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: 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: The largest amphitheatre in Britain

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I didn’t know it was an amphitheatre

I was surprised to learn that Chester had an amphitheatre whilst researching places to go before my trip. The funny thing is, I actually realised I’d seen it before on a previous trip a few years earlier but, I didn’t know it was an amphitheatre. It didn’t look like the amphitheatres I’m used to seeing. Having said this, I think that’s what makes it quite unique.

A bit about the history

It’s dated right back to the 1st century AD and is the largest amphitheatre to be discovered in Britain. It was used for gladiatorial combat, cockfighting and bull baiting in front of a large crowd of up to 8,000 people. It was first discovered underground in the 1970s.

The complications

you’ll have noticed it doesn’t look that big in the picture. That’s because only two fifths of it are visible, the rest is under a brick wall. Archaeologists were unable to excavate the rest of it due to other buildings that have been built over it. Some of these buildings are important in their own right such as Dee House, an 18th century house which sits over most of the covered site. Authorities won’t give permission for it’s removal and have actually protected Dee House. It’s such a shame, especially since Dee House has been empty since 1993. Either way I’d say it’s still impressive and worth a visit and you’ll be able to say you have visited Britain’s largest discovered amphitheatre to date👍🏾.

It’s free to visit and you can find it at Little St John Street, CH1 1RE

Thanks for reading 🙂

stay safe

Natalie x

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.

Chester, England: Treasured Cathedral

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My first stop in Chester was the beautiful gothic style cathedral and its stunning gardens. Unfortunately, on this occasion I was unable to visit inside due to covid-19 restrictions. I have actually been inside on a previous visit, but unfortunately I do not have any great pictures of the inside to share with you guys. But, I did manage get some shots of the outside, in-between avoiding a man who kept trying to hand me a squirrel 😅. One thing you will notice here is, there are so many squirrels, and they don’t seem bothered about getting close to you.

A bit about the cathedral

The Cathedral had previously been the Abbey Church of a Benedictine Monastery, which had been dedicated to Saint Werburgh. It is now dedicated to Christ and The Virgin mary. It is also seat to The Arch Bishop Of Chester and has been since 1541.

Some of its oldest parts date right back to 1093 and it still has some of its Norman features from when the Norman’s built it. Although, from 1250 the church was built to be a gothic style.

Although, it is now restored their is still some places where you can see where it had been destroyed and defaced in the past.

If you visit Chester, don’t miss visiting inside this stunning cathedral It’s located in the heart of chester at St Werburgh St, Chester, CH1 2DY. For more information visit here

Until next time, thanks for reading 🙂

stay safe

Natalie x

Chester, England: The almost roman capital city of Britain

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I vsited this fascinating city back in April of this year. The visit came after discovering the city may have been, or at least planned by the Romans to become their capital city. There has been a growing speculation of this over the years after the discovery of a Roman maps for the city.

I wouldn’t mind, but I’ve been here before and didn’t realise just how historical this place is.

A bit about Chester

Chester is situated in the northwest of England. It was founded as a Roman fortress in the 1st century A.D.

It’s captivating beauty and distinctive character makes it one of the UK’s well liked destinations.

The place where the Romans trooped to war, the Vikings caused destruction and the Normans defeated the Anglo Saxons. And with that being said, you’ll probably know there is plenty of rich history in this little city.

Over the next few posts I will be sharing the places I come across whilst here.

Until next time☺

Natalie x

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