Friday, 30 March 2012

Crocs Away!!!

Next week I am working in the kitchen again for another three days. I said I'd never do it again after last time because it was so exhausting and I'd had sleepless nights beforehand worrying that things were going to go wrong (they didn't btw). However, this time it will be a joint effort, me and our handyman Robbie together. Robbie was also pressganged into cooking last time and he said that he would only do it this time if we both cooked. Rather than see money wasted on agency chefs I agreed and we are planning to do some spectacular meals. The food is a bone of contention at our place with the chef on one side and the staff and management on the other. It's complicated but Robbie and I hope to instigate some changes next week.
Anyway, last time I found it very hard on my feet and legs, standing for nine hours and someone recommended Crocs as being good for this problem. Previously the idea of Crocs made me shudder....ugly, clumpy, nasty-looking....but I saw some in Primark today for £2.50 and so I decided to take the plunge. I doubt they are genuine for that price, don't you?;P

The hour I spent in Primark with Red today was the longest I've ever stuck it for - normally I am driven out after five minutes, terrified by the sheer scale of shapeless schmutter (heaven forbid any woman with breasts might want to shop there!) and hordes of teenage girls. And to be honest, who can be bothered to sift through all the dross in search of the elusive treasure? If I was shut in a room stark naked with 99% of the stuff from Primark I'd make a dress out of the carpet before I'd wear any of the clothes. I know it has the same kind of jumble sale vibe as TK Maxx but somehow Primark is so downmarket that it's demoralising.
Anyway, I showed Mr Charming my new Crocs when I got home and he was scathing in his contempt. This is a man who would be willing (if he had it) to spend over £100 on this synthetic jacket.

I told Mr Charming that Babcia could knit him one but he's not convinced...

Has one or both of us had a taste bypass this week? What do you think, and have you ever bought something you previously turned your nose up at?

Monday, 26 March 2012

When Can I Go Back?

Big Man and I went for a mini-break in Liverpool last month and all I can say is, 'when can I go back?'.....I LOVE that city! I'd only been there previously whilst travelling on the B+I ferry between England and Ireland but when I saw the Liver Building a whole heap of memories came flooding back.

As you can tell the weather was a bit forbidding but that really didn't matter when there was so much to see and do. If you've never been, Liverpool is the dog's whatsits for shopping - all the well-known brands as well as really prestigious ones, eg Vivienne Westwood, are there. Our hotel was just a Travelodge, one of the £19 a night special offers but it was absolutely fine for our needs and close enough to town for us to be able to walk home one night.
Although we're not massive Beatles fans we HAD to go on the Magical Mystery Tour. This was a lot of fun and our guide Paul was a real hoot. On this tour you travel to Penny Lane, where some of the places in the song still exist; Strawberry Fields; the village hall where Paul and John first met; and the Beatles schools and childhood homes. Both John's and Paul's are now owned by the National Trust but we couldn't go in because they a) don't open all year round and b) you need to book. George's old home is occupied by a lady who must be the most tolerant in the world...she has tourists posing on her doorstep every day of the year!

Naturally we went to the Cavern Club, after first visiting the Cavern Bar (doh! Pair of half-wits we were, asking if we were allowed to take photos. The Scousers probably though we were some of those famous Southern yokels they've heard of). It's really quite big and although it isn't the original Cavern they've tried very hard to make it as authentic as they can. There were heaps of foreign visitors there so I guess Liverpool makes a lot of money from tourism, so much so that they don't need OUR PORT as well! Though to be honest, if I were a cruise passenger I know where I'd prefer to look around prior to sailing off, and it doesn't begin with 'South....'. Don't tell anyone though!

Another place we visited and I just adored was Port Sunlight. It was strange to be in a place I'd seen so many times on Flog It! and the Antiques Roadshow. It was just as nice as it looks on TV though Big Man and I did wonder whether there's a panel you have to satisfy before you can buy a house there. I loved the way the properties were all different and the fact that the residents have so much art around cool is that? And did you know that Pete Byrne from Dead or Alive was born at Port Sunlight?

'Sea Spirit' by Charles Wheeler. It becomes a fountain when the pool is full.

The Lever Art Gallery was wonderful for me because I did several essays on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood for my degree course and have loved their work for the longest time. To be able to see the paintings I'd written about in real life was so lovely. If you ever get a chance to visit please do, you'll be very impressed. Unlike one oldish lady who walked into a room where I was the only other person present, gave an audible fart, had a little surreptitious look round (as if to say "where did THAT come from?") then walked out again. Was it a comment on the paintings or my presence there? Who can say. 
There are quite a few statues near the Albert Dock too, including one of my favourites, Billy Fury nee Ronald Wycherley.

Pic from here

We did quite a bit of walking whilst we were in Liverpool and we came across the Sailors' Home Gateway. You can read all about it here. It's really impressive and generally lovely, and since I come from a seafaring family I was most interested. For some reason I felt really at home in Liverpool - perhaps it's because my granny was conceived there, maybe there's a kind of affinity. We found the people to be really warm and friendly (yes, I know, cliché piled upon cliché, but it's true!) and we were also struck by how very cheap things are there....I'm thinking particularly about food. There's a big stall upstairs in the St John's Shopping Centre where they sell delicious bread and cobs and all sorts of cake-y, sweet-y, crisp-y things in bags for little money. There is a fab food market where you can get stuff like sheeps' stomachs, black pudding, pigs' tails and trotters (we call them crubeens), tripe, massive big ox hearts and incredibly, lambs' testicles which the butcher demonstrated by slitting one in half, causing Big Man to nearly collapse on the spot. Some good antique/tat stalls too.

The Sailors' Home Gateway at Liverpool 1

If you ever get the chance to visit Liverpool I really urge you to go. I told Big Man on the way home that if I ever leave Southampton I'd love to live in Liverpool. It's that kind of place. Our next mini-break is Bristol but that's not until September - before that we have Looe at the start of April (good old Daily Mail holidays!) in a caravan. Looking forward to that!

The one and only Billy Fury...Liverpool's a 'Wondrous Place'!!!