Faux furs and faux northerners: welcome to Cheshire

Zip up your Jack Wills gilet and have Daddy slide the Range Rover into drive

I proudly hail from Cheshire, where the schools are private and Range Rovers plentiful. I came to Newcastle to escape the private school bubble I couldn’t help but grow up in, only to find that this supposedly Northern hub is chock full of not only southerners, but hundreds of other faux-Northerners like myself attempting to shed their “Jack Wills” skin. The “proper Geordie” is a legend rarely glimpsed during the day, although these seemingly nocturnal beings appear after dark to make the most of the famous Newcastle nightlife.

Newcastle may physically be the absolute opposite to my hometown, but it is filled with similar people – you know who I mean. The blondes in puffer jackets and “retro” flared jeans and the second years with a Fiat 500. However, you can usually decipher the Cheshire-borns from the rest; if only by those funny things you can only know if you call Cheshire home.

Cities and “Almost” Cities…

First and foremost, anyone from Cheshire will recognise immediately our two core cities; well, Chester and Manchester. The latter, of course, qualifies as a city, but Chester, bless its heart, is a glorified village with all the airs and graces of Chelsea but none of the size and stature. Here, look out of your tinted car window to view the Cheshire set at its finest; each day, same people, different scarlet-soled heels. In winter, prepare for hordes of women in furs and men in Barbour jackets, hurrying out of the cold and into the Chester Grosvenor, to warm their well-moisturised hands on a bone china cup of overpriced hot chocolate with gourmet marshmallows.

The Races

As summer arrives, when hemlines rise as fast as the grass grows, with the watery northern sun arrive the Chester Races – another key event us “Cestrians” know and love. Temperatures rise by half a degree, and the faux-northerners recklessly shed all of their layers, having carefully cultivated them over the winter. We flock as one to the race track, guzzling “Champagne” (Prosecco) and canapés, as we throw money on horses who never quite made it to Ascot but who give it a go all the same.

Hordes of Housewives

The core of the “Cheshire” stereotype, though, lies in the almost cartoonish clusters of tiny towns with narrow streets which bridge the gaps between places people may have actually heard of. A southerner may know of Chester or Didsbury, but try asking of Knutsford, Stockton Heath, Alderley Edge or Hale Barns, and you will be met with the blank stares of those oblivious to Cheshire’s charms. These sweet little hamlets house the best and worst of the area, such as “The Real Housewives of Cheshire” (and may I apologise on behalf of the county for that show).

The Residents

Residing in these towns are a number of colourful characters; one group of which is very important when it comes to being from Cheshire. Every local knows that during the week, the towns are overrun by white-haired, wizened old people who probably made enough money in their younger days to fund an expensive retirement in one of our excellent homes. If anyone is looking to rent a room, they are well furnished, with plenty of food soft enough for dentures and regular access to the outside world. These slow walkers flood the tiny streets, wrinkles emphasised by the sun as they complain about coffee prices and eat Eggs Benedict at the pace of snails.

Coexistence – or lack of…

These older folks shake their fists at the rich young men who flash by in yellow Lamborghinis, and tut as they almost trip over the leads of tiny dogs dragged through town by well-groomed wives with perpetually blow-dried hair and expensive gym bags – but this younger set doesn’t care. They’re too busy eating brunch at Piccolino and knowing the difference between hot and cold yoga to protest over the construction of an Aldi store in the historic town centre, or to congregate every Wednesday at the local one screen cinema run by a fellow pensioner. Here, Prosecco replaces Pepsi and the popcorn isn’t edible unless dipped in sea salt, smothered with maple syrup of the highest quality and served with an enthusiastic (though slightly toothless) smile.

Terrible Tweens

Over the weekends and holidays, the elderly back away in horror from coffee shops now invaded by teenage girls in chokers and Joni jeans. Locals know to avoid like the plague these miniature WAGs, who are just as coiffed as their older counterparts; sipping Frappuccinos with forced gusto and determinedly enjoying being “rebellious”. I say this in the loosest sense of the word, as “to rebel” in Cheshire generally means gleefully attempting to smoke tea from a Twinings tea bag bought in Waitrose, feeding ducks non-wholemeal bread and staying out thirty minutes later than curfew.

I may complain about the privilege and the unashamedly obvious wealth which seeps uninterrupted throughout this corner of the country, but really it is a lovely slice of land to grow up in. The streets are pretty, the locals delightful and avocado toast can be found on every corner. I defy any foreigner to the county to find fault with our endless fields, vaguely historical towns and multiple country houses.

To those new to our wonderful pocket of paradise, welcome. And to those lucky enough to have grown up in the county which brought the world Cranford, Cheshire Cheese and of course, Dawn Ward, welcome back. Help yourself to an overpriced coffee and enjoy the almost nonexistent northern sun. Cheshire welcomes you with tastefully fake-tanned arms.