Mersey Odyssey (A weekend in Liverpool – Part One)

by Steve

LiverpoolIt all starts with the anticipation. My thirties started in pretty darn good fashion, with my Significant Other giving me the most amazing of presents – a weekend in Liverpool culminating in a visit to Anfield to watch the mighty Liverpool FC take on Sunderland. As a lifelong Red, this was the ultimate present. I could hardly wait. By Friday, the wait was over.

There is something glorious in the anticipation of what is to come that makes even the mundane exciting. Our first culinary sensation of the weekend takes place at Euston Station, as we wait for our train to be announced. We enjoy the delicacy of a Burger King meal while sat in the communal area of the station food court. It’s the kind of place where nobody wants to be there, crammed in amid the harsh lighting and conflicting food smells. Yet, even this, which should be at least a little depressing, cannot stop me from exhibiting a massive smile. We. Are. Going. To. Liverpool.

And so to the train journey. I really enjoy train travel, as you can savour the journey just as much as the destination. We are fully prepared to travel in style, or at least to travel as we think it should be done. Oh yes, we’re prepared with a seven-in-one travel games set, and we’re not afraid to use it. Well, we’re not afraid to use it until the bumpiness of the journey leads us to quit the chess and concentrate on keeping away the motion sickness. I elect to combat it with jelly babies. My companion, however, is not convinced by my sugary remedy. No matter, soon the journey gets smoother, and even a points failure cannot dim my excitement. Half an hour late, we enter Liverpool Lime Street. We’ve arrived!

One marvellous aspect of Liverpool, that we would continue to make the most of across the weekend, is that it has such a compact city centre. So, in hardly any time at all we’re at the hotel, having managed to bypass the near-threatening air of an English city on a weekend night. My Significant Other isn’t too happy with the hotel but I think it is fine. Understandably, she wants everything to be absolutely perfect. I’m just happy that we will be based so centrally, rather than out-of-town. We’re around the corner from Mathew Street, home of the Cavern, and just a short walk from most points of interest in the city centre.

We’re also staying above one heck of a classy strip joint called ‘Moll Teazers’. As you can imagine, we are both delighted to see such clever wordplay for such a distinguished establishment.

Still full on delicious Burger King and jelly babies, we bypass dinner and decide to head out and see what Liverpool on a Friday night has in store for us. Mathew Street first, and far from being a retro mecca to the sixties and the Beatles we’re greeted with scenes closer to a night out in Benidorm. There’s incredibly loud dance music being pumped out of every bar, and a multitude of touts trying their best to get passers-by into their particular establishment. We turn down the free shots and cocktails, and feel frankly overdressed amid the youth of Liverpool. There is only one thing for it. We head to an old man pub.

I have the ideal candidate in mind – Doctor Duncan’s, by Lime Street Station. On a previous visit I discovered this pub, owned by Liverpool’s finest brewer, Cains. It turns out to be the perfect haven. There are incredible drinks available, from the mild, to the Bock, to the Raisin Beer (better than it sounds, although a little odd). There’s also a clientele that is on the most part a good ten years older than us, at the very least. This enables us to have a drink in peace, and feel like we’re the young whippersnappers, rather than the aging fogies we were on Mathew Street. It was all too loud, I tell you! Sadly, the more ornate room in the pub is fully occupied, but we get a seat near enough to the bar, and settle in for the duration.I am a happy man.

Oh, that wonderful feeling of getting away from it all, and still having the whole weekend ahead. Brilliant, just brilliant. It was going to get even better.