Fuelled by a good breakfast, caffeine and ibuprofen I felt able to face the day. Besides, we couldn't miss this opportunity to visit old haunts and new attractions and we had a cunning plan; visit Tate Liverpool (where there was a Magritte exhibition) and the new Museum of Liverpool first as they are down by the docks, then wend our way towards the city centre taking in places we knew well.
I worked in Liverpool in the 1980s at the time Tate Liverpool was opened and I took my mum with me to the opening night party and viewing. I remember we were walking around and giggling at some of the very modern exhibits and the one thing I remember clearly was one of us spotting a pint glass full of water that had been placed on a shelf. We giggled because we thought someone had left it there by mistake but upon closer inspection we found it had a plaque underneath stating it was a work entitled "Oak Tree". I found reference to it here - Glass, water, shelf and text sculpture. Just don't get me started on Marcel Duchamp's urinal!
The Magritte exhibition was a delight. I wasn't a huge fan before as I've never warmed to his bowler-hatted men but seeing his paintings up close made a huge difference.
I loved the detail in some of his amorphous shapes. The way he carefully shaded them to give them form and substance. The way he presented familiar objects in unfamiliar places. I loved his clouds and bird forms. I also found some of his imagery disturbing but you don't need to like everything an artist produces to appreciate their artistry. I was interested to read about his association with Edward James who set up the Edward James Foundation at West Dean college where I have been on many different courses.
You are now allowed to take photos in many galleries and museums so I snapped a few things that caught my eye.
On seeing these beautiful hat blocks designed by Philip Treacy I have to eat my words and agree with Marcel Duchamp’s declaration that any existing object can be declared a work of art!
They were stunning.
This mirrored cube intrigued me.
You can see me taking the photo and Mike, behind me and to my right but he wasn't actually behind; he was beside me!
When you looked through one of the different sized holes you had a rather psychedelic experience of row upon row of different sized circles in pink, white or pale wood depending upon your viewing point.
Finally this innocuous stack of plates really set your head spinning when you walked around it.
The plates appeared to wobble and move as you walked past and it was most disconcerting! Mike tried to film it going round but sadly couldn't capture the effect.
Then it was a short walk alongside the Mersey to the Museum of Liverpool.
The museum has only recently re-opened in this stunning new building.
Inside there is a glorious staircase (I think it had 84 steps) that sweeps round and round to the upper levels where you get magnificent views of the city. Although it isn't fully open yet there was enough there to show that it is going to be an excellent archive.
Then it was time for a wander through the streets we used to know so well.
This is one of the many replica Superlambananas that are dotted all over the city.
The original was created as a comment on the dangers of genetic engineering and was influenced by Liverpool's cargo trade of both lambs and bananas.
Behind me you can see part of the Three Graces. The infamous Royal Liver Building with the magnificent Liver birds atop the domes, the Cunard Building and the former Port of Liverpool building which housed the offices of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company.
They are an amazing sight to see, especially from across the river where you see them in all their glory. On the morning we left I took photos of a monstrosity that is obscuring the view of them but I'll save that for another post!
Our next stop was the church known locally as St Nicks where Mike sang the cantata Saint Nicholas by Benjamin Britten and Bernstein's Chichester Psalm many years ago.
I was struck by these beautiful modern bargello hangings made in really thick wool.
Outside in the grounds I noticed this waste bin with the Liverbird standing proud.
All the bins in the city centre were like this and I thought they looked very smart.
Then it was time for a wander up to see India Buildings on Water Street.
This magnificent building was built to house the office of the Blue Funnel Line, a fleet of ships, and is enormous as it was designed so that it could be used as a warehouse as well as an office space.
In my day, a large part of the ground floor housed the main Liverpool branch of Lloyds Bank and also the regional head office. In my role as regional marketing co-ordinator I covered 23 branches in the Liverpool area and so it was where I had my office base.
It may sound glamourous but to bring me back down to earth my office was situated next to the managerial toilets and all the men used to relieve themselves and then come and have a chat with me!
More wanderings found us in the world-famous Mathew Street, site of the original Cavern Club where it all began for The Beatles.
When I worked in Liverpool it was a really grotty street and the only Beatles in sight were statues but it's been titivated and is much nicer now.
I loved this bench.
How appropriate for a great fan of the Beatles, a composer himself, to be caught sitting here!
As we wandered around reminiscing it was amazing how our paths must have crossed - for example, I was a regular visitor to the Bluecoat Chambers for lunch when I was working in Bold Street and Mike had piano lessons there. His dad worked in Cranes music store at the bottom of Bold street and we had our first meal together on our first date in the street parallel with Bold Street and so it went on. It felt rather like the film Sliding Doors!
Time for lunch then off to visit Sharon (my SiL), Paul, Thomas, Emma and Buster the greyhound, seen here supporting me in Sefton Park.......but I'm getting ahead of myself already!
Sharon and Emma came to pick us up outside the hotel and the route back to their house, that I hadn't seen before, took us along roads I knew well from the past. When Emma found out I was going to run the marathon the next day Sharon explained that it was further away than Southport and Emma declared that I was mad (which is probably a fair assessment!).
As we headed up Upper Parliament Street Mike very helpfully observed that it was both a steep climb and went on for quite a while. I pointed out that the hills I run every day are actually much worse than that and told him to shut up, in a nice way of course.
At one point I realised we were very close to where I once had a flat but I couldn't remember the name of the road until we were right on top of it. Sharon did a quick left turn and we went right past the house where my flat was which I used during the week and then went home at the weekends. My landlord was John Hutchinson who was the drummer with The Big Three in the 1960s.
Spookily, Sharon's house is only a stones throw away. Yet another coincidence.
We had a lovely afternoon catching up.
Thomas has shot up and is nearly as tall as Paul and Emma has just started ballet lessons. She did some amazing poses for us and is very bendy!
Emma did this lovely drawing for me (sorry but I can't get it to rotate!) and it shows the hill I would have to run up with a rainbow and all of them supporting me, including Buster the dog (he came from a centre for retired Greyhounds and is a real softy), but what I like best is that I'm on the right, well ahead of all the other runners. The reality of the marathon was somewhat different!
That evening Paul & Sharon spoiled us with a lovely pasta meal that Paul had spent ages preparing for us then it was an early night ahead of the big day.
Next up, marathon day.