Sunday 31 July 2011

Irritable Bullocks

Ever since Mrs Blog alighted at Wrexham station on Friday afternoon I have been in a frenetic whirlwind of weekend activities leaving me looking forward to the relative ease of the working week. In summary I have...

Found a modest oasis in the gastronomic desert that is Wrexham (sorry, but I have been looking in vain for somewhere nice to eat here since the 1980s). The Eastern Sheraton restaurant in the town centre offers good Chinese food without heart-stressing levels of monosodium glutamate.

Walked north of the Travelodge at Rhostyllen to discover the whereabouts of the Eisteddfod's Maes and explore the old iron-works on the Clywedog river.

Visited Chester for the first time on Saturday, circumambulating its ancient walls and wondering at its unique split-level mediaeval shops (the "Chester Rows"). And it takes only a little imagination to conjure the Roman legionary fortress which still defines the lay-out of this extraordinary place.

Wisely chose Italian chain Carluccio's for a fine lunch including an unusual penne pasta with cured sausage sauce.

Spent a pleasurable three hours admiring RSC veteran Natalie Grady playing the sexiest ever Rosalind in "As You Like It" (which is saying something as Rosalind is Shakespeare's sexiest character) in Chester's Grosvenor Park. I don't know if she was as good - or as sexy - when she was in Coronation Street but I might have changed the habit of a life-time to find out. See the Guardian's review here.

On Sunday crossed the Mersey by ferry from Birkenhead to Liverpool (my first visit) - thanks to Hafal's North Wales employment lead Janet Randles for suggesting this stylish means of transport.

Admired some great works including a few first division (or in this city should I say "Premier League"?) impressionists in the Walker Gallery and raced past the usual corn you find in museums including a huge gallery full of rubbish "classical" Victorian sculpture. I also liked a Lucian Freud portrait from 1951 (topical as he died this month). His sitter apparently complained that his legs were too short, to which Freud tersely replied that his legs were indeed too short...

Lunched agreeably at the Bistro Franc in Hanover Street. £8.95 for three courses including sea-bass, chicken chasseur, crème brûlée...Wow.

Met the entire population of the city visiting the new Museum of Liverpool which opened this week. Interesting stuff but just a little self-congratulatory? Good to see the local crowd not taking some of the more sentimental bits too seriously. Also a section on Liverpool's Welsh community...

Back in Wrexham scrambled up Bersham Colliery slag-heap - dusty, a little dangerous and, technically, a criminal offence but necessary as the Coal Board (or whatever its successor body is called) has failed to maintain the adjacent footpath which I was attempting to follow. On top of the tip there is a panoramic view over the fields where the sunny weather has prompted frantic haymaking. Finally chased out of a field (while on a legitimate footpath) by a herd of irritable bullocks. fact everything except actually attend the Eisteddfod happening on my temporary doorstep - that treat is for tomorrow.