What do you think of when Cheshire is mentioned? A Cheshire cat, Cheshire cheese or something else? There does not appear to be anything typical or distinctive about Cheshire. Perhaps this is because in the past the county has been re-arranged with towns added and taken away. So when a move to Chester was mooted I did not know what to expect. It was one place that I had never been to. My husband started work in Chester in April 2003, commuting weekly, from Surrey, and staying in a B&B. By June he had found himself a flat and I was able to pay my first visit to Chester. It was early evening when I caught my first glimpse of Chester. The day's shoppers had gone home and the evening's pubbers and clubbers were yet to come out. It seemed very pleasant with its' sandstone cathedral, Roman ruins, ancient walls and mock Tudor buildings - built by the Victorians actually. At the time I was really a visitor and Chester is really a city for visitors. I see things differently now that it is my home.
My initial impressions of the countryside around Chester were of its' flatness by comparison with the undulating North Downs area of Surrey that we lived in. Yes, the west of Cheshire is flat whereas the east is hilly. In between is the stunning Cheshire Plain. A typical Cheshire house is built of the local, red and black Cheshire brick, with a Welsh slate roof. There are a number of old black and white 'Tudor' style houses around the county and sandstone was an equally popular choice of building material.
There is a glossy monthly magazine published here called Cheshire Life - cover photo is to the right. When we first moved here I subscribed to it but soon found that it contained more articles about the high life of Cheshire's socialites photographed in DJs and evening dresses and adverts for expensive houses than it did articles and features about the towns and villages of Cheshire.
You can not live in this area without realising that you are on the edge of WAG land. For those of you that do not live in the UK a WAG is the term used to describe the wives and girlfriends of sportsmen. It was first coined to described the wives and girlfriends of football players. Football is a way of life here. Our immediate neighbours support Everton, Liverpool and Manchester United, which are all not far away. I quietly support my own team - Hull City. Surrey is devoid of top flight professional football teams. The big teams are all up in London.
In general the shops and stores here were smaller than their cousins down south, when we first moved here, but some have been enlarged and new shopping centres opened in the time that we have been living here. I had never seen the discount shops T K Maxx, Matalan or Poundland until we moved to Chester. Such shops simply did not exist in Surrey when we lived there and I rarely shop in them. There are one or two shops from the Surrey area that I miss but I have learnt to live without them.
The accent is a softer form of Scouse. Thanks to the Beatles I can understand it, but I do sometimes have problems with some of the colloquialisms. And there were times, when we were renting, that I felt as if I had moved to a foreign country.
One of the nice things about Cheshire is its love of gardens. The climate, which benefits from Cheshire's western location, is gentle enough to allow most plants to grow outdoors in the summer although they may need protection in the winter. There are several gardens in Cheshire that are open to the public and we have our very own flower show at Tatton Park.