Sunday, 28 August 2016

Summer holiday

 21 – 22 July: Liverpool. 

This year the USA contingent of the family found a route that took them into the John Lennon airport in Liverpool. The idea was that we could meet up at Liverpool and take The Grandson (TGS), who is a fan of Everton, to visit Everton Football ground and have a look in the Club shop where he could get himself kitted out in his favorite team’s colours. I am not a football fan myself and have never understood why certain people become attached to a particular team to the extent they follow their exploits constantly. I am mildly interested in my home town team’s progress, but never to the extent that I would ever go to a match. I am pleased if they win and sometimes see this on the local TV, but I am not the least bothered if I do not get to see the result of a particular match. What constantly surprises me is how people follow a team that has nothing to do with their own home and is quite often somewhere they have never even visited. But TGS desperately wanted to visit Goodison Park and so there we were in the Hampton Hotel meeting the family shortly after they arrived from the USA, or to be more accurate, after they had all had a sleep for a few hours to mitigate the effects of jet lag.

We drove up from home and arrived about midday which gave them some time to recover. We only had to travel about 180 miles by British roads but it took us five hours. Because we only have ordinary family cars and we could not fit everyone and all of our luggage in just one, we took both cars and TBH and I drove up in a convoy of two. We both have phones that can be used hands free via the car’s sound system and could talk whenever necessary without letting go of the steering wheel, losing concentration or breaking the law.
It was not an easy journey, there being roadworks, breakdowns and even animals on the motorway at various points along the way. When we stopped for lunch, we could see that the southbound carriage way was stationary and there was nothing at all coming north. Obviously there had been a problem and we were grateful that it must have happened further south. When we set off again a few minutes later, after seeing the empty northbound lane from the window of the motorway services, we found ourselves joining heavy traffic all doing around 40mph. The jam must have cleared even as we walked to the car.

So back in John Lennon country, we arrived later than planned to discover that the family were, as I already mentioned, sleeping off some of their jet lag, so we wandered around the area and waited for them to wake up.
They had arrived much later than planned, having had a cancelled flight and then had been rescheduled to a much later one, so they had had a long day. We finally all got together in the evening and sat around chatting and exchanging news in the hotel lounge until dinner time when we ordered a meal.

The view from the hotel car park of the taxi rank behind a large model of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine, which graces the airport entrance.
The next morning we took a taxi to the football stadium leaving our cars in the hotel car park. The Hampton Hotel at the JL airport is right opposite the airport entrance and inside the airport perimeter. The hotel entrance is on floor five of a multi-storey car park and has three parking areas, one for the hotel, one short stay and several long stay areas for people who wanted to leave their cars whilst taking flights abroad.
When we arrived we took a ticket at the entrance of the main car park and drove up to the fifth floor. There we found the tickets would not let us into the hotel car park and so we went to reception to find out what we had to do. They told us the attendant should have marked our ticket, but we never saw hide nor hair of a human being all the way up, so we had to call the attendant on the ticket barrier intercom and he would lift the barrier. We set the thing beep, beep, beeping, but there was no one home. So we got hand written tickets from the hotel and put them in the cars. Because we were supposed to check out at eleven, but did not intend to drive two vehicles through Liverpool to a place with uncertain parking, we intended to take a taxi and leave the cars in the hotel car park until we returned that afternoon and then could set off for the remainder of our holiday, which was to be based in Pickering in Yorkshire.
The hotel car park, five floors up
But of course, our cars were not in the hotel car park, but in the short stay area and would incur a huge parking fine if they did not have the right ticket. So we tried again to get through the barrier, and this time the attendant was able to let us in. Being close to the airport, it was a short walk from the hotel lift to the taxi rank where we found a taxi and set off for the football stadium. There was a slight hitch when the taxi driver saw TGS’s shirt and found out where we wanted to go. He turned out to be a Liverpool fan and told us that he did not think his taxi could find its way to the Everton ground, but would drop us at the nearest football ground he could reach and we could walk the rest of the way. 
If you are a non sporting people like me, you may not know that there are two football teams (at least) in Liverpool, Liverpool and Everton and they are strong rivals.  Their respective grounds are less than a mile apart, so this seemed a distinct possibility, but he smiled as he said it and took us all the way. When we arrived, he got out of his cab and showed us where we needed to go and where to find another taxi to get back again and proved to be really friendly and helpful.

We knew that the Everton football ground would be closed to the public because they were doing maintenance to the stands and the grounds, which was a bit of a disappointment but we were able to visit the store and a number of blue coloured items were bought. We then wandered across to the entrance of the grounds and TGS stared wistfully inside. People seemed to be coming and going from a side gate, so we wandered in there and looked around close to the stadium entrance and ticket office, with TGS getting his picture taken at various places, when The Son (TS) spotted a party of visitors leaving the stadium by a side gate. He immediately went to see how they had gotten in and found a guy who was one of the ground’s stewards. He was currently supervising the refurbishment work and despite the official view that it was unsafe to let visitors into the stadium, he was quite happy to let us have a quick look from one corner of the ground where no work was actually being carried out and so TGS and his dad got to have their picture taken inside the stadium. Whilst they were there, the steward gave them a lot of detail about the place. TGS was delighted and it made his trip worthwhile.
Our view from the safe corner of the grounds where no work was taking place
When we finally came out, we spotted a taxi dropping off some people arriving at the football ground and we were able to grab that cab for our return to the airport hotel, without having to wait for one to be called. This driver was also a Liverpool supporter and gave TGS a certain amount of joshing about Everton supporters on the way back. On the route he took us past the childhood home of John Lennon. Without saying anything, he stopped just outside and allowed the Beatle fan among us to have her picture taken outside the house.

John Lennon's childhood home

We eventually got back to the hotel and loaded all of our combined luggage onto our cars, only to find that the tickets would not let us out of the car park. Once again we had to call the attendant on the little intercom on the ticket machine and were soon able to set off for Pickering.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely adventure for you and your family! As DOTH always says, "Can anyone do anything right these days?" She would not have had the kind of patience you seemed to have had, over the parking situation!