Sunday, February 03, 2013

Chester, the Walled Roman City

I've often said that in the U.S. a three hundred year old building is a museum; in England it's new construction.  My sister lives in a 300 year old farm house (updated of course).  Chester spans nearly two millenia starting as a Roman fort around 79 ad.  For a thorough history check this article on Wikipedia:

That all said, Chester is a tremendously photogenic city.  The walls that surround the city provide a great vantage point for photos and allows you to access all parts of the city without plying the streets which can be crowded with shoppers.  Chester is, above all, a marketplace.  As cynical as that may sound, it's been that way for centuries. The main streets have two levels of shops.

I'd like to be able to provide some iconic photo that would identify Chester unambiguously but I don't think it's possible so I'll just splatter some up here with explanations and see what happens.  Where I have it, I'll provide the plaque associated with the thing I photographed. As it is, the photos are mostly tagged with lat and lon info so if you download one, your photo viewing software may be able to place the photo on Google Maps. Fun and a magnificent time waster.

The following pictures are semi-random photos - they are in order of a walk around the wall and then some others in the city.  I had originally purchased a tablet to write and update this blog but I realized very quickly, even with a new keyboard app loaded (hacker's keyboard) it was painful to write and manage the HTML in a manner I wanted to do it.  So now that I'm home I can post these entries.

New Gate from wall
Looking along the wall towards Newgate
new gate explanation  board
Explanation board for Newgate
Newgate from the north wall

Newgate looking out from the city

Looking along River Dee towards Handbridge

Handbridge showing weir

Handbridge from the downstream side

A view of Chester Castle

A better view of Chester Castle. You can't get a real feel of the massiveness it projects, though.

Almost everything you want to know about Chester Castle

A view along the wall to the Chester Racecourse. This is the oldest horse racing circuit in England

Water Tower

And it's history

Another view of the water tower

Looking from the wall towards the narrow boat canal and basin

Northgate Locks

Narrowboat canal that runs along the north wall

King Charles Tower

History of King Charles Tower

Another view of King Charles Tower

Looking along the wall with the Chester Cathedral on the right

Eastgate Clock, the second most photographed clock in the world - Big Ben being the first.

Backside of Chester Cathedral
Eastgate Clock from Eastgate Street

Another closeup of the Eastgate Clock
View down one of the market streets and also proof that there are sunny days in England


Chester Town Hall
Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs Explanation

Chester Town Hall in the snow

Another market street in the snow

The area where Water Street meets Eastgate Street and Northgate Street.  You can see the two level shops, on the street level and on a walkway above the street level shops.  This area is called 'The Cross' but you can't see the monument in this photo.

Eastgate Clock in the snow, art picture.

Chester Cathedral view during a flurry

Well, that's about it for Chester.  Clearly the pictures were taken on multiple days.  You can wander around (and I have) every day for a long time and still find something new to see. 

Highly recommended: Albion Pub it's very near Newgate and the Roman Gardens. - good food, reasonably priced, and the sign states they don't want large parties, noisy kids, drunks, and racetrack patrons. 

Monday, January 07, 2013

My First Day in England and Moel Famau

Jubilee Tower, Moel Famau, Wales
Jubilee Tower
Well, my flight to England was uneventful, just as I like it. The flight to Amsterdam was on an Airbus A330 which was so quiet I didn't need my sound cancelling headphones. I was really amazed. Also it was fairly short, as these things go being just about 7 hours. 

The airport at Amsterdam is quite nice and clean. On my way to Kennedy my glasses had fallen apart so I went about the whole process of getting on and off the plane in a sort of Mr. Magooish squint. At Amsterdam there was a sunglass store who not only fixed them but would not take an Euro for it. Interestingly, McDonalds at the airport does not have the hash browns we've come to expect.

Anyway, after a 4 hour layover, I caught my flight to Manchester Airport which was only an hour.  I like Manchester Airport.  It's not so crowded or impersonal.

My sister and Dave picked me up and we toddled off to Chester for lunch followed by a nap followed by dinner followed by a nice night's sleep.

Sunday morning started out gray and if not exactly foreboding, not a day you'd like to be out mucking about in. However, as the morning wore on the sun peeked out and we decided  to go for a walk at Moel Famau in North Wales. It's the tallest mountain in the Clwydian Range.  Its name means Mother Mountain.

Moel Famau trail map
Moel Famau trail map
There are several trails up the mountain and many of them connect to other parks in the range.  It is in what the English call an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They are not kidding. From the valley you start in near Loggerheads to the summit topped by Jubilee Tower is a constantly shifting view of deciduous and pine forest topped by grasslands. You should  be able to click  on the picture of the trail map and zoom into see the actual trails.

View from Jubilee Tower looking towards Liverpool
View from Jubilee Tower looking towards Liverpool

The walk we picked was about a 5.5km one with a rise
of 280 meters. It took almost exactly what the guide said it would or 2.5 hours. As we arrived it started to get cloudy and cooler which actually made the day more pleasant because it was, at times, a hard climb. Especially at the last bit.

 It was cool and breezy at the top so we only stayed a little while.  Still, it was surprising  to me just how many people were out and managed the climb including the tiniest of tots to some fairly elderly people. It isn't the hardest of climbs but is challenging enough that I  wouldn't have expected so many people to make it to the top.

The Jubilee Tower was built in 1810 to commemorate the golden jubilee of George III. Thomas Harrison of Chester designed it as an Egyptian styled obelisk to be built in three stages. The tower was never completed and in 1862 a strong storm blew it down. It was partially removed for safety reasons and the sturdy base is all that remains.

The trip down was far easier than the one up, I must say.  The trip home was short and followed by wine and cheese. Brilliant!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A New Start for the New Year

Psssssssssssshhhht!  Screeeeeech! Kaa-chunk! HMMMMMMMMMMM!

Well, it's a new year.  2013 to be exact and I'm resurrecting the sailing life.   Not that I haven't been living it - I have, or to be perfectly truthful, not too much sailing but building a marine service business here in Stamford, CT.

More about that:  Here's how to build a business very quickly:

  • Find something you like to do
  • Approach people who need that thing done
  • Show up on time
  • Do what you say you'll do and maybe a little more
  • Charge a reasonable price - which is not necessarily what the market will bear
  • Communicate with your customers 

Sounds simple, huh?  You'd be surprised.  Anyway, I like working on boats and that's what I do now, at least until wanderlust takes over again and I have to leave.

You might wonder why I haven't been posting at all.  To be honest, I had nothing to say, and might still have nothing to say but I'm hoping that's not the case.

Innisfail at Solomons Island, MD
In the intervening two years I've done some very cool things and been a captain on a TowBoat U.S. as well as several deliveries including a 91 ft Trumpy and a lovely 42' custom picnic boat.  More about those when or if the mood strikes.

Also during the last couple of years my sister and I have met our four half brothers and their family.  That's been pretty wonderful and has really opened our eyes to the whole other family thing.  Very nice.

Soon I'm heading to the UK for an extended stay where I'll be hiking in Wales and Scotland and perhaps Ireland.  So, the real reason for resurrecting this blog is to record those travels as well even though there's no sailing involved.

Finally, there are projects I want to do on Pelican that are fairly simple but will enhance her usefulness and will be fairly inexpensive.  Since I plan to go cruising again, I need to bring her back to cruise readiness.

With that said I'm off to a New Years celebration!

See you on the water.