England

Liverpool : From Cavern to Cathedral

“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.

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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.

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Lady Lee is sharing churches too.  She says to make a wish in each :

Visita Iglesia

We all need a little peace sometimes.  Irene has a lovely spot too :

Place to Read

Murals are always popular.  How about these?

8 mural project Downtown Tucson

You think I walk a long way?  You should try accompanying Geoff and Dog :

Ring of Walking – #CapitalRing#Crystal Palace to #Richmond

There’s always food on offer at Jackie’s.  And today’s accompaniment is…

Relish

Jaspa takes us on a wander in another beautiful city :

Prague Pastels

That’s it from me for a while.  I’ll pop in whenever I can.  Take care of yourselves, and bye for now!

China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors

You may have seen them on TV, but nothing can quite give you the frisson that accompanies your first sight of the Terracotta Warriors.  Standing in the never ending queue, you wonder what can have brought so many people, over weeks and weeks, to this exhibition.  Fully booked all summer until 28th October, the World Museum in Liverpool has tried to accommodate still more people by booking into the early evening.  The atmosphere is charged with anticipation as you are beckoned into the cinema for a brief introduction.  And then, you meet a Horseman, and enter the darkened arena where the story is told.

China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, was responsible for the most extraordinary feat.  In 246BC, aged just 13, he ascended to the throne, in a period of tumultuous conflict between warring tribes.  As he grew in power and stature he managed to unify the tribes, but along the way he became obsessed with the idea of immortality.  In 1974 a chance discovery by farmers digging a well in the Shaanxi province of China was to reveal an incredible underground army of life-sized Terracotta Warriors, 2000 years after his death.

The belief system of the time included an after life, provision for which the Emperor made in the most excessive indulgence.  A mausoleum was constructed, modelled on the Qin capital Xianyang, with inner and outer cities, beneath an enormous burial mound.  Buried in pits east of this, more than 8000 warriors for the Emperor’s protection.  130 chariots were found with 520 horses.  I was totally mesmerised by the replica bronze chariots with their teams of horses, thought to represent the chariots in which the Emperor travelled across his newly unified lands.  They were buried so that he could carry on touring his Empire in the afterlife.

No luxury was spared, and there were musicians, strongmen and acrobats for entertainment.  The gigantic bronze cauldron above is thought to have been used in acrobatic performances.  The kneeling stable boy below would have cared for the horses in the after life.

Sadly the Emperor may have brought about his own premature death.  He ordered his alchemist to make potions to extend his life, some of which contained mercury.  His unexpected death was most probably from mercury poisoning.

The exhibition defies description and it is amazing to think that these are but a fraction of the total necropolis.  The Terracotta Army have traveled the world, inspiring awe and disbelief.  The enclosed links will help you to understand much better than I can.

Jo’s Monday walk : Wild on the Waterfront

As the coach raced west into the oncoming storm, buffeted by black clouds, I had to wonder what windy Liverpool had in store.  But I needn’t have worried.  On the edge of the city the sun suddenly appeared, and I received a right royal welcome.  Liverpool One bus station is perfectly placed if, like me, you’re on a whistle stop visit.  Simply cross over the Strand and you’re face to face with the grandeur of the Waterfront.  The wind might have tugged at my coat tails, but I had a permanent smile on my face.  And everyone smiled back!

There is no doubt that Liverpool is a maritime city.  The River Mersey rolls choppily away into the Irish Sea, part of a long history of seafaring.  The Industrial Revolution established Liverpool as a major port, trading in coal and cotton, and also in slaves.  In the 19th century it was a chief point of embarkation for North America, flooded with the mass of Irish immigrants resulting from the Potato Famine.  The trio of the Royal Liver Building, Cunard and the Port of Liverpool buildings, collectively known as the ‘Three Graces’, dominate the Waterfront, an enduring symbol of the city.  Since its decline, the dockland has been handsomely converted to tourism.  Albert Dock is now home to Tate Gallery, the Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum and The Beatles Story, with shops and restaurants galore.

The fierce looking cat, chasing those rats, is made from around 1000 recycled milk containers, collected by employees of the Cunard Building and sculpted by local artist Faith Bebbington.  The Leeds-Liverpool canal terminates at the small marina in Canning Dock.

Like most people, I seem to see pink everywhere I go these days.  I hope you’re In the Pink this morning, Becky?  Waffles for breakfast?

Does anyone remember Billy Fury?  He played my home town once and I was an excited member of the audience.  Now his statue stands by a small green in front of the Pump House, his back to the river and the elements.  Keeping him company, a hopeful family of emigrants.

The Museum of Liverpool thrusts its nose towards the river, the words Imagine and Peace pleading to be heard.  I know I will have to return later, but for now I have a different destination.   The main purpose of my visit is to see the Terracotta Warriors exhibition at the World Museum.  The wind continues to whip round corners as I try to orient myself.  High on the skyline I have spotted the Radio City Tower.  Officially St. John’s Beacon, created as a ventilation shaft for the shopping complex below, in 1970 it was home to a revolving restaurant.  Radio broadcasting transferred to the 140 metre high tower in July 2000.  What an exciting place to work!  I should just have time to whizz up the tower in the high speed lift for that panoramic view.  With rain forecast the following day, it’s now or never.

From the tower I observe the Waterfront in miniature, and the two cathedrals- part of tomorrow’s itinerary.  Almost directly beneath me, the World Museum.  I have only to cross the small green park and I’m there.  But first I have to check into my accommodation, chosen for its proximity to the exhibition.  From the photo on the website I imagine I’m sleeping in a cupboard in Sleep Eat Love, but my ridiculously cheap single room, with ensuite, is amazing value for a city centre stopover.  I sleep well after my exertions.

I don’t intend to share all of my Terracotta Warrior images with you today.  I really feel they deserve a post of their own.  This is just a glimpse of what captivated me, and if you’re quick you may still have time to see them for yourself.  China’s First Emperor and his warriors are on display till 28th October.

I’d like to leave you with an exhibition that moved me deeply.  Liverpool will always have a place in my heart as the birthplace of the Beatles.  No-one was more horrified than me that day in October 1980 when John Lennon was shot dead.  In the time since then his widow has done an amazing job at promoting world peace and keeping his memory alive.  Yoko and the Museum of Liverpool present Double Fantasy.

As you can probably imagine, life is a little hectic right now, but I do hope to share my Warriors with you, and a glimpse of my second day in Liverpool, before I head for the Algarve next weekend.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed this one half as much as I did.  And now to share some walks.

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Debbie starts us off with some brilliant street art, and videos to show how it’s done :

Off to a Wonderful Wedding in Berlin

Banactee finds a little more, in hidden corners of Hamburg :

The Color Palette in the streets of Hamburg

Humble apologies to Shelley.  I neglected to include this beautiful post last week.  Please pay her a visit!

To be a traveler, or not to be

Ever been to Lake Ontario?  Jackie is always good company! :

Toasting Marshmallows and Movie Popcorn

This is how beautiful the Philippines can be.  Lady Lee shares precious time spent with family :

Hidden Valley Springs

Haven’t you always wanted to visit Savannah?  I have!  Let Alice show you around :

Factors Walk

Live in the north west of England?  Sharon has some great walks for dog owners :

Ten fido-friendly Country pubs you can walk to from Clitheroe

Yay!  Mel has finished the Via Francigena.  Time off for good behaviour :

Day 40 – FINAL DAY – Via Francigena- La Storta to Roma

Lovely Cathy keeps trecking, but posts about the native American’s survival methods, in an extremely difficult climate :

The Sandal Trail through Navajo National Monument

That’s it for Jo’s Monday walk for a little while, though I will keep in touch.  Please look after yourselves till then.  I’m off out into the sunshine for a last walk with my Hartlepool group.

Six word Saturday

Where will I be next year?

It’s been a hectic week and I have so much to share, but I’m running out of time.  Next weekend our move to the Algarve begins.  Newcastle is just one of many places I’ll miss.  I visited the city for the Heritage Open Day event and the star of the show was undoubtedly Trinity House.  Photos inside were not permitted for security reasons, but you can, and should, book a tour. Former law courts, the Guildhall, were impressive too.

But who’d have thought that after all these years I’d find an area of Newcastle I really didn’t know?  I followed the Tyne out to Ouseburn, whose arty vibe and grungy, graffiti covered streets were a revelation.  Even on such a grey day, my spirits were lifted.

This may be my last ever Six Word Saturday and I’m very grateful to Debbie for indulging and entertaining me so beautifully over the years.  One thing’s for sure.  I’ll not stop exploring and following my nose.  I just can’t help myself.  🙂

Wishing you all a happy Saturday!

Jo’s Monday walk : A Tale of three Castles- 3. Dunstanburgh

Our last day on the Northumberland coast got off to a gloomy start.  Persistent drizzle clung to the windows and rooftops.  Worse yet, my husband announced, limping down to breakfast, that he thought his gout might have returned.  The medication was something I had neglected to pack, this being just a short break.  We had planned to drive further up the coast to Alnmouth, where we last stayed when our son was small.  And, selfishly, I could not bear to be this close to Dunstanburgh Castle without at least taking a look.  Armed with the golf brolly, he agreed to give it a go!

Alnmouth, though charming, did not invite us to linger, despite the determinedly cheery exterior of the Sun Inn.  Memories of sitting amongst the dunes, in strong sunlight, warmly wrapped against the breeze, and with a small, ‘happy as a sand’ boy, seemed very far distant.

Given the situation, driving was easier than walking.  The wide ranging views I’d hoped for were swallowed up in the gloom, but a surprising number of people were parked in the tiny village of Craster.  The walk along the coast, from here to Dunstanburgh, is deservedly well known.  I had scarcely left the car park when I was captivated by the soft webbing of droplets, clinging to these hardy plants.

It was obvious that he could not limp far but, given a slight break in the rain, I was keen to walk this dramatic coast.  We agreed that I should sprint ahead, while he took it at his own pace, hanging on to the umbrella for support. There, in the distance, was the prize.

The sheep were quite oblivious to its beauty, us walkers far more susceptible to charm.  On the shoreline a sequence of cairns had me hovering with camera for a while.  A mother and daughter, close by, were gleeful in their discoveries.

Almost there now, it’s time for a little history.  Dunstanburgh Castle was built by Earl Thomas of Lancaster, the most powerful baron at the time of Edward II.  Begun in 1313, it was a mighty statement of Lancaster’s intent.  Unfortunately for him, the earl failed to reach the safety of Dunstanburgh when his rebellion was defeated.  Kings not being very forgiving in those days, he was executed in 1322.  John of Gaunt, 4th son of Edward III, inherited the castle on marriage, in 1362.  He subsequently strengthened the castle, converting the twin-towered gatehouse into a keep.  Fierce fighting took place during the Wars of the Roses and the castle was twice besieged, falling into Yorkist hands.  In the late 15th/16th century Dunstanburgh fell into disrepair, too far from the Scottish border and a main road to be of strategic importance.  Over time it became a romantic ruin, famously painted by landscape artist Turner.

Although I’ve done this walk before, I had never been inside the castle ruins.  The sky had brightened for a little while and I simply had to grab the opportunity, while I could.  The layout and scale of the site took me completely by surprise.

Climbing gently away from the gatehouse, you come to Lilburn Tower, with sweeping views across the fine sands of Embleton Bay.  The curtain wall along the coast is still largely intact.  Beyond it a steep cliff drops to shore, then tapers down to meet the sea.

Again I’m taken with the droplets of rain, this time on wildflowers scrambling along the top of the wall.  It turns at right angles, and climbs back up to the keep.  I am amused to see a notice suggesting we take care not to step on the frogs.  Sure enough, there in a puddle, a lively looking chap!

Just time to scoot up the tower, and then I need to get back down and find the other half.  It’s starting to mizzle again, and he’s got the brolly.

That’s quite enough of ‘weather’, for a while, isn’t it?  And probably of castles too.  Today English Heritage manages the castle and National Trust are responsible for the coastline.  Full details of opening times and how to get there are available on the link.  Oh, heck!  No cake this week.

Many thanks to all of you for trekking out with me, in all weathers.  It’s very much appreciated.  Time to put the kettle on and settle in to read some more great walks.  Join me whenever you can, here on Jo’s Monday walks.  You’ll always be welcome.

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Tales around the campfire first, with lovely Miriam :

Walhalla Walkabout

Followed by a gentle riverside walk with Alice :

Following the towpath

While Banactee shares a natural bridge, connecting 2 countries :

Pravcicka Brana- Gate to Czech Switzerland

A little fashion, a little cooking, an air show… a typical week with Jackie :

Drinking stories

Nicole loves hiking with her Dad.  Why not join them?

Superior Hiking Trail: Hike to Leveaux Mountain

Mel is into her last day or two of walking in Italy.  There’ve been highlights!

Day 32 Via Francigena, Radicofani to Acquapendente, 25.7km

A link to a beautiful part of the world, about which I know very little.  Please meet Subhasree :

HAMPI- Morning Tea by the Tungabhadra

Shazza’s been jangling a few of my memory chords.  I’d so love a canal cruise!

A stroll along the Crinan Canal, Britain’s most beautiful shortcut

A walk through truly ancient history, with Candy :

The Path of the Megaliths, Erdeven

While Carol’s Canadian exploits take her to beautiful Butchart Gardens :

For the Love of Flowers

Yay!  Denzil’s back, with a new look and some interesting facts about ‘under the radar’ Belgium :

How to spend a day in Diest

And lastly, Cathy, though still doing a grand job on the Camino, takes us to Navajo territory :

A hike in Hovenweep National Monument

I’m off to Liverpool on Wednesday, so next week’s walk could well be there.  Hoping for sunshine, but anything other than rain will do.  A word of warning that next Monday’s walk will be my last for a little while, so if you have a walk you’d like to share please do it this week.  I’ll be in the Algarve from the end of the month.  Meanwhile, have yourself a great week!

Six word Saturday

Counting apples on Heritage Open Day

And a few pears too!  I was at Durham Old Gardens.  Where better for a Heritage event than with these ancient fruit trees and an old stone wall?

Midway through Becky’s September Squares challenge.  Hope you are all In the Pink!  It’s my ambition in life to be two steps behind Debbie.  She takes Six Words to the loveliest heights.  Wishing you all a great Saturday!

For the love of Brancepeth

I had not intended to share another castle with you today, in the midst of my castle trilogy of walks, but the owners of Brancepeth Castle touched me deeply.  How can such a monumental castle remain so unknown?  And how much more effort can a man and wife put into the preservation of their home?  Had it not been for the Heritage Open Day events, I should never have known this story.

Brancepeth is a tiny and delightful village, just 5 miles south-west of Durham City.  A Norman castle was built here, on a fine lookout point across the valley.  It was rebuilt by the Neville family in the late 14th century, then confiscated by the Crown, in 1569, for their involvement in the Rising of the North.  A succession of owners followed, the last major restoration at the hands of the architect Anthony Salvin in the mid-19th century.  The castle has never seen conflict, but in 1939 became the headquarters of the Durham Light Infantry.  They left in 1962.  And then the current poignant phase of the castle’s history began.

In 1978, Margaret Dobson, wife of publisher Dennis Dobson, bought the castle to store the company’s stock of books, the lease on their Notting Hill property having expired.  Her husband died before the move north, but she and her 7 children inhabited the castle.  Mrs. Dobson did much to restore fabric and interiors but, you can imagine, such a property is a money pit.  The lead roof had been stripped by a previous tenant.  The resourceful lady refurbished the main function rooms to generate income from craft fairs and auctions.  Shakespearean plays were staged in the courtyard, and rooms let to students at Durham University.  Since her death, aged 86, in October 2014, family have carried on the work as best they can.  Her daughter, who led the tour, explained that metal supports had been used in the most recent restoration.  The rusting of these necessitated rebuilding, at the cost of £86,000 for just one of the vital towers.

The building is astounding. Everything from the huge chapel to original medieval vaults below ground.  The contrast between the beauty I’ve shown you, and the incredible amount of work still to be done couldn’t be greater.  Ceilings and paintwork peel, draughty corridors and flights of stairs proliferate.  But the building is loved, and nurtured, by a couple no longer young, but dedicated.  I wish them well.  Please go and attend one of their events, if you can.

The cause must have its champions up and down the country, but none is more committed than Becky.  As another Heritage Open Day weekend begins, join her In the Pink, and then get yourself out and find something interesting in your area.