It had to be done.
Despite the howling winds and churning water, I just could not leave Liverpool without a trip on a ferry ‘cross the Mersey.
Even though I’m from a seaside town myself and quite used to the sea, it was with some trepidation that I gingerly stepped aboard the plucky Snowdrop the ‘Dazzle Ferry’ at
Liverpool’s Pier Head as she prepared to face into Storm Imogen that had just hit town with gale-force winds.
And fair play to the hardened vessel, decked out in her colourful World War One camouflage patterns and her doughty crew, as she made it across to the other side without apparently batting a proverbial eyelid while myself and the few other passages on board grimly hung onto the handrails for support.
The plucky Snowdrop
And to add to the occasion the tannoys, in between announcing and describing the various city features on the horizon, blared out snippets of Gerry and the Pacemakers’ 1965 hit as we rolled over the waves.
‘Life…goes on day after day. Hearts torn in every way. So ferry ‘cross the Mersey ’cause this land’s the place I love and here I’ll stay’..ah yes. It had to be done.
I had been here before, to watch a sullen Tottenham Hotspur take on Liverpool FC in the homes side’s Anfield ground but as a fair-weathered fan I really was just there for the craic so I had missed out on some of the city’s cultural charms.
With a brief two -day stay here on the shores of the Mersey in a town such a close cousin to our own Fair City that it always feels familiar, I was determined to make amends, despite whatever Storm Imogen could throw at me.
What I didn’t anticipate is that the town had a relativity shut down feel about it on a dark mid-week in February and some of the main attractions I had come to see where closed and presumably will not open again until the sun comes back out.
We all live…
So, a visit to see where John Lennon and Paul McCarthy grew up, at ‘Mendips’ on Menlove Avenue and nearby 20 Forthlin Road, will have to wait until next time as both former childhood homes of the Beatles were closed.
Me and John
I also left it too late to check out the Beatles Story Museum in Albert Dock so I settled for a few selfies with the lads whose giant bronze statues grace the dock near the famous Royal Liver building.
Unveiled on Pier Head in December last year by John Lennon’s sister, Julia Bair, the artwork had been donated to the city by the Cavern Club to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ last concert in their home city.
The lads on Pier Head
It’s a beautiful piece of work, similar in style to our own Phil Lynott statue outside Bruxelles bar off Grafton Street and is a fitting tribute to the legacy of the band that still generates over £80 million to Liverpool’s economy each year and has helped create over 2,000 jobs.
Touchingly, Julia said it was a great honour to unveil the statue, as she added: “I know John would have loved it. And I bet Paul comes to see it as soon as he comes back here.”
Stepping off the ferry at Birkenhead, I was literally plunged into another aspect of Liverpool’s maritime history.
U-534 as she was raised..
Maintaining a vital strategic position during the Second World War, Liverpool was at the forefront of the action in the Battle of the Atlantic and a major relic of that undersea war is here to explore.
The amazing U-Boat Story offers visitors the chance to see a real German submarine up close.
The back story to how U-534 ended up here is as dramatic as her final days at war.
Sunk by the Allies as she made a run for safety in the dying hours of World Wat Two, U-534 lay hidden in the murky depths off Denmark for nearly 70 years before she was discovered and eventually raised in 1993.
And how she looks now…
She was brought to Birkenhead where she has been cut into several sections so you can see inside the belly of the beast that had brought so much terror to the seas.
Inside the accompanying museum you see the artefacts that came up in the boat, from clothes and binoculars to maps and weapons that should provide a few hours of fascination for even the casual visitor.
After a thorough soaking looking around the submarine’s cut up quarters in the rain it was time for another rough ride back on the trusty Snowdrop to Pier Head for a bit of a chill out in the funky hotel room I was calling home for the time being.
Now, the Tune Hotel located in Queen’s Buildings does things a little bit differently. And you sense that as soon as you walk in the door
The clean, bright and efficient reception hints at the tone of this hotel located slap bang in the heart of the city.
The idea behind the Tune concept is simple. You want a good, clean hotel, in the centre of the city? Check.
You want all the amenities and comforts that a luxury hotel has to offer? Check.
You want friendly staff that has the time of the day to share a few tips and pointers around the city? Check.
But you want it all at a reasonable price and not to be hit with a big bill when you go to check out? Check.
My cosy Tune room
So here’s how they do it..Instead of piling in TVs or hairdryers that you never use, or daily room service that really isn’t necessary the Tune focuses on the basics. They offer a great night’s sleep thanks to custom-made ‘5-star’ beds built by bedmakers who supply the best hotels in the land and the most powerful showers built by man.
After that you get to pick and choose what you want and they add it to the bill at the end of your stay.
So, for example, your room is serviced prior to your arrival and after every third night, at no extra cost. But if you like a daily housekeeping service during your stay, they throw an extra £8 onto your bill.
They also charge a few extra bob for using the internet and for early and late check in and check out, so you only ever end up paying for what you actually need.
It keeps the costs down and makes for a very competitive pricing structure.
So simple I was wondering why someone hadn’t thought of it before.
But of course the clever folk at Tune had cottoned onto this a long time ago and at least half a dozen of their hotels in London operate the Tune concept as do others around the world, in Malaysia, Australia and India.
Where it all began
It was with some reluctance then that I left my cosy Tune room to head out into a stormy Liverpool night but I was looking for some other kind of tunes in this musical city.
A few streets away is the famous Cavern Club where the Beatles first laid out their plans for global domination.
As I settled in for a beer while a young guitar hero belted out the chords to ‘We can work it out’ I was fully immersed in the Mersey Sound for a few blissful moments.
Ah yes, it had to be done. After all.. ‘Life is very short and there’s no ti-ii-iii-ime…’