Monday…25th … Didn’t have time to lament over the doom and gloom that met my gaze as I pulled the drapes this morning, I was on wake-up duty.
Seven am had me knocking, albeit very gently on Pat’s door, she in turn knocked on Norma’s door and it was all systems go from then, we were being collected at nine thirty by John, he was driving us to the local train station to meet up with Susan and Gemma, from there we were all to catch a train to Liverpool for Memorable Merseyside day.
I had visited Liverpool once before, about twelve years ago, I remember thinking then that it was a bustling city, the crowded streets were not what I was used to in Melbourne, but the moving mass of people that we encountered this morning, once we left the station and headed down towards the water front was almost overwhelming.
The biting wind whistling down the streets and around the buildings, gathered more sting the closer to the water we got, albeit never dampened the spirit of excitement, radiating throughout the ever jostling crowd, all hoping to get some sort of vantage point permitting a clear view of what was to come
We were fortunate in that Norma’s nephew owns a unit on the seventh floor of a building overlooking the Mersey River just prior to it entering the pier head. Norma had instructions as to where to go, once we got close she phoned ahead, and her Brother in law came to meet us, it is a secure building, so we needed to be escorted in by someone the doorman knew.
The warmth hit us the moment we walked through the door, although we weren’t the first to arrive, four others were already there and had set up a buffet of cheese, crackers, a variety of cold drinks, chips and dips, to name only a few of the assortment of goodies provided for us. The others chose to have a cold drink, I headed for the coffee pot, and we all settled down to wait
As the time grew closer everyone took up a position at one of the three double windows to witness … Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria, and Queen Mary 2… Meet at the mouth of the Mersey, move into formation and then glided slowly up the Mersey toward the city. They made a majestic sight with tug boats spraying a giant V of water in front and behind the convoy, continuing all the way passed Liverpool’s Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and the Mersey Dock and Harbour building, collectively known as The Three Graces, and the hundreds of thousands of people waving and cheering on the riverside.
Once past our vantage point, each ship was greeted as they reached the Cunard Building with a gun salute by 103 Regiment 208 Battery. The ships responded with a long low sounding of their horns, which echoed across the city. Unfortunately we couldn’t see the ships forming up to do their synchronised 360deg turn in the river but we could hear their horns sounding their salute to their spiritual home. The sun actually broke through as the Red Arrows streaked overhead, trailing their trademark red, white and blue smoke behind them, this again we couldn’t see but heard the roar of their engines.
After that excitement we all settled down for a chat, drink and a light lunch of tiny pork pies, garlic bread and quiche, that had been added to the aforementioned snack table. It was while we were sipping our after lunch coffee, that the Queen Elizabeth again glided past our line of vision, escorted by the tug boats still straying water in a giant V form. It was then time to start the trek home, profuse thanks were delivered prior to us taking our leave, and again we forged our way into the thousands leaving their vantage points at the docks.
The walk to the station in the freezing cold wind was akin to salmon swimming upstream, people all intent on leaving the city at the same time, albeit was an almost jovial exodus, which for me proved an extension to the excitement and magic of this totally unexpected thrilling day. The bank of people at the Liverpool railway station had to be seen to be believed, as we got closer we realised the station had closed all but one entry in, and the people had formed queues from at least six different directions, and all merging at the main door.
I honestly couldn’t believe how efficient this method was in clearing so many people, I suppose the whole wait was only about twenty five minutes, everyone was chatting and joking, no one showed impatience or agro, when I told Norma how impressed I was with her countryman, she just shrugged and replied The English are happy to queue, they do it all the time. Once we got through the door, within five minutes we were in the train and on our way home.
Once home the kettle was boiled and we had a hot drink, then prepared a meal of homemade meat pie and veggies, before tidying the kitchen and making for the lounge for our nightly TV fix