Training in Chester

We made good use of our stay in Chester, so much to see and do, all within easy walking distance. The Cathedral was playing host to a model railway display which proved a big draw, not so much the layout of the track but how the circuitry behind the scenes enabled the movement of the trains around it. The track was built by the music producer Pete Waterman, and he was on hand to chat very knowledgably about the set up.

Now that’s some model railway

Whilst Eric was chatting to Pete and the engineers I wandered around the beautiful building and came across a scale model of the Cathedral being built out of Lego

The Lego cathedral

For a fundraising pound I could purchase a brick and add it to the structure. My dad would have been proud of me, for he was a builder and back in the 70’s our family spent a couple of years abroad whilst he built a church. He’ll be looking down from heaven laughing cause I’ve now helped build a cathedral.

Chester Cathedral

I’m not sure the 12th century stone masons would appreciate my efforts as much as I appreciate theirs. I took full advantage of being moored 5 minutes walk from such a magnificent building, and the choristers were just back from their summer break. Like many people, we haven’t been able to worship inside a church for so long, that it was a very emotional moment when the bells rang out on the Sunday morning and we were able to attend the service. Ironically the last time we were in a church was in February 2020 when we went to Liverpool cathedral. The Cathedral isn’t the only place in Chester to offer spiritual sanctuary. The StoryHouse is a theatre, library and creative communal. Well worth a visit if you’d had your fill of old buildings.

The storyhouse


Chester is the end of the line on Mersey rail system so I hopped across the water and met up with my Aunty, we had lunch in the John Lewis restaurant where I could just about look onto the waterfront where we spent 8 months last year.

Looking over the Liverpool link canal and the Mersey


On the way to the station I came across a full size gable end mural celebrating Chester’s Brook street heritage. In the 1980s regeneration replaced demolition for these simple streets that belonged to the working classes, and ten years ago this mural was commissioned to celebrate this vibrant community. Its worth leaving the grandeur of the city centre to stand and stare, and if you’re lucky to chat to someone who knows the stories.

Brook street mural by Steve Drossle


Chester train station has good connections so I also took advantage of being able to get up to the Lake District to see Mum, it was the Westmoreland County show week and the weather was good so we had a lovely few days together.

We know how to have a good time

The train journey back to firecrest was amusing, I felt very underdressed in my comfortable shoes and snug fleece, I thought there must be a business conference going on, but then I realised the women were all in heels and hats. Of course it was race day. It wasn’t the trains going round a circular track but the horses. Part of me would love to go, but if I started drinking champagne at 11am, I’d be asleep before the first race.

Chester race course from the wall
Inspiration from the storyhouse

Lincoln’s cathedral

Lincoln’s Cathedral is a beacon for miles and miles as it towers over the fenland. In fact my sister in law, Anne,  tells me on a good day they can see it from the Peak District Moors, over 60 miles away. And as it offered a tower tour, well I just had to go climb those towers and learn it’s history and see the view.Back in the day when the Romans came to stay, they fortified Lincoln with a city wall. Although it was to later get in the way of one of the cathedrals many extension.Then the Vikings also took advantage of the river access and the deep water of Brayford Pool. As did these folk as shown in a painting hanging in one of the chapels.However it wasn’t until William the Conqueor wanted to stake his claim, and show his Norman dominance on the marauding hordes of northerners, that the catherdral and castle were built out of local stone.  It was a hugely significant seat of power and in 1215 the Magna Carter was brought here to be signed by the Bishops. Lincoln still holds one of the only 4 remaining originals in its library.

The Cathedral’s life hasn’t always been an easy one, 50 years after it was built it burnt down. It was rebuilt but in 1185 it was destroyed by an earthquake. Rebuilding wasn’t always well planned, the person responsible didn’t align the east and the West correctly so the spine along the beautiful vaulted ceiling is wonky and doesn’t meet up as it should.The tower tour takes you right up into the rafters so you can look down onto the lime mortar on the upper side of the vaulted ceiling. You don’t always realise when you look up that there’s another 30 feet of cathedral above what you see.

In 1311 a spire was added to the central tower, reaching 160m, taller than the Pyramids of Gaza. It became the tallest building in the world for over 200 years but being a wooden structure encased in lead, it was a bit heavy and in 1548 it blew down in a storm. In 1807 the north and south tower spires were removed much to the consternation of the people of Lincoln but Health and Safety was being adhered to by then.Health and safety also decreed that although we were allowed in the bell tower, the ropes had to be out of reach. The bells rest in an upright position so that the the first chime is correctly timed. Obviously there’s a huge amount that I haven’t recounted, condensing 1000 years of history into 10 minutes leaves a lot of gaps for rebellions, civil war But I recommend paying the extra to do the tour. Stained glass is always a beautiful thing to see in a cathedral, this one is known as the Bishops Eyeand the rose window opposite is the Deans EyeThis one facing West shows Revious, the monk William the conqueor put in charge of building the cathedral originally. It still contains some medieval glass, when It was a real  honour to be able to walk right in front of it on the tower tour. There is so much to see and most of it hundreds of years old, but there are some new pieces of art work on display. I particularly liked the giant swan. St Hugh of Avalon was one of the early bishops and he befriended this fearsome bird, which terrorised the people whenever St Hugh was away, but behaved like an angel whenever he was in residence.