I’ve recently moved to Liverpool – quite a change from rural Somerset! I had been visiting regularly for a while, so I realised that my Honda CR-V, while perfect for yomping across Exmoor and tackling fords was possibly not the idea vehicle for parallel parking in the city. So I test drove a range of ‘normal’ cars, which all felt like driving a go-cart by comparison, eventually settling on a middle-aged VW Golf. Moving to the city has increased my car insurance by roughly 60%. Cars up here seem to be much newer, much more likely to have chrome and tinted windows, and there is a conspicuous absence of mud…I am going to have to get used to the idea of spending money at the car wash if I’m not to be horribly conspicuous in my road-grimed car…
Today the sun was shining and I could justify playing hookey and going into the city centre. Public transport here is the best in England outside of London, but I am driving most of the time at the moment as it’s a great way to familiarise myself with the geography of the city. Today I parked near the Anglican cathedral, and walked down Duke Street to Liverpool One, passing the great gate or paifan of China Town on the way. It’s the largest outside of China, as befitting the oldest Chinese community in Europe. Nelson Street is garlanded with red lanterns in preparation for Chinese New Year this weekend.
Next stop was the Tate, on Albert Dock, where I wanted to look at the Tracey Emin/William Blake exhibition. The red brick of the older buildings in the dock area glowed warmly in the winter sunshine, and despite being off season there were still tourists from all over the world – in a few minutes I’d identified Korean, Japanese, French, Spanish and German being spoken. I love the cosmopolitan vibe in this city!
I had some Christmas gift vouchers to spend, so from the Tate I walked the short distance to Liverpool One and indulged in a little retail therapy. Midweek in January is an excellent time to shop – lots of sales, but relatively few shoppers. It’s fair to say that am not an enthusiastic shopper, but it’s a much more pleasant experience when it’s peaceful. To celebrate having successfully tracked down all three items on my list, I carried on up the hill to Bold Street in search of lunch. Bold Street is a hub of ethnic restaurants and quirky shops. To be honest, I generally feel a bit old and un-hipster when I go there, especially at today’s trendy lunch venue: Leaf. I’ve been there for tea before, but not for lunch. I opted for Moroccan chicken sandwich with broccoli soup on the side, and it was not disappointing – full of flavour and fresh ingredients. A nice touch is the tap water (I was being stingy). It comes with a tang of fresh mint, dispensed from a giant glass jar with a tap, which is on the bar so you can help yourself to refills.
Twenty minutes’ walk took me back to where I’d left the car, and I drove home in the sunshine, feeling glad to be in such a beautiful and vibrant city. There is so much more to explore: the range of world-class museums and galleries, the library (to research my father’s family who came here from Wales in the late 19th century), and the constantly changing panorama of the River Mersey.