For Christmas and New Years Chris and I went to England, where Chris is from, to visit family and be tourists. Chris wanted to show me where he grew up, and all the achingly beautiful and historical things in the Northwest, and I was a willing tourist.
It was cold. Oh yes. But we braved it and went all over the place – Chester, Port Sunlight, Liverpool, Manchester, and North Wales, and a trip a bit more southerly to see friends in High Wycombe, with a stop by Stratford Upon Avon and Warwick Castle on the way there and back.
Here are just a few snaps…
Chester – What an amazing city! Originally a 1st century Roman settlement called “Dewa,” the Roman walls still ring the city center, which inside is choc full of buildings dating back to the 13th century, filled in with Tudor black-and-whites, Georgian stone, Victorian red brick, and Edwardian tudor-revival. All are still operational businesses, some of them having been in their locations for several hundred years. I cannot accurately convey how amazing Chester is. GO THERE!
Stratford-Upon-Avon was on our way to visit friends, so we stopped off for some shopping, coffee, and architectural ogling. Like Chester, Stratford is a town packed with Elizabethan and Jacobean black-and-white buildings, its most famous one of course being Shakespeare’s house. Sipping Starbucks in a 17th century house is surreal.
While in the South, we visited Waddesdon Manor, an intense palace of Frenchness built in the 1870s. The gentleman who owned this monstrosity was the most powerful banker in the world, and filled his house with art. Besides the indefatigable mansion, the grounds also featured a stunning aviary still in use, and the most beautiful stables I’ve ever seen.
On the way back North, we stopped at Warwick Castle. I’d visited Warwick on a school trip 14 years ago to the very day we visited this time. It was still stunning, and I made a couple paintings of the state rooms and Guy Tower.
Our last day, New Year’s Day, Chris and I drove around North Wales, visiting some of the 13th century castles built by Edward I to oppress the unruly Welsh. We started at Castle Y Fflint, Edward’s first in Wales, and rather small compared to where we ended, Conwy. It was weirdly warm, but raining, so my little paintings were quick or done in the car. All the castles were closed, along with all the shops, so it was more of a driving tour, but one I’m glad we didn’t skip.
Of course, these attractions were only a few. Just the Northwest has so many things to see, and I could spend a month just walking from village to village painting “boring” things like 17th century pubs and 18th century corner shops. I thought it would be grey and stark and modern up there, but I was completely wrong, and I can’t wait to go back!
Bianca EspositoJanuary 5, 2015 at 6:26 PM
It looks like it was an amazing trip! The more castles and tudor buildings the better I always say. I miss England so much and have to admit I am super jealous. I was in London most of the time I lived in England and still have so many parts of the country to explore. Your paintings are amazing! I have always been impressed with your costuming sketches, but these are enchantingly beautiful watercolors! What a cool way to document your trip!
Lauren StowellJanuary 6, 2015 at 3:29 PM
Thank you! I enjoy watercolors, especially when traveling, which seems to be the only time I do it anymore. I wish I'd been able to do more – guess I'll just have to go back! 🙂
Scene in the PastJanuary 5, 2015 at 9:04 PM
Lovely trip! And ironically, my brother and sister-in-law were in Britain about three weeks before you. Conwy was the first of three castles they visited in Wales. I'm glad you got to see it!
Lauren StowellJanuary 6, 2015 at 3:30 PM
It's very impressive! We started at Y Fflint, which is just a tiny thing, so I wasn't expecting such a huge castle at Conwy
Black TulipJanuary 5, 2015 at 10:52 PM
So glad you liked my home town! I live in Chester now, but the first home I owned was in Port Sunlight, I was a student in Liverpool, and I've spent many happy times walking in the hills around Conwy.
Your paintings are amazing!
Lauren StowellJanuary 6, 2015 at 3:30 PM
I am so jealous you live in Chester, and once lived in Port Sunlight. Such amazing places. I wouldn't be surprised at all if you and Mr. Chris knew each other…
AuntieNanJanuary 6, 2015 at 12:47 PM
LOVE your beautiful water colors! Wish I could draw, because then I'd have more than the few photos of our honeymoon trip, circling Wales, seeing Edwards castles!! Yep, it was grand! We also ogled Chester and Stratford, and lots of little byways towns in between–it was spring and everything was glorious. Thanks for is post!!!
Lauren StowellJanuary 6, 2015 at 3:31 PM
You probably drove right through where we were staying, and where Chris grew up – Neston and Heswall. Such an amazing part of the world!
CorporelleJanuary 7, 2015 at 2:38 AM
It's so lovely that you take the time to draw, color, and take notes. May I ask – always been curious about this – how do you deal with your travelling companions when you wish to sketch? Do you ask them to take a stroll somewhere and come back? 🙂
LaurianaJanuary 8, 2015 at 6:54 AM
That looks like an amazing trip!
And I remember Conwy. I went there about 20 years ago when I was on holiday in Wales with my parents. We saw many of Edward I's castles on that trip…
And I love your watercolors.
VeyskethJanuary 8, 2015 at 2:03 PM
I can't believe I didn't know you were heading so close to where I live! Around 8 miles south-east of Manchester city centre is a town called Stockport, and I think you would have loved to explore our air raid shelters (tunneled into the red stone the town centre is built on) and a wonderful place called Staircase House (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staircase_House) which I have yet to tire of. There's also Bramhall Hall and park but that's a few miles out of the town centre. Still amazing architecture and history, though!
I've adored your costuming adventures for years now and I've learnt a lot from you, and especially your hiccups that always seem to right themselves. I hope you have many years yet to explore all you can (not everything, because I suspect that would take several lifetimes!)
Looking forward to your next post,