Standing on the shoulders of giants!

As someone who is fiercely proud of my Liverpudlian roots, with a terrible weakness for events which unite the city on a grand scale, it’s safe to say I’ve had a pretty good weekend. I’m still smiling now.

On the face of it, thousands of people lining the streets in the searing heat to witness three giant puppets – a nan, a little girl and a dog named Xolo – meandering along does seem a bit strange. But, just like in 2012, Royal De Luxe, the French street theatre company behind the Giant Spectacular which this time was commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, put on an incredible show.

Hi there Xolo!  Photo by Helen Crilly.

Hi there Xolo! Photo by Helen Crilly.

Giant Nan wondering what she wants from Lobster Pot on Whitechapel

Giant Nan wondering what she wants from Lobster Pot on Whitechapel

Of course, there were a small number amongst us who found something to complain about. “I don’t ‘get’ the giants.” What’s not to ‘get’ about the city smiling for a whole weekend solid, whilst basking in glorious sunshine? “I got stuck in traffic for hours.” Plan your route better – you can’t say Merseytravel (for once!) didn’t warn you. “Why are our cash-strapped council spending thousands on this event?” Because it will generate millions. Glad we cleared all of that up.

We didn’t let the naysayers bring us down though. There was a tangible air of anticipation and excitement across the city, the type that for some reason always seems to be extra special in Liverpool. I loved that people queued for hours on Wednesday and Thursday just to see the giant nan asleep in St. George’s Hall. I loved how Jean-Luc Courcoult, the founder of Royal De Luxe, basically spent three days dancing on a truck having an absolute ball. I loved it when the nan’s head nearly fell off at one point – “OH MY GOD ME ‘EAD’S FELL OFF!” I loved singing along to Imagine with thousands of others in Newsham Park on Friday evening, against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset as the giants were tucked in for the night.

Newsham Park looking spectacular

Newsham Park looking spectacular

Most of all I loved the fact that the giants’ route took them through some of the most deprived areas in the entire country and showed that, despite the poverty and depressing statistics and negative reputations, they are rich in community spirit in ways that other, more affluent places can only dream of. I love Sefton Park as much as the next staunch Scouser, but I’m glad they chose to put the giants to bed in Newsham Park instead. And I spent Saturday morning in Kensington eagerly waiting the little girl’s arrival, and it looked vibrant and alive, rather than shabby and disadvantaged, such is the magical effect of the giants. I’ve never been so proud to be from Liverpool.

Little Girl Giant having a wander through Kensington

Little Girl Giant having a wander through Kensington

I can’t imagine another city taking the giants to their hearts in quite the same way as Liverpool did. Indeed, Royal de Luxe seem to have a special affinity with us too; after all, the last time they were here was only two years ago. Let’s hope they return very soon.

http://www.giantspectacular.com

http://www.royal-de-luxe.com/fr/

The Inaugural Christmas Jumper Pub Crawl Day

This snappily entitled event occurred yesterday, which, as previously mentioned, is the day that I’d deemed as acceptable to embrace all things Christmassy. The very first Christmas Jumper pub crawl kicked things off and, if the rest of my festive season is as good as yesterday was, I’ll be very fat, very poor, but very happy by the time 2014 begins.

For once in my life, I’d been sensible on Friday night so I wouldn’t be wrecked for Saturday (mainly due to the fact that I was scared that Lauren would shout at me if I was a mess.) Tragically, around half of the group had thrown caution to the wind and turned up with hangovers of varying degrees. The (highly recommended, by the way) stomach-lining burger at Free State Kitchen was an absolute must.

The pub crawl then began in earnest – from the Phil to Heebies, via EVAC; Kazimier Gardens (my favourite part of the day – so, so good, and the food is immense); Slater’s (whoops) and TriBeCa. The numbers dwindled from fifteen at the beginning to four hardy souls sticking it out to the bitter end but I think it’s safe to say that everyone had a ball.

Resplendent in our jumpers, kicking things off in the Philharmonic pub

Resplendent in our jumpers, kicking things off in the Philharmonic pub

The boys

The boys

The girls

The girls

Slater's

Slater’s

Last ones standing in Heebies!

Last ones standing in Heebies!

Oh, and did I mention that I don’t have a hangover today? It’s a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.

Cheers for a brilliant day everyone. I love my city and I love my friends. Same time next year, oui?

Maria’s hen do was immense

I am aware that it is a tad backwards that I blogged about attending a stag do before posting about going to a hen do. Oh well.

My sister Maria is getting married in just forty days (!) to Phil but before that we had the important business of the hen do to sort out. It was decided that we’d attend the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival in Maria’s back garden a.k.a Sefton Park first, followed by a night out in TriBeCa in town. I spent the week leading up to it panicking about the weather, obsessively checking it on an hourly basis. I needn’t have worried – save for a few showers, the weather gods were kind to us. The cocktails at the Alma de Cuba stand were amazing – I sank a fair few Bombay Badboys! – and I also had a hotdog with chilli beef topping from the Free State Kitchen stall which was, frankly, a taste sensation. Best of all, the Liverpool Food and Drink Twitter were asking attendees to send them photos to be in with a chance of winning a bottle of Lanson champagne, and my entry won! So thanks guys – that will be getting quaffed on the morning of the wedding!

My winning photo!

My winning photo!

We then went back to Maria’s abode for a few more drinks and a couple of quizzes – Kirsty had done a Mr and Mrs one, some of the answers to which were really quite lovely. WELL DONE PHIL. Then for the final leg we decamped to TriBeCa in town and took over their upstairs bar.

The bride-to-be and myself, looking dead civilised

The bride-to-be and myself, looking dead civilised

We drank A LOT of Prosecco, Maria “did a shot” – meaning she sipped it over the space of about ten minutes, thus missing the point of doing shots entirely – and Mother Goose got down with her bad self to Dr Dre, of all people, squealing “Oh I like this one!” even though I can categorically confirm that she has never heard Still D.R.E IN HER LIFE. A brilliant day and night was had by all. Thanks to everyone involved for making it so fantastic.

All the hens in TriBeCa.  Good times.

All the hens in TriBeCa. Good times.

Roll on the wedding!

I went to see Rebecca Ferguson today

As anyone who was my Facebook friend when Rebecca Ferguson was on X Factor will remember, this admission will seem a bit bizarre, as I didn’t exactly come across as her biggest fan at the time. Indeed, I once tweeted about the fact that I found her ever so slightly boring and was gently trolled within seconds. “You’re just jealous!” her fans fumed, halfheartedly. Oh, the lolz.

There are a couple of reasons why I ended up watching the lovely Becky today. Firstly, I reckon Mother Goose genuinely feared that her firstborn was going to be glued to Netflix for the rest of her days. Secondly, I wanted to see if the Liverpool International Music festival in Sefton Park was any good.

Inexplicably, as soon as we arrived, Mad Tam charged practically to the very front of the sizeable crowd. Mother Goose, our Paul and myself were flummoxed by this move, not least because not one of us had shown the slightest interest in watching her. Thus Mad Tam had outed himself as a closet Rebecca Ferguson fan.

The crowd was made up of middle-aged Smooth FM listeners in double denim, the type of women who would refer to themselves as yummy mummies along with their catalogue kids and fellas, and a smattering of absolutely brilliant Creamfields casualties, who were completely wired and completely confused by their surroundings.

Rebecca may have been the answer to finally sending the Creamfields crew off to sleep, though. She took to the stage with a “Youse having a good day?!” and then proceeded to bore me into a slight daze. Her on-stage banter centred around the fact that she was a bit warm, due to the weather. I am sure she is a very lovely person, and indeed she is very smiley, and inoffensive, and her dress was a nice colour. But her voice is weak – she sounds like she is running out of breath halfway through every line of a song – and I was way more impressed by her backing vocalists, who managed to hold my attention far more successfully than Rebecca did. My problem is that I am not interested in her, at all. I don’t love her or hate her. I am just not bothered. And this is not good. Pop stars should be exciting. They should not make music to be indifferent towards.

Still, the crowd seemed to love it, so what do I know?

SIGH.

With regards to the actual festival itself, it was around a thousand times classier than the Mathew Street festival ever was (which admittedly would not be hard.) I’m sure the good weather helped, but there was a pleasant atmosphere and far fewer complete messes on display. I’m a bit sad I missed the action on the previous three days. However, there’s always next year. Next year, I won’t have Breaking Bad taking over my life. Next year, I’ll attend every single day.

Next year, knowing my luck, it’ll probably rain.

Stanley Park with me nan

I’m aware that going on about “me nan” all the time makes me sound like a female version of that X Factor abomination, the infamous Christopher Baloney. However, you’ll have to get over it. My nan’s a proper ledge and will feature heavily in this blog. Also I am nowhere near as orange or irritating as Baloney. Glad we’ve cleared that up.

I’m halfway through a rather boss week off work, one day of which was taken up by looking after Nan after she had a cataract operation. She looked like a pirate with her eye patch, it was immense. Today she decided she wanted to go out for the first time since aforementioned op so we headed to Kemp’s Bistro for lunch in Stanley Park with Mum, auntie and our Paul in tow!

Another thing – I ain’t no foodie. My list of food phobias is lengthy. I have only recently started eating vegetables. No joke. This is following a childhood where I existed solely off my mum’s spag bol, bread and Haribo. So if you’re after a foodie blog with Instagrammed photos of tiny yet ridiculously expensive Michelin-starred scran, you’re in the wrong place. You’re more likely to see a blurry photograph of me eating last night’s Shiraz pizza for breakfast.

Having said that, here’s a crap photo of my burger. It was DELICIOUS.

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Paul and I had a wander outside the café, above which is the Isla Gladstone conservatory, which is now popular for weddings. My friend got married there last year and it was gorgeous.

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The Isla Gladstone conservatory

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Paul doing a catalogue pose on the bandstand outside

Then Nan announced she, too, was ready for a wander. I often forget how leafy Liverpool is. We take for granted that we have so many beautiful parks. My favourite is Sefton Park but Stanley Park was looking okay today…

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I was very impressed; apparently in recent years it’s been regenerated and it looks lovely. Hopefully it’ll stay that way.

So Nan’s first foray outside since her hospital visit was deemed a success. Home she went (via the Everton shop, which she was ABSOLUTELY INTENT on going to, “for Paul”, so Paul is now the proud owner of an Everton keyring and an Everton toast mould thing. As you do.) Good times all round.