Travel Stories

Cheshire Adventures & A Night at Willington Hall

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After the calamities of yesterday I am delighted to announce that today was much better, although I did spill half a cup of tea in my shoe and get attacked by a cat. In comparison to yesterday – a piece of pie!

I arrived an hour early at the University of Chester for fear of traffic confusion, and also because I’d stayed the night in a hovel and wanted to escape.

The Warrington campus was easy to find, on the outskirts of the town and near Cinnamon Brow – what a name! (Surely it’s got to be some kind of beauty product?!)

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I wandered round for a little while and admired the retro touches before meeting up with Lynne Connolly, Programme Leader in Digital Photography, and giving my Professional Development talk to students of the Digital Photography and Events Management BA(Hons).

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My talk was in the North West Media Centre, in the TV studio. It was the most excellent space. I loved it (and Andy the technical chap who set everything up for me and didn’t erase my presentation!) I felt like I could be on the set of some kind of ‘In conversation with…’ show, or perhaps Jeremy Kyle. I was all ready to bring on the lie detector results and do some pointing.

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I was impressed by the group of students who turned up (apart from the one who fell asleep) and interested to hear how the second years current module was on working with real clients, on real projects. Some first years even chose to come along to the talk, and everyone showed such brilliant enthusiasm. I was really pleased to have a lovely chatter with some of them and they gave me some great feedback.

I popped off for a late lunch meeting with fellow Shutter Hubber Lisa Howard. We did a bad thing and went to The Harvester for ‘food’. They did a bad thing and served us half-cooked disappointment on a plate. I told them I couldn’t bear to pay for it, and they understood.

I hadn’t realised that I’d be visiting the University of Chester in Warrington, so I’d booked my hotels near Chester. After last night’s stay in a noisy cupboard, I was excited to be returning tonight to my favourite Cheshire hotel, Willington Hall.

As I drove through the pitch dark night up to Willington Hall I felt a sense of relief, like arriving home when you’ve been away for too long. I was welcomed by Sue, who makes everyone feel perfectly at ease and at home, and shown to my room, my lovely, spacious, inviting room.

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I skipped down to dinner and decided to go informal with a burger in the bar. Last time, when Adam and I stayed at Willington Hall, I eavesdropped on the most intriguing conversation, between an elderly lady and man, about fruit soup and Palestine, and to my absolute delight they were sat across from me in the bar having another marvellous conversation about pensions and investments, the importance of walking sticks to aid balance in old age, and the fact that the beeping sound was not his phone – silly Peggy!

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My burger in it’s brioche bun was great, and it came with the best onion rings I have had or seen in a long while. The chips were good too. They do good chips. All good.

As I was feeling so happy and at home it seemed only right to follow that burger with a delicious rice pudding. All creamy and warm with sweet sticky fig jam.

Full to the brim I retired to my chamber to admire the proper bed and space to move. I was in room 7, funnily enough I was in room 7 the night before. What a difference a day makes!

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Room 7 at Willington Hall is spacious and clean, with soft white bedding and calmness. It has lamps, and a chandelier – all with light bulbs! There’s a suitcase stand so you don’t have to balance your case across your knees/the bath, and a big tele that you can see properly without glasses.

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There’s tea, and a teapot, and coffee, and a cafetiere, and hot chocolate, and good biscuits, and bottled water – sparkling and still! There’s nothing to want for, and even if there was, the lovely team would do everything the could to get it for you.

Then there’s the mega bathroom with the shower of power and the big tub that you can lie in, with the door open, and relax.

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I slept straight through, for eight full hours, and then I only woke up because I’d set an alarm. (Yesterday it was a burglar alarm!) I went down to breakfast feeling happy and refreshed. I ate muesli with everything in it and had a nice pot of tea. Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game played gently on the radio in the background and I watched big black birds landing in and taking off from the old oak tree, through the window.

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Then I accidentally ordered Eggs Benedict, which resulted in a contented smile and an over-full tummy.

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Before I checked out I had a lovely chat with hotel manager Simon who is a fountain of wonderful knowledge and always educates me on the most interesting things. Simon was starting to prepare the Christmas decorations for the Hall (I bet it looks magical, especially when it snows!) and held up a fir cone to show me, ‘It’s from one of the oldest species of tree known on earth,’ he said engagingly. ‘They’ve found fossils of these, millions of years old. Just think, dinosaurs have brushed past these with their bums!’ My intellectually challenged response – ‘Put it down Simon, dirty!’

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On my way home I stopped off to see Natalie (She had a bad accident when she was 6. She skied off a cliff!) and she took me to the Nantwich Bookshop Cafe when I drank Rose Lemonade, climbed the tiniest, tightest staircase into the roof and got to wear Santa’s coat in his grotto whilst he wasn’t looking… look!

Willington Hall is near Tarporely, Cheshire. The rate for a Classic room, like the one I stayed in, is £125 per night including breakfast (and their breakfasts are good, really good!)