We arrived at Chester on Wednesday afternoon, resolving to stay there to see the city only during the following day and then we would move on towards Ellesmere Port on the Friday.
But in a now very familiar fashion we delayed that departure for two more whole days because there was just too much to see and it was not possible to cram it all into a single twenty four hours.
There was shopping to be done on that first day and my goodness –- Spend! Spend! Spend! – It is surprising how a large choice of so many beautiful city shops makes the lonely boater decide that he cannot possibly survive without many of the goods that he sees. The fact that he has existed very adequately for four years without the need for them is beside the point. As an example; on four consecutive days nearby Tesco and Poundland both had products which we hadn’t seen or perhaps even thought of the day before. But we decided that we had to have them.
On one day we walked around the City Walls, amazed that they were still mostly intact and noted that the road system was along the same routes as the medieval ones. But as a result all the city gates had needed to be rebuilt wider to accommodate the now heavier and swifter twentieth Century motorised traffic.
The Victorian East Gate
We spent another day at the Grosvenor Museum and Art Gallery as well as visiting the Cathedral which we enjoyed enormously, as well as the rich vegetable soup and crusty roll we had for lunch in the monks old refectory. Then on another occasion we visited the pretty Grosvenor Gardens and promenaded the river Dee where we felt a wonderful holiday spirit and had coffee and ice-cream in the warm sunshine, sheltered from the biting breeze.
Chester while we were there was filled with people. The olde worlde pubs as well as the modern fashionable restaurants were all very busy as were the shops. People seemed to share our holiday spirit. But maybe the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday afternoon helped everybody feel better.
So this morning after last minute shopping yet again at Tesco, the Sun was shining through a promising white woolly cumulus sky, which encouraged the little fleet to let go finally. But due to the movement of other traffic around us, it took some time to make the passage along the deep North Wall rock cutting and down an impressive thirty three feet through the Northgate Staircase lock. But then once into the Basin below, now being redeveloped quite tastefully with flats and pubs all around, we were soon enjoying the open scene again.
The busy chatter and urgent antics of the people, amusing to both Janis and I as confirmed people-watchers, was replaced by the familiar chug of the Russell Newbery singing sweetly to me again with its regular fixed beat and the rural tranquillity of the countryside.
Some of the Victorian Built ‘Black and White’ buildings of Chester
A Squirrel feeding from Janis’ hand in Grosvenor Gardens