Chester; one for the children, one for me.

Chester is a beautiful city about 30 miles away from where I live. it is small, quaint, has a walled inner city and a history stretching back 2000 years to the ancient Romans. It also has at least 4 decent charity shops ( seek a good area, find decent picking) and a varied selection of small and chain shops, all within a small walking area.
We usually go there at least once a holiday, justification being that it's not far, the children love the freedom of browsing in a shop where Mummy actually says "Buy any thing you like!" and we usually have at least one child who is doing/has done/will be doing Romans or Medieval or Civil War or any other period of history embraced by the city. The Grosvenor Museum has rooms that are big enough to educate without being too big, a holiday programme that is good for keeping crafty children busy and enough to keep a family busy for a few hours. Add to that the charms of Chester and the other tourist attractions and it can be a full day. The photo of my three delights shows them digging for bones in the Ice Age room, where we saw model animals including a very cute woolly rhino made by some Cheshire Brownies!

Yesterday was my Chester day; pack up the kids, pick up the Grandma and scoot off to the quaintest town I know.
On a Saturday, the parking is impossible and, indeed, in the summer it can be hard to find a space which is why we use the Park & Ride service. For £1.50 per adult (2 children each under 16 free!) we can park our car (next to the Zoo, but there are other sites as well) and have a return trip into the city by bus, which nowadays is such a rareity for the children that they are happy to sit and watch the other people. First entertainment of the day.
We usually aim to arrive there for lunch, which as a family tradition is fish & chips in the Chip-o-Dee restaurant on the road where the bus stops. That means tea later on can be a much lighter affair and gives us plenty of time for sightseeing. The same street also houses the Oxfam shop & book department and a Barnardo's shop where the clothes can often be quite interesting! Ice cream, of course, and some caffeine mid afternoon are compulsory!

A short walk through the town shows a variety of shops and stores.... but my bestest discovery yesterday was the Liberty Bell on Bridge Street Row, above the main street and only attainable via a set of steep but very cute steps. The shops above all run off a raised walkway, a novelty I have seen no where else (do, please, correct me if you know of anywhere else) and which gives the experience of shopping in Chester an old worldy charm that a marble and glass shopping centre could not replicate.
Back to Liberty Bell. This small shop front has a narrow interior stretching back and sells all things quaint, homespun and charming. There are a lot of American imports, of course, but the goods are fun for presents or for home decor touches such as signs, cushions, notepads and recipe boxes and candles and scented goods. These last give the shop a wonderful fragrance, like apple pie and pecan crisp.

We couldn't resist little wax pies that were scented with allsorts of appealing fragrances, like raspberry, pecan, cinnamon and apple. The nice lady there yesterday was called Sue and I had a happy 10 minutes talking blogs with her. She hasn't got one yet, but did take a dip into blogworld prior to a trip to Norway.... somebody out there might have met her in the vapour, so I can say that in real life she is a very very nice person to talk to. If you pop by, do, please say hello to her and, Sue, if you're reading this, I say hello again and why not start a blog & come and join the fun!?!
At the back of the shop there are quilting fabrics, some pre-cut into fat quarters and available from as little as £1.99 per quarter. I put the boys down on a step, told them to play weeping angels with any passers by (You know, make like a statue and don't move if anyone is watching you) while the Princess and I began to make serious inroads into the baskets of FQ's arranged, very usefully, by colour. Pink, of course, some red for me and a look at the blues with a wistful intention of making a bedroom quilt that I know I have neither the time nor the experience for at the moment.

But that is part of the charm of a shop like this, that you can stroke the material and dream of quilts unseen, whilst only intending to buy a couple of FQ's for some lavender bags (bird shaped) for the wardrobe (Oh! and the Pay it Forward swap.. perhaps a couple for that... and there is a birthday soon, so a tissue case in that pink rose print.. then the green and peach circles needs the plain green to go with it...)
The worst is when you see something and you know that the day you had earmarked for tidying your bedroom will now be spent in making a bag. A holiday bag because of course you have been inspired by Domesticali or Dolly Daydream and you have a seaside holiday in a week. A bag big enough for the new Period Ideas that you picked up at WH Smiths. A bag big enough to carry the book that you will take on every day out although the chances of you reading more than a page on any day out with or with out another adult are about the same as a chocolate teapot actually making a decent cup of tea. A bag which can hold sunglasses, drinks bottle, camera and purse without them getting lost in the depths and a Japanese Soldier popping out asking where the war is when you dig down for them..... you get the picture. this bag will be for the beach although, of course, it will never go to the beach. So, three guesses how I spent today? To find out, come back tomorrow.


  1. Love Chester glad you had a good tiem

  2. So have you made THE bag? Will be back to see. Have never been to Chester though would love to visit someday my Great Great Grandfather owned a hotel there at the turn of the 20th century so it would be rather special to visit.

  3. Thanks for giving us such an enjoyable acocunt of your day out....I'd certainly like to visit Chester someday. Park and Ride services are great aren't they, it gives the kids a bus or train ride which in itself is part of the fun.
    Will we get to see what you found at the Charity shops?! Also looking forward to seeing your bag, I fully intended to make one myself this summer but just haven't got around to it so well done you.

  4. I've never been to Chester, but you've made it sound well worth a visit if I ever find myself nearby!

    And good luck with that whole reading whilst responsible for children thing which I've totally failed to achieve ever!


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