Chester – Romans and Animals   14 comments

Jane was SAD!

Well she gets SAD at this time of year – Seasonally Affected Disorder – unlike me who revels in cold weather and snow, she hates it and hates this time of year. She’s more a summer and sunshine kind of person. To help her deal with this crippling, debilitating and little understood problem we decided on a little weekend away. The people at Premier Inns were offering rooms including breakfast for the family for £50 so we decided to head to Chester. D has always wanted to see the walls and the Roman remains and the whole family love the zoo so we thought it was a decent choice.

We parked up down by the river and took a stroll towards the walls.

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River Dee

It would be lovely down here in summer but it was biting cold today so we pressed on along the walls which pretty much encircle the city.

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Chester Walls by the Roman Gardens

The amphitheatre is one of Chester’s crowning glories and despite the fact it’s surrounded by the main road and only half visible (the other half is still buried) it’s quite impressive and the kids liked it. Apparently archeologists had been looking for it for years – how could a Roman legion as big as Chester not have one but it was only found by chance when the school (the one built on top of it) archeology professor started poking around when they were building an extension. If you can block out the traffic noise you can get a feel for the place.

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Amphitheatre

We pressed on around the walls to the famous Eastgate clock, said to be the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben. It’s rather impressive in its own way and overlooks the famous Rows shopping area.

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Eastgate Clock

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Eastgate

We walked around the rest of the walls past the cathedral and the Roodee racecourse and took a stroll into the city for a wander around the Rows and a cuppa.

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Chester Cathedral

It was to say the least bitterly cold, grey and dreary in Chester so perhaps that contributed to my feeling that Chester was a disappointing experience for me. It’s the first time I’ve been since I was a kid so my memory is perhaps a little tainted but the walk around the walls just brought forth a huge sense of frustration. There are several sections closed for repairs that are festooned with a lattice-work of scaffolding. I appreciate that these things need maintenance and winter is the best time, but surely a rolling program rather than all at once would be better. Add to that the insensitive use of galvanised steel, and unsympathetic development (a modern glass fronted “New Look” clothes store entrance on the wall anyone?) and it just reminds me that in Britain we don’t always treat our archeological treasures and history with quite the reverence and protection that we should. Take the famous amphitheatre. Once discovered it took years of battles and protestations to the authorities before they reluctantly decided NOT to build the main road over the top of it. I’ve visited a few similar sized towns and cities in France like Chester and while there is always an urban sprawl outside the heart of the place, they seem much better preserved and seem to be able to survive without High Street chain stores and their “brand” protruding from every historic building. There I’ve had my say now!

On a cold day in winter there is only so much city wandering the Jones family can take so we strolled briskly back along the walls to the car taking another look at the amphitheatre before heading off to our hotel for a nice meal in the Blue Cap pub and restaurant next door, big thanks to the staff there for looking after us and I can strongly recommend the food – top-notch

Chester Zoo the next day. I think it’s the largest in the UK and if you like this kind of thing (and we do) is a pretty decent place. As we were only 20 minutes away we were in pretty much as it opened. It really is huge and you do need a full day to see it if you want to “bag” all the animals as it were. It was a rather strange experience to see lions, tigers and the like all prowling around in frosty weather and some of the more exotic animals chose to stay inside. We walked around pretty much non-stop and only just managed to see all the animals and that was without stopping to take in any of the informative talks. If you do take the family here then I suggest that you plan it so that you take in the animals you really want to see and the interesting talks, it’s too big to do everything in a day even if you arrive when it opens.

I’ve posted a few photos below and one of my usual slide shows. Highlights for us were, the bats (they fly around within inches of you occasionally brushing against you), the tiger and her two cubs, the giraffes, the elephants, the butterfly house and the monster python who opened his massive jaws full width while were looking at him.

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Cheetah

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Tiger and cubs

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Humboldt Penguin

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Some kind of python - he was BIG!

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A yellow snake (who am I - David Attenborough!)

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Giraffes - L's favourite

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L and the butterfly, or possibly a moth

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Indian elephant

A very cold weekend but a nice little break from the usual routine and Jane isn’t SAD anymore 🙂

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14 responses to “Chester – Romans and Animals

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  1. I often think it’s the little weekends away that keep you going. Lots of little trips to look forward to through the year, rather than just one big one in the summer!

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    • Absolutely! We normally have 2-3 proper holidays a year, half a dozen weekends away and try to get out somwhere every weekend at home. The only things that keep me sane. May do some more of these little one night trips to keep the blues away. We’re also very lucky that my parents have their caravan 1.5 hours away so impromptu beach weekends are possible now as well

      How’s the ankle recuperation going?

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      • To be perfectly honest I’ve been finding it extremely difficult mentally and have been a bit down. I do know things could have been much worse though and have no real excuse for feeling sorry for myself. They’ve told me that I can’t put any weight on it until the plaster comes off, which is in 19 days time now. (Not that I’m counting!) And after that they’re talking about 6 weeks of physio. Seems to stretch ahead for forever! And just to top it all off, the waistline’s expanding too…

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        • Must be tough – I was only out of action for a couple of weeks last year when I had my knee op and that was bad enough – get those maps out and plan what you’ll be doing when it’s all back to normal 🙂

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  2. I remember the bats being a highlight. If L likes giraffes, then next time you’re up this way we should go to Dalton Zoo – you can feed the giraffes: they grab pieces of fruit or veg from the palm of your hand with their long black tongues. A bit weird but very cool too!

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    beatingthebounds
    • She’d love that – Chester do “experiences” where you can get up close and personal with some of the animals but it costs alot. Next time we do one these weekends we’ll go for the Conway one like you did – looked excellent. Keep an eye on the Premier Inn deals – they are normally a bit nicer than Travelodge (about to go bust anyway from the sound of it) and they always have a deal whereby as long as one adult eats a full breakfast the kids eat free. We’ve got B&B in the Gower before we meet up with you at half-term for £150 for three nights – not too bad

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      • That’ sounds very reasonable. It’s all part of the entrance fee at Dalton, as is feeding the penguins by hand. You only get to watch the lions and tigers get fed, but the latter is my favourite cos the tigers climb up huge tall poles to get their grub.

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        beatingthebounds
  3. I liked the pictures. The movie was clever it was amazing. At Dalton my favourite is the tiger feeding.In the Madagascar Zone you can feed everything.The wallabies are really cute.

    A

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    beatingthebounds
    • Thanks A – glad you enjoyed the movie. I do one for every trip we do. You’ll have to take us to Dalton next time we come and see you, it sounds great. I like wallabies and kangaroos too – they don’t have them at Chester any more
      Andy

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  4. We were there in the winter (I’ve just checked my photos and see it was March 2009) and we were lucky to have a lovely, warm, sunny day. There were large sections of the walls closed then too. We walked along the River Dee, watching kayakers playing in the water at the weir.

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  5. One of my hillwalking freinds used to live in Chester.Great place to spend a weekend.And the walk round the old walls is a must.Your photos bring back. some good memories of visits.

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    • Glad I’ve brought back some fine memories Bob. Just wish that I could have got more into the day, I hate seeing too much modern senseless development intruding onto a historical treasure like Chester

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