Guest Blog Post - Easter 2021

After two failed attempts to get the planned Easter trip underway, in the run up to the weekend and will they/won’t they allow travel; a Plan B was formulated. So, in accordance with the rules re social bubbles and allowing travel from 29 May, Plan B was on. We decamped to the caravan on the drive staycation mode for 9 days of R&R, changes of scenery a plenty and expeditions around the Cheshire countryside. Richard made good time as the roads were clear and duly arrived early that afternoon. After settling in and a rest, as the weather was so kind, we would eschew cooking and head to Parkgate on the Wirral for some of their famous fish and chips. As you will see from the photos, the views were spectacular and a pleasant stroll up and down the front made for a particularly good start to the trip.


As we are both members of the National Trust, we have found this invaluable during COVID, making the most of being able to visit the gardens and parks most of the time. We like visiting the houses too but will make return trips when allowed to see them again. We had planned several days out at such places, equally, they were well set up for mobility scooter access, which as most of you know I am temporarily having to use post foot surgery. Fortunately, Rosie had been given a clear out before making the trip North as boot space was at a premium to take the mobility scooter. It proved to be worth every penny as we got to see almost everything we had planned, some real laugh out loud funny moments too but more of that later..

Tuesday arrived and we awoke to clear blue skies, sun and rather warm. A leisurely breakfast and we were soon on the road to the first NT visit, Tatton Park, near Knutsford. Owned by the Egerton family until handed over to the NT it a massive area with huge swathes of parkland with deer, formal gardens, a working farm with children’s petting zoo, a couple of lakes and finally the old stables and stable yard converted into a refreshment, shop, and toilet facilities area. We started off by doing the tour of the formal gardens, seeing many examples of apple trees, trained to perfection and the Victorian greenhouses up against the wall with the greatest sunshine on them, all restored and maintained to an extremely high standard.


All of which was totally accessible, and we were taken to an easy entrance to go into the formal gardens and join the well laid and thought-out one-way system which we were to encounter at each of our visits. Whilst working our way down to an unusual monument in the far distance, we encountered a Japanese Garden. Closed now but you could take photos in the entranceway. On the return leg of this part of the visit, we decided to take a detour, hmm, hindsight is 20:20. I imagine you can guess what happened next! I think we found out that a shopmobility scooter is particularly good but off-roading is not its forte! Thankfully, I did not get too stuck and a bit of shoving and pushing we got through.


A scrumptious al fresco lunch of sausage baps, coffee and cake in the sunny stable yard was next. We then decided to do some exploring of the wider parkland, the visitor information centre being helpful as to what was accessible and what was not. It was a gorgeous, warm, and sunny afternoon, plenty of people about but all felt very safe. We stuck to the main driveways and made our way down to the two lakes, a not inconsiderable distance so a real trial to see how far the battery would last – it did very well this time.. The only downside was a person in an SUV who was obviously way too important to slow down for people and scaring the life out of Richard and I by shooting past me. I do not think she had seen me at all. We then made our way back to the car park, it was so lovely and warm, ice creams, 99’s with raspberry sauce were the order of the day before we started to make our way back to base. Richard had even managed to get the start of a suntan. We ended the trip by a quick drive down Knutsford High street, it was not worth parking up as, although there are some lovely shops, pubs etc, none were open still. A quiet evening watching TV, catching up ended a very pleasant day.


Wednesday was the day for Speke Hall NT right by Liverpool John Lennon’s Airport. A place I had never visited as well as Richard. A quite different building as it is Tudor and predominantly faced in wood in a black and white style. There was a typical Cheshire farmhouse on the way to the main house itself. Another excellent one-way system was in place and the usual old stables and barns refreshments and toilet facilities in place. We had opted to go in the afternoon, which was a good idea as seating was not as plentiful as at Tatton Park. We walked around the gardens and the wider land of the estate. We managed to find a path which takes you up to the end of the runway at the airport, but no planes were flying. As a bit of fun, we decided to follow the children’s Easter Trail and found a pathway with some unusual sculptures and photos. Of course, someone had to sit in the oversized chair and have his photo taken, shame I did not have any bunny ears!! Only one little blip on the access was a sharp lip on a little metal plank across some damp ground. I managed to stand up on one foot whilst we pulled it onto the plank. We rounded off the trip with the usual coffee and slice of most delicious Victorian Sponge sat outside in the glorious sunshine.



On the way back we made a short detour to visit Frodsham and its very wide main street – there are some incredibly old buildings here and plenty of information boards and blue plaques made for some good photo opportunities.


In normal times, there is a weekly street market, something which has run in various guises for many hundreds of years. I have, coincidentally this morning, learnt that it is now back in operation. Plenty of farm stalls and Cheshire cheese abound. It is also one end of the Sandstone Trail, the other end being in Whitchurch, Shropshire. We then made for base, another superbly cooked evening meal by Chef Easy and a relaxing evening rounded off another good day.

It is now Thursday, how quickly the time is flying by. We awoke to a much colder and cloudier day but thankfully no rain was forecast, and this proved to be the case.

However, we had a return visit to make first, given that in December it had been pouring down so outside walking was called off. We made for Port Sunlight, the plan was to take the photos of the village and the monuments as it was dry.


This was accomplished in a short time, so we then made for another part of the River Mersey at New Ferry. It was a place I had visited some years ago, so changes to road layouts made it a little difficult to find but we managed. The place has memories for me as my maternal grandmother and father had rooms in one of the houses straight after they married. My grandfather was a policeman, so this was a familiar set up of the time. We sat by the river and drank our coffees and watched a ship go past and a boat, which we honestly thought was on the verge of sinking! It turned out to be a type of dredger.


Dunham Massey NT was the location of choice for today, near Altrincham. Again, another place I had not visited. A Georgian house this time and its simplicity was in stark contrast to the Tudor house the previous day. As before, the trip was split into two sections, a tour of the formal gardens and a short walk in the parkland which has deer. We decided to have a coffee first to warm up, sitting on a scooter can be very cold indeed. The daffodils were in huge swathes all over the area and the tulips were starting to open so, although there was no sun, the colourful display with the trees in blossom was beautiful to see. The guides were extremely helpful advising us of where to avoid, one little stone bridge over a watercourse, easily avoided. There was a huge pond, as opposed to a natural lake and what looked like a mill race. As we neared the end of our visit, on the way back to the car, we found the mill which it was for. It looked like it was workable but seemed like a missed opportunity to make flour to sell. Perhaps just the current situation. A brief sojurn into the parkland yielded a couple of photos of a very brave male deer with resplendent antlers but it was too cold to venture far so we made back to the car.


Friday, by contrast, was yet another beautiful day, clear blue skies, warm and sunny. The morning was spent chilling at the van, I had a secret plan underway, so it was a case of making sure we stayed in the van until just after lunch. I had arranged to meet a couple of friends for a walk round part of the river and see a few sights. Fortunately, the rules had changed so meeting outside was allowed and we all had camping seats to sit on in the lovely weather. Richard did not know anything of this, so it was a pleasant surprise, and an incredibly happy and convivial afternoon and early evening was spent in each other’s company. We had opted to cook pizzas back at base which are easily cooked and eaten outside. It certainly made for a difference experience eating pizza on the side driveway in the sunshine but oh so nice to be able to meet other people safely at last. As per usual, several ales were consumed, all in the name of research of course!! Some of which will, no doubt, make an appearance in the Ale Archive.


Saturday was yet another fabulous day weather-wise, Richard now had quite the suntan! We were due to make a brief visit to New Brighton, having been there before, to meet up with one of my friends. It was quite breezy by the coast, but the arrival of cappuccinos and brownies certainly helped. My love of coffee/tea and cake is well known! After a pleasant chat, we then moved on to drive round the top end of the Wirral Peninsula visiting Hoylake and West Kirby. The Marine Lake at West Kirby is particularly noteworthy, especially if you have not seen it before as it can look like people are walking on water, (they are not).  Totally accessible to all but not recommended to walk round or wheelchairs if the tide is completely in. Toilets and refreshments are available here and a supermarket just off the front. All in all, another great day and tired but happy we made for base.


Sunday loomed and we had ordered in a lovely roast beef Sunday lunch – this from a local pub who have started doing deliveries during lock down – it was a fabulous meal and something I would do again. Portions were such that we left dessert for later – a lip smacking caramel apple pie and custard! It was another lovely afternoon, so we decided to visit Delamere Forest for a walk round the lake – again totally accessible to wheelchairs, that route being about 2.5 miles long, so a fully charged battery is a must!! Since I last visited, admittedly several years ago now, there is a brand-new visitor centre with all the necessary facilities, a good car park, fee payable on departure. The only thing which was missing were some signs and it took a bit of searching but we were soon on the route. The lake dates to prehistoric times following the end of the last ice age. It is home to huge flocks of geese and other birds and, of course, lots of plants and trees. We enjoyed our stroll round the lake, pausing every now and then for photos and a break. We got to within a ¼ mile of the car park and a quick look at the battery meter and it was on orange and flickering – to say I was worried was an understatement. The route is mainly flat but there are several rises near the start/finish of the route. I turned back the power to hopefully conserve it but all too quickly it turned to red and then started flickering – oh no!! Richard was an absolute hero, he took over pushing me to help with the power, we finally made it back to the car, somewhat later than planned but we did it!! Thank you, Richard. After all that exertion and with Richards imminent departure the following day, an early night and an episode of Line of Duty beckoned.


Monday – Today was the day for doing last minute shopping at Costco. Time to stock up and refuel Rosie. As Richard was due to depart Tuesday morning, we had a quieter day, sorting things out and packing up.

Tuesday. Day of departure. A prompt breakfast, making a packed lunch for Richard on the way home. Then a quick coffee and it was time to say goodbye. A lovely holiday was had. And here’s to the next one!