liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
[personal profile] liv
So last week I organized a little trip to Chester with [personal profile] jack. His mother teased us about doing the clichéd "romantic mini break" thing, but it was just such a delightful, relaxing weekend that I don't care. Chester is very, very, very pretty. Mostly Victorian mock-mediaeval, but a bit of actual Mediaeval and plenty of Roman stuff including the famous walls, and a lovely setting on the pretty river Dee.

I had to do quite a lot of phoning round in order to find a B&B with availability for the Saturday night of the Valentines weekend, not very startlingly. Eventually settled on Laburnum House, which has the advantage of being surrounded by interesting bits of historical town, not just other B&Bs. Unfortunately, the proprietor called us the Saturday we were due to arrive and explained, with many apologies, that the shower was broken in the room, and he had arranged for us to stay with a friend of his who also runs a B&B. So we ended up in Tentry Heys, which is just outside the centre but not far away. It's also a bit of a stereotypical B&B, with a mumsy proprietor and very, very frilly and flowery furnishings.

The satnav wanted us to travel via the motorway through Manchester, but we told it we didn't want to go 25 miles out of our way to save ourselves a couple of minutes' travelling time. So it acquiesced and directed us across country, on perfectly decent roads with the additional bonus of some very, very pretty sunsets over the hills.

Anyway, we had no trouble getting there for Saturday evening, and went out for a meal at Chez Jules. It's just inside the Chester walls, and fills an interesting intermediate niche between basic chain restaurants and gastro pubs, and actual posh restaurants. The building is quite grand, but the decor is quite cheerful and cosy (gingham tablecloths, walls plastered with repros of old French adverts). The food is tasty and original, but not out of this world amazing. The prices are quite intermediate too. The best part of the meal was my starter, a really amazing thing with grilled goats cheese and a sort of fig purée. I was kind of disappointed in the wine list; for a French restaurant, they had very little that's actually French, and the Loire white I picked was quite acid.

The service was friendly and informal, though I was really quite annoyed by one waiter trying to flirt with me. I mean, seriously, who flirts with customers who arrive as an obvious couple on Valentine's Day? (Waiting until Jack got up from the table to go to the loo as the moment to try his cheesy lines was annoying, not flattering.) I mean, he wasn't creepy or pushy at all, just completely clueless. To really cap it all, he got all flustered and spilt wine all over me. Thank goodness the nice foofy dress I was wearing was the one I picked up for nearly nothing in a vintage shop in Oxford, otherwise it would have been hard to see the funny side. He was so apologetic and embarrassed that I couldn't really be angry, but even so.

We had a lovely quiet day on Sunday, spending most of it doing one of those lovely Blue Badge walking tours. Chester is just about the right size for a day trip; there's lots to see but it's all within a couple of square miles, and the guide was geeky and interesting. Also, it was gloriously sunny and just a tiny bit cold, just perfect for mid-February.

A place that is that pretty is a bit challenging to photograph, because it's hard to avoid the obvious postcard shots. But I did try to capture a few little quirky things, architectural details and odd juxtapositions and so on.

I don't quite have my mother's instinct for finding the area of town with good, off the beaten track eateries in a town she visits for the first time, but I did manage to find quite a cute, non-touristy pub called the Frog and Nightingale where we had a decent pub lunch. Then we completed the circuit of the walls and headed home for an evening of playing Settlers of Catan and relaxing.

Specially for [personal profile] hatam_soferet: check out this scribal error!


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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