Liverpool has a rich history and is arguably the North’s cultural capital. As soon as you get off the train at Lime Street you are welcomed with grand Victorian buildings and a view across the docks to the Wirrel. The Civic Hall and Walker Gallery to your right as you leave the station, are impressive buildings. The Walker Gallery houses an expansive collection of Art from Holbeins, to Gainsboroughs and Hockneys. The Gallery is next door to the newly re-furbished Library which is worth a look for the structure of the ceiling (pictured) and 360 degree of Liverpool from the roof. Liverpool’s past as a hub for Irish immigrants explains the presence of Irish pubs and Catholic churches which are on every corner. Although there are some scruffy buildings in places they give the town centre character more than anything else. The Futurist, Liverpool’s oldest cinema is one of them. Situated close to Lime Street Station, the crumbling building is under threat of demolition and the council hasn’t been able to decide on what to do with it. I think it would be sad to see it demolished, you can read about the campaign to save the Futurist here.As you walk towards Central Station closer to the shopping central of Liverpool along Bold Street there are some great places to eat and drink. We went to Leaf for a drink, but it’s known for a fantastic brunch and wide selection of loose leaf teas. There is an extensive list of ways to drink gin (distilled in Liverpool not far from the bar) to satisfy the gin conosieur. The straight up G & T comes in a goblet, with fresh juniper berries, rose petals and healthy dose of liquor. For dinner, we went to Mowgli’s Indian Street Food (also on Bold Street) which was awesome. We had all the house specialities, Indian chip butties (spiced potatoes, garlic aoili in naan bread), curry poppers (an actual pod of curried joy in a mouthful), tiffin (curries served in a silver lunch box) and Cape Malay curry Bunny chow (South Afrian – represent), which is served in a loaf of bread. The contents of the individual layers of the tiffin tins remains elusive until the food arrives. ‘Mother knows best’ the menu assures you, which is one of many references to mothers on Mowglis menu, the reason for which remains unclear. There are enormous antique bird cages, ropes attached to the benches you sit on and sloping wooden tables to eat off (literally sloping as things slide into the middle of the table) which creates a quirky but cosy atmosphere. The food is delicious. An added bonus of course is that the entire meal plus drinks came to under £20. God bless the North.
Albert Docks is the place for your bit o’cultchah’. The Tate Liverpool, The International Museum of Slavery (the only one of its kind), the Maritime Museum a plethora of Beatles museums and The Museum of Liverpool to name a few, are found here. All are of course free, except for specific exhibitions which charge. The Museum of Slavery offers interesting exhibits on the African roots of slaves, the legacies of the slaves in current generations, the conditions of slavery in the West Indies and information on various forms of modern slavery which still exist today. It’s depressing, but well told and important. I highly recommend you go.
Numerous unique cafes, restaurants and bars can also be found dock side. Cafe Ziferblat is placed right next to the Tate overlooking the water (which you might recognize from This Morning in the nineties). Ziferblat is where ‘the only thing you pay for is time’. It works like this; when you arrive you check in with the person at the door and then proceed to the dining room/ slash kitchen which is set up like someone’s living room. There are comfy sofas and chairs, newspapers, board games and a table of cakes and biscuits (even gluten free ones). The kitchen is fully kitted out with tea, coffee, orange juice, cereals, toast, marmite, jams and butter. When you leave you pay your bill at the door. For two of us, for half an hour it came to £5 and as much tea, cake and biscuits as we could manage, plus a read of the Sunday supplements – such biddies, but honestly it was bliss.
A short train ride away from the town centre, (closet stop is Crosby beach) is Anthony Gormley’s Another Place. A striking installation which most will be familiar with. The cast iron statues of Gormley were moulded at different stages of the breathing cycle and the impact of these solitary figures scattered across the landscape is both interesting and beautiful. The beach, although not one for swimming is flat and very long which makes for a pleasant stroll. Gormley’s statue are weathered and however controversial they may have been at the start, now seem to be a part of the scenery. Crosby is a leafy and artsy suburb of the city so if you have some time there is plenty to keep you amused if you’re into vintage fairs, gin bars and crafting.Leaf