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Cross by Mary Martin #mirrorselfie

Breakout of Liverpool

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Breakfast was a little fraught today, big boss man was in and all seemed busy, American woman was overheard on her phone saying to a friend that “Liverpool is great, like London but nice”, but fed and watered we made our way across a rainy town to FACT (foundation for art and creative technology). There is an interactive exhibition looking at identity in virtual spaces, some of it was okay, most just reminded how well our class efforts were on my interactive media degree.

Steamboat Willy trash

Steamboat Willy trash

Occasionally people refer to kitsch n crap as “so bad it’s good” but you have also got to be able to call out trash coz it’s so Bad that it’s rubbish. And though I’m using a shell grotto type horror boat here to demonstrate that concept some of the computer gamery in the FACT exhibition was exploitative trash that was (I suppose) trying to call out 1st person shooter as bad by piling tons of depressing narrative on top… but a polished turd is still a pile of shit.

St. Jerome reading in a cave - Andrea Alessi

St. Jerome reading in a cave – Andrea Alessi

From there we head to visit the Walker Gallery, good old fashioned Empire raiding for antiquities. Don’t get me wrong here, I love a well equipped museum but for most pieces older than about 1950 I worry that we (uk museums) acquired most of the non-european stuff with an iron fist hiding behind a velvet glove. The eternal struggle, for me, is the thirst for knowledge, but not at the cost of the locals or the not locals.

Mona Lisa - a 17th century copy

Mona Lisa – a 17th century copy

The Mona Lisa above, as was very well explained by the helpful museum staff, is a copy made in the 17th century. When the Mona Lisa in the Louvre was stolen in 1911 it was cut from the frame and is missing details on left and right of the picture of the veranda that Mona is posing on. Categoric proof that Liverpool is better than Paris in many aspects but specifically you can see more of the Mona Lisa there.

Cross by Mary Martin #mirrorselfie

Cross by Mary Martin #mirrorselfie

Another highlight in the Walker at the moment is a 60’s colour and shape exhibition called Kaleidoscope which has a Bridget Riley (fab), plenty more of colourful shapes and a couple by Mary Martin, check out my #mirrorselfie

It was also a pleasure to see the statue of Albert Einstein by Jacob Epstein (Epstein always lifts my spirits :)). Instagram

Lunch was taken at a deli/burger place on Dale Street, Delkery, which was, as were all our meals in Liverpool, reasonably priced, plentiful and fresh. The coffee is great there (kinda turkish and bitter?) and the kids were pleased by the fruit smoothies that they had.

After a brief respite at the hotel we moseyed down Sir Thomas street to the Liverpool Breakout. We are fans of escape rooms, we have been to ones in Bilbao, Portsmouth, Cardiff and a few others. The Bilbao one was almost language and Spanish words free which pleased us no end, they also did a cute trick with a radio station playing especially for the folks trying to win in the room.

For those not too au fait of the genre of the Escape Room there was a very good program on radio 4 which introduces you to them and you may be able to hear it here. The fun of solving puzzles and unlocking padlocks is a great analogue pleasure and working together with my family for a shared purpose is always ace (so far).

The Pirate story we were in at Breakout was only 3 out of 5 stars in difficulty and we did manage to escape the room with the pirate’s booty with 7 minutes or so to spare.

Breakout Liverpool winners!

Breakout Liverpool winners!

My final evening in Liverpool coincided with Liverpool FC playing away at Manchester City in the Champions League quarter final second leg and although Liverpool had a 3-0 lead from the first leg the early goal from City gave a very nervy first half. Liverpool drew level in second half and the atmosphere in the Vernon Arms perked up massively… possibly in part due to the great atmosphere I had a few pints too many and suffered the next day on our journey home, will I never learn?
No, probably not.

Thanks for reading, support my half arsed attempts and give me some encouragement by buying something through my affiliate link, doesn’t have to be this – Breakout  – but if you start there and buy something you need then I might (still trying to work out how this all works) get a tiny fee for linking you there.

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cheers 🙂

Crosby Beach - Another Place by Antony Gormley

Crosby, stills and nosh – Liverpool day 2

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Woke in the hotel room, handy as that was where I went to sleep 8 hours previously. Showered and down for breakfast, good choice of cereals, fruit, muffin type stuff but I started with a fry up, the Fab Four in this case: sausage, eggs, bacon and black pudding.

Pure vanity I realise but I do like to do a mirror selfie when the chance occurs, yesterday’s was in the Tate in front of a painting by Antony Gormley.

Smokeyjoe mirror selfie in Antony Gormley painting

Smokeyjoe mirror selfie in Antony Gormley painting

From the hotel is a five minute stroll to Moorsfield metro stop and from there is a 17 minute journey to Blundellsands and Crosby station, as you come out of the station you can go straight on to the beach but that takes you about half way along the beach so we headed left then right to get to the beach at the leisure centre nearer to the end of the statues.

Another Place by Antony Gormley

Another Place by Antony Gormley

Another Place by Antony Gormley

Another Place by Antony Gormley

Family at another place

Family at another place


From the southern end where we joined Crosby beach, there a hundred figures stood at various points of a cast of Gormley looking out to sea. Gormley states that it represents the middle aged man looking for meaning and self identity but to me it also spoke of the loneliness of us all looking for each other and although the figures seem pretty random in their setting, none are stood together close enough to chat.

Panorama of Crosby beach

Panorama of Crosby beach

Fair warning, if a bit of the beach looks puddly then chances are that you will schlep a fair amount of the wet mud n sand around with you for the rest of the day, I know I am. It’s probably 7 years that I have wanted to see this beach, it was installed around 2006 after being on 3 beaches (Norway, Germany and Belgium) and it has exerted a tug on my art strings.

If you are a fan of Gormley then you should go to Newcastle, admire the Angel of the North on your way and pop to the Baltic centre to see more of his work, it’s well worth a visit, cracking city with St James’ park looming, acropolis like, over the city and Newcastle is full of fab folks n bars

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Tagged figure

Tagged figure

Figure in Another Place

Figure in Another Place

Figure in Another Place

Figure in Another Place

The beach stretches on, probably 2 miles south to north, Gormley sentinels dotted from the shore to low tide about half a mile out, I’m sure the rnli are fully aware and hope they never try to save an iron man. Some of the men are less than vertical in their manner, a bit like life, I bet the boats that catch these fellas are less than happy about it.

Time and tide wear on all men

Time and tide wear on all men

Leaning Gormley

Leaning Gormley


From the northern end of the beach it is a short walk in land to the metro station and on we go again, heading for Port Sunlight. I’m sure we would have been there quicker if it wasn’t for more signal problems, not sure why the Liverpool metro has so many lighting problems but they do, so a bus replacement down the Stanley road to Lime Street and onto the Wirral line , under the Mersey, through Birkenhead and into Lord Lever’s model village of Port Sunlight.

Lady Lever museum

Lady Lever museum

Inspiration as the lady on the plinth

Inspiration as the lady on the plinth


Built in 1888, Port Sunlight is a friendlier side to capitalism, named after their most popular soap it is around 800 houses, a church, school (now an architects) and the lady Lever museum as the Lord believed that art can raise us up spiritually and educatively. Of course the benevolent act of giving housing and education to its workers also ensured that you got loyalty from the workforce, but for your late Victorian working poor Port Sunlight was a position to work for.

Mirror selfie through Chinese painted scene

Mirror selfie through Chinese painted scene

And finally the nosh, tonight was a visit to the big bowl noodle bar on Berry Street, good food, fresh and very friendly staff, not quite the wow of last night but again too much food to eat, is it just luck that we keep visiting places with generous portion Sizes?


Tonight’s blog is bought to you from Vernon arms pub, the beer is a few of yorkshires ‘black sheep’ (dark, traditional best bitter, only 4.3% and worth a try), the letter b and the number 3. iPad blogging is handy but picture placement is tricky so sorry if it’s a little all over the place.

Only a day and a bit left in Liverpool, what should we defo do here? Answer below. Cheers 🙂

Lichtenstein at Tate liverpool

Liverpool day 1

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Early start out of Pontypool, 9.57 to Crewe, busy train for a Sunday I thought but as there are only 2 carriages then busyness comes quickly I guess. The quality of countryside from a uk train is always enjoyable, cats dart for cover in back gardens as we trundle by, later a dog barks at us, though I can only assume that from the hounds contorting face. The hilly surrounds of Abergavenny give way to a flatter vista around Hereford, daughter rolls her eyes as I loudly exclaim “oh, isn’t it flat”.

We arrive at Crewe with 15 minutes before our Liverpool train, the coffee from the gourmet kitchen on platform 6 is strong and refreshing though the grumbles from my server, less so. Easy half hour or so and Liverpool South Park suggests in its name that we are in the city but the size of passengers luggage suggests we are just a handy change from the John Lennon airport.

The final leg is half an hour with signalling problems into the city central station, 10 minutes walk across a busy city and we arrive an hour early at our hotel, Double tree Hilton. We drop off our bags and head down Dean Street to the docks. As we pass the civic buildings, bells ring out for some newly weds and we decide not to photo bomb their special day.

The Mersey side walk to Albert Dock passes a Beatles statue and Fab Four themed shop and cafe, wifey snaps the Billy Fury statue for her sister and we go into the Tate.

Liver building viewed from Tate in Albert Dock

Liver building viewed from Tate in Albert Dock

The Tate in Liverpool is small compared to Bankside but beautifully formed all the same, ground floor exhibit is a celebration of 30 years that it has been open herewith ‘Ken’ curating hidden visions, a couple of floors up you can talk to Ken and set up the room in model form as you would have done it… Though he didn’t agree with me that the Rothko was a pile of overrated nonsense and that it should be shown in the cloakroom.

The artist room is currently concentrating on Roy Lichtenstein, master of Ben Day dots and elevating throw away comic book art to high art (biglyness is arty Ness!) I was amazed with the fact that he only died in 97 and was working right up to the end

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Roy Lichtenstein at Tate Liverpool

Roy Lichtenstein at Tate Liverpool

Sunrise by Lichtenstein

Sunrise by Lichtenstein

Other highlights in the Tate include some quality pop such as Peter Blake and this futurist/vortist piece from 1915, big respect if you know artist and title, feel free to show off in the comments below.

Vortist 1915

Vortist 1915

Peter Blake

Peter Blake

After a gentle mosey through town back to our hotel, quick coffee, wifey checks out the pool and sauna, before we go out for a meal at Shiraz Turkish cafe. I went for the mixed grill and it was marvellous, all 4 of us were beaten by the food we were served, all very happy and very stuffed, wifey and I managed a bottle of house red and the bill came to £62ish. One highlight was son (12) saying while referring to an image of the Beatles on the wall that “a lot of places in Liverpool seem to like the Beatles.” We laughed at him and ridicule flew from all sides, we are mean:)

Smiths tucking in at the Shiraz

Smiths tucking in at the Shiraz

I left with some meat sweats and a grin, heartily recommended the place to some folks looking at the menu on the street and was surprised that we were being chased by our fab waitress so she could return daughter’s scarf that had been left behind.

As the family tucked into our hotel room, I managed to pop across the road to Vernon Arms for a pint of real ale (Jonny Handsome was its name, dark and full with a bitter finish, yum.) and watch some golf from Augusta.

All round a great start to this trip, Crosby tomorrow for Gormley’sfigures on the beach…

Thanks for reading, more soon, honest injun:)

Things to do in Liverpool

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Yay! We (me, wifey, daughter(14) & son(12)) are off to Liverpool next Sunday. We are getting the train so will not have access to a car when we are there, so let’s see what we can do…

First thing to do is to find the hotel, we are staying at the Doubletree by Hilton, wifey selected that hotel due to its proximity to Lime Street station and probably the quality of breakfast on offer. She pretty much always checks these kinda things through tripadviser which is a good guide to how things are but always be aware of the recentness of reviews and the total number of reviews.

Lichtenstein is at the artist rooms in the Tate on Albert dock, gotta love those ben-day dots and the raising of comic book art to high art, though as is often the point in high art, size matters.

One of the other main art type activities that I want to do is to visit the beach where Antony Gormley’s figures stand in the tide, ‘Another Place’. There are nearly 100 figures of Gormley, strung out over a mile or 2 of beach, looking out to sea/see, apparently this installation has already been shown in Germany, Norway and Belgium but they are now a permanent fixture on Crosby beach.

To get to Crosby Beach we need train times for Blundellsands and Crosby station and to see the figures we need to know about tide times. https://www.thebeachguide.co.uk/north-west-england/merseyside/hall-road-west-crosby-weather.htm fill the bill for this and ensure you take note of any safety warnings, apparently the rip tides at this beach are swift and deadly so we will be staying within 50 metres of the promenade. Must remember to take binoculars too.

We love an Escape room and Liverpool has a great choice of rooms in the https://breakoutliverpool.com/ which seems to run by the folks that run the Manchester version, we have booked the Pirate ship puzzles and I’ll review it after I’ve spent my hour there.

Being the media junkies we are, well me n the kids, we will try to visit https://www.fact.co.uk/ the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology which looks tremendous.

Things I’m not doing during this visit include but are not limited to:
Terracotta Army at world museum as £40 ish seems a bit stiff for what could be seen at a garden centre visit.
John Lennon‘s childhood house or any Beatlemania stuff as life and time is short.
Grand National course at Aintree as that starts the day after we leave.
Sting’s The Last Ship at the Everyman

The ferry across the Mersey as we have no need to visit Birkenhead this time, though it is a great thing to do.

I bet you are eager to buy something Liverpudlian so can I suggest that you get something by Echo & the Bunnymen

While doing this blog I found the https://www.visitliverpool.com/ site which has been a great help.

What would you suggest should be done with a few days in Liverpool?

Hello world!

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Hey Howdy Hey Travellers

Welcome to my new blog site, been a few years since I’ve done this kinda stuff so would appreciate patience and forebearance in the short term. I am hoping to monetise some blogs and links, any advice gladly accepted.

For now though let’s just see if this works…

This is a link to the Amir photo lens kit – Link

 

more soon… honest injun.