How wearing two coats was the only way to survive my Spring 2013 break in Chester
While some parts of the country were shivering under huge snowdrifts, I've just spent a long weekend in Chester. When I booked the time off work in January, my subconscious may have been remembering last year’s soaring March temperatures that prompted ‘Phew wot a scorcher!’ headlines and a hosepipe ban just before Easter.
Actually, because Chester is at sea level, we were lucky to get away with a couple of inches of snow – wellie boots rather than snowploughs, while a mere eleven miles away in Mold, they were under several feet of the stuff. Mind you, the biting wind alone made being a tourist difficult.
To get a feel for the city - and wearing two thermal vests, a jumper, jeans, two pairs of socks, boots, a hat, a scarf and TWO coats - I braved the open topped bus city tour, enjoying the views from the rather cute London General Omnibus Company B-Type motorbus dating back to 1910 operated by Chester Heritage Tours. And it was perishing cold!
The tour guide was very knowledgeable about her city and its history and was obviously very proud of it. We passed many places of note, including the graveyard where Edward Langtry, estranged husband of actress Lillie, mistress of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), was buried; the half excavated Roman amphitheatre; the remains of the castle; The Roodee (Chester Racecourse – according to official records, the oldest racecourse still in use in England and apparently the only one where you can see the whole course); and of course the fantastic city walls.
But our guide’s fondest words were for the Shropshire Union Canal and its industrial past. Sadly, the weather had beaten even the toughest boaters so there were none of the many boats that pass through the city in the summer on their way to Ellesmere Port or the Llangollen Canal.
I always feel slightly sneaky listening to others talk about the canals and rivers in the care of the Canal & River Trust – as if I should declare an interest. But our guide had only love for the canals and narrowboats and she waxed lyrical. And, looking at the lock flight, even in the coldest, deepest winter for years, who could blame her?
Liz Waddington is editor of The Source, the Canal & River Trust’s monthly staff newspaper. She has been in love with canals and their industrial heritage since her first holiday on the Grand Union Canal when she was 10 years old. Liz likes nothing more than getting out and meeting her colleagues on the cut.See more blogs from Liz Waddington