Cheshire 4 - week two on the road and homeless. A forest, a railway line and a need for a home

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November 9th 2013
Published: November 11th 2013
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Nantwich Nantwich Nantwich

Church roof
Day 4 of our life on the road. The homelessness continues and we find ourselves thinking that it will go on forever. Singing Wherever I lay my hat is becoming monotonous. The weather is poor with torrential rain obscuring the Clywydian Hills. The site is virtually empty. The weekenders left on Sunday night or Monday morning leaving us on our own down the bottom end of the site. Our electricity went off causing a little excitement and we had to wait until the farmer turned up to find the fault in the field and put it right. The rest of our day was spent in Asda shopping, visiting Flintshire Caravans to buy more toilet paper and blue stuff for the cassette. How exciting is that! But still a job that needs doing.

Our highlights so far – our redirection service for the mail is working well. Too well in fact, we are getting mail for the buyers of our property. Tickets for War Horse in February. Well I didn’t order them and they are now languishing waiting for us to retrieve them and send them back. Low points the awful weather, the house move hitting a brick wall. It seems the unadopted road to the bungalow is causing a major issue. Our solicitor has had to write to their solicitor enquiring about the rights to use the road. Further emails have gone back and to to Derbyshire County Council asking the same questions. Knowing how quickly Derbyshire County Council work and the sellers solicitor it is clear we wont be moving in this week.

Work was uneventful but the journey back and to the office awful in the darkness and the never ending rain. The traffic on the A55 dreadful. We moved on again on Friday. A whole week gone since we sold our house and still homeless. You become blasé about this sort of thing eventually.

The new campsite for the next four days is the Caravan and Camping Club site at Delamere Forest in Cheshire. We have a hard standing pitch fully serviced and there are a large number of unserviced hard standing pitches, grass pitches both serviced and unserviced. It is close to Delamere Station on the Northern line to Manchester so handy for the trains and surprisingly very quiet. 4 nights pitch cost £15.40 and 4 nights for two persons at the concessionary rate
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Sion says " typical my ancestors got there as well "
of over 55 cost £44.40. WiFi is available at £10 for a week and it seems to work OK. Booking on line is easy. We picked up TV on Kathrein although I guess some of the pitches might be obscured by the trees. There is a small reception, very friendly staff, washing machines £3.50 per wash, driers at £1 per 20 minutes and very clean and tidy toilets and showers. Oh and I forgot – heat in the showers – the radiators are pumping out warmth. The gates close between 11pm and 7 am so the site is fairly quiet through the night. The downside had to be the journey home from work. Sally sat nav took me around Chester which was at 5pm horrendous with back to back traffic jams. The whole thing seemed worse due to the rain again and the darkness. It took almost an hour from when I left Mold to when I arrived at Suzy. Apparently next year the cost of hard standing will go up by £1 but still good value.

Saturday morning was a bit of a rest day, washed clothes and tried the dryer out. I guess I could have dried
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The parsons nose on the misericords
my clothes in the open air but although in the forest there are no trees handy to where we have pitched where I could have tied a washing line. For £5.50 I to rid of all our weeks worth of dirty washing which was gradually filling up the bathroom floor. Tried the WiFi which seems to work quickly and efficiently. Talked to the wardens about their jobs which were seasonal in parts. I found it strange that I was discussing the filling of holes in the road. Apparently tuggers pull up, park their vans and their wheels churn up the wet road surface which means a continual battle for the wardens with the elements to bring in hard core and keep filling the holes before another one appears. The grass long and damp was not going to get another trim this side of Christmas.

Although we had frost overnight the sun came out early and we breakfasted in sunshine. The wind was brisk but it was a lovely day for mid November. Over the weekend we plan a walk in the forest which will probably have changed beyond recognition since I took the children around it 25 years ago. It has become more commercialised car parking expensive , designated walks and Go Ape. We plan a trip to Manchester on Monday. After that who knows? Back to work Wednesday for my last week at work and I hope the weather will be kinder for the journey. Good news over the house purchase perhaps. It still feels like we are into the unknown with no light at the end of the tunnel yet.

The house move still stalls but then it is the weekend. We missed a bungalow which would have been ideal for the two of by a few weeks. We viewed it before we went on our last holiday but were not in position to make an offer as we had not sold our property. The agents rang two weeks before we left Britain to tell us an offer had been put in near to the asking price and were we in any position to match or better it. We sadly had to decline. Whilst we were in Spain and Portugal our house sold, we tried to buy a bungalow which fell through due to a poor survey and had to then try to find another property
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Gates between the main church nave and the choir stalls
before we became homeless. In the mean time four weeks spent in the sun, four weeks back in cold and miserable Britain and now 10 weeks later the original bungalow is still sold subject to contract. A quick phone call, a touch of gazumping which leaves us feeling cold and we made an offer we hoped the vendors of the first bungalow would accept. Drop the people buying the bungalow as they seemed stalled with their mortgage application and accept our offer of cash. We are still waiting a response. Perhaps tomorrow will bring us good news. Would they let us rent the place whilst we waited to move in? Now that would solve a problem wouldn’t it?

Sunday morning – sun shining but then it always does in the morning. The rain comes in later in the day. Showered, grey water emptied. The chores of the day over. We sit doing crosswords, playing Mahjong on the lap top, reading emails and working out what our plans are for next week. A really strange occurrence happened yesterday. When we first embarked on a career in motorhoming not knowing much, we started to read blog after blog. Marvelling at the adventures of Europe by Camper, Grey Haired Nomads and Our Tour. We purchased a WiFi mobile device from Europe by Camper in April this year and have had nothing but trouble with it. Many emails had flown back and to but not once did we get on line in Italy nor in any other country it should have worked in. We had given it up for a bad job and pondered on wasting £90 or so to buy it and wasting 50 euros top up. Sitting here at Delamere connecting to the internet I noticed a couple of other wireless networks running and one was Europe by Camper. The thought process and the little grey cells kicked in. They were here on the campsite. Onto Facebook check their pages and they were in a Burstner silver cab, blue skirt on white body. Look out of the window and what do I spy? Said Burstner just a few hundred yards parked up from us. I did the unthinkable – its strange how motorhoming makes you more friendly –and walked over knocked on the door and asked “Are you Addy?” Yes he said and he came over to our motorhome to have a look at our faulty device. Taken away he is going to have a look at it and see what is wrong and if faulty replace it. Service or what? Because of them and the others we have taken to this life of motorhoming and we wholeheartedly thank them for the insights into life in a van and the places and opportunities it opens out for us. What a co-incidence and a chance meeting and nice to chat to someone about the places we have both been to. What are the odds on that one then?

After lunch a walk was in order. We headed off in the direction of the railway station. A pretty little thing very similar in shape and style to all those other small railway stations and halts that were closed in the Beeching cull of the 1960’s. The station was unmanned and the station hall and house converted to a café. On Sunday morning it was heaving, its car park full and the smell of bacon and sausage tantalising. There is nothing to compare to the smell of breakfast sizzling away. The board outside advertised a breakfast bap containing bacon, egg, sausage and black
Acton Acton Acton

Exterminate, Exterminate
pudding for £5.30. We resisted the temptation and walked along one of the many trails in the forest. Blue tits and goldfinches clung to the pine tree branches, beech leaves covered the forest floor and grey squirrels flitted from branch to branch. The forest trail opened up and we could hear but not see the Go Ape site. Yells and whelping of delight from the children. Our walk took us to the café area and car parking and whilst full there were still families arriving. Arriving with the vain hope of finding a space. Delamere is a lovely forest well used and conservation high on the agenda.

Monday and our second week on the road. We have booked a further 4 nights on Delamere. Our trip out to Manchester cancelled due to the lack of what felt like things to do and see. Whilst I would have liked to visit the Town Hall again and perhaps taken in a tour of the Art Gallery there seemed less to see and do than in neighbouring Liverpool. Even offering to put up with a tour of Old Trafford did not excite my other half enough to take the train in. And so it was to nearby Nantwich we drove to.

We parked up on Snow Lane car park near the swimming baths. Memories brought back of taking the children to learn to swim at the baths nearly 25 years ago. The baths looked a touch dated. They do however have a brine pool which makes for an interesting experience swimming in an outdoor pool filled with natural salt mined from the area. Parking cost £1 for between 1 and 2 hours £2.10 for three hours but free after 3pm.

The origins of the settlement date to Roman Times when salt from Nantwich was used by the Roman garrisons at nearby Deva (Chester). Salt has been used in the production of the famous crumbly Cheshire cheese and the tanning industry , both products of the dairy industry based in the Cheshire Plain around the town. The name Nantwich is a typical combination word from ancient Celtic/Welsh roots. Wich and Wych of which there are many villages named in Cheshire are used to denote brine springs and wells. I have come across many for example Lower and Higher Wych in Malpas. In 1194 there is a reference to the town as being called Nametwihc, which would indicate it was once the site of a pre-Roman sacred grove.. Nant also meaning stream in Welsh or as I recently heard it described the Old language.

In the Domesday book Nantwich is recorded as having eight salt houses. It had a castle and was the capital of a barony of the earls of Chester, and of a hundred (one of the seven sub-divisions of medieval Cheshire).

A fire destroyed most of Nantwich east of the River Weaver in 1583 . Elizabeth I personally contributed to the towns rebuilding.

After parking we walked through the town heading in the direction of the church a pretty substantial building for a small town. It oozed wealth and patronage. And a self belief in the builders and architects to produce something beautiful to glorify God. Whether you believe in God/Gods or not it is pretty impressive to realise that our forebearers had such a strong belief in the hereafter. They wanted to build something wonderful to show their devotion. Perhaps we have lost something of that passion over time. The church was open and a guide sat waiting for visitors to come in. We had the place to ourselves and it was interesting to have our own guide who explained the iconography of the building. The first thing we saw much to Sions enjoyment was the tapestry produced by the church embroidery society which adorned the west door of the church. Modern it was but I admired the workmanship and the dedication taken to make such a beautiful object. The scene of Christs nativity was shown with the shepherds holding sheep produced three dimensionally. Real leather was used for shoes, lace for undergarments and real hair for Christ, Mary and all the followers. The ladies who produced the tapestry to commemorate the Queens Jubilee also produced the kneelers. I particularly loved the roof which was painted in red yellow and blue and the traces of the medieval wall paintings. Ghostlike the words of the Ten Commandments showed through on the walls. We could see the old roof line which had been lower before the Tudors raised it and inserted windows into the clerestory. The misericords had a lovely carving of the Parsons nose said to have been carved when the carvers got miffed with the vicar who wouldn’t pay them for their work. Work is still required to clean and repair some of the woodwork in the nave but apparently this would cost 33 thousand pounds to complete the work. St Marys was built in the 14th century and is Grade I listed.

Our last visit was to Morrisons supermarket where we stocked up on essentials before carrying them to the car. A lovely trip out to a pretty little market town I have always taken for granted. Perhaps in the summer months we could have walked round more and made the visit to Dorfold Hall a Jacobean mansion in the nearby village of Acton. Instead we drove home and settled in to the chores of the day in Suzy. Tomorrow is another day. Who knows that that will bring!


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