Just a stone’s throw from the Welsh border, and twenty miles south of Scouseland, lies my beautiful hometown. Chester is a historic walled city, with an eclectic mix of architectural styles, including timber-framed buildings, a medieval castle and many Roman remains. Foreigners and southerners alike often have no concept of where Chester is; I tend to describe it as being ‘halfway between Manchester and Liverpool, but without the Scouse accent’. That explanation doesn’t really do it justice: Chester is more than just a city that happens to be situated midway between two of the UK’s most famous football clubs. It’s a city with almost two thousand years of history; I’ve only been on this planet for 1% of that time. I may no longer live there on a permanent basis, but it will always be my home. Save for a few passing mentions, I haven’t given much attention to Chester on my blog. It’s time to remedy that, and bring you the very best of Chester. Grab the Hobnobs and a cuppa, for this one’s a bit of a long one.
As things turned out, I found myself back in the UK rather sooner than expected – for an assessment centre, the part of recruitment processes that us millennials all love to hate. (As far as these things go it was an enjoyable day, though I did feel rather brain-drained afterwards!) Since I had to reschedule things in order to attend, I found myself with a day in London to fill beforehand and promptly arranged to meet up with my mum (during the day) and Laurence (once he’d finished work).
Even though I’ve been to London countless times, there’s always something left to see – be it a museum, a café, or just an iconic viewing spot of the capital. Since I live on the opposite side of the country to Laurence, it’s also the most convenient place to meet up when we’re both home (though we’ve now gone from living 236 miles apart in the same country to living 625 miles apart with the English Channel between us, so a new city may well take London’s place as most convenient meeting spot). Rambling aside, back in July we decided to have a day trip to London incorporating a few of our favourite things: a love of all things designed by Arup (that would be Laurence), admiring vintage cameras and lunching at the Camera Museum, and taking in London’s skyline from Hampstead Heath.
Once we’d filled up on a hearty Premier Inn breakfast, we checked out and made our way to Edinburgh Zoo. Over a thousand animals call this 82-acre hilltop zoological park home – though there were two in particular that I was hoping to see: Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine), the UK’s only giant pandas.
At the start of July, my parents and I travelled 242 miles up the M6 (and on assorted other roads) to Edinburgh – all in the name of attending my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Presentation and meeting HRH Prince Philip. Whilst the trip was planned around this short but sweet encounter with royalty in the gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, we did manage to get our fill of the Royal Mile, Scottish pubs and other points of interest whilst we were there.
Although the previous day had been a total washout, brighter skies were on the cards for our final full day in the Lakes – so we made the most out of it by climbing another peak, Yewbarrow. Spoiler: we totally underestimated this 628m peak. This mountain was essentially A Bad Idea – but it didn’t stop us giving it a go (and a decent run for its money, even if we were rather unconventional walkers/ hikers/ climbers).
On a clear day, England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, affords spectacular views across England’s deepest lake and the surrounding Lakeland fells. However, our streak of good luck with the weather had temporarily expired – and the Scafell range was shrouded in thick mist. So much for the optimistic weather forecast displayed at the campsite . . .