Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Liverpool - Day Two - Part II

Last on my list, in the NE corner of my map, was to see the two cathedrals. Apparently it is unusual to have two of them and Liverpool has the (Anglican) Liverpool Cathedral and the (Catholic) Metropolitan Cathedral; poetically, they are at either end of Hope Street. First, I had to walk UP Parliament Street which was mostly ugly. What Bill later told me I might not have liked was that it bordered on Toxteth, an area of town that had riots back in the 1980's; I just knew it was unpleasant. They do have a nice library, however.

The Anglican Cathedral reminded me more of a castle surrounded by

a moat. It was good, but it didn’t strike me as being very accessible.

Later I learned that the 'moat' used to be a quarry and is now St James Garden, a public space. It looked like a very pleasant place for a run.

Hope Street had terraces of lovely big houses.

Many of these appear to be being acquired by either of the two local universities which also had other buildings in the vicinity; UK universities like every other entity here seem to have to fight for space. They don't get a huge lot and monopolise a whole town, like Norman or Stillwater, or Provo for that matter. Also on this street was the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (a rather plain building) and a its much fancier dining rooms.

Down the road was Everyman Theatre and a restaurant of the same name. I wonder what happens if you 'cheat' and go to the restaurant that doesn't match your evening's entertainment?

I loved the name Hope Place; Bill later commented what a lovely little street it was. At the opposite end, we came to the more modern Catholic cathedral, which I didn’t care much for, initially. I warmed to it a bit later.

I thought the back was quite weird until I learned that the site had been bombed and the back was the remains of the older part, a crypt. I still thought the pyramid thing looked weird.

Across from the Cathedral was the Victoria Museum, the outside of which I absolutely loved.

(Bill, it is the Victoria Building, not the Walker Building).

The maze of fencing around the construction work there made me wonder if the construction workers were having a laugh, another sort of class war making the students walk well out of their way to get across the road. Later Bill said it was just ‘Health & Safety’.

I decided to 'do' the Victoria Museum, thinking Bill and I would spend Friday at The Pierhead and Albert Dock. I was not very impressed with the exhibits. There was a small room allocated to Audubon paintings and stuffed critters. The next room was given to Stuart Sutcliffe.
Sadly, he died of a brain haemorrhage in Hamburg in 1962, aged only 21. However, I thought his paintings were unremarkable and that they are only exhibited because he was in John Lennon’s earlier band, the Silver Beetles.

The best exhibit was of E. Chambre Hardman’s photography; you can Google "Chambre Hardman" in images if you want to see some of his fabulous work. His pictures include the crowded back streets of 1930’s Liverpool up to the Metropolitan Cathedral, re-built sometime after 1960. He also did some portrait work of famous people, including Margo Fonteyn and Ivor Novello. One of my favourite films is Gosford Park in which Ivor Novello is a character; it was only later that I discovered he was a real person.

Upstairs was a large hall. I used to think a ‘hall’ described a long narrow corridor – and I suppose it still does – but here a ‘hall’ is a very large room, usually with a grand high ceiling. The Tate Hall once had large wooden beams across, but they were removed at some point to modernize the room and replaced with metal rods.

There is still a beautiful arched ceiling with the beams in tact and the shape and size of the room is grand. The exhibits I can remember included an alcove showing an old dentist’s office, glass cases with horrific critters in (scorpions, eels, crabs, strange fish, etc), something to do with Egyptian archeology and an alcove (with warning for children) depicting plastic replicas of all the complicating positions of childbirth, ie feet first, shoulder presentation, twins, etc., and the instruments used to assist delivery over the last few decades.

The best part of the Victoria museum was the building itself, the tiled walls, high ceilings, grand staircase. I probably could have taken pictures, but I checked my bag as required and didn’t think it ask about pictures at reception until I saw a young student using her phone camera.

It was dark and raining when I came out. I got back to the room about 5:30 and Bill was doing his email. I took a hot bath to sooth my tired legs. This was an unfortunate choice. In order to drain the tub I ended up pulling up the plug with my fingernails and extracting a large mouse-sized mat of hair. I later wrapped this in toilet paper and took it to show the manager, but I only saw the ‘duty manager’ who referred me to the ‘day manager’ who was head of housekeeping and would be in the next day. I never did see that manager having other things to do than wait at reception, but I did take a picture (which I will spare you) and sent it with a letter to the hotel manager.

Just today I received an apologetic letter inviting us back to prove it was an isolated incident, offering one night's accommodation and breakfast for 2 people. I liked Liverpool well enough to consider this and even that doesn't work out I think it was a fair and appropriate response to my letter. This is the second time I've travelled with Bill for his work and my complaints about the hotel have netted us something for free! It's great being retired, ie having the time and energy to make formal complaints when they are warranted!

All the company managers and 2 of us partners attended the meal that evening. The menu sounded grand (ie, duck terrine), but then that's part of chef school, of course, learning to write slightly disingenuous menus. I sat across from a manager of one of the local homes who is originally from Trinidad. His dream is to retire at 50 to the island of Granada. It sounded good to me! I hope he makes it.

No comments: