Our hostel, gently covered with tight little clouds, was located high in the mountains, so we started the day by carefully descending down the road. We walked down the first hill since the sign happily informed the slope was about 25 degrees steep. Obviously , after yesterday’s adventure we didn’t risk testing our brakes. We were on our way to Chester.
It wasn’t easy leaving Snowdonia’s beautiful mountains. However, the biking road was stretched along the Ireland shore, the weather got nice, and we were full of energy and enthusiasm to cover all 50+ miles.
On our way we got lost a little and accidently rode onto a highway, where no bikes are allowed. We figured the mistake only about 100 meters later as we saw the cars flying past us on the busy road. We had no time to get scared – our rescuer , the traffic officer, was driving straight at us. The gracious “speed guardians” friendly approached us asking whether we got lost. We knodded and said we were looking for the exit down to the sea. The next 50 meters of the exit we were riding accomodated by the bright green and yellow official’s car.Here it is, the dream path raising above the hem of the foamy sea.
On the opposite side the steep cliffs , partly covered with vegetation were hanging above the road. Here and there you could see the remains of the fortress with its watch toweres rising above it. LIttle mobile homes, which looked like summer homes, were scattered along the the coast.Such background made the siloueth of the Abergel/Gwrych Castle, peaking through the dense clouds, to look even more magnificent. It seemed like the previous ansestors’ shades were still living there. Or maybe, they just reincarnated into the crows, who constantly appear on the majestic round towers, made of stone. In sum, such place can serve well as an inspiration for mystical scripts or imagination development.All the coast towns smelled like fried cod and fries. The British really like their traditional fish and chips and soft whipped ice cream.
At some point the fence, separating the sea from the bike road, ended with a vast asphalt shore streach. The ride on such road was easy and careless, just like a ride down the sled in your childhood. We were constantly passing the whole families cycling down the shore. Moms and dads on bikes were pulling behind their little carts with tiny babies and often – dogs. A pouch, strapped inside the kids trailer is nothing unusual in that area.The sun was setting behind the horizon , when we realized that we approached Chester, the capital of a modern county Cheshire. Yes, the homeland of the Cheshire cat who was smiling to Alice from Wonderland.
It took us about 10 hours to cover 80.6 km this time. We were hardly tired – getting used to the ride.=)
Our host Jonathan was a wonderful guy, very sincere and interesting.He is 43 now, but when he was in his 20s he covered half of Russia hitchhiking, learnt how to survive in a Siberian forest, and helped one grandma to pick colorado potato beetles in some remote Russian village. That grandma’s neighbors were joking: “everyone has workers from the sunny South, while yours is from England!”.
John sheltered our little Bros in his garrage and oiled the chains, after they finally had had a bath.
Jonathan had the dinner ready for us. As a fan of Russia and everything related he prepared a true borsch for us, and cooked other yummy foods: carrot chocolate cake, olive cheeese pie and vegetable tartlets.Being a vegetarian for 30 years, John knew how to cook healthy but tasty food. We thought that such perfect host could only be an experienced couchserfer, though he appeared new to it and we were the first guests in his house. Almost the first…
After locking our Bros in the garage, we entered the house and immediately heard someone going down the stairs. John cauceously warned us we weren’t his only guests at the time as he was hosting a counchserfer girl from Australia. At this moment the australial Prunella appeared and informed that her three little kids were tired from walking and now were sweetly snoozing upstairs. At this point we joined the group to become one large British-Australian-Russian family.Pru is a wonderful person. Pru, her husband and three kids have been traveling around the world for the whole year while blogging about their experiences. Each kid has his own page. For example, 9 year old Lucas shares interesting facts about different countries on his page, 7 year old Ruben writes about art, and 5 year old freckled Felix gathers interesting recipies and talks about the local cuisine.
“I am a mom myself and always tell everyone that the life after kids doesn’t revolve purely around the kids’ upbringing. You can bike and travel just as much, even though not for such long periods of time at once as childless people can. I usually actively travel without my child, while together we do lazy travelling – go to the places just to hang out at the beach so he doesn’t get tortured with us running around the cities =)
However, Pru showed me a different side of traveling with children, which can be not any worse or adventurous as without the kids. Of course, it’s a lot harder to ride a bike in the mountains while pulling the kid’s trailer, but all the joyes of couchsurfing are still available to you. The pace of traveling is slower, but you pay attention to some many little things that children see, which you would never notice otherwise. Anyways, it’s a great experience and now I would love to experience traveling with my son!”
During the night tea John told us he is a generational restaurator. Back in time his dad used to work on restauring Earl Edinburgh’s antiques. John himself reminded us an earl, but surely he was a true gentleman. He brewed us some tasty coffee in the morning and despite the constant calls from his customers he decided that guests were more important and showed us around the city.Chester, shown to us by such a great guide, was especially beautiful. We walked down the river Dee and were told a beautiful story about the city’s architechture. The main Chester streets are carved in a mountain terrain so the buildings are propped by the columns, opening the ground floor for the so-called Chester Rows. Such two story arcades is a very rare style for the European city planning.Chester’s architechture overall differs a lot from other English cities. FIrst, you can walk around the whole town on the wall. This old wall was built by the Romans. The Tudor style prevails in Chester’s architecture: the black and white houses with the second floor hanging above the first is a staple of Chester.The wall leads to the local Big Ben – the Eastegate closk. They say it’s the second most photographed clock in the world after Big Ben. It’s hard to believe but we knodded our heads in agreement.Another clock, located on the city’s cathedral, was more interesting to us. The reclangular-walled tower had a clock on its three sides. What happened to the fourth side you may ask. The reason to that is that the Englishmen don’t want to show the time to the Welsh! Another rumor is that there still exist a law that if you meet a Welsh inside the city after dark, you can lawfully shoot him with a bow and an arrow. Anyways, they say a lot of things in Chester
England and Wales have been friends for long time now, but if you call the citizens of Wales as Englishman, they will more likely take offence in that.
At this point we finally passed the stone-made labirynth and went down to a park. John pointed our attention at the half destroyed church. Do you see the tomb, John asked? Looking closely we noticed an elongated and closed wooden box at a second floor hight.John’s friends heard a rumor that in the park which was next to the church, the dead ghosts of the morarchs are walking around in their hoods and reading their sacred texts. Nervously we looked around but only saw some squirrels jumping from tree to tree – Phew.They surely had a lot of squirells in the park. John brought a bag of nuts to feed the squirrels and we as well tried to make friends with those tailed park inhabitants. Red babies cautiosly looked around, but quickly accepted the treat.
After the walk we remembered that Prunella and the boys asked everyone to be at home around 6 pm as they were cooking the dinner. We stopped by the store, grabbed a couple bottles of wine and a traditional cake. On our way home we saw some blackberry bushes and filled ourselves with berries to the top. You could buy the berries at the store for 4 pounds, but only Russian tourists could get an idea to pick berries from nobody’s bush by the road=)
Driving home on the Hermitage road (the road where John lives), he remembered that in the 17th century in a house next to his own lived lady Mary Davis, the Horned Woman of Saughall. When her husband died, Mary suffered from terrible headaches, and in some time she grew horns. Obviously she didn’t like it and decided to cut them off, but they grew back. Are you kidding? we asked John. He grabbed his ipad and showed us a wikipedia page about this lady. According to it, her horns are still stored in the British Museum!
We quickly decided to change the subject and fill our plates. We all had a wonderful dinner and had long conversations about culture and our countries’ traditions, and simply about life:)
In the morning we arranged that we would go to the main square to have a taste of another local tradition. Right at noon a Town Crier comes out to the square and makes public announcements.The man usually holds a bell to atract attention and a scroll with all the latest news. After we took one last photo of us with Pru and her family, we continued our journey. Liverpool was already waiting for us.
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