Saturday, 28 September 2013

A Walk through The Groves of Chester . . .

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It was such a gorgeous day here in Chester yesterday that we put Mitzie into the car and the three of us went off into town. We parked down by the River Dee, in an area which is called The Groves.

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Chester's riverside promenade is a beautiful  magnet for residents and visitors alike. It was laid out in two stages  by Alderman Charles Brown in 1880.  There are refreshment kiosks, pubs, a pretty Edwardian bandstand and landing stages from where pleasure boats depart for cruises up the Dee and from where rowing and motorboats may be hired. Concerts and regattas are held in the summer months and local artists display their work along the base of the wall.

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It's an area that we love to visit.  This is a photograph of me that Todd took back in 2000 when I had come over to meet up in person.  That was prior to us getting married, but as you can see from the ring on my finger, we had gotten engaged by the time this photo was taken.

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This is a photo taken from that same point yesterdau.  It is the old roman bridge which takes you from Chester proper into an area known as Handbridge.   This is the bridge that King Charles ran over to escape from the roundheads during Britain's Civil War, way back when.  It didn't work.  He still got caught and beheaded.  Sigh . . .

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Not only is the river a magnet for residents and visitors, but also for a wide variety of birds.   This was a cormorant yesterday.  It looks like a bat doesn't it.  I am not sure what it is doing, but there were several others in the river on the wier doing the same thing.  Todd thinks they were drying their wings . . .

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This is the view going back up the river in the other direction, which is where we are going to walk.  As you can see it's a very pleasant avenue, lined with beautiful beech trees, benches and pleasure boats . . .

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It really was a gorgeously beautiful day yesterday.  We thought we would be quite on our own, but there were lots of people there who had the same idea as us!

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My two loves enjoying the sunshine.   Todd is quite photogenic I think.  He doesn't think so, but then, he is a humble man.  Mitzie was mostly interested in sniffing everything, which drives Todd batty.  Yesterday she was zig zagging back and forth, which really annoyed him, but that is a dog for you . . . especially cockers.  They are always on the scent!

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I kept worrying that she would fall in the water, but she didn't.   This is a bit further down.   There are several information and ice cream kiosks along the banks.   There are also river boats which you can take river tours on for a fee.  One goes all the way to Iron Bridge in Staffordshire.

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This is a Moorhen, sunning itself.  I had never seen Moorhen's until I moved over here to the UK. Moorhens, sometimes called marsh hens or river chickens, are medium-sized water birds. They are close relatives of coots, and because of their apparently nervous behavior (frequently twitching tail, neck and grinding their backs) are sometimes called "skitty coots."

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I often wonder if they would make good eating.   Would they taste like chicken do you think?  
Moorhens can walk very well on strong legs, and have long toes that are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces.  The species here in the UK are known as the Common Moorhen.  Moorhens are also incredibly resourceful . . . scientists once recorded an incident where during heavy rain a bird incubating eggs was seen to cover itself with a sheet of polythene like a cape, then remove it once the rain stopped.

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This is the bandstand.  Oftimes during the summer months there will be concerts put on here.  There is usually a Brass Band Concert on most Bank Holidays.  Behind that you can see Chester's Suspension bridge which provides pedestrian access to Handbridge and Queen's Park.   I can remember when I first moved over here you would often see lads diving off it in the summer months, but that is a practice I think the city has put a stop to.  And quite rightly so.

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This is one of the benched areas quite near to where you can hop onto the Suspension Bridge.  In back there is one of the Ice Cream Kiosks I mentioned earlier.  It is looking quite autumnal at the moment with dry leaves skittering across the pavement and dancing through the air.  I quite enjoyed sitting on one of these benches yesterday and watching them entertain us.

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Swans and Ducks came to visit us.  We have quite a few resident swans now.  This is a mother with a couple of her Cygnets.   They are attracted to people because people are always feeding them bread crumbs, etc. . . .

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But they are somewhat fickle creatures, for if you haven't got anything to give them, they quickly move on their way and are gone . . .

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We did not mind, there was ever so much more to enjoy and to see . . . I love days like that.  Sunny and warm, with nothing pressing to do, no chores calling . . .

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There are big beautiful homes on the other side of the suspension bridge  I think that's where some of our wealthier residents live.  On this side across from them, are the private moorings and the Chester Racing Club.

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There are a number of private residences on this side of the river as well . . . and a few cafe's and pubs as you would expect.   Walking is thirsty business and it's easy to work up an appetite.

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We enjoyed some Eccles Cakes as we sat there watching the boats go by.  It was so pleasant and a real treat.  I love Eccles Cakes.   This was my first one this year.

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Mitzie just enjoyed sitting next to us.  I gave her some water to drink and we shared a few crumbs with her.

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I love this picture of her.  We had to get her a new bed yesterday.   You know they tell you that you can wash those fabric dog beds that you can buy.  You're supposed to just be able to zip off the covers and throw then into the wash . . . doesn't work. Those covers come off easy enough . . . but just try getting one back on.  That exercise is a huge exercise in frustration and in the end, you give up.  Most annoying.

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While we were sitting there a fella came out with his rowing boat, for some exercise I presume.   The boat was long and skinny, with just room enough for one person.  I found it quite interesting to watch him getting everything in place to go . . . I didn't see how he was ever going to make it into that boat without falling into the river . . .

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But he did . . . and before too long was rowing up the river . . .

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This is one of the cruise boats returning . . .

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I think it's odd that they call it the Mark Twain Showboat.   There is no show . . . and Mark Twain hasn't been here in a long time, if ever . . .  The other one is the Lady Diana.  Now that makes more sense don't you think?  She was the Countess of Chester.

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After our Eccles Cakes we made our way back up the river and sat on a bench in front of the bandstand.  I love how I was able to capture the sun's rays in this photograph . . .

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I was really trying to capture the pigeons dancing on the rooftop.
But that was our walk.  Not too long afterwards we hopped back into the car and came home.  Todd spent the rest of the day sunning himself in the back garden, puttering, reading, etc.

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I did have time for one last artsy photo . . . I like artsy photo's . . . and with that I shall leave you with a thought for today . . .

"Joy does not simply happen to us.
We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day."
~Henri Nouwen

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Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Pumpkin Muffins.  Beautifully moist and spicy.  We love these!

Have a fabulous Saturday.  I hope you enjoyed the walk with me!


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