With Barry running his own company, HappyPorch, it means I sometimes get to go to lots of interesting places when there’s a team meetup. Places like Madeira, Bulgaria, Porto, the French Alps, Morocco. And, in 2019, Liverpool. Doesn’t sounds all that exciting in comparison but I’d never been and Liverpool was named European City of Culture in 2008. And of course, The Beatles.
As I’d finished my contract with the University of Edinburgh and was now a footloose and fancy free tourist (also known as a lady who lunches a lot with friends in Edinburgh), I was free to join the team for whatever Liverpool might bring.
We spent the first week in a large shared house in the suburbs we found through Airbnb. The signs all over the property banning strippers was a bit of a sign the kinds of guests Liverpool usually attracts. We did not hire any strippers.
Instead, I cooked a bit, and was quite successful being plastic free. Did some running in a nearby park so I could eat all the chocolate chip biscuits. Played Beatles music, which I’m pretty sure everyone loved. Also did my best at not being too bossy during the work type discussions.
It was not all work and no play. We were lucky to have a lcoal guide in HappyPorch developer, Mark, who was pretty handy at translating the Scouse accent, and gave us a walking tour so good that a random member of the public tried to join.
Mark’s tour took us through the city centre, down to the Docks,
into the heart of Liverpool ship building and design (Cunard of Lusitania fame, and White Star of Titanic fame)
and past the Fab Four themselves. They’re right near the ferry that crosses the Mersey but nobody sang the song for me.
We all drink in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine
The weekend meant the team more fully joining my touristy lifestyle. More than 50 years after forming, Liverpool is still all about The Beatles. I was keen on a walking tour or something but after Mark’s very comprehensive tour nobody was keen for more. So we made our way to the Baltic Triangle for some warehouse style street food and beers. I was delighted to find that there is a bar in an actual yellow submarine.
It turns out that the submarine was originally used in Hunt for Red October. It’s hard to tell now. There is no periscope. Or Sean Connery.
Instead, you can see a sign for Penny Lane.
On Sunday, Barry and I explored some of what made Liverpool the European City of Culture. We spent a number of hours in the Slavery Museum, which was pretty hard going but important to know about. We dipped into some maritime history as well.
The following week most of the team went home, with a couple staying on to work together for ‘meetup light.’ So we moved from the large house in the ‘burbs to a small apartment in the city centre. Which mean more touristing for me.
A magical mystery tour is coming to take me away
Without being hampered by other people’s opinions, I happily set off on a magical mystery tour.
Actually, I didn’t take the Magical Mystery Tour bus. It’s a cool bus but the 48 hour ticket for the City Tour and Beatles tour was way better value. I’m all about value. And breaking up my tourist stuff with trips to a bakery or something.
On the city tour, I found that a lot of the info, I already knew, thanks to Mark. But it was good to fill in the gaps of things that Mark got wrong, or missed out, or when I wasn’t listening. We also went further afield because it was a bus.
Like to the Cathedral which was designed by the same guy who designed Britains red telephone boxes. Apparently, there’s a telephone box inside the Cathedral.
In a lot of ways, Liverpool reminded me of London. Some of the streets have the same names too.
My Beatles tour was excellent. The live guide had a guitar and played some Beatles tunes, which is just what you want as you drive around the Beatles ‘burbs.
We passed a Cathedral which has four bells known as John, Paul, George and Ringo. Of course they are.
The poetry of The Beatles was clear at Strawberry Fields.
We passed a house where John Lennon lived. It’s a National Trust property now so you can go inside if you want. It probably looks like a house.
We were also told a story about Paul McCartney bringing Heather Mills to Liverpool to see his roots. They visited his old house in a council estate. An enterprising scouse child offered to show him Paul McCartney’s house for £1. He said yes and they walked up to the house. Scouse child points out “Look, there’s even a sign saying it’s Paul McCartney’s house.” PM then says, “Look at this key I’ve got that works” (or something like that). Child says “You’re him, aren’t you?” and scarpers.
The tour wrapped up at sunset, down by the Albert Dock with a beautiful sunset over the Mersey. Later, Barry and I crossed (under) the river in order to get our ‘sleepover’ ferry to Belfast.
I’ll just leave you with this to get stuck in your head:
“Ferry, cross the Mersey…”