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Liverpool Pub Tour

We had a far better nights sleep in this quieter room and I woke feeling a lot better this morning. The only downside was that it was raining and looked like it would rain all day. During breakfast I couldn't help but notice a couple of girls outside having a cigarette while still dressed in their pajamas.

Smoking outside in pajamas
Photo: Smoking outside in pajamas (Click to enlarge)

After breakfast we wrapped up and headed out to the Exchange Square behind the Town Hall. I'd seen this on John Sargent's recent BBC series "Britain's First Photo Album"  We knew it was close to our hotel so we made the short walk to the square in the pouring rain. On one side of the square was Martin's bank; my father had worked here during his previous career in banking.

The constant rain was making taking photographs difficults and as I was afraid of the camera getting wet, so after a few futile attempt to take some photos we gave up.

Again we decided to go separate ways for the day; my wife going shopping again and I decided to check out a few pubs that I wanted to see.

My first pub of the day was the Fly in the Loaf, a pub I hadn't heard of before, but it looks very good with a friendly barman and a decent selection of guest beers. It was surprisingly  quiet inside, with only a couple of other people inside, but then it was still only Sunday morning.

Philharmonic Dining Rooms, Liverpool
Photo: Philharmonic Dining Rooms, Liverpool (Click to enlarge)

I next headed up to the Philharmonic Dining Rooms on Hope Street. Known simply as the "Phil", John Lennon once complained that "The price of fame is not being able to go to the Phil for a quiet pint." It was fairly quiet when I was there so I was able to enjoy a couple more pints while having a look around this fantastic pub - I wish it was my local.

Next in my list was the nearby Ye Cracke, another one of John Lennon's earlier days pubs.  It's fair to say this wasn't quite what I expected and with the murals on the wall I almost felt like I was in Northern Ireland back in the bad days of "the troubles".  

The Roscoe Head pub, Liverpooll
Photo: The Roscoe Head pub, Liverpooll (Click to enlarge)

The othe pub I had on my list was the Roscoe Head, one of the Magnificent Seven pubs that have appeared in every issue of the Good Beer Gude since it started.  This was another unusual experience as the small pub only seemed to have two small rooms and in felt like I was having a drink in someone's house. As far as I could tell the other drinkers there that day were also doing a pub tour and weren't locals.

On my way back to the hotel I had a severe attack of the munchies and a sausage roll from Gregs didn't cure it so I found myself "going large" on a lamb flatbread at Burger King. Oh the shame!



As I suspected, I had a rubbish night's sleep. It wasn't helped by my wife wanting to be up early for breakfast so she could then head off in the car to Cheshire Oaks. I felt like a zombie at breakfast and instead of my planned solo photo walk and pub tour I crawled back in to bed in the vain hope of getting some sleep.

i was still wide awake when my wife returned at around 13:00 so I went down to reception to see if I could change rooms for our remaining two nights. I wasn't at all hopeful as the hotel seemed very busy and there was a wedding that evening but I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a room on the third floor. The receptionist warned us that it wouldn't have as good a view but I was beyond caring about the view at that point.   

The room was at the back of the hotel, overlooking the road, and was noticeably cooler and quieter. Hopefully I'd get a decent nights sleep for the remaining two nights of our trip.

After we'd moved our stuff from room 432 to room 321 my wife insisted we go out for a walk around Liverpool. After deciding not to join the queue to see around HMS Dragon, a Type 45 destroyer moored at the nearby cruise terminal, we found ourselves wandering around the main shopping area again.

By mutual agreement it was decided that my wife would look around the shops and I would settle myself in for a few pints at the Beehive, a pub conveniently located between the main shopping street an Liverpool 1. Much to my delight they served Hobgoblin and Black Sheep, two of my favourite beers. I chose to sit outside and the handful of tables and chairs they have and spent the next hour chatting to a bloke who'd worked on building Noble's Hospital and went on to be an owner operator of an artic lorry doing runs across Europe and in to Italy.

I was also entertained by two very drunk but friendly lads from Manchester and the passing wannabe wags in skin tight leggings and heavy make up, some even with the hair in big curlers getting ready for a night out.

Shopping in curlers
Photo: Shopping in curlers (Click to enlarge)

After we met up again we explored a few of the cafes and restaurants in Liverpool 1, but they all seemed busy and full except for Gourmet Burger so we reluctantly decided to eat there. I don't know what it is about the Gourmet Burger in Liverpool 1, but the burger buns there are fairly inedible and remind me of the cardboard box that takeaway burgers often come in and are best discarded rather than eaten. With this in mind I ordered a mega burger so at least I still had a half decent meal after discarding the inedible bun. 


Off to Skipton

We had the usual early morning start to be on the Ben My Chree for another crossing and long weekend in the UK. We were heading to Skipton this time, a place we'd called at on a previous trip to see the castle, as we figure it was a handy place for exploring the area.

When we arrived at Herriots Hotel in Skipton I was a bit gobsmacked to find they had no record of our booking, despite up having booked it direct on their own website. I was far from happy with their offer of one night in a double room, the next night in two separate single room and the third night in another double room. It would also meant having to unpack and pack our bags three times in three days.

We wandered off in to the town while they tried to sort something better for us and we had lunch at Bizzie Lizzie's fish and chip shop and then found our way to the market in the centre of the town. My wife had wanted to check out the cheese stall and we bought about £50 worth of cheese there.

I suggested I sit in the wintery sun at the top end of the market while she went to M&S but I soon got cold and bored and wandered in to the nearby Red Lion pub for a beer or two.  

When we eventually strolled back the the hotel we were pleased to find that by juggling a single occupant of a double room we were now to be in a double room for all three nights. They did say that a power glitch on their computer had moved our booking until some time in June, but I found that a bit hard to believe.

If you've read any reviews of this hotel on the TripAdvisor website then you better believe the ones about paper thin walls and squeaky floors in the new extension. We were on the lower level of the extension, above a function room and with one level of rooms above us. While we seemed to have a fairly solid concrete floor the rooms above us seemed to have the squeakiest floors imaginable and the occupants either seemed unaware of the issue or couldn't be bothered about the poor saps below them. At one time they seemed to be continuously walking around in the room for an hour. We could also hear just about every word the couple in the room next to us said.

Photo: Bizzie Lizzie's Chip Shop At NightIn the evening we headed out to to have a meal in an Aagrah restaurant that we'd spotted in the afternoon and then returned back to the hotel a lot happier than before.



We had a crap night sleep last night due to lift noise all night and felt knackered this morning. Despite that we got up early for breakfast and then asked about changing rooms. The hotel were happy do oblige so we packed our bags ready for them to move us and headed out for the day.

We took the "Clockwork Orange" (the Glasgow underground train - third oldest in the world after London and Budapest) to the Kelvin museum where we finally saw Dali's "St John on the Cross". I also saw the AC/DC exhibition that was in the basement area.

Afterwards we rode the underground back into town and I got one stop before my wife as I wanted to walk up "Bucky" while she went to M&S again. I had my obligatory look in the Apple shop and had a look at cameras in the Jacobs shop in Sauchiehall Street.

I'd been interested in the Panasonic GX1 camera as my painful elbow was making lugging my Canon 5D MkII a bit heavy going and I was curious about a lighter camera but with decent viewfinder and optics. The GX1 kit was fairly expensive with the optional electronic viewfinder and compact zoom lens and as the Canon G1 X with its huge sensor was due out soon I was also waiting to see that before deciding on one or the other. On the way out of the shop I also spotted the Fuji X10, which was like a little brother of my Fuji X100 camera. I had a quick play with it and quite liked it. Hmmm...

I went back to my local pub, the Toby Jug and had a couple of pints while I waited for my wife. When she arrived we headed to my favourite seafood restaurant just a bit further up Hope Street, the Mussel Inn, where I had my usual seafood platter and Hoegaarden white beer.

On the way back to the hotel we took a detour back to Jacobs where we bought the Fuji X10, leather case, and also a battery grip for my wife's Nikon D7000. By now I was quite cold and tired so I was pleased to get back to the hotel and see that we'd been moved to another room which was the same layout but well away from the lifts and a lot quieter.

My wife decided to stay in for the evening so I headed out to another of my favourite eateries in Glasgow, the cheap and very basic Blue Horizons chippy where fish chips, bread and a cup of tea only costs £5.70 and a refill of tea is 20p. The last time I ate here I had one and a half fish servings on my plate and I assumed that they somehow had half of a fish left in the fryer and gave it to me so I was a bit surprised to again get one and a half fish again this time. Perhaps it's standard with he fish tea?

Needless to say, I walked back to the hotel feeling very bloated...


Christmas Day in Inverness

As there was nothing planned for us, it being Christmas Day, most of the group went on the free guided walk I'd spotted yesterday. The guide was dressed in typical Scottish dress despite the weather and was quite interesting as he took us around three of four sites in Inverness. He obviously expected a tip, so it wasn't totally free, but it was worth it to get some of the history of Inverness and the surrounding areas.

Back at the hotel we had warming coffee and various mulled drinks before dinner. I had expected the main meal to be in the evening so I was a little taken aback by the huge Christmas dinner server to us, again washed down with free drinks. After this huge meal most of our group either crashed out in the hotel lounge or headed back to their rooms for a rest or sleep. I did the latter and only emerged at around 19:00 to have a go at the huge and varied cold buffet spread out along one wall of the large dining room.   

After more complimentary drinks in the lounge bar I headed back to my room wondering how I'd managed to eat and drink so much in one day.