Monday, 11 May 2009

Travel in the best possible taste

I've been staying close to home this week. No, not skiving off. I may only have travelled as far as my backyard, that is the city of Chester, but I was still working.
   First I spent a day judging the small hotel category in the annual Visit Chester & Cheshire Tourism Awards. Three places made the shortlist: Peckforton Castle with its fairy-tale ambiance, Nunsmere Hall (that's it pictured left) with its manicured grounds and Inglewood Hall, a conference centre reborn as a business hotel. 
   Want to know which one won? Catch the results on June 5th at the awards dinner. Want to know how I chose the winner? Listen into travel talk the Duncan Barkes programme on City Talk this Friday from 10.15am to find out more about the criteria for assessing the finalists. 
   Later in the week I went to the opening of the Taste Cheshire Food Trail, a series of seven routes across the county, featuring over 60 businesses united by the common pursuit of fine food and drink. 
   I had a sneak preview of the only walking trail, a three-mile circuit around the ancient Roman city, taking in local highlights such as the gourmet Cheese Shop and tucked-away deli-restaurant Joseph Benjamin.
   The six other routes are car based and stretch as far afield as Macclesfield, Northwich and the Wirral. All seven are documented in a A5 booklet available from tourist offices and participating businesses along the routes.
   Can Cheshire sell itself as a must-visit destination on the strength of its local produce this summer? Well, from what I've seen so far, this could cook up a storm.

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