Tag: museum


The Rosetta Stone

I’ve written before about the irony of visiting Athens and then finding out that most of the Elgin Marbles, were actually back home in England, at the British Museum in London.

Exactly the same thing happened in Cairo, where the Rosetta stone is made of plastic (the original, being once again, in the British Museum, London).

There was a brilliant article about it today, on BBC News.

On the subject of adventure, Richard Branson has finally taken delivery of the vehicles which will enable him to offer tourist trips into space.

I’ve found somewhere on the internet, that do Wills for free.

I’ve also realised that my old boss, looks like Robert Peston, the BBC finance expert.

Chester Cathedral

Chester Cathedral.

I always say, that I don’t have any regrets.

That’s not strictly true.  If I’m honest, there are 2 things which have always hung around in the back of my mind.

One of them, is about joining the Navy. I’ve always wondered how my life might have been different if I had joined the Navy at 17. I would have seen the world, worn my countries uniform and become part of a team.

On a more down to earth note, I wold have known how to Iron a pair of trousers, drive a car, look after myself in a fight, and stuff like that. But I didn’t do any of those things.

The 2nd one, is more interesting. After watching Raiders of the Lost Ark aged 13, I really wanted to be an Archaeologist. I reasoned that I would travel around the world, looking for adventure, going to mysterious places, flirting with danger and seeking out sacred treasures.

I never went to University to study it, but I’ve often wondered what would have happened ?. Well, the other evening, I was speaking to a chap called Tim (a friend of Sean and Mandy’s, who I’ve become friends with).

He studied Archaeology at University, and I was asking him about all the things he had done. The things he said didn’t add up to me, so I explained my thoughts on what archaeology was and what life as an archaeologist would entail.

At this, he laughed and said what your describing is treasure hunting. If you’d gone to University to study archaeology, you would have been bitterly disappointed.

So, after 20 years, one of those doubts has been removed. Thanks Tim.

While we were talking though, Tim asked if I had ever seen Chester Cathedral. When I told him I hadnt he suggested I go and see it.

One of the stunning wall paintings.

Chester Cathedral dates back nearly a thousand years, but from the 1500’s was the central place of worship around Chester.

I didn’t realise at the time, but if you can prove that you live in Chester, then its free to enter. I paid £5 (I didn’t mind realy). Its a spectacular building, and it costs a million pounds a year to keep it running, with no grants from the Council or the Government.

Not many people know this, but 2000 people are employed by the Cathedral.

One of the walkways inside the Cathedral.

The whole place had amazing atmosphere. When I said I hadn’t been here before, that wasn’t strictly true. I came here with school when I was 8.

I was delighted to find that everything was just as I had remembered it. But then it occurred to me. It probably looks the same today as it did 500 years ago !.

The Garden inside the Cathedral.

The Garden inside the Cathedral was about as authentic as you could get. I sat there for about 10 minutes, and you could imagine Henry the 8th walking up to you.

A Stain Glassed Window.

I dont normaly get excited about stained glass windows, but this was far and away the pretiest one I had ever seen.

Elsewhere, there was an art exhibition, where you could buy paintings. I was a bit confused, as I remember from Sunday School, something about a church being used as a market, and Jesus up-ending all the tables.

Still, what do I know.

A seeting are with TV's on the Wall.

I was surprised to see these TVs. At first I thought that they took something away from the majesty of the building, but then I realised. Its so big, that without them, you couldn’t actually see anything.

I decided to sit down, relax and take in the moment (I’m not religious, and I don’t pray, but it seemed like a fitting moment for reflection). Within about 3 minutes, they started to do a sound test on the organ. That was the end of that.

The meeting room, where monks used to recieve their lessons.

My favourite place in the whole Cathedral. This meeting room, was originally where the Benedictine monks received there lessons.

Its one of the most atmospheric places Ive been on earth. It was cordoned off, so I didn’t get to go inside. I almost wish I had a meeting to organise, so that I could have it there.

Well, 5 quid to see something as old as the Angkor Watt (although that doesn’t really work here in Chester, you can walk along a wall twice as old as the Angkor Watt, for free !).

Is it a bit cheeky to charge people to enter the house of God ?.  Possibly, but this trip wasn’t about that, it was about seeing one of the oldest buildings in Britain.

Seeking out adventure

The 60's themed Bluemoon Cafe next to the River Dee.

I wake up, the sun is shining, and its time to go out, in search of adventure (oh, and I’ve only got a fiver).

Whats this ?. That Laura Croft of the English upper classes, Amelia Webb, is already up and about, and touring the Grosvenor Park.

We arrange to meet by the River, at the Blue Moon cafe, to plan our adventures.

It should be mentioned at this point, that Amelia is an old friend, who has recently arrived in town. For those of you who are thinking there’s someone new on the scene, its worth mentioning, that we really are JUST friends.

Anyway, back to the adventures. Ive never been in the Blue Moon cafe. Whenever I pass it, I always think of my friend Frank, and my Brother David, who are both keen Manchester City fans.

Inside its 60’s themed and really rather quaint. No need to worry about that, I’m meeting a woman for coffee, which therefore means Ill be forced to sit outside, with none of the ambiance, the smell of diesel, and assorted malcontents walking past.

From this point on, the word adventure, should be substituted with the word misadventure, as we are hit with a number of setbacks.

We decide we will both return home, sort out some chores, do some admin and then meet up at 2pm, to do the Chester Rows tour . We arrive 3 minutes too late, and the tour has gone without us. Bugger !.

No matter, we decide to wander over and see the famous Castle.

The famous Chester Castle.

Despite living in Chester for 8 years, Chester Castle, is something Ive never gotten around to visiting. Its a lovely day, so we walk over to see it.

Those heroic commando's at H&S. Britain sleep safe tonight !.

But whats this, the Castle is closed due to Elf N Safety regulations. I cant help thinking, that its a good job H&S weren’t around when the Castle was in use. Otherwise, the City would have been plundered !.

With nothing much else to do, we end up visiting the Little Roodee car park cafe. Although the coffee was nice (and cheap) sitting and looking at cars and coaches, isn’t exactly marching across the Great Wall of China, if you know what I mean.

Well, there’s a nice park nearby, so we decide to head for there and explore. It starts to rain !. Is anything going to go right today ?

Finally we head for the ruin at St John’s church.

The ruins at St John's Church

If you’ve read this website before, you know I love exploring lost cities and stuff like that. In its own way, this Church, is much the same as the City of Petra, Machu Picchu or the Angkor Watt (although its a lot smaller).

Wandering around inside the Ruin.

It had some gardens around it, which were fenced off separately from the nearby Park. Because of this, there was no “through” traffic, and the park was very quiet and relaxing. Sun shining, birds singing and exploring an ancient ruin. Bliss.

To summarise, what near-to-home budget adventure travel lessons can we learn.

1. If you really want to do a tour, buy the tickets in advance, and be at the tourist information 15 minutes before the tour begins.

2. Before heading of to see something, ask at or telephone the tourist information and confirm its actually open, times/days its open, and how much if anything it costs.

3. Never forget, the rule of  Sunter – always wear old trainers and have waterproof/warm clothing to hand (we could have gone to the park, if we’d had these).

4. Take a flask and save a sodding fortune on coffee !. Take some sweets, for when things get dull.

5. If your taking a companion, take someone like Amelia, who doesn’t blame you and give you loads of sh*t when things don’t go to plan 🙂

Happy adventuring.

Williamson Tunnels

Me standing in the Williamson Tunnels.

With the last couple of quid, from our BT “windfall”, I head to Liverpool for the day, to see the famous Williamson Tunnels.

The Liverpool “loop” train wasn’t running, so it was a half hour walk across town. The thing that amazed me, was that as the train came to a stop at James Street station, loads of people were complaining about having to walk. I wondered how many of those people pay £45 per month in Gym membership !.

Considering my skint status, I consider it safe to wander into Cotswalds outdoor shop. Right in the middle of the high street, its one of the biggest outdoor shops I’ve ever been in, and contains some pretty cool stuff (luckily I had no spare cash, so didn’t blow £50 on something I probably wont use, but which looks nice.

As I wander further, I see some break-dancers performing. They have a 6 foot x 6 foot piece of lino taped to the floor and are performing all sorts of acrobatic things, as they used too in Manchester when I was a teenager.

One thing which has changed, is the contribution. In my day, a small plastic cereal bowl was placed out for people to put coins into, if they were suitably entertained. These guys had a washing up bowl. Inflation must have hit hard :).

Our tour guide shows us a map of the tunnels, reconed to be 1.6 miles long.

I arrive at the Williamson tunnels and pay my entrance fee (about £4, but it promises to be pretty interesting). A tour has just started, and instead of making me wait for an hour, they put me on the one that is already running. There are a man an woman on the tour with me, and our guide (pictured above). We all have to wear hard hats.

First off, our guide tells us something about the history of the tunnels. He was obviously fascinated by the tunnels and spoke with a great deal of empathy for their creator.

Its mentioned that at one point, James Stevenson (digging the railway line tunnel that would link Liverpool and Manchester and create the first industrialised Railway) dug a hole in his tunnel, that “punctured” into the Williamson tunnel bellow.

Some of the bottles and artifacts found while clearing rubbish from the tunnels.

There was an explanation about why the tunnels were created. Its pretty well accepted that they were designed as a job creation scheme, after the Napoleonic war. Although the people that worked on them, started out as Nave’s they soon acquired skills, which would benefit Liverpool massively, once development of the City began (at the time, Liverpool was a City of 8,000 people (today it has 800, 000) of which 350 worked on the tunnels.

After Williamson died, people made money by collecting rubbish (people paid to have Rubbish taken away at the time, there was no local council as there is now) and throwing it into the tunnels. Work still continues to clear them out, but as you can see from the picture above, a lot of the “rubbish” tells a fascinating historical story.

I did enjoy seeing the tunnels, but to be honest, I thought they would be a lot bigger and deeper. Still, I only know that, because I’ve actually been.

The outside of the Victoria gallery and Museum.

I wander back towards town. I pass the Victoria gallery and Museum. It was opened to the general public in 2008, but before this, it was the first building to coin the phrase Red Brick University. Its free to visit, so I decide to pop in.

They have a cafe, that serves fresh soup and fare trade coffee. I decide to eat my sandwiches on the walk back to the station. There is a really interesting Museum on the 3rd floor. It has Egyptian artifacts, animal skeletons (did you know, that a rattle snake actually has bones !) and a 3 foot wide dinosaur footprint.

My favourite artifact was reconstructed dental operating theatre, complete with foot powered drill and reclining dentist chair (you could see the “wear” marks on the chair, from people who had gripped it under duress.

The building has an interesting Museum and Art Gallery, but I loved this ornate coridore.

On the 2nd floor, was a small art gallery. The pictures and sculptures in the different rooms, were nice, but if you know me, you know that art isn’t really my thing, and I’m unlikely to use phrases like “I love the drama and aggression in this painting” or any sort of rubbish like that. They were just nice pictures.

I loved this corridor in the building. It just captured the whole Victorian thing for me.

As I wander back to the station, I contemplate the BT project. Ive managed to “do” 7 different half day adventures, for £36. Im going to carry on budget adventuring whenever I can, and continue to blog it. For now, I think Ive achieved my goal.

Have you got any thoughts or comments on the BT Adventures. Why not post them bellow.

Promenade trail, Rowing boat and Museum trip.


I spent the morning wandering around the Riverside Promenade trail here in Chester (the leaflet from tourist information is free, or you can download one, from the link above). The highlights of the walk for me, were the Water tower, the Grosvenor Bridge and the Suspension Bridge (sometimes annoyingly called the Holyoaks bridge, as its featured in the opening titles. That program went downhill, once Becka left).

After  spending 2 hours exploring I debated having a Pie and Pint at the excellent Boat house pub (previous winner of the credit crunch lunch award here at js.com).

Instead, I decided to content myself with my trusty packed lunch and bottle of water, and instead, use the money to rent a rowing boat. Okay, your not exactly navigating the channel, but the feeling of freedom and exhilaration of “piloting” your own boat, are remarkable.


Ive lived in Chester now, for 8 years and the Chester regimental museum is somewhere Ive never gotten around to seeing. At only £3, it was an opportunity not to be missed.

I couldn’t believe how many interesting artifacts and displays were there. The picture above, shows a replica of a WW2 fighting trench. In the middle of the picture (a bit hard to see) is an authentic periscope, used to look “over the top” without getting shot.

There was a great deal mentioned about the Cheshire regiments involvement in Bosnia, and elsewhere, an account of the 2 VC’s awarded to the regiment.

One that I found interesting, was where a private in the regiment, had jumped out of the Allied trenches, and jumped back into the enemy trench having noticed that their machine gunner was dead. From here he was able to traverse the gun down the length of the enemy trench, take the position, and 42 prisoners with no loss of life on either side.


Some of the displays showed barracks and some of the activities performed by the regiment, throughout the world (it was pointed out, that even outside of wartime, soldiers will routinely be sent to places like Borneo and Norway for advanced training.  Above an imaginary scene of a soldier in the Borneo jungle). Having spent time there myself, I can tell you its authentic.

One other aspect of the museum, was its honesty and sense of humour. A display showing all the different ranks of soldiers and what they do, mentioned the Colour Sergent major, who is responsible for quarter-mastering and supplying the regiment. It was stated, that when he isn’t there, he is referred to by everyone as “the colour bloke”.

The museum was run by former soldiers of the regiment. As I entered, they told me the rules about photography, gave recommendations for things I might find interesting (they were extremely helpful) and politely, asked me to show respect at all times.

He said with humility that brave people (some of them his friends) had died in uniform.  It was a humbling experience.

WW2 U Boat and Birkenhead Park

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of the German U boats in WW2, and Alan Turing’s attempt to catch them by decrypting the Enigma code.

I caught the train to Hamilton Square. The U-Boat story exhibition is just nearby. The main things to see, were various artifacts which had been recovered from the Sub, and the Sub itself, which had been cut into sections to enable it to be viewed more easily.

At the center of this picture, is the rear section of the sub, which show damage inflicted by anti-submarine planes, which ultimately sunk the sub.

At the end of the war, the German high command, ordered all submarines to surrender. Its still unknown, why U534 (the submarine featured in the exhibition) didn’t. It was sunk by the RAF, but its mission always remained a mystery. It was theorised it was carrying hi ranking officers to South America, that it had gold and jewelry, and one other theory, is that its experimental torpedoes were being taken to Japan, to continue the war effort.

Karsten Ree, believed it contained treasure, and decided to raise it. There wasn’t any treasure in the normal sense, but endless information about U-boats and life on-board, which the exhibition attempts (and I believe achieves) to capture.


A working Enigma machine (the Sub carried two, one in general use, and one in storage. The one in storage was in near perfect condition).

Looking inside the sub, you could see just how tiny it was. This section shows the engine room, but in other places, there were 2 small hobs, where food was cooked in shifts, around the clock.

It was said that life on board was very hard (52 men in an area the size of a small terraced house). When they weren’t working they were either sleeping or eating. There was always plenty of food to eat, to keep moral high.


I spent about an hour there and then moved on. About half an hour’s walk away, is the famous Birkenhead park.

Its famous, because quite simply it was the first public park, open in the word. Central Park in new York  one of the worlds more obviously famous parks, is based on it, and from the air, the 2 are almost identical.

Using my Iphone, and the trusty google maps, I was able to find the entrance without much trouble. It was much bigger than I expected. On a beautiful day like this one, there are few things more fun than wandering around and exploring in the outdoors.


I continued on through the park, and passed the boathouse, alongside the parks lake. Bit further along, they have re-opened the victorian tea house (I think the Victorians would have been pretty unhappy, as its now called Cappuccino’s. I stop and have the now ubiquitous coffee, and a chocolate muffin.


I spend another hour wandering around the park, and then back to Hamilton Square. Ive passed through the underground station at Hamilton Square many times, but never seen the outside. Apparently, some of the best Edwardian buildings in the country are located there.