Sunday, 14 July 2013

Out and about on the town . . .

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I just saw someone post on Facebook. "Clear off sun. I want some cloud. I hate this heat." Some people are never happy!  Yes, we're having a heatwave, and it can be uncomfortable for sure.  I was making baby cakes yesterday and I hadn't even gotten them in the oven yet and the sweat perspiration  was just pouring off me.  I was glowing for sure!   I am not complaining though.   We get so very few warm sunny days like this a summer, I'll take what I can get and be grateful for each and every one!  (I don't like it too hot, but I won't begrudge my heat loving husband his little pleasures in life!)  Oh the fickleness of mankind . . .

We took ourselves off into Chester yesterday afternoon on the bus, forgetting that the races were on.  I was eager to grab some snapshot of some of the eateries, etc. in our beautiful city for a project I'm working on.

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Chester is a vibrant city with beautiful architecture, very Shakespearean don't you think?  I love the white stucco and black beam structures scattered throughout the city.  They really add to it's charm.  This is a French restaurant.  I've never eaten here however . . . far too expensive for our budget!

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This building, The Blue Bell, has been around for a very, very long time.  The pavement (sidewalk) actually goes right through that bottom half.  At the moment it is a Chinese/Oriental restaurant.   It's been many cuisines through the years, fine dining etc.   It is said to be haunted by a young woman from the 1700's awaiting her soldier lovers  return . . .  at least that's what they told us on the Chester City Ghost tour we took two of my boys on when they were over here about 12 years ago now!

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There are lots of lovely pubs scattered throughout the city.  This is only two of them.  Most of the pubs over here in the UK are also eating establishments, offering what it dutifully and charmingly called Pub Grub . . . steak pies, chips, sturdy sandwiches, hot pots, roast dinners, etc.   Usually filling and homey foods, and normally fairly affordable.   Of course along with that goes pump ales, beers and the like.   Most pubs usually have their own house ales.

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This is a fine cheese shop on the main drag. It's been here for many years.  The smell inside is wonderful, especially if you love cheese!  You can find all kinds of cheeses in here from all over the world, but of course they specialize in beautiful local cheeses as well.   In this county it would be Cheshire cheese, which is lovely.  You can also buy all sorts of condiments/chutneys/jams/pickles etc.   Anything that would go well with cheese, and nice crusty loaves.   I think there is even a bottle of wine or two available.  A person could fill their picnic basket here with a beautiful repast and then take themselves off to the park for an impromptu feast!

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There are plenty of these types of places springing up as well.   This first one is a noodle bar and the next one is a Japanese place, serving Sushi and Teriyaki types of dishes.  There's also the usual Mr Sub, McD's, KFC, Burger King, etc.  As far as I know there are no Korean establishments, but I could be wrong!

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This is an Italian Granita/Ice Cream place.  I have never eaten there, but it's always pretty busy, even in the Winter.   Again, I love the architecture.  Note the red phone boxes and the black painted ballards!  Very British!

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This is the Green Grocers.  You can get all sorts of lovely fruits and vegetables in here, most locally grown, all reasonably prices.  I picked up two bags of those beautiful looking locally grown tomatoes yesterday and a lovely handful of fresh flat leaf parsley.  Just look at those gorgeous cauliflowers!   They have lovely big baskets of Strawberries at only £1, as well as Raspberries . . . and those dessert cherries were not overly pricey either.   It's an excellent place to pick up your five a day!

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Now this is a new thing that appears to be catching on in the UK.   Iced Coffee.   When I first moved over here it would have been unheard of.  People would have thought you crazy to want to drink an Iced Coffee . . . finding a coffee that didn't come out of a jar that wasn't instant was a rarity  as well, but we are much more Cosmopolitan now, and a lot more picky I guess.   There is no end of coffee bars here, all serving pretty decent coffee I hear.  Which did a test recently on the best and the worst.  I can't remember who the worst was, but the best was Costa.  No surprise there!

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Of course we have our fair share of cafe's serving up all day breakfasts and other such simple foods.  Egg and Chips,  Bacon Barms and the like. You can get a pretty decent cup of tea and slice of buttered toast in one of these places. I don't drink tea myself per se, but nowadays most offer herbal blends as well, so it's all good.  Toasted teacake anyone?

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The hustle and bustle of the pedestrian area leading down towards the town centre, which is also pedestrianized.   There are a multitude of shops down this street, and eateries.  Pret a Manger is there, along with Starbucks, Hotel Chocolate, Spec Savers, Gap and a few others.   Lots of spaces to sit out and enjoy a tasty cuppa as well.

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There were lots of buskers out and about as well yesterday, it being a beautiful sunny day.  This was a Jazz Band and they were very good too.  Set up in between a candy shop and a pub . . . and right across from our favourite Fish and Chips eaterie.

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The bakery . . . with pies and cakes and baguettes, rolls, sausage rolls, pasties etc.   All things baked.  They make very nice boules.

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This is called the cross.  It lies at the meeting point of several streets . . . Bridge Street, North Gate Street, Water Gate Street, etc.  It is a large Norman Cross which has no arms, them having been broken off yonks ago.   This is where the Town Crier sets up and does his daily news announcement each day at noon hour, and it is a very popular spot for buskers, it being in the main centre of most things!  Yesterday there was a Christian group here singing hymns, preaching and handing out leaflets.

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This place offers Carvery Sandwiches.  You can get your pick . . . roasted pork, beef, turkey, gammon, chicken . . . it's all there and sliced off to order!

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Cafe Rouge, a French restaurant chain.   We ate in one when we were down in London and it was very good.   We really enjoyed the meal we had there and it was not too expensive . . . not cheap either, but good all the same.   The Cafe culture is really catching on here.   People travel a lot on the continent and have embraced the whole eating drinking outdoors thing.  It's great!

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Patisserie Valerie.   A french Patisserie spot, which also serves beautiful lunches and dinners.   The cakes displayed in their window were gorgeous.  I went to one of their spots in London a few years back with some girlfriends.   My friend Eliza was visiting from Arizona and we girls had a day out in London.   So many cakes and pastries, so little time, but we put a good dent in them anyways.

Todd . . . he's not a cake type of person . . . and especially not an expensive fussy cake type of person . . . sigh . . .

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Lots of coffee and tea rooms about town.   Most serving up traditional teas and lunches . . . all day breakfasts, etc.   A cream tea is a lovely thing to experience . . . with scones, cream, preserves and hot pots of tea.  Some will even do a high tea with the finger sandwiches.

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Time for a burst of refreshment ourselves . . . ice cold Strawberry Lemonades.  Perfect on a hot day.
We both enjoyed!  Very tasty and I do NOT want to know the calorie count.  It was a treat.

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Wanting a crazy balloon creation?   This guy had oodles of them.  The town was beginning to become very crowded by then . . . race goers were arriving, dressed in all of their fine suits, fancy dresses and feathered caps.   It made me chuckle inside watching the women with their six inch heels maneuver the cobbles, but they were seriously looking beautiful.

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Some were a bit ridiculous as well, but all in good fun.   I don't actually "get" it myself, but . . . it takes all kinds.   It's tradition I think . . .

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We went for a walk on the walls after . . . it was nice up there with a breeze blowing and cooling us off.   The Cathedral was looking quite pretty I thought.  Lots of picnickers on the lawn . . .

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I was getting artsy fartsy again!   I thought this nice of the Cathedral spires shot through the trees.
Tis the artist in me . . . it won't let go . . .

We went to catch a bus home not too long after this.  Oh boy . . . every time the races are on in the city we say to each other, we are never coming in again when the races are on.  The traffic is unreal with buses queuing up for ages trying to get into the stream of traffic and onto their routes.   What normally would have been about a ten minute journey took us over an hour yesterday and it was pretty hot on the bus, let me tell you!

And once again . . . we said to each other . . . shoot me if I ever again recommend going into town when the races are on!  Never mind we did have a pleasant day and we got where we wanted to go in the end . . . home.

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I just have to show you our wild flowers again.  They're so pretty.  Do yourself a favor and pick up a packet of wild flower seeds.  You won't be sorry.   You have no idea of what is going to pop up, but I guarantee it will be spectacular!   Filled with butterflies and surprises too!

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I think this is a type of poppy.  Anyone know for sure?   There is only one of them, but it's spectacular nonetheless!  Just gorgeous!

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Our Clematis is very happy too . . .

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So is the pond . . .

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

"It is perhaps more fortunate a destiny to have a taste for collecting shells, than to have been born a millionaire."
~Robert Louis Stevenson

I hope you find some shells to collect today!

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Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Little Gooseberry Crumble Cakes!  Made with berries from our garden.  Oh so yummy!

Have a fabulous Sunday!


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