Hello Chester (Pt.1)
It isn’t quite Japan, but it will do.
When plans get derailed, you have two choices.
1. Wallow and be miserable
2. Try to consolidate and make the best of it
I did the latter, which is how I found myself in the historic English city of Chester – a land known for its Roman roots and Grade 1 Listed city walls (the most complete in Britain, in fact).
The moment we picked up the key to our apartment for the weekend, I was in love. Even the tippling rain couldn’t dampen my spirits by this point, the stressful hours of the work day before all but disappeared without a trace.
Super stylish decor aside (I mean, this canvas, right?), the building which houses this apartment also has a fascinating history of its own, some of which you can see very plainly in its architecture. The exposed brick walls, repurposed wooden floors, and a coffee table on wrought iron wheels all offer that feeling of rich heritage and an appreciation for the apartment’s previous life as part of the Old Station Building.
But, we’re here to talk about the city itself, not just the accommodation. Even so, my first impression boded well for a weekend in a city I’ve not stepped foot in since childhood.
All I really remembered from Chester was that it had A LOT of “old black and white buildings”. All my Dad’s photos of that trip were just building after building after building, and so that image has stuck with me ever since. Now that I’m older, however, I understand the impulse, the appreciation of their beauty. While many of these structures may actually be Victorian restorations, their medieval feel is still very real, and they make for a fabulous backdrop to an otherwise rather ordinary city centre of shops that called out my name as I passed, begging me to go in. (Yes, I did succumb to the allure of Paperchase… Lord help me and my bank account)
Several purchases later, I wandered past a gorgeous cocktail bar that I couldn’t have resisted if I’d tried. So what if it was lunchtime; call it a birthday treat. While Chester isn’t the most diverse place for “things to do”, their selection of bars and restaurants is certainly nothing to turn your nose up at – and for that, you have no complaints from me! This one was called Palm Cocktail Bar and Eatery, and I can confirm the drink I sampled, at least, was very good.
Rest, refresh, recharge – and onward into the evening. The agenda? A performance at the Storyhouse, and a little more cheeky bar hopping! Because really, why the hell not?
Suitably re-‘watered’, next stop was the Storyhouse. As a writer, this place really feels like home. As you enter, you are faced with poetry plastered on every inch of wall, before walking through a vibrant library to reach the bar, cinema and theatre at its rear – a truly unique space that supports telling great stories through a range of media. Our destination was the theatre, for a much-missed stage production. I’ve always loved the theatre, but for obvious reasons, it has really been a while since I set foot in one.
The production in question, ‘Now Is Good’, follows the story of a health and safety inspector and his exasperation as his ex-builder father jeopardises their latest project by inviting a whole cast of colourful characters onto the site, and reminicing about the good old days. It is heartfelt, humorous, something a little different that explores the concept of joy, the human experience, and of appreciating the little things that make life good. It’s certainly left me with a lot to think about, as I settle down ready for day 2 of my long weekend away…