurbs, we decided to stop in Barnsley first and were instantly impressed by its bustling atmosphere and tempting continental market.
Barnsley was somewhat larger than we expected and many of its buildings reminded us of Huddersfield's grand stonework. Even more surprising was the insane police presence in the town centre with at least thirty officers (including additional horses and several parked vans) positioned outside the entrance of one pub, pre-empting the actions of potentially disgruntled football fans and apparently attempting to keep the peace after an earlier “Bedroom Tax” protest.
The sun shone and there were charity shops a-plenty, perhaps giving us a more favourable opinion of the town's centre. Returning to the car as we left the market, we passed yet more police circling the perimeter of a Polish food stall and had to wonder if taxpayers should be footing this bill?
Worksop was certainly not to be “confused with workshop” as Wikipedia helpfully pointed out. We parked up in the late afternoon just as the rain arrived, resulting in a much quieter town centre than Barnsley's. Unfortunately many of the charity shops we'd targeted were already shut for the day and and the steady downpour made extensive exploration an unattractive prospect.
As Barnsley far exceeded our expectations, we spent much longer than intended perusing its delights and had to abandon our Doncaster stop as a result. One day, I'm looking forward to sampling their local variety of Cooplands' pasty and some of the many “daytime drinking” establishments tellingly mentioned on its Wikitravel page. Now, I just need to pencil in a free weekend...