A brave move perhaps, but what with Liverpool being current European City of Culture it seemed a shame not to venture west simply on the basis that Liverpool is full of Scousers. So we boarded our train at Picadilly on Saturday morning, and less than an hour later we were at Liverpool Lime Street Station, touristy map clutched firmly in hand (and handbag tucked even more firmly under arm).
First stop, the Liverpool Tate Gallery on Albert Dock. The docks are extremely impressive, and bring a nostalgic lump to the throat of anyone who fondly remembers Fred the Weatherman leaping about on his polystyrene map back when Richard & Judy were in charge of This Morning. Before embarking on any actual culture, we steeled ourselves with hot chocolate and toast in the Tate Cafe, and then dutifully examined three floors of modern art. To be fair, there is not much installation-style what-the-hell-is-that-meant-to-be art on show here; the Andy Warhol room is worth a look, and there are also works by Picasso, Degas, Henry Moore and Bridget Riley on show. Not sure about the huge furry body on the ground floor though.
Time for lunch: a fillet steak sandwich with fries at The Pan American Club on Albert Dock, a couple of minutes from the Tate. Thus restored, we tackled the impressive new shopping centre Liverpool 1, housing all the shops you might expect as well as an enormous John Lewis where we booked in to have our make-up done at Bobbi Brown (cunning - get nice lady to scrape off evidence of tiring day and replace with flattering new make-up). Many thanks to the lovely Angela who did such a good job on us.
Dinner was booked at Negresco, a modern Italian on the trendy Lark Lane - about £6 in a taxi from the shopping centre. The decor is stunning, the staff friendly and laid-back, the cocktail list ginormous and the food delicious - I had duck liver pate for starter, fillet steak for main, and finished with cinnamon creme brulee with sable biscuits. Prices are very reasonable, andthere is apparently a Negresco in Manchester which I shall duly investigate as soon as humanly possible.
Watch out for the 9,55pm train though - it's more like a bus than a train, rendering sleep impossible, and full of over-excited teenage girls (likewise). It got us back into Manchester around 11.15, safe and sound (slight pun intended).