Category: UK

Liverpool, The Port City

Liverpool, The Port City

It was our first time to visit the city of Liverpool last week and I have to say, we totally fell in love with the place. It has so much to offer.

Prior to our mini trip, when we told friends and acquaintances our plan for the trip, they would say “Why Liverpool of all places. It is run down”

Peter would say, “too late now, we booked our hotel and the train tickets.”

I am so pleased that we did not listen. Because Liverpool is a very vibrant city, a lot to do and see. One can take away plenty of experiences and new knowledge.

For a Scouse city, I think it is very English.

Old and new buildings married splendidly, giving birth to a wondrous skyline, beautifully scenic especially when spied from a ferry across the Mersey.

Liverpool is of course the birth place of the ultra iconic The Beatles, of John, George, Paul and Ringo.

We visited the famous underground Cavern Club, where the The Beatles played during their early days.

Liverpool is also known for its majestic churches.  The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, is an architectural phenomena in its modernity and simplicity in a vast area. It is a Roman Catholic Church, a must see crypt underneath has a gravity defying ceiling made from bricks!!!

On the other hand, the huge Church of England, Liverpool Cathedral is equally awesome.  It has a very spiritual ambiance.  We thought St Albans was so beautiful but Liverpool Cathedral can give it a run for their money.

While we were in Liverpool, the sun tried to break out from the clouds and Peter was quite happy to go on top of the Radio City, which allows anyone to see miles on end in a 360 degrees.  Apparently you can see the Blackpool Tower clearly if the sun was brighter.  I opted out of the privilege to climb the tower because I felt rather queezy after having an enormous Full English breakfast at the Shiraz Palace near the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, where we stayed.

Another thing about Liverpool is the presence of publican houses everywhere, unlike in London.  I think pubs longevity in Liverpool has to do with the prices.  One can get a pint of beer for a couple of quids (pounds). 🙂  The students who board nearby our hotel patronise the many pubs at all hours.

The famed Chinatown in Liverpool was smaller that what I expected compared to Chinatown in London.  Chinatown Liverpool is the first one in the UK.  Some 1500 Chinese were living in Liverpool as far back as the 1600 and some Filipinos in the 1800.  This is because Liverpool is a port, where seafaring immigrants took advantage of.

They have the most fantastic library building in Liverpool Lime Street.  It was modern and huge in four or five floors, very airy.  It makes you wanna sit down with a book, which I did.  I quickly skimmed Jilly Cooper’s Mount, which is the return of Rupert Campbell-Black and Taggie.

Queen Victoria must have loved Liverpool.  Her beloved husband, Prince Albert’s statue is everywhere and places and buildings are named after him.

St George’s Hall along Lime Street is another must see place.  It has an underground Victorian jail which you can tour.  There was a room with drawings and posters by children which is rather unsettling.  Another prison cubicle has a collage of photos of the prisoners, who were murderers, rapists, debtors, fraudsters.  That was really macabre.  What what spooked me was an empty room at first sight but suddenly you feel a presence which was of a statue of a Victorian woman breastfeeding her baby partly hidden next to the doorway.  Spooky.

All in way, I highly recommend a tour of Liverpool.  Add it to your bucket list!

The Life That I Have

Despair, photo by JMorton

The Life That I Have

The Life That I Have (sometimes referred to as Yours) is a short poem written by Leo Marks and used as a poem code in the Second World War.
The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Peter told me to add this poem into the blog.  He said I would like it.  He is partly right because I more than like it, I love it.

The poem is about Love Eternal.  It is beyond love every waking moments, its goes on until and after death.  Isn’t that just the most romantic thing ever 🙂 !!!

But romance aside, the poem apparently was used to send code during WWII.  A message is encrypted within the poetry itself.  This short poem was sent by Leo Marks to a French agent, Violette Szabo, who was ultimately captured, tortured and murdered by the Nazi (not because of the poem!).  A film was made about Violette Szabo called Carve Her Name With Pride, where the poem was included but undergone an artistic licence, as Hollywood would often do.  In the film the poem was supposed to have been written for her by her husband, Etienne.

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Wood shack at Hampstead Heath, photo by PH Morton

Hampstead Heath, photo by JMorton

I love this Manet-like impressionism photo at Hampstead Heath by PH Morton

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Forest bathing has become an accepted form of relaxation and stress management in Japan.  It was started in the mid-80s.

But what is forest bathing?

It involves going into a woody land or forest, a green space, and hike leisurely; relax and breathe in all the freshness and negative ions, the so-called air-borned vitamins’, given off by the surrounding trees and plants.

Let all the stress of the day melt in the comparative embraces of the forest.

In London, there is a woodland called Hampstead Heath, a 320 hectares of open, green space perfect for forest bathing, among other things.  It is a place for a great family bonding.  There are numbers of ponds, there is even a ‘secret garden’ which is architecturally excellent.  It also covers a natural swimming pool for ladies and also for men, there are the Parliament Hill, the Kenwood House, Highgate pond, etc.

Be astounded at how great Hampstead Heath is, when it is just 6 kilometres away from the very busy bustling city centre of London, the Trafalgar Square.

It is a place for biodiversity: human meets natures and wildlife in a capsule of forested heath.

So Londoners, now the weather outside is no longer frightful, put on your walking shoes and have a forest bath!

 

A Touch of Ming

Ming Vase

A Touch of Ming

During a recent visit to Victoria and Albert museum, Peter and I were surprised by this rather interactive art appreciation exercise.

Visitors are allowed to touch a huge Ming vase, see above photo.

It said in a note beside it, written in English as well as in Braille, that visitors are allowed to touch it. It was not inside a glass case.

At first Peter and I can’t believe it.  Despite the clear note, we looked around if anyone was looking; we had to make sure that the coast was clear.   We felt that it was rather naughty to touch an antique work of art.  We would have been good candidate for experiment or candid camera, to see our reaction.

The above Ming porcelain vase was an original 1550 antique.

Ming antiques are very much wanted by the rich and famous.  I have often heard that a really rare Ming can set you up for life!

But can you imagine, if we broke the vase, we had to sell up our house to pay for the damage!

I reckon the vase was once broken into several pieces, thus not as valuable or sought after by the moneyed people, ergo hoi polloi are allowed a quick fondle with the Ming!  🙂

 

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

Mask, by PH Morton

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

This is another treasure from the V&A exhibits.

You would not have guessed it that it is a snuff box, a container for ground tobacco.

The lovely intricate design makes it a collectible.  This particular item was made in Chelsea by an unknown artist between 1760-1765.

Silver Speaks @ V&A

Animus, by Kevin Grey,
Photo PH Morton

Silver Speaks @ V&A

The above beautiful shining solid sliver abstract fine silver work which is an exhibit, rather caught my eye. The silver smith craftsman made five and from what I learned cost £72,000.00 each. If I were a multi millionaire+. I think I would indulge myself 🙂

The Maker’s diagonally stamped Hallmark can just be seen near the top.

This is just one of many wonderful silver work exhibits many dating back hundreds of years, in the ‘Silver Speaks’ exhibition, held in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The V&A is well worth a visit if you can when in London.

 

Saint David’s Day

Saint David’s Day

 

March 1st  is Saint David’s Day.

Did you remember to celebrate it yesterday?

The first day of March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David as traditionally it is believed that he might have died on that day in 569, 588 or even 589; the date is uncertain.

Stainglass picture of St David of Wales

Stainglass depicting St David of Wales

St David (Dewi Sant) was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop, who lived in the sixth century.  He spread the word of Christianity across Wales.

St David's own flag flown over Churches and some public buildings on St David's Day

St David’s own flag flown over Churches and some public buildings on St David’s Day

A  famous story about Saint David tells how he was preaching to a huge crowd and the ground is said to have risen up, so that he was standing on a hill and everyone had a better chance of hearing and seeing him.

 He was born towards the end of the 5th century. He was of the royal house of Ceredigion, and founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro) where St David’s Cathedral  stands today. David was famous for being a teacher.  His monastery at Glyn Rhosin became an important Christian shrine and important centre in Wales. Before  his death, Saint David is said to have uttered these words: “Brothers be ye constant. The yoke which with single mind ye have taken, bear ye to the end; and whatsoever ye have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfil.”

Welsh ex-pats around the  world celebrate St David’s Day. The  daffodil  & the leek are the national emblem of Wales and badges of which are worn with pride.

Daffodil flower and emblem of Wales

Daffodil flower and emblem of Wales

Why a leek as an emblem?  One theory is that St David advised the Welsh, on the eve of battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps to distinguish friend from the enemy. Shakespeare mentions in Henry V, that the Welsh archers (fearsome for the power and accuracy of their legendary long bows,)  wore leeks at the battle  with the French at Agincourt in 1415.

The Leek vegetbale an other emblem of Wales

The Leek vegetable an other emblem of Wales

The traditional meal on St David’s Day is cawl. This is a soup that is made of leek and other locally grown produce.

Another symbol of Wales is  the iconic Welsh Dragon  in Welsh- Y Ddraig Goch (“the red dragon”)

Welsh National-Flag

The Welsh National Flag

It  appears on the national flag of Wales. The flag is also called Y Ddraig Goch.

The Historia Brittonum(History of Britons written around 828)  records the first  use of the dragon to  symbolise Wales.

The Dragon was popularly supposed to have been the battle standard of the legendary King Arthur  other ancient Celtic leaders. archaeological  literature, and documentary history suggests that  it evolved from an earlier Romano-British national symbol.  During the reigns of the  Tudor Monarchs, the red dragon was used as a symbol of support  in the English Crown’s coat of arms (one of two supporters, along with the traditional English lion).  The red dragon is often seen as symbolising all things Welsh, and flags are flown  by many public and private institutions in Wales and some in London too.

………………..

1 March 2014

To celebrate St David’s Day Google has this special doodle to commemorate the occasion.

st-davids-day-2014-5651391519391744.2-hp

 

 

St Andrew By The Wardrobe Church

IMG_0737
St Andrew By The Wardrobe Church

St Andrew By The Wardrobe is a very interesting church peacefully nestled along Queen Victoria Street in the City of London.

What made St Andrew by the Wardrobe unique from the many other Church of England churches dotted along the City of London is the array of immaculate long sleeves shirts, suit jackets and trousers on display as well as hundreds of pair of shiny shoes.

Apparently the clothes are from the Suited and Booted charitable organisation, giving men the chance to be suitably clothed to attend a job interview, among others.

I thought the suited and Booted charity is a very appropriate project to be sponsored by the church afterall it is the Wardrobe church.

The church was designed by the great English architect, Christopher Wren, though it has been rebuilt at least a couple of times, having been a victim of the Great Fire as well as being bombed during the Blitz.  The current church was opened again to the public in 1961.

The history of the church started in the 13th century, during the reign of King Edward III. The immediate area around the church is called the Great Wardrobe, as it became the place where King Edward III moved his state robes and other effects from the Tower of London. St Andrew’s Church became better known as St Andrew by The Wardrobe.

The Church has great connection with William Shakespeare.

It is a beautiful church, very woody. If you want to visit it the address follows below:

St Andrew by the Wardrobe
Parish Church
St Andrews Hill & Queen Victoria Street
London EC4V 5DE

Bonoo Indian Tapas Restaurant Review

Bonoo Indian Tapas Restaurant Review

We spent a very delicious if rather expensive Valentine’s Day at Bonoo Indian Tapas Restaurant, which is quite local to us.

The food were appetising, tasted really freshly made.  I particularly liked the various flavoured crispy naan and poppadoms presented in a nice dainty bamboo/wooden basket.  They came with four kinds of chutney/dips: mango, cucumber, plum and pineapple?!!!

The Aloo Pakora was enjoyed by all. The crisply deep-fried sweet potatoes shreds in butter was divine.

We had the tandoori mix, which was quite good but I prepared the Masala Lamb chops as it was really tasty that I had to prised every bit of meat from the bone, yummy.

The Jalfrezi, Masala, matar and pulao rice were cut above the take-out from other restaurants.

We also had the Rogan Josh, though very expensively tasty, the lamb was rather chewy with bits of bones that you have to delicately spit out. 🙂

The service was very good, very attentive and friendly staff.

The restaurant was packed compared to other restaurants in the area.  Childshill boasts a number of excellent eateries, perfect for meal dates.

Though the final bill was on the high side, it did not contain a service charge.  It is up to you how much tip to leave.  I think that was nice, instead of having 10-15% presumptuously added to your bill when service was below par.