The Tour pt 15 - Sweet and sour

Well, time is marching on. We are now over two months in to our trip with just over a month to go.  We are now back in Wales; in Anglesey for a few days before heading back south and east. We’ve had more fun with the barbeque, a couple of great days out and a less than friendly welcome at our current site. So, here goes with the usual catch up.

Having had a quick drive around the outskirts of Chester Sunday afternoon and a couple of less than memorable pints, we decided to forgo pub grub and head back and play with our new toy. Burgers and spuds were procured along some Sauv Blanc to wash it down with. I cooked again and having now used a barbeque precisely twice in my lifetime, am now clearly an expert. Well, the burgers were good - nearly as good as the wine in fact. As far as I can remember anyway.

Monday, and a later than planned start due in no small part to foolishly opening the second bottle last night. However, with the barbeque once again pressed in to service - at this rate it will be worn out before we get home - a couple of bacon sarnies later we felt much better. Nothing like a bit of salt and grease to liven you up after a night on the grog.

Destination: Liverpool. I’ve never been before though Trev had many many years ago. Home of course of the Beatles, sharp wit and accents you could cut yourself on. We got the bus from the Cheshire Oaks Outlet Centre just across the road and travelled up past Ellesmere Port, going under the Mersey at Birkenhead.

The hop-on/hop-off bus tour was the only choice really as it required the least physical and mental exertion. We’ve done a number of these tours and not just on this trip and, in some of the smaller cities, they struggle to find interesting things to show you and tell you about. Not on this one. First up was ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’ as the locals call it, more correctly known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the er (checks leaflet) King or Liverpool's main Catholic Cathedral. As you will see it’s certainly not an ancient monument but quite impressive nonetheless. Apparently over half of the country's Catholics come under the diocese of Liverpool. 

‘And in the Red Corner’ was another house of God, this time in the superlative laden Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. It is (takes virtual deep breath) Britain's largest church,  the worlds largest Anglican cathedral, has the worlds third largest bell - which has the worlds highest and heaviest peal - and the organ, with it’s 9765 pipes is the worlds largest operational one. And all this was designed by the man who gave us Southwark Power Station and the dear old red telephone box - one Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Phew!

We got off and the redeveloped Albert Dock area, now home to drinkeries, eateries, Tate Liverpool and the Maritime Museum which was our destination. Some excellent displays and exhibitions including one detailing gay life at sea - interesting and honest though I’m sure it didn’t tell the whole story. As interesting  and more important was the whole floor given over to the slave trade of which Liverpool played such a central role. Informative and very disturbing. A must if you come to Liverpool.

We paused to take in the magnificent view of the ‘Three Graces’ - that is the Liver, Cunard and former Port of Liverpool buildings. Perched on top of the Liver building, but securely anchored down are two mythical liver birds. Legend has it that if these birds topple, then Liverpool will sink in to the Mersey, hence the sturdy securing rods. I reckon it’s to stop ‘em getting nicked…

No tour of Liverpool would be complete without a mention or ten of The Beatles. The bus took us past Matthew Street, home of the original Cavern Club. That is no more, although there is a young pretender in it’s place. This whole pedestrianised area is awash with pubs, clubs and musical instrument shops and is a popular draw for nocturnal revellers.

The visit was completed with, what else but a ferry across the Mersey - or should that be fairies across the Mersey?

Tuesday, and Chester, and what a delightful city. We done a hop-on/hop-off bus again, breaking the journey for a short trip up the river Dee. Absolutely delightful. Having completed a circuit we hoped off and commenced a walk around the city wall. I jokingly suggested to Trev that we should do it and he surprised me by agreeing. It was about two miles all the way around and a great way to see the city. Trevor course, foolishly wore trainers, while I was much more sensibly dressed in my trusty winkelpickers so It was in a state of only mild agony that I suggested some er, refreshment at a local hostelry.

The Albion on the corner of an Edwardian terrace is, well a pub. The blackboards outside proudly proclaim that it is ‘family hostile’. No kids, music, gaming machines , music or chips are some of the other things listed. It sounded good and it was. The beer was good and the sarnies better. we loved it. Later, back at the ‘van, the barbeque was pressed in to service yet again for our last supper. All in all, a great couple of days.

Wednesday, and time to leave dear old England again for a sojourn in to north Wales. We had chosen a site on Anglesey for three nights before heading back in to Corwen at the weekend. We had hoped to stay in Betws-y-Coed but all the sites we tried were either fully booked (this was back in May) or prohibitively expensive.

‘You are assured of a warm welcome’ the Caravan Club Handbook promises and that has certainly been the case. Up to now. We were early as per usual, but instead of being met with a smile and the usual cheery mock admonishment for arriving before midday we were ‘greeted’ by a sour faced woman who was clearly going for ‘Sales Prevention Officer’ of the year. We’ve never been made to feel more unwelcome on a caravan site before and had it not been for a financial penalty I would have turned tail and walked out. Whether it was the simple fact that we had arrived early and interrupted her routine, whether she was having a bad day or was always like this, or whether a surreptitious glance in our direction confirmed her worst fears that she was dealing with a couple of poofs we shall never know. I suspect the latter,  but regardless, there was no need to make us feel so unwelcome. Still, there it is.

The site is actually quite nice. We had a grass pitch. ‘Your choice is limited because you’re too early’ was one of the wardens pithy comments,on booking in, however we noted that just one pitch was vacated between our arrival and the magical midday. The van took a bit of levelling. ‘Oh you’ve chosen that pitch have you, mind you don’t damage the newly seeded grass’ was another barbed comment when Trev went to tell her which pitch we had chosen. Thankfully that should be the last of any contact we have with this sour old woman.

With lunch and siesta complete we went out for a short drive, going up the north eastern coast and calling in at some pretty little places including Amlwch, once the export centre for the copper trade. A couple of pints at the local before firing up the barbeque again for bacon sarnies and settling down in front of the telly brought an end to an interesting day.

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