Well cold and damp, at least. Last night was bitter considering it is April and this morning's dampness only consolidated the unpleasantness. So once again we didn't get up until gone 10, such a change from my wee hours insomniacal wanderings at home. When we did get up we were van prisoners until the rain ceased. Whoops, 12am, where did the day go? So much for the proposed visit to Speke Hall mediaeval mansion.
Bumped into our neighbours, from the motorhome that appeared on this site yesterday. Helped them find the bus stop whilst we discovered the train station is a 35 minute walk away (probably over 1.5 miles, we'll measure it tomorrow). Into Liverpool too late to do much so mooched around a few camping type shops and admired the architecture.
Liverpool was built on lots of late Georgian/ early Victorian money and there is some sumptuous architecture (and for a moment we'll ignore that most of the money was profit from slavery) to be enjoyed. Pubs feature large in Liverpool life and architecture, former gin palaces exist on many street corner. Not sure how it is that Liverpool still has so many pubs and how so many of them are still wonderful examples of Victorian excess.The purpose of this weekend is the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) AGM (actual it's not the purpose, which is to visit Liverpool again, but is the excuse). It was fascinatingly nostalgic to go back to my old student union bar, the AGM registration point. So much has changed, so much is still remembered after these 40+ years. Met up with fellow Southampton drinking companions Terry Cowling and Phil Rosenthal and wandered off for an evening of architectural appreciation.
First stop The Philharmonic - if ever there was a pub that could be considered a highlight of Victorian excesses this is it. Sumptuous wooden paneling, beaten copper work and etched windows throughout. The shoulder high, almost tortoiseshell ceramic confessionals that are the gents urinals are unique and would probably be the reason for the building's listed status in their own right. So famous are they that apparently women are allowed in to view (this sentence should probably end with some crude double entendre but let's cut it short there)
From there the Roscoe Head, the working man's equivalent of the toff's Philharmonic. Still lots of wooden paneling but 3 tiny rooms remembering when every pub had a snug. The entire pub would fit into one of the Phil's huge rooms. Still nice to see the old bell pushes above the seats, reminding of an era where service actually meant something.
OK by this time the architectural pretences were over and we just wandered into another excellent pub, The Dispensary. In the previous pub Phil was talking to a Londoner who he met in a pub in Southampton. This time it was Liz and my turn to meet up with a Liverpool real ale fan who we had met on our last trip into the city a year ago. That time she was asking us if we wouldn't mind moving as they were trying to commandeer some space for the local all women's real ale drinking group. It's a small world made smaller when you have common interests like finding good pubs.