Birmingham: England’s second largest city

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Hi all, welcome and thank you for coming back to the blog. It’s a new travel location! Over the next few blogs I will be sharing posts from my visit to this pleasantly surprising city. I hope you will enjoy what’s to come.

About Birmingham

Birmingham is situated in the West Midlands in England. It is one of the UK’S major cities and has the nickname of ‘City of a thousand trades’ due to its past central involvement of being one of the most manufacturing places in the world. You can still see some of the old warehouses and factories in and around the city, some which have been renovated into shopping centre’s, apartments and pubs etc.

Birmingham is the second largest city in the United Kingdom after London and is often one of the most overlooked and underrated cities in the UK. In fact, I have on several occasions heard people mistake other cities as being the second city.

It may well be overlooked, but this is a thriving metropolitan city and has a lot to offer such as its spectacular canal networks, parentage of food and cuisine, Art, famous rock music, night-life, cultural intent and more.

Here are some incredible facts about this city

More canals than Venice

Yes that’s right! Myth- Kind of! Birmingham does not have more canals than Venice, but it does have more miles of canals. Birmingham has 35miles of canals while Venice only has 26 miles of canals.

Largest public library in Europe

The library of Birmingham is the largest public library in Europe to date. Not only this, but it has the largest Shakespeare book collection in the world and also has a Victorian Shakespeare room.

Largest Christmas market in the UK

Not only does it have the largest Christmas market in the UK it’s one of the biggest in Europe. The only other two which are larger are Germany and Austria.

The second youngest city in Europe

It is the second youngest city in Europe after Bradford. It has the largest fraction of under 25 year olds whereas Bradford has the largest fraction of under 16 year olds.

Curry capital of the UK

Curry houses started to appear here in the1960s and became considerably popular by the 1970s, it was at this point when the Balti dishes started to appear. It has been considered as the birthplace of the Balti however, it has been hugely debated that the Balti was invented in Pakistan. Either way it is considered as the curry capital of the UK with many curry and Balti houses, and not forgetting their famous Balti Triangle wich consists of over 50 Balti houses.

Inspiration for the popular tv show (Peaky Blinders)

The show tells the stories of the real peaky blinders gang who originated from Birmingham and operated on the streets here. Now there are many inspired peaky blinders themed experiences to enjoy in the city.

Thank you for reading

Until next time

stay blessed 🙏🏾

Natalie x

Chester England: Along the city walls

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Hi all! Hope everyone is keeping well and staying safe.

I’m proud to finally announce this will be my final blog on Chester, unless I visit again that is. I hope it has been helpful to anyone who has plans to visit here. It really is an incredible city to explore and I’ve enjoyed creating a little space on my blog for it. And to everyone that has stopped by to have a read…Thank you so much for your continued support 🙏🏾

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A bit about the history

Chester boasts the oldest, longest and complete city walls in Britain, some parts date back to to over 2000 years old.

The walls were built to protect the city and started to be built by the Romans between 70 and 80 (CE) when the fortress of Deva Victrix was established.

I really enjoyed walking along the walls because it gave me incredible views over the city whilst also giving me a great insight into the long history of the city. The walls are 2 miles long and took me approximately two hours to walk around, but I’d say they could be walked in less than an hour if you didn’t want to exit at the sights.

Attractions

on route you will get to see many of the cities attractions such as: Chester castle, Eastgate Clock , Chester Roman Gardens , Bonewaldesthorne’s Tower, Water Tower, Pemberton’s Parlour, Phoenix Tower. Bridgegate, Watergate and the famous Chester rows , just to name a few of the incredible attractions.

The medieval shopping rows are two tired black and white half timbered unique buildings used as a shopping arcade.

A view that can be seen standing at Eastgate clock

This tower is allegedly the tower where King Charles watched his troops being defeated in the Battle of Rowton in 1645. However, historians suggest this couldn’t have been possible because the battlefield can not be viewed at this point. They also suggest it is more likely he was stood on a tower of Chester Cathedral and not this one🤷🏿‍♀️. Who Knows! Either way, it’s a cool place to stand for a great view over Chester.

I’ve completely forgotten the name of this tower and I can’t seem to find it in any of my research attempts to find it, but how cool is It?

There are many incredible views from Chester walls, but i won’t give them all a way here😉

Thank you for stopping by

stay blessed

Natalie x

Chester England: This place gave me the shivers

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St John the Baptist Church sits in a beautiful location on top of a cliff overlooking the River dee. It was founded in around the late 7th century by the Anglo Saxons, and used to be the former cathedral of chester in the early middle ages.

Church ruins

it operates today as a fully functioning parish church, but also features a number of ruins which used to be part of the Church which were left in ruin after the dissolution of the monasteries.

The spooky coffin

Engraved in the walls is the most bizarre phenomena your most likely to see here. This coffin bearing the words Dust to Dust!

I tried to find out the story behind this, but kept coming across myth stories such as ‘it’s the coffin of a murdered monk’

As much as we all love a good dramatic story the most believable was: It’s a rare survival of a medieval coffin that was discovered during renovation or grave digging in or around the 1840s.

What is unclear is that no-one seems to know why it has been positioned here. Maybe it’s was to attract tourists or to create some made up mythological stories. Who knows! But what I can say is, this is a bit of a spooky place and the coffin only adds to it. I came here alone and can honestly say it sent shivers down my spine besides this, I thought it was a great place to experience. Unfortunately I didn’t get to go inside the church as it was closed at the time of visiting.

Location

if you would like to visit here you can find it at: Vicars Ln, Chester, CH1 1SN

Thanks for stopping by

Stay blessed

Natalie x

Chester, England: Western Europe’s only portrayal of a Roman goddess

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I can’t believe I stumbled across this while wondering around Chester! Sometimes I love nothing more than getting of the beaten track. I’m so grateful and thankful to have a wondering curious mind and a real zest for life otherwise, I would never stumble across amazing things like this.

At first I thought it was a hobbit house, but it turned out to be the site of Minerva’s shrine, a roman goddess. It is said, that quarrymen carved this shrine to Minerva more than 2000 years ago. The quarrymen would come here to worship and pay respect to the goddess as well as praying for success and safety.

shrines were very common in the ancient world, but many of them have been claimed and this is the only one in its original site in Western Europe, as recorded by Historic England.

The shrine is a little worse for wear, but you can still see the outline figure of her holding a spear.

Location

If you want to visit, it’s located in Edgar’s field. Go across the old Dee Bridge across the river, Edgar’s field is on the right next to a pub called the Ship Inn.

Whilst here enjoy the beautiful surroundings nearby

Chester, England: The River Dee, A Bouncy Bridge and a Roman Park

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The River Dee

As I exited the bottom of the Roman gardens I come to the River Dee. I had originally planned to buy a ticket at the quayside for a half an hour cruise along the river, but got distracted when I noticed the beautiful Queens park suspension bridge. Instead, I headed towards the bridge. I know it’s a suspension bridge, but I didn’t quite expect it to be as bouncy as it was to walk along. In-fact, I almost lost my footing on it! Anyway, it was well worth the the distraction, especially at the stop and stare moment mid way. The views are stunning!

Queens park suspension bridge

I did plan to take my cruise after exploring this bridge, but again was distracted when I seen people walking into an entrance. I wondered where the entrance led to, so decided to have a nosey. The entrance turned out to be the entrance to Grosvenor Park.

Grosvenor Park

Grosvenor Park dates back to 1867 and is one of the UK’s most perfect and most beautiful examples of a victorian Park.

The park is touched up with neatly lined trees along with ornaments, statues, flower beds and a number of grade II listed features.

It also features a miniature railway and playground area. It costs £1.50 for adults, £1 for children, or £3.50 for two adults and three children.

Other features include a cafe which offers drinks and light snacks along with toilets.

All three of the places mentioned are within walking distance of the city centre, so definitely worth visiting.

I never did end up going back to the boat trip. I ended up being distracted again by something else ha. I’ll save that for my next blog.

Thanks for reading stay blessed 🙏🏾

Chester, England: A Roman garden

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Chester’s Roman Garden is located just outside the city walls. It’s a place I would highly recommend visiting. Its made up of finely sculptured building pieces from the Roman legionary Of Deva, collected and unearthed from around the city. Some of the pieces are from important military establishments, including part of a Roman bath from a former main baths building, which had been of great importance of the Chester Fortress.

Address

The garden is located at Pepper St, Chester CH1 1QQ and is free to enter.

York England: Sisters take York

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After our two and a half hour tour we were given some free time for lunch and to explore some more.

Sister antics

Whilst everyone gathered around the tour guides to be pointed in the direction of landmarks and sites, we asked to be pointed in the direction of the bars. We were in agreement that it was important we got our priorities right to seek wine🤷🏿‍♀️.

We had been so excited to take this trip together over the last week and having just got out of lockdown, we were admittedly a little animated on this day. We had laughed and giggled at the back of the coach all the way here, turning answers to questions in the tour quiz into our own private little jokes. It wasn’t any different on the tour either. I don’t think either of us had heard much of what the tour guides said in the whole two hours.

Spoilt for choice

I’ve never been anywhere where in my life with so many choices of stunning looking pubs, bars and restaurants. We were well and truly spoilt for choice. In the end we settled with The Old White Swan Pie House because it fit everything we were looking for. A nice old traditional English pub, vegetarian frendly menu and of course nice wine.

We both ordered the Lentil cottage pie and a bottle of their white house wine. Everything was perfect and very well priced

Not only was the food delicious but, the pub is an historic place and is said to be one of York’s oldest pubs. The pub is a collection of ancient buildings with parts dating right back to the 16th century with interesting features. I would highly recommend this place.

We went for a stroll around some of the back streets and less busy areas

we walked by these pretty residential streets

And York Minster Conference and Banqueting Centre

York Minster Conference and Banqueting Centre is the origins of St. Williams College dating back to the 15th century.

Ouse Sightseeing River Cruise

We took a cruise tour down the river. The tour lasted around 45mins and cost £11.95 per adult. We had a great captain/guide who had the worst jokes ever, but he was very knowledgeable and had some interesting information about York.

Quirky Place

We managed to sneak in some more drinks at this quirky pub before heading back to our coach.

Conclusion

I hope my York posts have been helpful to anyone who has plans to visit here. York has by far been my favourite UK city to visit up to date. My only regret is not having a longer visit as one day is certainly not long enough to visit this incredible city. However, I do plan to visit again in the near future.

Thanks for reading 🙂

York England: Oh, What a Shambles!

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My favourite part of our day trip tour of York was walking through the shambles.

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The shambles is known as the most popular medieval street in England. It was everything I had imagined and more! With its stuck out buildings and narrow cobbled streets, this truly felt like we were on the set of a Harry Potter film or inside the pages of a story book. In fact, It was the inspiration for the film version of Diagon Alley.

A bit about the history

There is only one surviving butchers here now but, the shambles was the street of the butchers. Cattle, pigs and sheep would be brought here from the markets to be slaughtered. The carcass of the animals would be dragged into the street and put on the benches to be cut, then the meats would be displayed on the hooks and shelves to sell, a number of the shops still have the meat hooks and shelves. Can you imagine how bloody and gutsy this area must have looked? I don’t really think I would like to! However, this is where the name come from as people would say ‘Oh what a shambles’ It has had a number of names in the past but by 1426 it was known as The Great Flesh Shambles, but was shortened over time.

Meat was sold here in this way until around 1939 when the outbreak of war led to it being stopped.

Many of the buildings here date back to 1350-1475

York Minster: The largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe

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One of our tour stops was York Minster, after all you can’t visit York without seeing its most popular landmark.

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The history in brief

York Cathedral is the cathedral’s commonly known name, but it is officially the Cathedral and Metropolitcal Church of St Peter. The first original Church on this site was a temporary wooden church built by King Edwin of Northumbria. The church was built after King Edwin, who was in control of York, married Princess Ethelburga of Kent who persuaded him to convert to Christianity as part of the marriage deal. The church was built for the purpose of King Edwin’s baptism in 627.

After his baptism, Edwin ordered for the church to be rebuilt in stone structure, although he never actually got to see it complete because he was killed in battle in 633. The church was supposedly completed in 640 under King Oswald some time after Saint Paulinus helped King Edwin’s widow and her children back to Kent. The church was then dedicated to St Peter.

In 732 the first Archbishop of York was recognised by the pope.

In 741 the church was burnt to the ground and Ecgbert the first Archbishop of York re-built and designed the new lofty structure.

The stone saxon church was ransacked by William the conqueror’s forces in 1069, he then ordered his appointed archbishop to rebuild a Norman Cathedral on the site. It took Archbishop Thomas 20 years to complete the Cathedral. This cathedral was badly damaged in a fire in 1137, this time Archbishop Thomas’s successor Archbishop Roger Pont L’Eveque started to remodel the seating area and chamber in 1154. All the work was completed by 1175 with an addition of two western towers.

The Gothic style church of today took 250 years to build, and was built between 1220 and 1472.

Interesting facts about York Minster

The Cathedral has its own policing The police force was established after a religious fanatic set the church on fire on the 2nd of February 1829, and has had a police force ever since.

Some of its roof was designed by children A children’s programme called Blue Peter hosted a competition to design a roof in 1984 during restoration of the cathedral. The winning designs were art inspired by Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, the raising of Mary Rose and a whale and diver.

The first black Archbishop of the Church Of England led services here Dr. John Sentamu became the first black Archbishop in the church of England in 2005. He became the Archbishop of York and led the services here up until June 2020.

It costs £15,000 a day to keep it open We already mentioned the police force but, imagine the cost of heating, lightning and all the other staff.

Its apparently haunted. With York having the reputation of one of Europe’s most haunted cities, it’s probably hardly surprising to hear this. One of the many story’s that pops up is, a man is often seen sitting in the pews.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about York Minster if your thinking of visiting click here for more information and tickets.

Thanks for stopping by

Natalie x

York England: York’s Chocolate History

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Chocolate first arrived in Britain in the 17th century in the form of a drink. London was the first place to have a chocolate house in 1657. It was the place where men went to drink chocolate, gamble and chat amongst each other .

The first ever solid chocolate bar produced in Britain was by J.S. Fry & Son’s from the city of Bristol in 1847, followed by Cadbury’s in 1849 then Rowntree’s in 1935.

York’s Chocolate Story

On one of our tour stops we stopped outside York’s Chocolate Story a museum and popular visitor attraction. We didn’t go inside, but had a briefing on the story about the Rowntree’s brand from our tour guide. However, I would most definitely love to pay a visit next time to do the interactive tour and chocolate tasting😋.

Rowntree’s was founded in 1862 in York by Henry Isaac Rowntree. After financial difficulties, he was joined by his brother Joseph Rowntree who turned the company around and the brand become Rowntree & Co.

The Rowntree brand went on to develop some of the UK’s first solid chocolate and most favourable chocolate bars such as Kit Kat, Aero, Smarties, rolo and Quality Street etc.

Rowntree’s was purchased by the global company Nestle in 1988, who have since re-branded many of the products under their own brand name.

I suddenly have a sweet tooth and feel the need to go and raid the kitchen cupboard, so until next time 😉

Natalie x