Shropshire 10 - Whitchurch/a Queen Ann Church/Roman Whitchurch/Green End and the High Street /memories of Salopia

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October 30th 2018
Published: October 31st 2018
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Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centred by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate"

So wrote Zhuangzi a Daoist sage and author. Never heard of him . Well neither had we . Never heard of his philosophies either . We know them now though.

Our life seems to be following that pattern. Since we came home we are trying to flow with whatever comes our way. We are trying not to worry about Glenns mums house which is taking some time to sell. Phone calls and messages fly by and nothing seems to happen. It is 8 weeks now since an offer was put in . To complicate things even further we had no -one asking to view our home. Selling houses is a painful process. One that we hate with a vengence . Then out of the blue like buses two arrive. I found myself centred on cleaning, tidying and sorting out things to make the house look just right. It is hard work keeping on top of viewings, making sure that I try to show the house in the best possible light. Then there is the buying process. We cannot find anything that suits our needs. Today we went to see one that we saw a few weeks ago. OUr plan to look again with fresh eyes. We had ideas and wanted to see if any of them would be feasible. In the end we found we liked more of the house than we did last time round but there were major flaws that even we could not put right. The garden we thought too small was a reasonable size. We could change the hall and alter things we did not like. But sometimes you just cannot do what you want and have to walk away. Back to the drawing board with fingers crossed that something comes up this week that we can go and look at.

The weather has turned wintery. Apparently if you go out this week and look up into that clear sky you will see the planet Uranus. Just left of the Moon it should show as a green blob in the night sky. Each morning the sky is clear which always means frost, The gardens and the car are iced over. It has turned cold. Whilst the clear skies remain it will feel colder. The grass has taken its last cutting for the year and the leaves are falling fast from the apple tree. There is little colour around apart from the kaleidescope of colours of Autumn leaves and berries . Blood red shiny holly berries, bright red rose hips, cotoneasters full of orange and red berries ready for the birds to feast upon. The first Christmas trees have appeared in the shop windows. Christmas already when it is not even November yet. Too early for me . The Christmas advertisements have started on the television. Would you like a sofa delivered just in time for Christmas? Well you can have one from any number of shops. You can pay next year. No deposit or interest free payments. What about presents? The booklets are turning up with Christmas ideas in abundance. Cards and chocolates, scarves and jigsaws. Will we have a house to live in at Christmas? Who knows? Life feels rather up and down at the moment.

So where did we find ourselves today? The plan had been to visit a long closed colliery at Pleasley which is only open a few times a week. A trip back into the past. Both of us were brought up in colliery villages so we have memories of life in the mining communities. But today was one of those days. We didnt get there - the tyres on my car were playing up. We were in and out of the tyre depot with little success. It has to go back to the dealer so sadly Pleasley didnt happen. Another trip for another day perhaps.

We set off for our house viewing instead. Afterwards we discussed what to do next. Head straight home or stop for a break somewhere along the route home. How about stopping off at Whitchurch on the way home and having a look round? I know Whitchurch well having lived locally for many years. Glenn on the other hand didnt know it well at all. So it was going to be a first for him. A small market town with the usual empty shops and a long history from the Romans to clock making. As we drove in I realised that the last time I was in Whitchurch was about 20 years ago. Had it changed I wondered? Yes it had . New houses had popped up and a few times I wondered where I was. There is a car park up here I told Glenn . I was shocked to find all the car parks which 20 years ago were free were now pay and display. So Tesco car park it was. A few hours free there giving locals the opportunities to shop local. We headed off for the Lemon Tree Café - I think that was its name. As it was cold and dark outside now that the clocks have gone back we sat in the lovely café drinking coffee and sharing custard tarts and lemon meringue pie.

What was there to see in Whitchurch? I found myself thinking "What shop used to be there? " "That used to be the old MANWEB shop many years ago and now its something else" What has happened there ?" It felt odd as I walked past the Halifax - paid our mortgage there, Argos closed and moved to the new Sainsbury store. Is Walkers Café still on the High Street? Benny from Crossroads used to own the dance hall. Memories and more memories as we headed out towards the Joyce clock that stands on the corner of Green End and High Street. The large hotel was now a block of flats. I wondered if the change was a good one.

Whitchurch is a market town lying just a few miles from the welsh border. I remember the old cattle market and the bus station where Salopia the bus company ran their bus tours. Whitchurch is the oldest inhabited town in Shropshire and mostly I mention it in blogs when I visit Neufchatel en Bray a town which is twinned with Whitchurch . Both cheese towns.

Whitchurch has a roman history - a small section of wall remains of the settlement called Mediolanum which stood on the roman road between Chester and Wroxeter. Some finds are displayed in the museum but it was too late for us to see them. We even missed the almshouses and the old grammar school. We just stood and admired the clock. A Joyce clock which was made locally. Whitchurch is famous for clocks. You know me so well - a clock - well I have to look at it and photograph it. There is something about clocks and time that fascinates me. Joyce began as clockmakers in 1690 and worked constantly in Whitchurch until 1965 when they were taken over by the Smith group. Standing in front of the clock it was hard to imagine where the clocks are around the world . So where are they? The clock Tower of St Georges College, the well known Eastgate Clock in Chester, the Customs house in Shanghai, Sidney Post Office and the Cape Town City Hall to name just a few.

Whitchurch is a town full of black and white magpie buildings and finally the lovely unusual St Alkmunds Church which stands close to the old almhouses and grammar school. St Alkmunds is built of a red sandstone with a slate roof. It is built in not a gothic style but a neoclassical with a tower and tall windows. A sundial sits on the wall telling the time alongside yet another Joyce clock. A balustrade and urns with weather vanes completes the unusual style of the church. We couldn't go inside the doors were firmly closed and I tried to remember what it was like inside . I had been in many years ago for a wedding and a christening but my memory is short and I remember little of the interior.

It was time to head back to our car and drive home . Our heads full of thoughts as always. Did we enjoy our Whitchurch trip short as it was? Yes we did. It is still an interesting town and there is more to see if we ever get back.


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