A Weekend in Cheshire & Chester

For a hobby that involves sitting behind a screen in silence, blogging has turned out to be surprisingly sociable. Write enough words, throw yourself into enough Twitter chats, engage in enough Instagram banter and before you know it, you will find yourself immersed within a network of blogging companions. Initially, this starts off in a virtual sense and subsequently (once you feel bold and brave enough,) you take things to the next level by arranging a rendez-vous on the other side of the screen for a real life meet up (or what has affectionately come to be known within inner circles as a Tweet up.)

I have made some genuine friends in the blogosphere and I hope they know who they are but as with new jobs and new schools, some of the people you encounter along the way fall under the umbrella of acquaintances rather than friends, people who leave an impression in your life softly and transiently, flitting in and out, leaving faint trails of nostalgia behind them.

But then, there are the other type; the friends you feel you have known a lifetime, the ones you can converse with for hours without even an utterance about your respective blogs, the ones you trust implicitly, who continue to leave a treasured imprint in your life, even if the blogging stops or the geographical distance between you grows.

A Weekend in Cheshire

Around three years ago, I was blessed enough to make one such friend through Twitter and blogging and before the January blues had a chance to manifest in 2018, Pumpkin and I headed up to Cheshire for a welcome escape from city life with the lovely L and her husband alongside us for company.

After dropping off our bags and rehydrating with a cup of tea, we kicked off our staycation with…more cups of tea of course! What’s a weekend in the British countryside without a decent afternoon tea after all?

And with that logic firmly in tow, we were led to the quainter than quaint Ginger and Pickles Tea Room in Nantwich, where the walls are flooded with kitsch, vintage artwork and reams of accolades and where the enormous portions of cake and super-sized scones give the proverbial finger to the overpriced, tiddly portions so often seen in afternoon teas down in London. With a vast selection of teas and coffees on offer, I committed the ultimate afternoon tea sin by ordering coffee. I was warned by staff that the Spanish latte was set to be a sweet one and with the viscous condensed milk pooled at the base of the cup, I was more than willing to oblige this.

Once we consumed our fill of hearty sandwiches, we powered through the scones but our appetites barely allowed us to make a dent on the top tier of cakes that awaited us. Our food waste fears proved unfounded, however, when our delightful waitress offered to box them up for us to take home.

The logical next step in the chronology of our day should have been a long walk in fields and foliage to burn off some of the carb loading we had all partaken in – and as unconvincing as it might sound, this was very much our collective intention – but the rain had other plans. With that, we bade farewell to rainy hikes and said hello to browsing independent homewares stores, marvelling at Tudor buildings and camping indoors again for a round of more alcoholic and less caffeinated drinks in a rustic Cheshire pub as the last of the daylight drifted away.

A Day Trip to Chester

Thankfully, the weather turned a corner for us the following day, as we headed on a mini road trip and arrived under a blanket of blue skies. Our destination was Chester, a mere hour or so away and a city stooped in historical charm.

It was my second visit to Chester but my last was at least 7 years ago and all I really recall was the maroon woollen hat I purchased from a hat shop, an accessory that continues to draw derision from Pumpkin, who repeatedly likens it to something our monarch would wear. This time, my goal was to leave Chester remembering Chester for Chester and not for the Queenie hat I acquired there.

Our day got off to a good start with a gentle amble along the old Roman city walls and I was fortunate to have a patient group of companions, who had no issue with me pausing at every Tudor building to take a photograph (there are a lot of Tudor buildings in Cheshire.) It was hard to imagine we were seeing the same buildings that Henry 7th and King Charles had seen so many centuries ago.

On summer days, tourist crowds flock into Chester and boat tours provide a picturesque vantage point from which to view this ancient city. In blustery winter temperatures, however, we had no interest in windswept hair and chilblains so we joined the many locals, who had parked up in Chester that Sunday to raid the last of the post-Christmas sales stock.

The shopping area, crammed with an abundance of high street favourites is split across two tiers, the higher of which makes for prime people-watching positioning but all this gazing and sitting in the car left us hungry for an early lunch. The temptation persisted for a further round of afternoon tea but with one under our belt a mere 24 hours earlier, we resisted the urge and dined at the more contemporary but no less intriguing or innovative The Botanist, where the ceiling candy provided a stealth of distraction from the task at hand of ordering.

The waitress returned back and forth a mere four times before we were finally in a position to place our orders and despite an extensive menu of options, including a dedicated vegan menu, we all found ourselves ordering the hanging kebabs in unison. Our flavours may have differed but our concepts aligned. Great minds (and it would seem, great friends) think alike.

The endless giggles and stories exchanged during our time together were as much a curse as they were a blessing, for our time in Cheshire flew by significantly more speedily than either of us really would have wanted. But with a weekend of repeat shenanigans pencilled in for London and with the prospect of our train back down looming on the horizon, we made our way back to the car park to draw a (pencil) line under this particular chapter (which I suspect will prove to be one of many.)

Fortunately, we had the good sense to pause at main courses at the Botanist, which left a bite sized chunk of time to head to the Snugburys ice cream farm, an endearing family run ice-creamery, where the silky concoctions are all produced on site.

The farm itself lies in the middle of a field (that rather felt like it was in the middle of nowhere) so my typical London excuse of “I only got a cone because I happened to be walking past the place” became redundant.

With more than 40 flavours to sift between on the menu, I had my work cut out but between the seasonal specials and some of the highly unusual offerings, I averted my eyes from the hot chocolate and hot brownie options on the menu and stayed true to the ethos of the place with my double heaped cone.

Those curious about how to spot the ice cream farm from the roads needn’t worry about their sat nav signals for the gigantic hay bunny is a clear pointer towards it, if ever there was one. The hay sculptures, which vary year to year and sadly have been subject to vandalism on some occasions, have become almost as famous in their own right as the decadent ice creams themselves.

As our London-bound train pulled into the platform and we prepared for our return to reality, we were left a much-needed life lesson reminder by the staff at Crewe station, their chalky food for thought setting us up in a more soothing, philosophical way for the week ahead:

“Good days give happiness,” it read – and we had just had two of the best ones.

What are your experiences of friendships in the blogosphere?

30 thoughts on “A Weekend in Cheshire & Chester

  1. beautiful town! that’s one seriously giant rabbit!:)

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 19, 2018 — 3:18 pm

      Hehe, huge right Tanja?! Definitely can’t miss it that’s for sure!

  2. Aww lovely post Shikha! Sounds like a nice break with great people. 🙂 I know very little about Chester, I have to say you make it look very photogenic!

    As for friendships in the blogosphere, well I think I’ve been very lucky to meet lovely people like you, Emma and Emily just for starters, and although we talk online and meet in person very rarely, I consider you friends! I think our little corner of the internet is a lovely way to meet likeminded people and I’ve met loads of lovely peeps through blogging – in Bristol, the Cotswolds, London and much further afield! K x

    1. Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi March 14, 2018 — 6:39 am

      Xxx

    2. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 19, 2018 — 3:19 pm

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment Keri! Definitely feel very grateful to have met you in person finally after so many years of getting on so well in the virtual world ☺ I think you’d love Chester – so quaint & charming!

  3. I love Chester but haven’t been there for years. Thanks for sharing and reminding me that I need to get back there!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 19, 2018 — 3:20 pm

      I hadn’t been for a long time either so it was great going back & discovering it all over again & seeing some of the things I missed out on last time! Hope you make it back there one day soon ☺

  4. Your trip looks so cute! I’ve never been to this part of the UK but the cuteness and the food are definitely enough to tempt me into a visit. I love how much of your post includes food! This is just one of the reasons why we get on so well and you’re one of the loveliest people and the closest friends I’ve met through the blogosphere! 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 19, 2018 — 3:22 pm

      Aww right back at you Ayla!☺ Haha, well in my defence, it wasn’t quite in our plans to do this much eating but the wet weather got in the way of lots of the walking that was on the itinerary – not that I could really complain when the food was all so delicious though! Definitely recommend a visit to Chester one day- such an adorable little place!

  5. Ooh we went to Chester last year and also loved the Botanist! And that clock and all the Tudor buildings-so stunning. I do regret that we never found that ice cream place!

    I have absolutely loads of friends from various ‘bits’ of the internet, especially forums (fora?) that I’ve posted on over the years, as well as blogs (others I’ve written for as well as my own) and Facebook groups. In fact I’d say since I moved to London 6 years ago, apart from a small group of friends from work, the majority of my friends have come from internet activities and I think it’s great -I have a far more diverse group of friends than I otherwise would do!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 19, 2018 — 3:26 pm

      That’s so great to hear Anita! It’s so nice to hear that the online world has brought so many friends your way, who share communal interests and passions! I’m so glad you liked Chester too – a really delightful city break and I never would have discovered the ice cream farm either had it not been thanks to my friend for showing it to me – it’s a great spot though, especially in the summer I imagine so defo keep it in mind if you’re headed to Cheshire again!

  6. Blogging is the best for making friends!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 19, 2018 — 3:27 pm

      Definitely Angie! So many really special people whose paths I’d probably never have crossed otherwise!

  7. yes! ive met… well one fellow blogger. and now we’re good friends! I didnt know there were twitter and insta chats…. i fell im misisng out! 😛 😛

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 19, 2018 — 3:29 pm

      Haha, I used to participate in lots of the Twitter travel chats Andy but to be honest, I found that they were fun but very time consuming & in the end, it was the blogging and writing that was suffering as a result & it’s the writing I’m most passionate about so I scaled back a bit on time spent on those chats etc. So nice to hear you’ve made a good friend too out of the blog world☺

  8. Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi March 14, 2018 — 6:38 am

    What a delicious trip indeed! Blogging friends are the best 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 19, 2018 — 3:30 pm

      Indeedy Emsy! Very delicious & so filling I was practically rolling home by the end of it 😂

  9. Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi March 14, 2018 — 6:39 am

    What a delicious trip! Blog friends are the best aren’t they!?

  10. I’ve still not made it to Cheshire! It looks positively cute though, a proper english town. It’s only a couple hours away, will have to add it to the list! One of my favourite cheeses is Cheshire cheese company though, their caramelised onion cheddar is amazing.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2018 — 9:02 pm

      Oooh thanks so much for the tip off about that cheese – that sounds heavenly, I’m going to have to look that one up! Yeah Chester is so adorable – if you’re that close, you should definitely stop by there one weekend ☺

  11. Cheshire and Chester is the place which contains the peaceful and silent atmosphere. We can get relaxation from the city and have the famous tea here.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 15, 2018 — 6:09 pm

      Lots of tea & and cake places around here for sure!

  12. Chester looking so beautiful, gorgeous and simply quite place to travel. I really liked your blog sense and it really inspires me to travel and visit Chester Cheshire.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 7, 2018 — 9:18 pm

      Chester is very pretty indeed.

  13. Lovely post! It is great when you connect with like minded people and then to head out for a mini travel break with them, just Lovely! 🙂

    I am trying to come out of my cocoon and meet London bloggers…I have cultivated lovely friendships in India. It’s been three years now in London and I would love to meet blogging peeps!

    https://www.aditispen.com

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 7, 2018 — 9:27 pm

      Thanks so much Aditi. I definitely appreciate the value of blogging friendships. Some of the loveliest people in my life are the people I’ve met through writing & I’m ever grateful for that ☺

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 7, 2018 — 9:29 pm

      Thanks Nia! It’s a really charming & quaint place ☺

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 24, 2018 — 11:04 pm

      It’s such a pretty place isn’t it Sneh. Glad you enjoyed your visit there too.

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