A frost greeted us Wednesday morning, down on the Dee Branch there was a layer of cat ice. Around us was still fluid but back towards the staircase lock there were patches of ice. This is why we’ve stayed put in Chester, waiting for the chilly spell to pass and for the canal to remain liquid so that we don’t get stuck up towards Ellesmere Port. Of course this morning was the morning that Tilly decided to be that little bit more adventurous and manage to cross the towpath, I hadn’t spotted the ice when she went out! I’ve been looking at the one and only tree in Chester for days, weeks, years now! It’s a bit spikey but at least I conquered it. This didn’t take long and anyhow it was cold!
As we had our breakfast a chap appeared with a windlass from down on the Dee Branch. He proceeded to empty the lock, crackling the covering of ice as the levels altered. We first thought that maybe the level gradually drops on the branch, so he was topping it up. Then another chap appeared and pushed open a gate as a boat was reversed, with difficulty, thorough the ice to the chamber. They brought the boat up backwards and reversed it from the lock where it has been sat all day, maybe waiting for some work to be done on it.
Opened in a purpose built building in 1886, the Grosvenor Museum houses artefacts from both Chester Society for Natural Science and Chester Archaeological Society. An extension was added in 1894, by 1938 the City of Chester took over full control of the museum, looking after the collections and displays. This and admission being free shows somewhat. The building is grand from the outside (peacocks decorating the gables) and the mosaics on the floors and under the dado rail must have taken some work.
The Romans are to Chester what the Vikings are to York, a large tourist attraction. A large collection of Roman gravestones fills one room, with information on those portrayed in the carvings. A video tells the story of one centurion and his wife, lots of interesting detail on what he wore and their life at Deva the Roman Garrison that became Chester. A large model shows you the layout of the garrison and how it compares to the city’s layout today. Hot water pipes and roofing tiles fill more display cabinets. There is plenty to read, just a shame nobody seems to have proof read it.
Behind the main building is a link into a period house, 20 Castle Street, which was saved from demolition and it’s first period room a Victorian Parlour was put on display in 1955. The house jumps around with it’s displays, Victorian, Stewart, 1920’s, Victorian again, Edwardian, 1970’s all very higgledy piggledy. As we climbed the stairs we felt like we were in a hall of mirrors as the walls and landings didn’t marry up, the floors changing angle every which way possible, it’s possibly the most seasick I’ve felt in a long time.
Back in the main building are collections of stuffed animals and a very large silver collection just down the corridor from the Honourable Incorporation of the King’s Arms Kitchen. This was a drinking, gentleman’s club dating from 1770 and took up residency at the King’s Arms Kitchen public house. This recreation of the room is now used for school parties to have their packed lunches and tours to await their guide.
0 locks, 0 miles, 1 tree! 5 minutes off the boat, 1st cat ice, 1 reversed lock, 1 museum not to add to John’s list, 1 loud speaking lady, 1 fish crumble for tea.