I promised a post about my recent day trip to Liverpool but life has been in the way of much writing this week. Consequently it feels a wee while ago, especially given that since we have had Storm Desmond and all its effects to contend with. That was all in the future, though.
Liverpool is one of my favourite cities. It has a charm about it, with its grand, mercantile architecture and its many museums making a day there a real pleasure. It is very like Glasgow in lots of respects, in layout, outlook and fashion sense, which might be part of why I like it. A trip there is more possible now I live here in the west and I can go straight down the West Coast Main Line to Preston and then change. It is to become even easier in the next TransPennine Express rail franchise with a new direct service from Central to Lime Street. It is still a long, full-day endeavour taking 4 hours one way but thankfully it is worth it, even for that feeling of pulling out of Central and crossing the Clyde in a Virgin Pendolino, which soon tilts its way south through Clydesdale, Cumbria and Lancashire. Before I knew it, having been busy writing and reading, I was in Preston, where I had half an hour to grab lunch and change trains, this time onto a Northern Electric train that didn’t tilt. (With Northern Rail, you should be glad the thing moves, to be honest, let alone powered by electricity. At least it is still easier than going to bloody Manchester which invariably involves using my least favourite train company, First TransPennine Express.)
Traditionally when I go to Liverpool, my first stop is the Walker Art Gallery, which is just along from Lime Street (pictured above). This time, I fancied a walk instead and headed through the city centre, through the shopping hordes, down to the Albert Dock where I had a wander before proceeding along towards where the ferry leaves for the Isle of Man, a place that is very much on my list. There wasn’t a ferry in so I spent a few minutes gazing across the Mersey. On my way back along, I walked a little way behind a family of mum, granny and little boy. Said wee laddie was taking particular pleasure in kicking a coffee shop sign, one of those metal numbers that was blowing in the wind. That the sign was flopping about made it more harmless and the kid was clearly happy boxing the thing. I would happily have kicked it myself but I remembered I am a grown-up adult with a pension fund and everything so I refrained.
Liverpool. No’ bad.
On my walk down I had stopped by the monument to those who died at Hillsborough. I always do when I visit Liverpool, each time experiencing that same feeling of horror as I think on how those poor people died and about the reaction of the authorities in the aftermath.
Very close by is the World Museum, a rather good collection of natural history, anthropology and actual animals. I was there earlier in the year and saw an amazing exhibition about the Mayan civilisation in central America. Sadly it had finished but instead I went to see the World Culture gallery, which I had bypassed last time owing to being a bit overloaded. It was magnificent, a great range of objects and information about people on five continents, including a Buddhist display and another of bronzes from Benin in Africa, both of which ticked my boxes in a big way.
My next stop was only next door, the Liverpool Central Library, which has been refurbished in recent years to great effect. I earn my living from working in libraries and I like being in them. This one in particular because of the magnificent Picton Reading Room (pictured below) where I sat and stared before walking around the mezzanine level amongst the stacks. I felt inspired by being in the midst of knowledge just there, though sadly, unlike in Cambridge, there was no book about Dunbar.
My last stop was the Walker Art Gallery, which I like because of its old-fashioned feel as well as its 19th century collection of British and French Impressionist art. It also has a Turner of one of my favourite places, Linlithgow Palace. There was an unusual but very interesting display of dresses owned by a man who crossdresses, basically. The key difference between the dresses he had bought years ago and the ones ordered more recently was that the newer dresses were tailor made for him, as seen by the broader shoulders built in. The visitor comments were almost entirely positive, which was great to see.
So, that was Liverpool. I was glad to be out of Glasgow for a bit and just to travel and sit on trains and watch the world pass by a while. When I joined the world again, when I got off the train, it was good to be in a city I like and have my mind blown just a little in the process.
My next day trip is tomorrow. Not as far, just Dundee, the town so nice they named it once, to see the McManus Galleries and to pay my respects to my style guru, Desperate Dan, whose statue is just across from the Caird Hall in that fine city. In his honour, I will try and find a decent cow peh for lunch though probably not one with the horns still attached…
RRS Discovery. Thankfully I won’t need it to get to Dundee.