Snow, Sun & Smiles @ University of Chester Chaplaincy & Chester Cathedral ~ YES!

Spells of sleet, hail, snow, rain and sun accompanied me on Tuesday as I drove north up the A41 through Shropshire and Cheshire, passing signposts to places I am sure I had never heard of before, let alone ever been to – Tong, Weston-under-Lizard, Crackleybank, Child’s Ercall, Whitchurch, Malpas, No Man’s Heath. What evocative place-names. And the sleet, hail, snow, rain and sun continued on into the afternoon as I rolled into Chester, that great city of the north, not far from the Welsh border. And by the time Wednesday morning arrived, there was a thin layer of white snow everywhere, glistening in the sun, and Chester looked beautiful.

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So pleased I was to have a day off from driving too. This is my ‘new’ car, picked up from London last week, in exchange for my silver VW Polo that had served me well, but was no longer running as smoothly as I wanted it to, so I’ve exchanged it for this – blue is just sooo much nicer than silver! Anyway, though the roads and paths in Chester on Wednesday morning were icy and fairly treacherous, but hey, how could I stay indoors when I just saw my first real snow of winter?

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I was in Chester, invited by my good friends, Peter and Vicki. I had also visited them over the Remembrance Day weekend in November, so this was my second visit on this home leave – I just can’t keep away! Peter is senior chaplain at the University of Chester (see their really good chaplaincy website here), and on Wednesdays at 5:30 pm, they have a chapel service.  I was invited to speak, and share a little about CMS and Taiwan ~ and also presented the chaplains with an artillery shell cross…

On Tuesday evening I joined the chaplaincy team, staff and students for a yummy dinner, and on Wednesday after the service, we also had a meal together. I got to meet the other chaplains and staff, plus a whole host of lively students studying all sorts of things, all full of interesting conversation.  The very top photo was taken of a group meeting in the chaplaincy house on Wednesday afternoon.  A few I met at the chapel service were international students – particularly delightful were identical twins from Malaysia, so lovely! Thanks to Peter and Vicki for their hospitality, and to all in the chaplaincy for their very warm welcome!

And in-between the chaplaincy events, so I went into Chester to see the cathedral, and walk around the walls. The walls are amazing. Saw so much – the streets, castle, racecourse, river, shops, the famous clock and more.

I had visited Chester Cathedral for the first time in 2015 (see my photos of that trip here), and also been on the cathedral tower tour on that same visit. It was so much fun then, so on this snowy Wednesday morning, well I just had to go again.

The tower tour of the cathedral is really a bargain – in the world of cathedral tower tours that is – and it was so beautiful up there at the top, looking down on all of Chester, and out at the Welsh mountains covered in snow. Loved it all!

Let’s face it, Chester Cathedral is very medieval – everything about it is dark and heavy and old and sombre. It’s built of red-brown sandstone, so while that colour makes for a stunning appearance on the outside, is also makes it very dark inside.  There’s a great view down on the nave as part of the tower tour. As we stood above the altar looking along and down, so it’s easy to imagine what it must have been like in the Middle Ages. Oozing with atmosphere. You can kinda imagine all those ancient monks creeping along to their services in the dead of night. Eerie stuff.

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And in my humble opinion the very best thing inside Chester Cathedral is the west window, with all the northern saints pictured on it. Love it!

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There’s another colourful window in the cathedral café. Love that one too!

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And there’s currently an art exhibition in the cathedral, called ‘Knit One Share One’, of characters and stories from the Bible – all of them knitted. It is so much fun, so delightful and really brightens up the place. You just gotta smile when you see all the knitted characters like David and Goliath, the Last Supper, Zacchaeus, the Wedding at Cana. They’re gorgeous!

And on Thursday morning, we woke to the sound of rain on the roof; the snow had mostly all gone in Chester itself. As I set off in my little blue car for further north, so the clouds rolled in, the fog came down – and by the time I arrived here in the Lake District, you could hardly see a thing, except patches of snow in the mist. Kind of ethereal. Ah, snow, it was great while it lasted – and the snow and daffodils at the back of Chester Cathedral did look stunning yesterday….

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Snow, Sun and Smiles ~ thanks Chester for supplying them all, plus the daffodils.  A great combination. And what a great welcome from the city and chaplaincy.  You’ve made my winter, you really have!

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