Northern Delights part 1 – 36 Hours in Liverpool

We’ve had some pretty glorious weather across Britain this past week.  Since it’s entirely possible that this is all the summer we’ll get, I’m going to celebrate by sharing some of my favourite places across the North.

Albert Dock and Liverpool One

Back in Liverpool for the first time since January, my first stop was my spiritual home in the city centre, Bold Street.  It’s where you can find some of the city’s best independent shops, cafes and venues. Leaf tea bar and cafe serves excellent food, dozens of loose leaf teas and has a cracking line up of events, from vintage fairs to live music to social media gatherings like Ignite

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If coffee is your preferred caffeine delivery method, then a visit to Bold Street Coffee is a must.  They’re dedicated to serving hand-roasted blends and do a mean flat white. It was just as good as I remembered from my last visit five months previously. They’ve opened a sibling branch, Duke Street Espresso, near Liverpool One.

There’s no shortage of museums in Liverpool, and some of my favourites are along the waterfront. Open Eye Gallery, one of the only dedicated photography galleries in the northwest, moved to its new home on Mann Island last year.  They have a great programme of contemporary and archive exhibitions. The current shows deal with conflict and genocide in different fashions–I found Simon Norfolk’s photographs particularly striking.

The building is a controversial addition to the waterfront Open Eye takes up a small part of the overall space, which is still being developed.

The Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, and Museum of Liverpool are along this stretch of waterfront–you could easily spend a weekend only visiting museums.  I carried on to Tate Liverpool in Albert Dock to see the latest exhibitions from the permanent collections, as curated by milliner Philip Treacy and musician Marianne Faithfull.  Both were playful and had a fascinating mix of objects.  I particularly liked the wooden forms used for hat design in Treacy’s atelier. Tate’s upcoming summer exhibition brings together three well-known artists for the first time: Turner Monet Twombly promises to be a fascinating look at the later works of each artist, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing it.

I met up with a couple of food-loving friends for dinner at one of the most interesting and promising new venues in town, Camp and Furnace.  Located in the former home of A Foundation, it’s a multipurpose space which has already hosted some great events this year as part of the Threshold Festival and Liverpool Light Night.  It’s comprised of multiple open spaces (the furnace and the blade factory to name two) with its industrial past visible. The kitchen is run by the extremely capable Steven of Rhubarb & Custard catering, and their menu offers a refreshing twist on standards like sharing platters and classic comfort food as well as inventive changing specials.  Their locally brewed Brown Bear ale is worth a taste, and not too heavy in the summer heat. The three of us shared a ‘Berber’ platter–broadly Mediterranean themed, it featured prawns marinated in a spiced tomato and feta compote, lamb merguez sausages, thinly sliced courgette in a refreshingly light lime and dill sauce, with yoghurt and pitas on the side.  Each element was well prepared and the overall mix of flavours was fantastic.

The obligatory ‘what I ate’ food blogger photo – spiced crab salad with sourdough

As the night cooled we curled up by a roaring log fire.  They plan to have an indoor caravan park hotel (hence the ‘camp’ in Camp and Furnace) and if it  were open in time for the Euros, (they’re showing every single match in their fan park), I would seriously consider taking up residence.

The glorious weather seemed to have retreated a bit the next morning, so I warmed up with some earl grey and porridge at Bold Street coffee.  I just had time for a quick visit to some outdoor shops hunting for a new backpack before meeting up for a coffee at the Italian Club before catching my train to Yorkshire.

I’ve only scratched the surface on this visit to Liverpool, but it was good to be back.  Next time I plan to visit The Brink and hopefully check out the newest branch of my favourite scouse pizza parlour, TriBeCa.

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