We planned our trip around spending a week narrowboating on the Llangollen Canal in England and Wales. We took two weeks to allow us some time to get over jet lag before learning to pilot a 52 x 7 foot narrowboat.
We flew into Manchester on Thomas Cook Airlines, landed Sunday morning, and took the train directly to Chester where we spent the first three nights. Compared to Heathrow or Gatwick, Manchster Airport is a breeze. We landed at 7:30 went rapidly through boarder control and had a huge but pricey buffet breakfast with made to order omelets before boarding the train at about 10:30.
Filled with eggs, coffee, sauteed mushrooms, ham and cheese, we felt pretty human on the train and good enough to walk the 10 minutes to our rental house despite our third bag (stuffed with gear for narrowboating). We showered then made a grocery store run for the following two days. Our landlady recommended Marks and Spencer, which we cased, but we found better meat and produce at the Tesco. We bought a variety of cheeses (Double Gloucester, Lancaster, Cheshire, Red Leicester, Stilton), salami, sliced locally cured ham, lamb steaks, and duck breast, not to mention lettuce and veggies.
We feasted on a late lunch salad with ham, cheeses, and lovely tomatoes our landlady left us. Then we spent the afternoon walking off jetlag on the Chester city walls. It was a glorious walk with views of the River Dee, the racetrack, The Rows, and the Cathedral.
Back at "home" I grilled the lamb and dressed it with garlic chutney, and served it with sauteed onions and mushrooms (another welcome present from our landlady).
We looked at the weather forecast and decided to spend the following rainy Monday in Liverpool (as opposed to Chester or Port Sunlight). We got tickets for an early departure and collapsed into bed early.
After a ham and cheese scramble and coffee we felt pretty good Monday, but it was indeed rainy, so we didn't spend much time on the Royal Albert Dock Instead, we began at the Western Aproaches Museum, which was both very good and rather empty. It's set in the battle command center, and does a beautiful job of explaining both the living conditions, and the work done there. It reminded me of the Churchill museum in London, minus the the interactive section i the middle.
We followed that with The Walker Museum which does have a great Pre Raphealite collection, even if the people in charge of lighting should be shot--the upper paintings are all but lost in florescent lighting glare. We had coffee there I lieu of lunch.
We went on to do Saint George's Hall, a very nice varied stop with a neo-gothic (spell check would like that to be neolithic) concert hall and a depressingly period jail and courtroom.
Then we did the Maritime and International Slavery Museum. After which while the sun didn't come out, it at least stopped raining, so we walked the Royal Albert Dock.
It was a fine day, for which I owe Emma and a couple other people thank you's for good reccomendations.
Back in Chester we had duck breast for dinner in with broccoli, salad and a cheese plate.
Tuesday was sunny and we spent it in Chester. The Cathederal is grand and views from the bell tower are lovely. Saint John's Church is interesting, and the ruined portion behind is beautiful. The colosseum is interesting, and was made extra fun by a school group going by in full Roman soldier regalia. We enjoyed walking through The Rows, but the highlight of our day in Chester was The Falcon Experience. It's located on the Cathedral grounds and gives twice daily falconry demonstrations. They are very hands on if you want them to be. We both got to launch, a kestril, two kinds of falcon, a hawk, and an owl. The kestril perched on everyone's heads without invitation. It was an amazing experience.
To be continued...