1 February 2015

We were mightily relieved to see that our friends & family in the great frozen Northeast managed, more or less, to escape the fury of Snowmaggedon 2015. We too had our own snowmaggedon this past week – the forecasters were suggesting that the snow on Wednesday night/Thursday morning would bring the end of civilisation as we know it. The forecast was accurate in the sense that we did have some snow; it was inaccurate in the sense that the end of the world was, fortunately, postponed.

We’ve had a great week beginning with an opportunity to entertain our granddaughter overnight last weekend and then another cultural and leisurely outing during the week, this time an extended one over three days – I’m not sure my brain can handle many more of these edifying experiences.

Making MuffinsWe were delighted to have Annabelle for the night on Saturday last week while Nick and Lucy went out with friends to celebrate Nick’s 40th birthday without the encumbrances of a three-year old (or, come to think of it, two 60+ year olds). We had a lovely time and she and I made a batch of zucchini and carrot muffins which turned out to be exceptionally tasty. And, the great thing about zucchini and carrot muffins – they’re one of my “five-a-day” (or can I count them as two of my five-a-day)?

We played lots of games, read dozens of stories and had a great time. She did wake in the night and Penny brought her through to sleep with her – I vacated the bed and went to one of the numerous spare bedrooms all of which gave us a great opportunity in the morning for me to play the Daddy Bear and bellow, “Who’s been sleeping in my bed!??” which prompted much giggling and laughter.

The Liver Building from Albert DockOn Wednesday we set off on our cultural adventure of the week – we caught the 11.25 train from Banbury bound for Liverpool for a couple of days. We were meeting up with our friends Sue and Stuart (the ones who live down on the south coast near Brighton) and the purpose of the adventure, apart from simply visiting a city we’ve long intended to visit, was to see the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Tate Liverpool. Stuart had made all the arrangements and essentially all we had to do was turn up. We stayed in the Premier Inn at Albert Dock which is part of the former Liverpool docklands which has been wonderfully renovated. The huge great brick-built warehouses have been transformed into shops, restaurants, & museums all of which surround the various former docks where the ships were unloaded. The area is now part of a World Heritage site and is very attractive. The only downside to our visit was the freezing weather and the 90 mph gale force winds which blew in off the Mersey – it was bitterly, bitterly cold!

The Tate LiverpoolThe Tate Liverpool was just on the other side of Albert Dock from the hotel and the Warhol exhibition was very good. Obviously, most of us are familiar with many examples of his work but it was interesting to see the development of his activities from his early graphic design days to his later, some might say “wackier” work. They had a selection of the Marilyn images as well as a shelf-full of the Campbell’s soup tins and the Brillo boxes as well as dozens and dozens of other works and videos.

As we left the Tate and wandered on our way we were able to witness first-hand the power of the gale-force winds. As Stuart rounded a corner out of the shelter of the Tate Liverpool he was hit broadside by the full power of the wind and was knocked “arse over tit” as Penelope so eloquently put it. He was quite literally tossed aside like a scrap of paper and, in the commotion, his glasses flew off never to be seen again – we guessed that they must have been blown into the water and it was a bit too cold for any of us to volunteer to go diving for them. Hopefully, his insurance will cheerfully replace his very expensive varifocal spectacles.

After the Tate we walked around the corner to the International Slavery Museum which was very well done. Liverpool, of course, was one of the main British ports (along with Bristol and London) to be involved in the triangular slave trade. Manufactured goods were shipped from Britain to West Africa to be traded for slaves. The slaves were then transported across the Atlantic – the Middle Passage – in appallingly horrible conditions to be sold in the New World. Then, raw materials such as cotton, rum and sugar were transported back to the UK.

We had anticipated that the exhibition would be largely about the Middle Passage but, in fact, it was a very thorough and interesting exhibition covering all aspects of slavery, not just the horrid bits. There was quite a bit about West African culture, modern-day experiences of black people and the struggle for equality as well as the evils of modern-day slavery.

The Beatles StoryOn the last day of our visit we popped into the Beatles Story museum which was about twenty paces from the hotel entrance and which, again, was very well done. As you would imagine, there was lots of Beatles artefacts and memorabilia as well as Beatles tunes playing everywhere. There were mock-ups of Brian Epstein’s office and the Cavern night club all described in an excellent audio tour narrated by John Lennon’s sister, Julia. I think the only thing missing was a karaoke machine so that one could sing one’s favourite Beatles song along with the band. Amazing to realise that they were only actively recording (as a group) for eight years – 1964 to 1972.

No little titbits this week – I guess I’ve been too busy being culturally and/or intellectually challenged. I should just mention, I suppose, that the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall started last week. So far it’s been excellent – if it’s on where you are don’t miss it.

And finally, how cold has it been?

farted_snowflakes

Love to you all,

Greg