Celebrating My 21st Birthday!

One week ago, I turned 21! Yes, that does mean my birthday was on the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, which is why I decided to primarily celebrate my birthday the day before.

My parents drove 200 miles to Liverpool from home on the Friday night, and arrived at my uni house early on Saturday morning – with a bunch of stuff I’d left at home in September in tow. This was quite an amusing collection of things – reheatable hand warmers, a new jumper, my waterproof coat, and some other bits and bobs. When I moved into this house 2.5 months ago, I had belongings spread around the country – it took some time to figure out where everything was!

We didn’t linger in the house long; we walked down to Liverpool’s Key Lime Café, where they serve a variety of breakfasts, including American style pancakes alongside more savoury things like Eggs Royale. After a leisurely breakfast there, we headed to Central station and hopped on a train to Chester.

We’d decided to spend the day there rather than in Liverpool, as my parents had never been and I enjoy going. I think it’s almost the perfect city, in my mum’s eyes – plenty of history, interesting architecture, good size, but without the same mania that can surround places like London.

My entire family has a thing about history, I think – we’re all interested in it, and so I knew my parents would enjoy seeing the cathedral. We spent quite a long time in there, actually; I think we spent an entire half an hour trying to find one particular feature by a window… it turned out to be on a different window than the ones we were looking at. But by this point, my dad had a hankering for a coffee, and I was a little hungry, so we went to the cathedral’s café for lunch.

It was at this point, while we were waiting for our food, that my mum decided to reveal what she’d been lugging around all day in her backpack – when I’d enquired what was in it, her answer had been “space”. For some reason, I actually believed her! But, alas, she unpacked a collection of coloured envelopes and presents.

IMG_877221stsamall

IMG_877021stsmall
Photos courtesy of my dad, who a) has a far better camera than I do, and b) was the only one to actually bring said camera with him… I forgot mine. I was also paying absolutely no attention the fact he was taking photos.

Now, in all truth, I hadn’t been expecting this – I knew their stay in Liverpool wasn’t going to be cheap, and I’d already had an intended-21st-birthday-present earlier in the year (awkward timing meant it arrived a little closer to my 20th birthday instead!). Nevertheless, I received a pair of earrings (which I’ve worn every day since), some perfume, chocolate and notebooks from my parents, and some other jewellery and cash from other relatives, which I’m very grateful for.

After lunch, we left the cathedral and had a bit of a lazy wander around the city walls and exploring the city, including a visit into a tea shop (my parents are definitely tea people, I can’t say the same myself) and an old pub with a good few centuries of history behind it.

Soon enough, the sun was starting to set and we went over to Miller and Carter for dinner – and odd thought, considering I’m pescetarian and they’re primarily a steakhouse, but they had a fair menu of non-meat dishes so I had salmon. I’m pretty sure my dad had steak, but I have no clue what mum ordered! Terrible memory, I know. I think I was a bit caught up in conversation to notice.


stay landscape agh (1)

The next morning, my parents turned up bright and early at my house again (it was now my actual birthday) and we went straight back to Key Lime Café for breakfast. This café is conveniently positioned opposite Lime Street Station, and thus in close proximity to St George’s Hall, where Liverpool’s Armistice Parade was due to take place. As we ate our breakfast we saw various groups of people in various uniforms getting ready for the parade.

We were careful to leave the café with a good amount of time before the parade was due to start, and managed to find a fairly good place to stand, a little way to the left of the monument pictured above. It was a lovely thing to watch; the crowds filled the area and during the ceremony, poppies were released from the roof of St George’s Hall, and petals were released from the top of the radio tower – the wind was blowing in the right direction so they all fell over the plateau and crowds.

I didn’t capture any of the parade and ceremony on camera; aside from the fact I forgot to bring my camera again, it seemed a bit inappropriate. But I had my poppy on, and my mum grabbed a programme they were handing out beforehand, and she managed to catch a few petals (that woman is amazing), so I do have some souvenirs.

After the ceremony had finished, we waited for the barriers to be moved so we could get closer to the monument (which I have walked past dozens of times and know quite well, but we wanted to see the wreaths). Then it was down to the docks to find some lunch, because the world would have turned upside down if an outing with my family didn’t largely revolve around food!

Sadly, the early afternoon meant it was time for my parents to leave. We got a taxi back to my house (instead of the 30+ minute uphill walk), and then my parents were off on their journey home.

So yeah, that’s what I did for my 21st! I’m never that big on birthday celebrations, and celebrating at uni can be a bit weird when your friends and family are miles away, but it was really nice to spend this time with my parents.

Art, Prison, and Engines: Exploring Liverpool!

With my first year of university wrapped up, a friend and I decided it was finally time to explore. We’ve been so busy ever since we got here that we’ve simply not been able to. So, this last weekend, we set aside three straight days. Here’s what we got up to!

Friday: Walker Art Gallery

If you’ve ever been to Liverpool, you’ll likely have seen the incredible buildings across the road from Lime Street station. St George’s Hall, the World Museum, the Central Library, and Walker Art Gallery. I’ve walked past them dozens of times, and only really been in the library.

So our first stop was the art gallery. It had around a dozen galleries, from medieval European art to contemporary pieces. There was an early copy of the Mona Lisa, as well as a Monet painting (above). I quite liked how low-key it was; compared to the museums and galleries I’ve been to in London, there was actually space to look and pause without being somehow forced out of the way.

We spent a good couple of hours at this gallery, just taking it in. I will admit, we were a bit immature for a little while when we discovered that Snapchat filters would respond to the paintings… I won’t put those photos in…

DSCN2624.JPG

Saturday: Cathedral and Many, Many Miles

Saturday brought our trip to Chester! If you recall, I first visited Chester back in February and wrote a post about it, but that time was very purpose-orientated for a module I was studying. This time, we hopped on a bus, and had no agenda. We walked around the entire city wall, struggled to find the cathedral entrance, found out Google was sadly misinformed and that the castle is closed to the public, and ate food in a Grade 2 listed building.

A little side note, but I am impressed by the bus fares up here. It was £2 for a return journey that took over three hours in total, probably closer to four. At home it’s about £2 to go all of ten minutes.

DSCN2662DSCN2666

The weather the whole weekend was gorgeous. It rained a tiny bit but other than that, it was great. My friend happens to have an extremely friendly face and gets stopped all the time by people asking for directions etc., so when we were on our way out of the cathedral she got stopped for a survey. Of course. The woman asking the questions seemed quite amused at the fact we weren’t on a trip, but had simply sat on the bus from one end of the line to the other!

During the course of the day, we managed to walk almost the entire circumference of the city wall. When we reached the Phoenix Tower/King Charles Tower, the small room inside was open, so we sat there for a solid 40 minutes discussing which periods of history we’ve covered so far – yes, we’re complete nerds… The member of staff there found us amusing, though, so there’s that.

Sunday: Prison and A Lot of Rope

Directly opposite Lime Street Station is a huge building with a war memorial in front of it. That building is St George’s Hall, previously an ambiguous building I’d walk past every time I went into town.

Turns out, it was an old prison, courthouse, and hall for various events! The cells have certain sections of the walls preserved, where inmates wrote their names and sentences. The corridors have a lot of information about past practises carried out by prison guards, and the various forms of punishment. It was actually really fascinating. Oh, and the hall here is where part of Fantastic Beasts was filmed, just FYI.

Afterwards, we wandered down to Albert Dock. I’ve been here fairly regularly, but not done a whole lot. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find we could go on a couple of the ships docked there! The first one was a proper pirate-y ship, ropes and all.

IMG_20170604_124544IMG_20170604_124758

The second was a ship that’s been through a lot. The guys on board told us a lot of its history. It was built in 1903 (before the first flight – woah), has very similar engines to the Titanic, spent years falling into disrepair, and took over £3 million to restore.

They took us to various parts of the ship, including the engine room, which was really amazing. It’s really an incredible sight, to see where the magic actually happens. I’d highly recommend seeing a ship’s engine room if you can, it should be a bucket list thing. I can’t imagine much of what’s produced today lasting the next hundred or so years, but back then, things were built to last.

IMG_20170604_132044IMG_20170604_133159IMG_20170604_133532

We finished the day (and our weekend of exploring) with the Museum of Liverpool across the other side of the dock. It incorporated a huge amount of the city’s history, from the First World War, to the Beatles, to now. The pair of us are history students, we can’t help but be attracted to all the historic places and activities of the city.


So there you have it! That’s pretty much what we got up to over the last weekend. I know Liverpool has a raging reputation for the clubbing and nightlife available here, but if you do come visit, I’d really encourage you to explore the way we did. Even though Chester technically isn’t Liverpool, but y’know. The history of this city is amazing, and the sights are great.

Before you go, please feel free to go follow me on my Instagram and Twitter accounts – it’s where I’m most active!

Katy x

Hauntings in Chester!

Recently, I visited Chester for the first time! I was there on a day trip with my seminar group for a module I’m studying this semester, about the English Civil War. It turned out to be a really good day, though we were really quite cold the whole time… it even snowed on us at one point.

It wasn’t perhaps the most conventional day trip, considering we were being led around by our tutor, who was educating us on a very specific part of the city’s history – though a very significant and interesting part – but in the course of the day we did manage to go to Caffe Nero three times and an independent café once… We make no apologies, we all like cafés.

My favourite parts of the day (aside from the many and varied, bizarre conversations we all had together) were the ghost tales our tutor told us about various sites around the town. I won’t list all the details of all the stories, not least because I don’t remember all of it off the top of my head, but there were many that involved gruesome deaths, odd sex noises, and which featured thandmaidens. You might wonder why we’re studying ghost stories for a history module about a war, but it seems many of the stories very possibly had a basis in fact – and it’s just a way people remember the time period.

Most of us in the group hadn’t really met before we ended up on this module together, so the day also served as a sort of bonding day, I guess. Luckily, I think we all get on really well, so the project should (fingers crossed) go smoothly. Turns out most of us have a fair amount of Irish heritage, too, which was quite amusing.

I know I don’t normally post much about what I’m studying on my degree at any one time, but this was a cool trip so I thought I would. I like going to see places that have history, and when you’re looking for a specific part of history in a town with so much of it, it becomes even more intriguing – because it’s like people have, over time, selected which bits to remember or commemorate. Chester had a lot of celebration around its Roman heritage (and fair enough) but little obvious detail about the civil war.

Anyway, enough history chatter from me. I’ll be back with another post on Tuesday! (Feel free to click on the Instagram posts and follow me while you’re here, though.)

Katy x