Liverpool, again!

Yo Hole in ye Wall
Ye Hole in Ye Wall, Liverpool
So, on Sunday I travelled down to Liverpool with NUJ DM Delegate Melita on the train and got off at Moorfields. When researching the pubs near my hotel, I discovered about five good ones were situated between the station and the Z Hotel. We popped our heads in the first one but Melita didn't like the look of the big screen, so i asked the barmaid the way to Ye Hole in ye Wall, and she took us there!

Yo Hole in ye Wall
Ye Hole in Ye Wall gents
It's a quaint old pub with lots of snugs. There was a session going on in the first one, and a Sports screen, but the beer looked good so we settled on an empty snug next to the Men's (women weren't allowed in until 1975, their leaflet told me). Mine was a pint and a half Peerless Oatmeal stout, made in the Wirral. I was convinced the crooner and guitarist next door had been in Liverpool beat groups back in the day!

View from my hotel
View from Room 614
Melita headed off to Lime Street and I crossed the road to find my hotel. It was a converted office building, with the bar and reception on the ground floor. It was next to one of those enigmatic Art Deco buildings without windows that are ventilation shafts for the Mersey Tunnel (but not at all noisy). I was on the 6th floor, with a view of a magnificent building with a sun dial. At 5pm we were promised free wine and cheese - but only one (large) glass per customer, that did me for tea, so it was upstairs to watch my 40in tv and bed.

Walker gallery
Walker art gallery
 Monday morning I walked to the Walker art gallery to see the Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion. With my Art Fund card and concession it worked out to be £2.50 entrance, so after a cappuccino in the cafe it was upstairs for the art. The exhibition was more about the Liverpool collectors and contained many lesser local Pre-Raph followers, plus some old favourites, including Rossetti's only nude Venus Verticordia. George Rae had a copy painted with drapery because he found it 'too voluptuous for a respectable  old timer like me'! A great exhibition and more outside in the permanent collection. Of course, I bought the catalogue!

Paul Brown at FACT, Liverpool
Paul Brown at FACT
Then it was to The North Western, the Wetherspoons under Lime Street station, for a beer with Rob and Jackie, who were up for a sundial conference. Now FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) was supposed to be closed on Mondays, but I risked it anyway and found the cafe and lobby, where there was a Paul Brown and Son exhibition - Scouse roots: Art that makes itself - open. I had some soup in the cafe then enjoyed the computer art. Then on Melita's insistence I patronised the Roscoe Head, opposite, for another pint, of St George - another pub with many rooms. In my snug was a canoodling couple and I didn't know which way to look - no music either to mask their snogging! They eventually left to be replaced by a little old man who told me how much he'd saved by cancelling his landline.

FACT cafe
Soup at FACT
The Bluecoat shut at 6pm, so I headed down Bold Street to find it. The exhibition on was Double act: art and comedy, which was slightly interesting. I ended up watching a 40-minute video of stand up by 'Karen' of Common Culture, which despite being rude about short men and old people, had some good lines. Her imaginary audience was called Fred! I nearly got locked in…

So, it was back to the Z Hotel (which I discovered was a stone's throw from Mathew Street), for free wine and cheese, then tv and bed. Tuesday morning I got the tube from Moorfields to Lime Street and caught the train before the one I had scheduled for - I had an open ticket. Found an unreserved seat in Coach U and was delighted to spot 46100 Royal Scot in steam, at Crewe


Southport (and Liverpool), again...

View from Southport pier
View from the end of Southport Pier
The last time I was in Southport was for the NUJ DM back in 2011. I was a delegate then, but this time I was an observer. I was also very diligent then, attending every session and a couple of fringe meetings besides, and regretted not taking time off to go to the end of the second longest pier in Britain, when it had a tram service. I also missed out on the Atkinson art gallery, which was being refurbished at the time.
Southport Pier road train
The Promenade Express
So, Saturday lunchtime I headed for the pier and hung about by an A-board advertising the Road Train, every half hour. It was nippy and a family and me waited what seemed like ages before the 'train' arrived. Bought a £2.50 return and we headed off, me wishing I'd brought a scarf. At the end of the pier was a pavilion containing a cafe and some penny slot machines. No sign of the sea, just endless sand. The driver and conductor were having a fag and a cuppa but eventually drove us back.

Atkinson museum, Southport
Victorian sauce inside the Atkinson
Sunday was much sunnier and I was joined by delegates Amy and Melita to the end of the pier. This time it was a bit busier - still no sign of the sea - and I got the next train back cos I wanted to see the Atkinson. It's housed in the same building as the town hall, under a clock tower, on Lord Street, which has many splendid buildings. The art gallery is on the first floor and comprises a large room themed as Victorian Dreamers, with a group of saucy paintings in the corner, including Pygmalion and Galatea by Earnest Normand and Lilith by John Collier, plus a couple of William Ettys. There was also a travelling exhibition of more modern works entitled One day, something happens. Another floor up is the museum, which houses some mummies, a Dan Dare exhibit, Meccano and Dinky Toys and lots about the history of Lord Street. On the ground floor is a cafe called Bakery, where I had a cappuccino.

Dan Dare
Dan Dare was born nearby
We were staying in a hotel that had seen better days - the Prince of Wales - me in a tiny single room on the 3rd floor. The DM was in the Floral Hall again (it will be in two years' time too) an we managed to visit a couple of quirky bars, including the Baron's Bar (ale £2.10 a pint) in the Scarisbrick Hotel and the Inn Beer Shop with its 'Continental-style seating' at the far end of Lord Street.  The strangest thing that happened at DM was at the Saturday night Gala Dinner when someone went to the loo and reported that Michael Jackson was next door! Well, a lookalike was, with a huge queue of women and children getting selfies with him. Apparently it was a show! 

Preston Bank, Southport
One of the magnificent buildings on Lord Street
On Sunday I set off with Melita to Liverpool…

More photos on Flickr.