My youngest daughter and I spent a week in early August visiting family in Colne, Lancashire, Chinley in the Peak District and Knutsford in Cheshire. Our time was spent catching up with family, walking in the beautiful hills of the English countryside, visiting the iconic seaside town of Blackpool and riding the roller coasters at Alton Towers.
We spent the first two nights staying with my wonderful sister-in-law and husband. The last time we’d seen one another was in December 2018, when my husband and I travelled with our three daughters to the UK for an amazing Christmas celebration, which brought together both our families for a very special reunion (blog post here). We enjoyed catching up with Alice’s grandparents too, my lovely parents-in-law, and had a lovely Chinese meal together on the Friday night and a good ‘ole pub meal the following evening with one of Alice’s cousins and his wife.
On the Saturday we visited the iconic seaside town of ‘Blackpool’ with Alice’s Aunt & Uncle. It wasn’t the finest of summer days, but we had a fun few hours playing on the arcade games on one of the piers, enjoying a couple of fair-ground rides and eating Blackpool’s finest chips with curry sauce – absolutely had to be done!
Following such a healthy lunch we drove back to Colne and I headed out for a run before our pub dinner! I headed out on a public footpath around Foulridge Reservoir, with views in the distance to Pendle Hill. I didn’t have time for a long run, as needed to get back for dinner, but loved being out in the fresh air and beautiful countryside, reflecting on memories of walking there with my husband when we visited in our late teens and early twenties.
After a lovely weekend with my husband’s family we headed to the Peak District, where my sister lives, and spent a few days basing ourselves in the village of Chinley. I absolutely adore the hills and countryside of this part of England, with endless public footpaths weaving their way across the countryside and farms, over stiles and dry stone walls, under the gaze of an ever changing sky, wildly beautiful in all seasons.
I took Alice for a walk in the hills close to my sister’s house, hiking up to ‘Big Stone’ – which sits 451m above sea level.
The following day we joined my sister and Dad for a visit to Knutsford, in Cheshire, where my Dad’s brother lives. We had an absolutely wonderful lunch with my Uncle and my cousin, along with her gorgeous children. After lunch we walked in Tatton Park. Later that evening we strolled into Knutsford for a delicious meal at a pub that dated back to 1640’s. This is a wonderful little read about ‘The inns and outs of Knutsford’s historic past‘. This area holds family history going back several generations, on my Dad’s side of the family. It was lovely to spend time with my Dad’s lovely older brother, who has since invited my Dad to come and live with him. Both of them have been widowed over the last two years, so it is good for them to have each other’s company.
As well as time visiting family and history, we also spent time enjoying modern day thrills at Alton Towers! When I asked Alice to suggest a couple of things she’d really like to do on our visit to England she put a visit to Alton Towers high on her list! I was a little nervous about the roller-coasters, but one of my lovely cousins said she’d join me, with her three children, and we decided to go all out and pay extra for the fast track passes, so we could ride all the coasters in one day… and ride them we did! I didn’t do any research on the various rides (unlike my daughter, who had checked them all out online before hand). Since we didn’t have to wait long for each ride I had little time to observe the rides and so got on each ride completely ‘blind’ to what was ahead of me – which I think helped me to just ‘go for it’! Some of the rides had big drops, others went backwards and had tons of loops, and every time I was completely surprised and ended up loving the experience! It was a blast!
Alton Towers theme park is set in beautiful grounds, which I would have loved to have spent more time exploring.
Whilst Alice and I enjoyed the thrills of the rides my sister and Dad headed off for a walk in the surrounding countryside, meeting up with us in the early evening.
The four of us enjoyed a visit to Buxton one evening, having a lovely meal before watching something at the beautiful Buxton Opera House.
After a lovely few days in the hills it was time for us to journey back down to Hampshire, in the south of England. Alice and I had a quiet few days before our long journey back to New Zealand. I enjoyed catching up with an old school friend and we enjoyed a final walk with my sister and Dad around Fleet Pond and the local nature reserve. We had a lovely meal on our last night, at a newly opened Japanese restaurant in Fleet.
In those last few days I helped my sister to pack up a few things in the house, readying them for collection by a local charity, knowing this would be the last time I ever set foot in the place where we had spent a very happy of childhood. The house has since sold, my Dad has moved up to Cheshire, close to family and my dear sister. Next time I visit England will feel very different. It’s been a year of goodbyes, with my mother’s passing in December 2021, and the sale of the family home I grew up in. I have been very fortunate to have enjoyed so many happy memories and visits back over the years, but things change and time moves on.