“Imagine I’m in love with you, It’s easy cos it’s true…” It’s a bit of a crazy leap from Terracotta Army to Beatles, but the Cavern drew me like a magnet. I left the enthralling exhibition somewhat dazed and wandered in what I hoped was the direction of the Beatles’ old haunt. Alone, and beginning to feel weary from an early start, I hovered beside Cilla, trying to find the confidence to descend those steps. If in doubt, have a glass of wine? Perhaps not the best motto for life, but I retreated to a nearby restaurant, overlooking the comings and goings on Mathew St., and gathered my courage over a very nice chicken curry.
I needn’t have worried. It was early evening and the warm up ‘lad’, Tony Skeggs, was on, and what a very fine job he made of it. I was soon singing away, balanced on my stool, without a care in the world. Aside from getting back to the hotel afterwards, of course, but eventually I hummed my way ‘home’ without misadventure, and sang myself to sleep.
I had a rough plan for the following day, part of which included a Magical Mystery Tour. The forecast wasn’t great and I ‘imagined’ I might be better on a bus, but with a dry start I thought I’d do a little exploring on foot first. Restless always comes naturally. But first I had a bit of a treat. The lovely lass on reception in Sleep Eat Love informed me that their new bistro was opening that morning. Their first ever customer, I was greeted like royalty. Fortified with scrambled eggs and coffee, that smile still on my face, I ventured forth.
I did try to plot a course to the cathedral on Google Maps, but I’m a pretty hopeless case and soon ended up following my instincts. That can be disastrous, but I was lucky this day. Signs for Lime Street Station kept me on track, and right opposite, magnificent St. George’s Square.
Passing the busy station, I paused to gape at the frontage of a grand looking hotel. I was peering inside, with my usual curiosity, when a cheerful voice said ‘Come on in, love, and have a look!’ I can’t get over the friendliness of the locals. The cleaner was still hard at work and there was a lovely smell of polish in the air. I had entered an Aladdin’s cave of Art Deco, being transformed into, of all things, a food court! I know my daughter would have revelled in the extravagant curls and swirls of Barcelona Bar.
Seeing church spires ahead I thought I might have reached the cathedral, but it turned out to be the Bombed Out Church, a rather forlorn relic, whose railings were adorned with poetry. A sad looking tramp had made it his home.
Strange how such a very large cathedral can become invisible. I had to ask for directions, but soon I was gazing upwards at the rosy might of the Anglican Cathedral. Not sure if it was open, I noticed a couple coming through a narrow gateway and went to investigate. I’m so very glad I did because, for the next half hour, I wandered beneath the greenery of St. James’ Gardens.
I was intrigued to discover that the gardens had once been a quarry, from which the stone for most of Liverpool’s public buildings had been cut, in the 18th century. From 1825 to 1936 it became the city’s main cemetery. Today it wraps around the cathedral like an ancient skirt.
And what a cathedral! Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and built almost entirely of the local pink sandstone, it is the largest in Britain, and the largest Anglican Cathedral in the world. The foundation stone was laid in 1904 by King Edward VII and it was finally completed 74 years later in 1978. For me the Lady Chapel was the most beautiful part of the church, and I paused to light a candle in the gallery overlooking this quiet, lovely place. The stained glass panels depict women of significance from the bible, and important Liverpool women who were missionaries or worked for the poor of the city. The central space of the cathedral was vast, and laid out at one end was an array of beautifully dressed tables and chairs. I had read somewhere of a cafe in the cathedral and wondered if I was appropriately dressed to grace one of these tables. But first, the Tower!
I never can resist a view, even though it usually involves a climb. There are 3 stages to this one. First by lift, followed by a narrow corridor that overlooks the bells, then a second lift and 108 steps to the top. All worth it! You can, apparently, on a fine day see Blackpool Tower in the distance, but I was more interested in closer range. And yes, we’ve finally earned a cuppa, so it’s back down again, via the embroidery exhibition, and over to the mezzanine cafe. I was half disappointed to find that those grand tables weren’t for the likes of me, but I had a lovely chat with a young woman and her daughter, enjoying both the fruity Liverpool cake and listening to her wonderful ‘Scouse’ accent.
The weather had finally caught up with me and, as I headed down Hope St. towards the Liverpool Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral, the first spots of rain arrived. Just time to scurry up the steps for a quick look. I remembered seeing it on TV when Paul McCartney conducted the Liverpool Oratorio from there. Originally the cathedral was to have been a Lutyens design but World War II intervened and in the 1960s ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’, as it is affectionately known, was completed, to the design of Sir Frank Gibberd.
All thoughts of a Magical Mystery tour had long since been abandoned and, as the rain began to pelt down, I headed back downhill to the Waterfront and a world class selection of museums. I was beguiled and saddened by John and Yoko in the Museum of Liverpool, and spent an hour or so absorbing modern art in Tate Liverpool. As I looked out on Albert Dock in pounding rain, I reflected on the brilliant couple of days I’d spent. I hope you enjoyed them too.
This isn’t officially a Jo’s Monday walk but, as I’m taking time off to get settled in the Algarve, I thought I’d do a round up of the walks I received this week. Please take a few minutes to visit if you can.
Lady Lee is sharing churches too. She says to make a wish in each :
We all need a little peace sometimes. Irene has a lovely spot too :
Murals are always popular. How about these?
You think I walk a long way? You should try accompanying Geoff and Dog :
There’s always food on offer at Jackie’s. And today’s accompaniment is…
Jaspa takes us on a wander in another beautiful city :
That’s it from me for a while. I’ll pop in whenever I can. Take care of yourselves, and bye for now!