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A Northern road trip / Helena Star


Over Easter my family and I went  ‘up north’ for a little road trip spanning 950 miles and 5 days. What started off as a catch up with family and friends turned out to be an unexpected whistle stop tour of sight seeing, culture and beautiful architecture.  All this interspersed with drives through stunning countryside; something you don’t get with a trip to the capital.

Here are some of the highlights:

A walk around the Roman walls, surrounding the city of Chester. Through town to explore The Rows, covered first floor walkways with shops set back from street level, something not seen anywhere else in the world.  Past all the pretty black and white buildings and ending up at the impressive Chester Cathedral.

A train ride to Liverpool. A day wasn’t enough to explore The European Capital of Culture 2008 but we managed to see the waterfront and squeeze in The Tate and The museum of Liverpool. The Museum tells the story of the city and its history, complete with Beatles story and is full of fun packed interactive exhibits to keep the kids entertained. All this housed in a steel framed, limestone clad building by Danish architects 3XN. No time for The Titanic Exhibition this time, but tea and cake at a café in Albert Dock, featuring the largest group of grade I listed buildings in the UK (and where Richard and Judy used to film This Morning!) Tate highlights – making workshops for the kids based on The Glam 1970’s fashion exhibit. And can’t not mention the iconic Duchamp urinal!

An afternoon at The Salts Mill in the picturesque village of Saltaire: a UNESCO world heritage site.  The industrial wool mill, built in 1853 is a towering and beautiful sandstone building.  I do love yellow Yorkshire stone against a blue sky.  The Salts Mill is a great success story not only its history as part of sir Titus Salt’s village made for his workers but also an example of a regeneration project done well. The building has been transformed into a buzzy gallery space, housing a permanent David Hockney exhibition. A great restaurant, and shops selling cool books, antiques, and my favourite part, furniture and home wares by Eames, Alto, Wegner et al. Lunch was delicious and the restaurant was packed and clearly popular. We could easily have stayed all day browsing the shops and galleries. The kids loved it too.

York, too much to mention, more walks along Roman walls, more awe-inspiring architecture including the incredible York Minster and The Shambles, Europe’s most visited street. The 16th century buildings lean from either side almost touching in the middle. The Shambles was also where they filmed ‘Diagon alley’ for the Harry Potter movies. The National Railway museum: a train enthusiasts dream. Trains, trains of all sizes including tiny model railways and the enormous Chinese Locomotive. The highlight for me has to be the interiors of the royal trains of Queen Victoria, and King George VI.

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