Travelling doesn’t have to mean paying extortionate amounts in plane tickets and struggling with exchange rates. The UK is bursting with beautiful towns, tranquil countryside and rugged coasts and can be just as exciting to explore as foreign shores. In the “Hometown” series some of the Wessex Scene travel writers show us the places they grew up in and tell us why they’re worth a visit!
The magic has not been lost and, if anything, it has strengthened. After leaving for university, every trip back to the heart of my youth has become a novelty. It’s easy to take things for granted, especially a hometown whose luxuries and qualities become temporarily distorted by the bored youth who see only its mundane trivialities. Yet, having left this home, now I can appreciate Chester in all its splendour. Those acquainted with the city have identified it as the one with the two-tier shopping, the teashops, the “rah-rah” and that place where the Hollyoaks live, but having lived here for eighteen years, certain aspects ring from my memory to my mind that are inherently “Chester”.
What the city lacks in the culture department is compensated for by its neighbours. Featuring some terrific theatres and cinemas, Liverpool and Manchester lie not much further north. Since Chester is actually a microcosm of the South in the North, these cities are worth visiting purely for their northern qualification. Several times a year, the Chester Racecourse welcomes big hats, bigger heels and the tragedy that follows suit. Quite the multi-cultural event, the Races bring together Cestrians, Mancunians, Liverpudlians and the Welsh alike! These cultures come together in harmony to get blathered, to burn under the deceptive rays of the North and to loose some money.
For the nature loving walkers, the Cheshire countryside doesn’t disappoint. Fifteen minutes from the city, the verdant gem of Delamere Forest can be explored. If the wish is to escape civilization, Wales is not far either. From Chester, you can see the Snowdonia National Park, about which hundreds of Cestrian youths have traipsed as part their Duke of Edinburgh expedition. For miles there are no roads,
nor people, no houses nor hope. All man has to comfort himself with are rations of Kendal Mint Cake and the unlikely possibility that there might not be another storm that night.
The nightlife is arguably deficient, yet Cruise and Rosie’s have a great deal to offer to the unsuspecting fun-time-Fred. Rosie’s, a couple of years ago, achieved national status as it got mentioned by the BBC after two students dressed up as the crumbling Twin Towers of 9/11. Cruise, not a great deal better, offers weekly punch ups between the VIPs (those who sit on a raised platform) and the not so VIPs (those who are gazed down on by their superiors on their slightly elevated platform). A velvet rope separates important people from unimportant ones for security reasons of course.
Besides the repartee, Chester is really quite beautiful. The high street is a cobbled cutie surrounded by old Roman walls. Just off Lower Bridge Street, you come to the River Dee, the namesake for Chester’s Roman name, Deva. This river holds a myriad of memories and with about six rowing clubs, it bustles. Paralleled by footpaths, you can walk with the meadows and the river for miles as the river crosses into Wales.
Chester can’t offer as much excitement as London or as much beauty as the Cotswolds but it does well for its size. All my memories were composed in this city that echoes melodically through my thoughts. My heart is very firmly lodged in this home of mine so if you go to Chester, experience it for all its worth.