Train(spott)ing it - for a day out in Liverpool
Up north for the weekend, we decided to take the boys for a day out in Liverpool, one of their ancestral home towns. Not an auspicious start at Garwsood station which was straight out of a scene from trainspotting. A metal-grilled waiting room, with benches ripped from the walls was hung with signs feeling the need to tell you not to urinate there. Distracting ourselves on the platform from the general grimness, and attempting a little late in the day research into what lay in wait in Liverpool itself – we found that not only were there no seats, there was also no reception or wifi. Flying blind.
But things perked up when I got sainted on the journey.
Day out in Liverpool essential activity 1: Ferry cross the Mersey
Arriving in town with a vague ferry/Tate plan, we wandered along the main artery of Liverpool city centre and down to the river where we were generally mightily impressed by the majestic white buildings edging the Mersey. The boys somehow had not come across the Mersey Ferry song (gap in their education – I blame the parents). So I played it to them, in the Fab Four Café while waiting for it. They were generally unimpressed and asked me to keep the noise down.
The weekday commuter (cheaper) ferry being weekend-unavailable, we went for the “harbour cruise”, an hour and a half circular tour of the river. Would be educational. The brightly coloured boat contrasted sharply with the steely Mersey.
It was a bit November-nippy, but also undeniably atmospheric, standing on the deck looking out across the wide grey waters. The boys did not agree and sat screened in the café area.
We learned about a 6 sided clock with a Russian twin, and saw the world’s biggest brick building and some ventilation shafts (they may have been padding here). Discovered that the famous liver birds resulted from an artistic misunderstanding. What were supposed to be towering 6m cormorants topping the Liver Building, ended up as a totally made up eagle/cormorant hybrid. Never knew.
I needn’t have worried about the gap in the boy’s song education, as it was played every time the ferry docked.
Day out in Liverpool essential activity 2: Beatles hunt and booze and chip bus
Ruddy cheeked and wind swept, we wandered along the docks in search of warmth and sustenance. My eye was caught by a London bus kitted up as a diner and offering chips and glasses of prosecco. Everyone a winner, we popped up to the top deck (should have had a Top Deck for real 80’s throwback moment).
Heading through the town centre we sought out the Cavern Club where I had done a bit of dancing back in the day (not to the actual Beatles). There were various places that we thought looked like the club, but I had clearly been on the pop at the time and after 20 years, one doorway looks much like another. We contented ourselves by looking at the ubiquitous Beatles memorabilia in the shops.
Day out in Liverpool essential activity 3: A taste of Tate psychedelia
There was just time on our day out in Liverpool to dip into the Tate to check out the swirly psychedelic floors – and have a little lie down in the search of an arty 1960’s themed shot. And peep into an eternally reflecting mirror box. And pose in front of a neon hammer.
Day out in Liverpool essential activity 4: Albert Docks
No day out in Liverpool would be complete without a tour of the Royal Albert Dock. 1980’s breakfast TV days suddenly came back to me and I looked in vain for the old floating weather map. On Googling I realised that the weatherman was actually in prison and no one mentions the map anymore.
Still, lots of very cool shops and restaurants to entertain us instead.
On the way round the harbour, past the bobbing boats, I was pleased to see I was not only a Saint, but also a (boat) Lady. My namesakes were doing very well in the area.
Homeward bound - I don't know why you say hello, I say goodbye
Night fell, Christmas lights were lit and the restaurants and shops twinkled. Would have been nice to stay for the evening but the train was calling.
Beatles, boats, buses and splash of psychedelia– will be coming back for another day out in Liverpool soon.
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A varied few days in London with kids, meeting John Bercow and his mace, visiting an Easter Island Head, being organ blasted in St Paul’s and witnessing the founding of America and the Holocaust.
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