Today we left the beautiful rolling dales of the Cotswolds behind, heading through much flatter terrain northwest to the Roman/medieval walled city of Chester. We had driven through it in haste 28 years ago but were intrigued by the black and white half-timbered medieval houses.
We were underway most of the day, mainly on slower secondary roads but also a good stint on the motorway. The latter was particularly unpleasant because of the fine spray swirled up by the vehicles ahead. I should mention that it rained all day. It seemed to me the motorway road surface (a type of blue metal, common here) was a major contributor to this hazard.
We had wanted to have a brief stop in Stratford-upon-Avon, but this being a(nother!) bank holiday weekend, traffic was extremely heavy and parking a challenge. What we did see while crawling through seemed quite attractive, so we’ve filed that away for a possible future visit.
We thus had only one tourist stop, at Ironbridge in the heart of the area in which the industrial revolution began. Ironbridge is famous for its iron bridge – the first one ever built – in 1779. It spans a gorge on the Severn River.
We had parked the car near the river and crossed the bridge on foot. As we were descending some steps on the other side, disaster! I heard a scream and turned around to see Joan flat on her backside. She was in some pain, having twisted her ankle on the uneven brick steps, causing her to fall. A passing gentleman helped me bring her back to her feet. It seemed as though she could no longer walk, the discomfort was so great. We hobbled into a nearby café to rest the foot and have lunch. Fortunately nothing seems to have been broken, as she was able to walk slowly back to the car.
On arrival in Chester, we were in need of a rest break. When we awoke over two hours later, the rain had stopped, and Joan’s ankle, once wrapped in an elastic bandage, seemed capable of a stroll around town. Our hotel is several hundred metres outside the walled centre, but it went well at a slow pace. The walls incidentally are Roman and some sections are in pretty good nick. The legionnaires did a good job back then (1st century AD).
We saw many of the black and white buildings that had so caught our fancy last time. I took some photos, but most are in shadow, so not up to our usual standards for inclusion in the blog. We have to hope that we get some sun on the day we have actually allocated for sightseeing here.
As we walked around town, we were struck by the large number of dolled-up women out on the town. Every fourth building in the centre appeared to be a nightclub, complete with bouncer(s) outside. The Mill Hotel, where we are staying, was constructed as a corn mill in 1830. Maybe because of the bank holiday, the hotel is full of people having a good time. This is the liveliest place we have been to in England so far, and the vibe here is completely different from the more sedate south.