Back to the UK: Chester & Stratford, 6-7.10.05
Posted by Lisa Hill on January 22, 2006
We were up early for the 8.56 to Chester. It was a Virgin train, not as fast as the GNER trains, and the service isn’t so good. The information booklet was so trendy and visual that it took us rather a while to realise that we had to collect a cup of tea ourselves. We are more used to *reading*…
The scenery was pretty, but it was overcast and rather bleak, which matched my anxiety that my back was playing up. (Must have been all the hefting luggage up and down railway stations without lifts.) We had brunch at the swish Grosvenor Hotel, briefly wandered around admiring the Tudor shops, and then took a sight-seeing tour. Tim remembers seeing the longest intact Roman Wall in Britain, and the River Dee, but for me it was a total blur. (Must have been the combination of painkillers and a stiff whisky.)
Back at the Mill Hotel I had a massage, and picked my way through our worst meal in Britain. The Mill is a four star hotel, but that’s because it has lots of facilities like a gym and a beauty bar and child care, not because the facilities are any good. It’s situated on the canal, with a bridge over to the restaurant, but the canal is dirty and smelly and not the least little bit scenic once you get up close.
The staff weren’t particularly helpful either, when Tim decided to hire a car to get me to Stratford…
The car turned out to be a little red Renault Megane, very comfortable, and just big enough for the luggage, which poor Tim had to manage all by himself. (We keep promising ourselves to travel lighter – but with three climate zones, and a fondness for buying souvenir books, it’s not easy.) It took the best part of the day to get to Stratford, driving through the back roads, and taking lunch in a quaint little cafe with surprisingly good food at Bridport. I put my feet up at our new hotel, the luxurious Stratford Victoria where the rooms are spacious and comfortable and the staff are friendly and very helpful, while Tim went out to reconnoitre the town.
Before long I felt better and so we spent what was left of the afternoon on the usual orientation tour on a city sight-seeing bus, but because most of the interesting bits of Stratford are pedestrianised, and the Shakespearean sites are too far apart in a sea of suburban houses, it was a bit disappointing. Another rest, and then went down to a sensational dinner in the hotel restaurant. What a contrast to the soggy pasta at Chester! I had duck for entree and Tim had a tian of prawn, crab and avocado, and then I had salmon trout and he had lamb, washed down with nice wines and followed up by further experiments with single malt nightcaps in the bar. We both felt rather better after this and felt quite benign about the last of our adventures in the UK!