Thursday, 25 August 2016

Arrival in Chester.

Thursday 25th August, 2016 in Chester.
A dull, grey sort of day. As we were moored at Egg Bridge, we did have eggs for breakfast!
We set off mid morning and at the first lock met with a small crisis. M had set the lock with R's help and, when he went back to MM to sail her into the lock, it appeared that the engine had stopped.
Another boat was approaching the lock from below and, so as not to waste a lock-full of water, R and one of their crew quickly bow-hauled MM into the lock by hand. Once in the lock, it became clear that the engine was still running - it was just the noise of the nearby building site that had drowned out any sound from the engine. Obviously the sound proofing is working well! So all was well in the end.
Today is results day for GCSEs. We saw a number of teenagers walking by with very official looking brown envelopes. Two lads, when asked if their results were good, replied glumly "No". Two girls were asked the same question - one replied that she was delighted but the other said that she hadn't opened the envelope yet!
We loved this pretty old lock-keeper's cottage at Tarvin, which was very well looked after.
By contrast, despite its fascinating name, the cottage and lock-side at Chemistry Lock (below) were sadly neglected. Some C&RT chaps had just passed by cutting the towpath grass - but they failed to trim the weeds round the lock. Jobs' worths?
The neglected and weed covered lock gates confirmed the lack of care or maintenance.
The approach to Chester is unprepossessing and rather industrial. The interest begins once in the city itself with the old Victorian shot-tower and the Steam Mill, which used to cut timber.
We moored temporarily outside a large Waitrose on moorings that were limited to two hours "for shopping".
We used the time to reconnoitre the moorings in the centre of the city, which we understood to be limited and popular. We were surprised to find that the prime moorings right under the Roman wall had spaces. M stayed to stop anyone else from taking them and R went back to get MM.
Our mooring was right next to "King Charles' Tower" on the Roman wall. A notice in the tower claims that, on 24th September 1645, King Charles I watched from the tower as his troops were defeated at the battle of Rowton Heath in the Civil War. This was the view of MM from the tower.
Interestingly, in nearby Chester Cathedral, a similar notice says that King Charles I watched the defeat from the Cathedral Tower. Either way, he lost the battle and eventually his head.
Some exploration of the city, and the acquisition of a "few bits" couldn't wait, not least because Chester boasts no less than three Costas! While M shopped, R went into one Costa and happened to mention that he used to buy his coffee beans at Costa but, for some reason, Costa had stopped selling them. An enquiry to Costa Head Office had elicited the information that the sale of beans had been removed from the till system - so that was that (no reason was given, of course).
Shortly after R sat down with his coffee, the Manageress came up and presented him with a bag of coffee beans with her compliments! What brilliant customer service!
Later in the afternoon, we walked right round the city's Roman walls. It seemed to go on for ever and, it was only afterwards, that we discovered that it is nearly two miles around.
A splendid Victorian clock tower is mounted over the gate that spans the main pedestrianised road through the centre of the city.
At the other extreme, on the north side of the city were rows of "back to back" cottages still with their outside "privies".
We decided that tomorrow we will spend the whole day exploring Chester.
Today: 4 miles, 5 locks and 2.4 hours.
Trip: 274 miles, 205 locks and 203.4 hours.

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