Most people who live in Chester, have been to Liverpool dozens and dozens of times. I think the reason for this, is that Chester is a relatively small City (in reality, its more of a town, but whats in a name) and when people need to go shopping for elaborate things, they head for the nearest big city.
I grew up in Manchester (I lived 4 miles out of town). There was never any need to visit Liverpool, as everything that we needed was in Manchester city center. To date, I have only made 2 Major trips Liverpool.
1. To get a passport more than 10 years ago (needed it at short notice, had to go down in person).
In addition to this, I have been on a couple of nights out there, and I spent a Sunday afternoon, having a few drinks with my old friend Mike Delafield, who now lives there.
It was the latter trips that inspired me to celebrate my birthday there.
In times gone by, we used to all go out for drinks around Chester “exploring” different pubs, that I’d never been in. Problem is, Ive lived in Chester for 8 years now, Ive been in every pub, and although a trip to the pub on a Sunny day is always fun, there is no really mystery or adventure to it.
I decided that I would go to Liverpool. I don’t know hardly any of the pubs there, but I had Sean, Mike, Ralph and Aud, to act as guides. I also had some cultural assistance, from my old friend Matt Bridges (a scouser himself) who he advised me on the best way to interact with the indigenous population of Merseyside.
A scouting party of Dan, Sean and I head into Liverpool on the 11:45 train. A mixture of tiredness, recovery from Alcohol and hunger, made for an unlikely group of pub-crawlers.
As we get off the train, Sean shows us this statue of Queen Victoria on the corner of Lord and Castle street. Apparently, its well known by the locals, that when viewed from a certain angle, the sceptre that the queen is holding, appears to give her an appendage, which wouldn’t occur naturally on the female body :).
Luckily, Victoria isn’t around anymore, so nobody got beheaded or anything. As we wandered through the City, a guy was talking on a mobile. Nothing unusual in that, but he was talking so loud, that he could be heard clearly 150 metres away, and one wondered, if he actually needed a phone at all.
Sean promised us an experience of cultural contradiction.
As we arrived at the Adelphi hotel, we walked through the main doors. Rooms in the Hotel, can cost up to £400 a night, and its very elegant inside.
I wondered which one of my organs I would need to sell, in order to buy a round of drinks there. I needn’t have worried, as we turned to the left and walked down some stairs, we found ourselves in a bar called Fridays. It has the feel of the working men’s club in Get Carter and pints of lager are only £1.50.
It looked a bit rough, but bellow the surface, people were just relaxing, and considering where I grew up, I always have time for that sort of earthiness. The toilet (the first of 2 interesting one’s that day) was like something you’d expect to find in a prison.
After leaving here, Sean, full of apologies (completely un-needed) wishes to redeem himself by taking us somewhere up market. We head up the hill, towards a pub called the Philharmonic, which had been recommended by several people. It used to be a Gentleman’s club and is a grade 1 listed building. The Gents toilets are also listed, said to be the only graded listed toilets in the country, due to their grandiose styling.
We sat towards the back of the building, in one of the themed music rooms. Mike appeared a few minutes later, followed by Bret (who to his credit, had worked the previous night, and still made it out) then Ralph and Aud.
One annoying thing, ill remember for next time, is to check all relevant mobile numbers are up to date. Jon (who I first met on a survival course. desert survival 1 , desert survival 2) had travelled all the way from London by motorbike, he had my old number, I had his, and he had turned up at the original pub, after we had left. Luckily, an email from his Blackberry to my IPhone and we were back in action.
Couple of hours catching up, the time flew by. We had arranged to leave at 5pm, but were having such a good time, decided to stay (Dan and Sean had to leave, as they had prior engagements).
I hadnt eaten all day. We headed around the corner and found a cafe serving folded Pizza’s for £3 (you just dont get value like that in Chester).
Down the hill back towards town, we pop into a pub called (puzzlingly !) the fly in the loaf.
Everyone is pretty drunk now, and the evening descends into mayhem. I demonstrate how my Rohan jacket can pack down small into a pillow and various silliness.
There were too many funny and interesting things to go into here, but suffice to say, old days at Corning, fellow travellers on our trip to Jordan and conversations about the desert survival course in 2005 were mentioned.
One person that seemed to really enjoy it was Brett. I always feel lucky and proud, when my friends meet each other. Its great to see a room full of really kind, interesting and fun people, all hitting it off.
My lasting memory of the “do” will be Ralph, who donned my coat and phone, and did a non flattering impersonation of me.
Id like to thank everyone that came, it was a fantastic day. Like I’ve said before, when times get hard, you realise that its the simple things in life that bring you pleasure. In this case, the company of some amazing people who I’m proud to call my friends.