My birthday managed to fall on one of the cold, damp days of last week before the gloriously sunny end of the week but even so we decided to go out to Carsington reservoir. There's something about this place that makes me feel as if I'm at the sea-side. I don't quite know what. Yes, there's the open expanse of water, yachts darting about, geese, oyster catchers and sometimes cormorants paddling at the edge but it is just about as far inland as possible, there's no sandy beach and there are signs everywhere saying Keep Out of the water. Still, when you're as land-locked as Derby is, it's a good substitute for sea.
Last week's trip felt like a winter day by the sea. The wind was whipping up from the dam end of the water, blowing drizzle in our faces as we started to walk to Stones Island. Despite the weather there were swallows flitting about - the first I'm seen this year. We soon gave up battling the elements though and headed for the gift shops, as you would at the real sea-side. Ice cream, but no candy floss. No funfair or penny arcade amusements but fun to be had jumping into a holographic projection of the reservoir and making 'ripples', playing at filtering dirt from water or merely trying out the hand pump - all in the visitor centre - and half a dozen or so shops to hide from the weather in.