So, in an earlier post I talked about my visit to the zoo, the animals I saw, new things I learnt, and how I thoroughly enjoyed myself; little did I know that was just a tip off the iceberg of fun that Chester itself is!

Ever heard of Cheshire Oaks, home to the famous NEXT clearance stores? I don’t know about you, I heard of it even before I got here! Funnily, we didn’t go there, I plan to devote a whole day to exploring the many floors of the store when I’m ready! Now that I’ve gotten that out, yes, it is in Chester.

So we drove to Chester City, and the first thing any visitor will notice is the wall, approximately two miles long that envelopes the city. That wall has been in existence from just about the time the city was built, which is a very, very, very, very long time ago! Chester is the only city in England to be ringed like that and I am very proud to say I walked the whole length of the wall!

A little more about Chester: in my earlier post we established that it was built by the Romans et al; what you probably didn’t know is that as old as time itself is the rivalry between residents and the Welsh. As a matter of fact, an archaic law (that funnily hasn’t been repealed) states that ” a Chester resident can shoot a Welshman found within Chester’s city walls after dark! Can you beat that?

Next, we had lunch in what used to be a crypt for a church back in the 1700’s, it was so ancient looking I almost felt like we were in one of them ‘go-back-in-time’ movies! I enjoyed my meal though (naturally)…..

Lord please deliver me from sausages!

 

 

 

 

Then, we popped into some antique shops and saw some items from as far back as the 1800’s, it’s amazing how old (and very well preserved) the items were. And even though I know the word ‘antique’ presupposes ‘really old’, it didn’t stop me from oohing and aahing continuously! And yes, I didn’t take any pictures because I didn’t buy anything.

Errr, what else? Oh yes! We visited the Chester Cathedral, I must say it took my breath way……..It gave new meaning to the word ‘magnificent’.

Standing on 'the wall' the Cathedral is in the background.....

 

It was completed in 1250 and is one of the many ‘protected’ buildings Chester boasts of. A protected building/site/farm/location is generally one that has been listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. This is done to preserve the integrity of the site and the heritage it represents. It can therefore not be altered, demolished or extended without special permission. More details about the church can be found at ChesterCatherdral.com

It’s amazing how much work went into carving the figurines that adorned the building, and I daresay no two were the same! Makes sense then that the work started on the cathedral in 1092, and was completed 158 years after. Wow.

See the 'gargoyles' I'm referring to?

At the Cathedral there’s also a cenotaph originally in honor of the British troops that died in the First World War, but now is one of the many sites in the United Kingdom where Armistice’s Day commemorations are observed. Every year, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, millions of Britons pay their respects to soldiers who have died in wars. From late October everyone begins sporting poppies; they were the first to bloom on some of the worst sites of the First World War, and incidentally are bright red. Thank me later for this mini lecture!

Paying my respects, rest in peace sirs.......

By this time we were hungry again (and you know I like food) so we ‘found’ our way out of Chester and headed for……. (wait for it)… Jabula, the spirit of Africa!

The menu, forgot to take a picture of the signboard outside!

So we got to Jabula, and it is one of those inner places that if you don’t know about, you don’t know! Beautifully situated on the bank of a river (The Manchester Ship Canal), it was warm and very cozy looking inside. I must say I felt a little nostalgic just looking at all the woodwork, paintings, etc, reminded me of JB’s Grill in Abuja (amongst other places). There was something about the lighting too, not too bright, not too dim, it was just right.

We were welcomed by a warm lady who we found out later is called Adel, and after getting us drinks, I asked for Portuguese fried chicken breasts and yellow rice. Funny that I’d go to a South African restaurant and then ask for a Portuguese dish!

Our meals came promptly, we’d both asked that our meals be medium hot (as regarded spicing); with benefit of hindsight I should probably have asked for hot times seven! It all looked really lovely though, my meal and Andy’s Durban chicken curry and rice, and it tasted wonderful too.

What's not to love about this meal?

It was also very filling, I was a little worried by the portions but I found I was stuffed halfway through it!

Did I mention that another instant attraction for me was the music playing in the background? I recognized a song by world acclaimed Ladysmith Black Mambazo and that scored Jabula more points in my already ‘points filled book’!

So, lovely atmosphere ambiance, a delicious meal, very friendly staff, and beautiful music! And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, it did! An older lady came to us and asked if we enjoyed our meal, and it wasn’t just routine, she was genuinely interested in our answer! “Of course”, we gushed, Andy a little more than me! We had a little chat about foods and spices and then she invited us to drop by on a Friday night to amongst other things, enjoy live drumming and singing by some North Africans. Did I tell you this Fairy can drum too? If you didn’t know/don’t believe, that’s fine, Andy didn’t believe it too!

We spent the next 15 minutes or so drumming with the lady, and it was so much fun! It was also nice to measure the concentration levels ‘some people’ displayed as concerns keeping to a beat!

Beating the drums like an African!

I had a fabulous time at Jabula; I’d give them 10/10 ( or anything higher you can think of), and I’ll definitely be going back! When I collapsed into my bed after the long train ride back home, I did so with a ‘Cheshire cat’ sized grin on my face, Chester rocks!

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Comments
  1. Andy Watt says:

    A wonderful post and it was a hugely enjoyable day. I feel that I have to just clarify a couple of points. Firstly, I was amazed that the FGS had heard of Cheshire Oaks back home in Nigeria and we might have gone …. had someone not been found wanting in her navigation skills. I thought the reason TFGS took us in the opposite direction to the car when it was time to leave Chester was because she didn’t know the way back, but then she told me it was merely a test to see if I knew the way back. Fortunately I did, and I am grateful the TFGS for this lesson (tongue firmly lodged in cheek).
    The restaurant was superb and I thought that with the English palette being very different to the Nigerian one, and TFGS having commented on this, that an African restaurant might offer some dishes she would enjoy (I did search for Nigerian restaurants but there were none – and besides, this had superb reviews from previous diners). I thought she might have enjoyed ‘Snappy Crocodile’, ‘Roast Kudu’ or ‘Ostrich’ but as she has said, she went for Portuguese chicken. The irony of taking an African to an African restaurant and them ordering a European dish wasn’t wasted on me, but as TFGS kept reminding me throughout the day she is ‘easy to please’ and ‘not fussy’! Hmmmm
    Finally, the drums. TFGS is indeed a fantastic drummer, worryingly very skillful with a flat palm so I’d best keep on the right side of her, and I half expected the restaurant to book her for a live performance. My drumming skills were unfortunately nowhere near as proficient but it was great to see her having so much fun.

    Like

  2. hajo says:

    love this write up, I have read it twice already. and I must say we africans have a lot to learn about the preservation of culture, cultural artifacts and our history. through tourism, Museums, and book. I love the pictures too.

    Like

  3. myne Whitman says:

    Great pics and I totally agree with hajo. This point struck me most forcefully during my time in Edinburgh and a tiny city up Scotland North called St Andrews. Talk about antiquity.

    Like

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