Adventures in Roman Chester

Ruby the VW Campervan is nestled between the Apple trees, on a beautiful C&MC certified location on the outskirts of Chester, called Heathfield. This site is a huge orchard and because there is no hook up here we get the choice of where we pitch. We’ve taken social distancing to the next level as you can see.

On the way here we made a (pre booked) stop off at National Trust Speke Hall on the outskirts of Liverpool. The property is a fabulous wooden Tudor property and has some beautiful gardens to wander. Obviously at the moment we can’t go in the house but we spent a very happy hour or so enjoying the grounds, and the hydrangeas were stunning. We also found the moat garden interesting – this was converted from a moat in the Victorian era. We’re going to make a real effort to revisit here when the house is open as it really is a stunning example of Tudor Manor House.

On arrival at the site we were welcomed by the very friendly owner Phil. Little did we know this guy would be our saviour on more than one occasion this weekend! We set up in the blistering heat and humidity, each time it’s getting quicker and more familiar which is good.

Keith prepared a bbq for us for dinner, and we were relieved the humidity died down after a light showers. As mentioned before this site has no hook up so we connected our briefcase solar panel up to the leisure battery and placed the solar panel on the roof.

At this point we realised we forgot some very essential supplies for breakfast, the beans and mushrooms 😂, and so I popped to see Phil to see where the nearest shop was. He said it was too far to walk so offered to drive and get some for us! How nice was that?! Minor crisis averted we settled into a relaxing evening outside enjoy the utter serenity and space of our new home.

Saturday arrived and the weather was mixed – we had a fairly lazy morning and cooked a full English on our new pan- which is brilliant by the way – link here – before wandering into Chester.

Chester has been on our must visit list for a while; Keith being so into history, particularly the Roman’s; makes me wonder how we’ve managed to take this long to visit! Chester is home to the only compete set of city walls and also a number of Roman ruins, including the largest amphitheatre ruins in UK. What absolutely astounded me is that the amphitheatre was found when engineers were building a main road – and while they tried to be sympathetic to these impressive ruins, it’s slightly ruined (pardon the pun) by the constant stream of traffic passing by.

We enjoyed a wander through the city centre to admire the medieval buildings, of which there are loads- Including some amazing timber galleries that still house traders to this day. This was really incredible and actually we feel stunned that this isn’t UNESCO. The Rows as they are called, house many shops and barbers and have been slightly ruined by the sheer amount of billboards displayed but shops need to advertise I suppose. There were some questionable planning decisions in our humble opinions right through the city, but I suppose that could be said all over.

The city walls were impressive, particularly a steep section leading up to the cathedral. At just over a mile in length they took us almost an hour to walk round with picture stops along the way. If we’d have had our way we would have had some refreshment stops too, but, for a city with such impressive history and historical buildings there was a disappointingly lack of historical pubs (and dog friendly pubs to be specific). There is an interesting old pub situated in the Rows, called the Old Boot but not only was this not dog friendly it also was not technology friendly either and with big signs saying no Phones, cameras, cash only etc etc even if we’d not got Jazz I think we may have felt uncomfortable visiting especially when most places are card payments only with COVID etc. Hey ho.

Luckily, we accidentally stumbled across Hickeys, a smokehouse situated on the river and below the Roman Gardens (pics above). We enjoyed a drink mid afternoon in their garden and perused their menu which looked incredible. Sadly though, it was full for dinner reservations. I genuinely nearly cried – it’s no secret that our trip to Texas left a lasting impression on us and our tastebuds, and seeing a Texas smoke house in the UK is rare. I was right in the mood for a plate of brisket! I may have communicated this to our poor waiter and unbelievably just as we were paying for our drinks he came over, delighted to tell us that he had managed to move some things about and if we didn’t mind coming back at 5pm they’d found us space in a dog friendly part of the restaurant. Perfect!

I pretty much skipped around the remainder of the walls!

Our dinner at Hickory’s was FABULOUS. Proper proper good! The staff were fab, they fell in love with Jazz and as such he was rewarded with his own bowl of brisket which he inhaled! It was a perfect evening and that meal was worth a return to Chester in itself!

We passed a Motorhome overnight parking spot in Chester here which looked good for future reference.

Back at the campsite it became obvious that something was adrift with our battery in Ruby. There has been not too much sun so the leisure battery was struggling. We also lost our central locking which indicated our vehicle battery was dead. It turns out that our new cool box/beer fridge had been plugged into the wrong 12v plug – thus draining the vehicle battery. This was definitely Keefy’s fault by the way! 😉 there wasn’t much we could do about it until the morning so we had a quiet (and dark) night!

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny. The campsite owner very kindly agreed to give us a jump start with his land rover. But Ruby’s battery was too flat for a jump. “No problem” Phil said, “I’ll bump start you off”. Then we realised we don’t have a tow ring on the front end. “What about the tow bar at the back” I said tentatively. Don’t worry, he didn’t bump me backwards (sorry couldn’t resist that phrase!) but that’s how at 9.30am on a Sunday morning, much I’m sure to the rest of the campsites amusement, I found myself being towed backwards half a mile through the apple trees, and a very tight gap between trees may I add – our lovely private pitch only private because of all the trees surrounding it! Luckily for us Phil had a garage with lots of boys toys in it and managed to charge our battery with some sort of flash gadget, whilst we enjoyed a cuppa in their garden. And I had a proud moment when my reversing skills got a big thumbs up from Phil and Keefy.

Sorry there is no photo evidence for this; stress levels were a bit high!

Once Ruby sprung into action again we hit the road heading home. We’d had a wonderful 6 days, full of lovely food, drink, walks and scenery and a fair share of adventures too! We’ve just got a couple of days at home before we head off north again on Wednesday so when we got home we had a mad hour emptying, washing clothes and bed sheets and beginning to refill Ruby.

Until next time

Lx

Ps on returning home I’ve managed to rescue my missing Bronte pics – so there will be an update of the Haworth blog shortly with my own pictures on!