/ Scotland2016

Beginnings.

Welcome to this blog. Snatches of holiday reminiscences  when time and internet access allow.

Well the Shanty Festival is over and we're sitting in Wetherspoons in Southport. You may spot a theme developing re Wetherspoons but cheap real ale, free internet and good,cheap fuel food are a powerful combination.

The Shanty Festival - brilliant! I've come to the conclusion it's not folk music I enjoy but folk song. And shanty was a very loose description of the songs we heard - not everything "weighed the man down" but there were also a lot of sensitive and gentle songs reflecting on life and life lost at sea, often from the perspective of those left behind. Many of the songs were new to us and a goodly percentage of those were original songs, often written from a personal perspective by old mariners or their offspring. Still most of then had rollicking refrains and along with singing lustily there is still a childish pleasure from doing the actions to be a "Pirate" or a sailor who "ain't a sailor any more".

The location was the National Boat Museum and what a fantastic venue. Basically the old wharf/dock complex where the Shropshire Union meets the Liverpool Ship Canal is one huge museum complex with all the buildings and outhouses holding boating artifacts (boating as opposed to nautical as this is mainly canal based history). What a wonderful concordance of history through physical artifact and oral history through song. Each is as important as the other. Rumour has it that the museum may not have space to host the shanty festival in the future. That would be a tremendous shame - it is THE place for the keepers of the oral tradition to annually refresh it, songs can be written down, tunes can be recorded but it is the singing that keeps them alive.

Since I mentioned beer earlier, the festival was a surprise, 14 different brews from Liverpool Organic Brewery including Russian Stout at  7.4% and an IPA at 6.7% made a surprising beer range. 18 gallons of each * 14 = 252 gallons = just over 2000 pints and all pretty much sold when we left on Monday. Oh and I forgot the 4 boxes of cider. Singing is thirsty work!

En route to Southport we popped into Lever's dream town - Port Sunlight. An interesting contrast to today's world - to see a toff doing something to improve the situation of the poor rather than enhance their suffering.

Tomorrow - 'tis washing day. Tonight we needed a site with services - the washing up needed doing and the portaloo was full. The Boat Museum did have a chemical waste disposal point but it was the other side of the towpath with the only access via the posh vistor centre. Somehow schelping a (fairly well sealed) container of 2 day old urine through the gift shop seemed wrong! Despite this liquid gold being a precious cargo but a century or so ago. So Southport Caravan club it is, partly because it is in walking distance of a town I hope that hosts several decent restaurants - it is our wedding annviersary tomorrow after all and Liz will be allowed to enjoy it after our socks and undies are gleaming :-). Might as well make use of washing machines whilst they are available.

Mind you, we're grateful that camping was free over the weekend - this campsite is £31 per night!!!!! Yes - you can get good hotels for that! But it was the only site we could find in the area within walking distance of a town. Wednesday we move down to Maghull, nearer to Liverpool but a mile or so walk to civilisation (and the train station). But well less than half tonight's rate. We've never paid more than £20 before and baulked at that. This luxury and a decent meal will probably be the extent of our anniversary largesse.