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The Rock-itt : January 2010
If you are just joining us, welcome! We are on a family trip to Europe, taken last July and August. We were in France in the last issue and now we are back to St.Albans about 26 miles North of London. We were very lucky to have my brother in law's unit to stay in whilst in St.Albans. He is a TV cameraman and was away in Puerto Rico shooting the TV show 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here'. I've mentioned before that the Roman City of St.Albans is a great place to base yourself especially if you want to explore the South East of England, it's also right on the motorway network to the north and we were off to Liverpool! It's about a three hour drive to Liverpool if you get an easy passage. We collected my daughter in Birmingham which is about halfway in the journey. She had gone ahead with her friend Anna, they had been staying in a backpacker's hostel in the City. The highlight of their short visit seemed to have been a trip to the Cadbury factory at Bourneville. Apparently a 'chocolate based theme park'! They came away with loads of free stuff so if chocolate is your thing, don't miss it! It does cost about $26 to get in and it's just South East of Birmingham's City centre. On from Birmingham up to Manchester, we had booked a two bedroom unit right in the centre, it cost around $200 a night but for four of us it was very comfortable and was right next to The Printworks, a new development, housing lots of restaurants and a night clubs. It was also near to Exchange Railway Station which is on the line to Stalybridge, near where I was born. I had arranged to meet my old friend Terry Fitton there at one of my most favourite pubs in the World. Stalybridge Railway station houses the Buffet Bar, a fantastic Ale emporium that has managed to keep its unique atmosphere, formed around its large collection of railway memorabilia. You may have seen it featured on the James and Oz TV series which was shown on cable down here. Terry was in good form and with about six real ales on tap it was a surprise that I made the last train back into Manchester! Manchester didn't disappoint, it was grey miserable and wet but the beer was good! The morning after we were off to Liverpool. Only 35 miles away and motorway all the way, it's an easy trip. The girls wanted to see Old Trafford, home of the famous Manchester United. It's very impressive, must be even better on match day. We headed to Liverpool, for a short time I used to work there so it's good to see old sights. We called in at Aintree, home of the famous Grand National horse race, the Pommie version of the Melbourne Cup. Onwards into Central Liverpool, The Beatles' shadow looms large over the 'Pool', still generating lots of tourist dollars. Unfortunately the big black clouds were also looming and it rained all day. The picture above was taken from the Albert Dock area which is packed with gift shops selling all kinds of Beatles memorabilia and everything you could want if you are a Liverpool FC or Everton Supporter. It's also home to the Beatles Museum. I'm sorry, I couldn't bring myself to go in, it looked just too much of a tourist trap. We did take the ferry on the Mersey though, which the girls enjoyed. You have to use your imagination and just remember this is the Beatles' back yard. It's a grey, mostly industrial landscape. It is no longer the major seaport it was when the Beatles used to meet the boats coming in and get the American records straight from boats arriving from Stateside. The Liver Building from the Ferry The Ferry we were on was called the Royal Iris and the commentary during the trip told how The Beatles and loads of other Mersey Beat bands would play live on the vessel. Not a very good picture of the inside of the famous Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar, but hey, I was pissed! The famous Liver building in Liverpool through the gloom. This was an English Summer day!!