- March 6th, 2011
I've returned home from a lovely day out, wandering around the city centre with two friends of mine from University. It was really nice to spend time with people who have known me longer than one week, and that I could relax and be myself around.
We all met up earlier today at Lime Street. I was slightly unnerved by the significant police presence at the station, complete with sniffer dog that was checking everyone that came off certain trains. This behaviour by the local police squad was aptly explained by the fact that Liverpool were playing at home that day, against the other big team in the North West that also wears red.
The main part of the day out involved following part of the Liverpool Discovers trail and various side trips into charity bookshops. Again bookshops are bad. Especially Second Hand ones. For some strange reason, I quite often find a book or three to buy. I still have several piles of books that are still downstairs in the living room and haven't migrated upstairs to my room yet. But that is because I don't really want to move them until I have a bookcase to put them in. And now I've acquired quite a few this weekend. (Random aside: There's a fantastic second hand book shop about 5-10 minutes walk away from my new abode. I wandered in yesterday and somehow managed to come out with two new books. It is cash only, hence only the two books. But one of them is the biography of William Maples, one of the original American forensic anthropologists. After reading Bill Bass's one last year, when I saw this one, I just had to get it to add to the collection. Plus the new housemates might assign me to the loony bin when they see me reading a book entitled "Dead Men Do Tell Tales".)
The Liverpool Discovers trail consists of various pieces of artwork placed around different parts of the city. Some are more interactive than others, some encourage you to find hidden gardens off the beaten track.
We started at Lime Street, with Stephenson's Destinator. That was quite strange and I really hope they leave it there after the trail officially closes on 20th March. Mainly because it is just slightly silly. It looks similar to Stephenson's Rocket, has various dials and lights and quite cool. It makes strange noises. We think it would tell you where it decided you needed to go but we couldn't catch the words.
Then we headed round to the original Speaker's Corner, where there was a statue of Mary Bamber, a suffragette and social revolutionary. The statue has been done using a mosiac technique, including using black ceramic skulls with millifori eyes as edging to Mary's skirt and jacket. I liked that touch. The base of the statue had lots of tiles detailing various other female social revolutionaries that Mary inspired. It certainly wasn't quite what we expected but again, quite impressive. Especially the skulls. I liked the skulls.
St John's park, behind St George's Hall and in front of the World Museum, is quite interesting. Partially because it seems to be more of a memorial garden, with lots of placks and monuments. The first one we spotted was one done by Road Peace, consisting of a brass road bollard, with various personal effects including a teddy bear, a walking stick, a mobile phone. It is done in memory of all those who have been injured or killed, live unfulfilled due to road crashes.
Heading back in towards town, there were several street lamp portraits, commemorating various well known Liverpudlians. I won't go through the entire list, but suffice to say, the main one that is worth mentioning is Tom Baker. There is a painting of Tom Baker as the Doctor, complete with long scarf on Whitechapel street. Absolutely excellent. Quite easy to miss until you realise what you are looking for and then you start spotting them.
Our wander then took us a minorly scenic route down to the Liver Building past the Town Hall and Martins' Bank. Next to Martins' Bank, we did discover a lovely old Victorian style building with a large lobby, and two lifts complete with dials above them to indicate the floors.
Following this, we wandered along the dockfront, in the sunshine in places, past the Three Graces. Down close to the new Museum of Liverpool, there is a piece of art dedicated to the work of Jeremiah Horrocks. He was the son of a watchmaker, born in 1617 but despite learning the family business, was more interested in tracking the stars in the sky. He started plotting and tracking the stars progress across the star, observing patterns which enabled him to successfully predict when Venus would cross infront of the Earth. From this, he was able to determine how far away the Earth was from the sun and the sheer excitement of this caused him to have a heart attack and drop dead at the tender age of 23. The art work consists of a large telescope, and a short animated film.
By this time, we realised it was about time to brave a pub for some lunch. We headed back to the Excelsior Pub, on Dale Street as one of the party recommended their pies. A good suggestion. They were very nice pies, and a lovely old fashioned pub. We did have to endure the first half of the football match, but that was not too much of a hardship. Mainly as the local team was winning.
Our post lunchtime explores took us back down through Liverpool One, to the musical lampposts. Quite strange and not quite how you would expect them. Modern style lampposts, but with a button and a listening point. Some would make noises, others didn't seem to. But they may have run out of batteries. Close by to these, was a more permanent fountain / art work detailing the different tide levels and the work done by a former Dock Master measuring the levels daily. The fountain wasn't switched on, which did save us a drenching as we walked over it.
We had a hunt for one of the 'mythophone's, hidden in various secret gardens off the main street. Slightly disappointing when we found it but an interesting little garden. Could be quite nice in the summer, especially as there seemed to be a cafe there.
The final piece of artwork that we located (after we wandered past the BBC shop to admire the Dalek) was one highlighting two of Liverpool's medical achievements. The use of radiography to find a bullet in a boy's wrist in 1896 and the other in 1902 of the discovery that malaria was passed to humans by mosquitos. I liked the use of lighting tubes to indicate the separate bones in the hand, but otherwise preferred the other sculptures. Not quite sure which one was my favourite, but it was a lovely way to spend a day. Would have been nice if it was a tad warmer, but you can't have everything.
I'm certainly coming to the conclusion that there are significantly worse places to move to than Liverpool. There are significant benefits as well, lots of artwork and culture. Plenty of museums. A regular and frequent bus service, even on a Sunday. Even the Sunday service doesn't stop running until 11:45pm. Most of the day it is every 15 minutes, until about 6pm, when it switches to a half hourly service. Still impressive compared to Gloucestershire, where the Sunday service is half hourly at best and finishes mid afternoon.
It has been a lovely day, and apologies this post was not meant to be quite so long. Photos should be going up shortly on stalkerbook. Our next day out, with date to be arranged, will involve the exploration of Manchester. I'm looking forward to it already.