Thursday, 11 March 2010

A Day in Chester

3rd March
Chester city centre, from the city wall at Eastgate
We started our day in Chester with the obligatory walk around the city walls. They are largely intact and form a 3km walk around the city centre, although only in the 1960s could a six-lane highway have been punched through them, crossing the canal on a flyover "opened by Barbara Castle, Minister of Transport in 1966"

Chester presents itself as a mediaeval city with a host of half-timbered shops, pubs and hotels but from the walls you can see that not everything is what it seems. Some "Tudor" buildings are actually much newer such as this one in Eastgate, which carries the date "1875"
Victorian mock-Tudor on Eastgate
Away from the city centre, Chester is as workaday a town as anywhere else. Look at this superb terraced street, each house complete with "facilities" at the bottom of the garden!
Back yards at Albion Street, Chester. 
You can't actually complete a full circle of the walls at present due to a partial collapse that occurred during the bad weather in the summer of 2008 and walkers are diverted into a hideous modern shopping centre - and left to find their own way out!

We would have visited the cathedral, but you are directed to enter through a side door and by the time we'd followed a passageway that runs straight outside some rather smelly toilets then leads you to the door of the souvenir shop before depositing you at the cash desk we'd rather lost our enthusiasm for a visit and went back to the boat for lunch instead
In the afternoon we got the bikes out and followed the cycle path that runs alongside the River Dee as far as Connah's Quay, where we had the excitement of seeing the inshore lifeboat being launched, before following an old railway path until it crossed the Shroppie at Blacon where we turned off and cycled down the towpath back to Tower Wharf.
In the evening we went to a concert by the Vale Royal String Orchestra in the St. Mary's Centre. An amateur orchestra, it includes some professional musicians who play in their own time. Although we enjoyed the concert I am afraid that even to my untrained ear it was pretty obvious who were the professionals and who were not! The soloist, Sophie Rosa, gave an excellent performance in Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", really bringing the work to life.

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