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Christmas Ride Out

By Ebeneezer Scrooge aka Ren

25 December 2019

I am to all intent and purpose a miser. In keeping with my prudent ways I find myself in sync with Scrooge's attitude towards the festive period. BAH HUMBUG! 

In all seriousness I find as part of the ageing process I say (and believe) things like "it's all too commercial" and "it's about marketing not peace on earth and good will to all men". I'm all for goodwill, I support kindness and sharing and if twinkling fairy lights and joyous children helps get people through the darkest part of the year then great. Please though, don't put yourself into financial difficulties just because next door bought their brat a games console and a MacBook air.

After the chaos and carnage of the lead up to Christmas comes Christmas Day itself. While all around are opening presents and stuffing turkey once I have spent a couple of hours with my mother and son it is time for my own Christmas tradition - a ride into a town. 

Ren's 500 parked among tall buildings and a church
City centres are unfamiliar territory for my 500.

Regular readers will know I don't care for cities or big towns - noisy, confusing, bewildering and overbearing places, that's what they are. Save for this one special day, the one day a year the shops are (mostly) shut, the office blocks are (mostly) empty and the streets are (mostly) quiet. Christmas Day, the only day where riding in town isn't TOOOOO bad.

I have Sharon on the back of the CB500X today, her no longer little ones are spending the day elsewhere. As we're already in Merseyside then Liverpool town centre is the obvious choice. Liverpool's streets are not entirely empty, they are however calm enough for me to ride slowly and take in the surroundings. 

What makes this little trip worthwhile is having the time and the space to actually SEE the town. There are rough bits in the suburbs with boarded windows plastered in flyers. There are millionaire rows with uncomfortably large properties behind high walls and CCTV. The centre is a mish mash of colonial and industrial revolution monoliths, 60s and 70s monstrosities and contemporary steel and glass "we haven't decided on a style yet"ism. 

Modern buildings and a cubist monstrosity in Liverpool centre
"Eclectic" buildings in Liverpool. 
The famous Royal Liver Building on Liverpool's sea front
The famous Royal Liver building. 1911 apparently, not as old as I thought.

Without the endless traffic we can stop and look we can see the amount of work and effort that went into the colonial and industrial era buildings. Ornate carvings atop of colonnades take a lot of time and therefore money to create. The first feeling is of being impressed then saddened that we don't make that effort these days. Then we both realise the money to pay for such frivolities came off the back of slave trading and the British invading lots of other countries. This leaves an awful taste in the mind.

The next time I hear "Put the Great back into Great Britain" I'll think of those ornate colonnades and remember the horrors that made us great.

On the edge of town are the units and lockups from which small businesses strive to become large businesses. There's some hellish looking flats in disrepair then close by new build swish trendy apartment blocks' car parks are filled with Germanic executive transport systems. 

A large bronze statue of a saxon located in Liverpool's Baltic Triangle
Art in the suburbs - The Staffordshire Saxon apparently.

We from Manchester mock Liverpool and the scouse residents - what do you call a scouser at university? - the cleaner. All's fair though and I KNOW the scousers mock the mancs just as much. In truth the history of both cities are closely intertwined with Liverpool bringing in the cotton for the Manchester looms to weave during the industrial revolution. Both have their nice bits and nasty bits, both have their failures and success, both have football teams too I am told.

It's been good to see Liverpool on this quiet afternoon. Sharon and I get back to her house just after sunset and just as the air is starting to get cold. Good timing and a good Christmas rideout. 

Something to share? Contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Reader's Comments

Upt'North said :-
We haven't been to Liverpool for a long long time. I can sort of see why.
We did visit the Toon (Newcastle Upon The Tyne) on the Monday before New Year, god it was a dirty, noisy, hell hole. I'm definitely not a city person but have previously enjoyed Newcastle. Whether it was the crowds, the rubbish, the noise, the smell, the beggars, I don't know but it'll be a while before I rush back.
Maybe if you live in these places it becomes the norm and acceptable but to folk who consider a sheep bleating to be loud it was a sensory overload. We did buy some nice pie though.
06/01/2020 09:52:28 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
That's the whole point of going on Christmas Day Upt'. We didn't see too much grime but then we didn't get into the part where the bars and nightclubs are. I'd imagine there'd be cleaning up to do after the night's frivolities in any city across the world.

Yes, bleating sheep, mooing cows and squawking crows have oft times kept me awake while camping. Maybe I need to live atop a mountain, then I'd complain about the wind noise.
06/01/2020 10:15:40 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Some good points in there Ren. Of course the working class in Britain didn't benefit at all from colonialism however it's fair to say that peoples subject to the iron heel of Perfidious Albion did (and continue to) suffer completely disproportionately. Of course any reparations will not come out of the pockets of the descendants of those who did benefit....
06/01/2020 16:41:38 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I had to google the word "Perfidious" Ian, have you swallowed a dictionary recently? There's a whole plethora of arguments regarding the pros and cons of Empire, I don't know enough history or economics to argue either way. I am certain that slavery was and is a bad thing though.
07/01/2020 09:34:59 UTC
Ross said :-
Upt'North said :- "We did visit the Toon (Newcastle Upon The Tyne) on the Monday before New Year, god it was a dirty, noisy, hell hole. I'm definitely not a city person but have previously enjoyed Newcastle. Whether it was the crowds, the rubbish, the noise, the smell, the beggars, I don't know but it'll be a while before I rush back."

Has Newcastle gone down hill recently, Upt'? I was there a few years ago and thought it was a nice compact little city and had a good time wondering about seeing the sights...I'd NO idea what the locals were saying, mind!
07/01/2020 14:28:38 UTC
Upt'North said :-
I do like Newcastle Ross, it's a real city with history and landmarks aplenty. The wider area is also OK in a sprawling city sort of way. For those that don't know Newcastle-upon-Tyne it seems it has pretty much everything you want from a city but outside rush hours you can drive through it on the Central Motorway and over the Tyne in about 10 minutes. Something that I think would be near impossible in Manchester and Birmingham etc.
I think between Christmas and New Year it,was suffering from Christmas excess and maybe the ongoing Christmas street markets weren't helping.
But yes I agree, it's a bonny wee city but maybe not on the 29th December.

07/01/2020 16:48:05 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Nearly forgot Ross, the language barrier, nuff said like.
You definitely don't hear many saying Perfidious Albion, what league do they play in?
On the subject of the slave trade, I read a very interesting book recently on how the slave trade interacted with the NE and its long term impact on the area. Very interesting read but not that interesting I can remember the title.
07/01/2020 16:53:13 UTC
nab301 said :-
Thanks for posting Ren, an interesting read with photos, I often head out on Christmas day , but never to a city centre , I must do that sometime , a quiet Sunday will probably suffice.

08/01/2020 20:38:30 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
There's no such thing as a quiet Sunday these days nab301. If you go early Sunday morning into the city then it won't be busy but you will find the detritus of Saturday night's revelries. This will include such delights as litter, 24 year olds puking into wastebins and girls walking home barefoot carrying their heels.

I've only passed around Newcastle-Upon-Tyne recently, the last time I was in "Toon" I'd have been a 27 year old motorcycle courier. My thoughts then were "it's a city just like every other city."
09/01/2020 08:51:56 UTC
Sharon said :-
I enjoyed the ride out around my now adopted home town. Being on the back of Ren's bike afforded me the luxury of being free to have a good look around. I was born a Manc but I have now lived in Merseyside longer than I did Manchester. I am affectionately known as a plastic Scouser. I know a bit about Liverpool and it's history having lived here so long but I really enjoyed expanding that knowledge today as we has a leisurely look around. When I first moved here I would still travel to Manchester town centre because I knew it like the back of my hand. Now I no longer know Manchester so well and I guess I finally know Liverpool more.

Looking at building then researching its history and the history of the business or people who lived there can be fascinating. Such as the red and white stripped building that faces the docks. Headquarters of the White Star Line Shipping Company, owners and builders of the ill fated Titanic. Once under threat of decay or demolition the building is now a Titanic themed hotel and I for one hope it stays for a long time to come. Reflecting on the past and discovering new historical facts was for me a great date well spent. We often stop and stare in wonder at building abroad and very really stop to marvel at the wonders in our own home towns or villages.
10/01/2020 23:36:30 UTC

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