Lisboa

dsc03169rc
On our arrival in Lisbon I phoned the ‘greeter’ to let her know that we had arrived and that we were queuing for a taxi. As we reached the front of the queue I indicated that we required a large vehicle to accommodate four people and all our luggage. The vehicle assigned to us resulted in a shouting match between the driver and the taxi rank ‘organiser’.
The driver was eventually persuaded to accept us as his fare. To a point, I sympathised with the driver because he was concerned that he couldn’t see out of his rear window, due to our bags. We left the airport and I handed over a printed card with our address. The driver thought that we wanted a hotel, not an apartment, and this threw him in to a right ‘tizz’, because he didn’t have any idea of our destination, which was only ten minutes drive from the airport. I ended up ringing our ‘greeter’ and putting my phone on loudspeaker so that our ‘greeter’ could direct a very unhappy taxi driver to the correct address.

I’d booked the apartment via Flipkey, which uses Trip Advisor as the link. Our ‘greeter’, Filipa, met us and escorted us to apartment number nine on the 17th floor of the apartment block. The apartment was two stories, the bedrooms being upstairs.

The living area was a combined lounge / dining area with the kitchen separate, but still part of the dining area. Outside we had a balcony with a table and chairs. The rails on the balcony reminded me of a ship’s rail. We overlooked part of the city and the Tagus River.
The photograph at the top of this page is of our apartment block, which was built on top of a shopping centre called Vasco de Gama Mall, so we didn’t have far to go to buy our food.

dsc03051rVasco de Gama mall shopping centre below.

dsc03191r

As we walked in the front door the stairs are on the right, and on the left, is the door to the Kitchen.

dsc03194r

Picture taken from the dining area.

In front of us is the living room and near the window on the left (out of picture) is the dining table.

dsc03192r

Living area

diningDining area (picture from agent’s web site)

This time our friends had the en-suit bedroom, and next to our bedroom (see below) was the main bathroom. The blinds were electrically operated and we kept them low for coolness, although we did have air-condition throughout the apartment.

dsc03189r

Happy hour was always on the balcony – cool breeze off the water, beautiful views as the sun set – what more could I want?

balcony

The rails on the balcony reminded me of a ship’s rail. (Picture from the agent’s web site).

dsc03050r

Being seventeen floors high we had some great views.

dsc03052r

dsc03053r

Cable car along the water front.

Getting about Lisbon was very easy via the underground (metro) system. The route from Oriente station (our local station across the road from our apartment) to the city centre was an education.

dsc03056rOriente Station, five minutes’ walk from the apartment.

dsc03183r

The station is very impressive and once inside and we made our way to the platforms we could see the train coming in below us.

dsc03184r
Inside Oriente Station as we walked to our platform. It was spotlessly clean.

Many of the stations had a different ‘art’ theme, which we found very interesting –

dsc03188rc

This was our local station – not a single piece of graffiti or rubbish.

dsc03170r

Further down the line the motif reminded me of Greek colonnades.

dsc03143r

Something different again later in the short journey to the city centre.

If we ever return to Lisbon I’d do ‘self-catering’ again and use the same apartment, because of the convenience to the metro, shopping for necessities, which can cut in to holiday time, and along the river there are many different restaurants and bars. The river was five minutes’ walk away.

Getting rid of the rubbish and empty bottles was quite noisy, although we never heard the noise of anyone else getting rid of their rubbish and bottles. At the end of the public corridor on each floor was a rubbish shoot – one for rubbish and one for cans and bottles. The rubbish wasn’t a problem, but once we let go of a bag full of glass bottles the noise, as the bag or single bottle bounced down seventeen floors, was tremendous, and we quickly closed the outer door in an effort hide the noise.
Nobody ever complained, and as I said earlier we never heard anyone else’s rubbish ‘noises’ so why would they hear ours.
When it was my turn to do the dropping I used to time the beer bottles against the wine bottles . . . .Newton’s Law. My watch wasn’t accurate enough to note the difference.

Madrid

dsc02880r

 Madrid Station – was spotlessly clean, and very impressive.

Our four nights in Barcelona just flew past, and on the final morning we were once again making our way to the railway station for the rail trip to Madrid. Once more we paid a little more for the extra room, but this time we were unable to book the four seats around a table, even though I had booked several months in advance. The trip, at three hours and twenty minutes, was smooth and comfortable. We reached speeds of 300 km per hour on some of the stretches, but one never had the feeling of rushing past the scenery in a blur.
On exiting the station area, we were met by our driver. I’d booked a chauffeur driven car to meet us in Madrid, and at the end of our stay, take us from our apartment to Madrid airport. I did this because I wanted reliability on our departure day. The trip to our apartment was about thirty minutes.

DSC02951r.jpg
When I saw these doors, I had thoughts of Paris all over again.

At the beginning of the holiday we tossed a coin to see who had first choice of the rooms – we won in Paris, so our friends had their choice in Barcelona, and we had Madrid, and they would have Lisbon.
The apartment was on the second floor and the building had a ‘cage’ type continental lift that worked well.

DSC03029r.jpg

DSC02895r.jpgThe entrance area of our apartment. The main door on the right of the picture had coded locks.

On our departure we would be flying this time, rather than travelling by train. Although the chauffeur driven car was more expensive it accommodated four passengers and our entire luggage with ease. The trip to the airport would be during the morning rush hour, and we might have required two taxis, due to our luggage, and the thirty-minute trip could have been stressful and uncomfortable. I booked the transport through Spain Select, (www.spain-select.com/en) the company that handled the renting of the Madrid apartment. They were very efficient and easy to deal with over the Internet. Our greeter, Alex, met us at the apartment and explained everything in detail. A very nice touch was the welcome gift of individual small packets of tea, coffee, milk, savoury biscuits etc. To top it all, the apartment had a big ‘Wow’ factor particularly after seeing the old wooden door that led from the apartment block to the street.

DSC02882r.jpg

 Then we walked in to our apartment – it was beautiful!

DSC02884r.jpg

I took the picture from the laundry door past the kitchen bench to the dining area.

DSC03032r.jpg

Kitchen.png

The above picture was taken from the agent’s web site.

The kitchen had everything you could possibly want, from a microwave, specialty oven, to a sink disposal units for waste food. Everywhere was spotlessly clean and all of the appliances were hidden in the walls – a gentle touch and a hidden cupboard door would open. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.

DSC02885r.jpgHallway from the kitchen area to our bedroom. The first door on the right was the third bedroom.

DSC02892r.jpgThird bedroom

Further along the hall you san see an indent that is our friend’s bedroom.

DSC02886r.jpg

Our friend’s en-suit bedroom.

DSC02894r.jpg

His and hers sinks in our friend’s bathroom.

DSC02887r.jpg

Our bedroom

dsc02889r

We had his & hers storage areas.

dsc02891r

As well as his & hers sinks in our en-suit. The chair that can be seen is in our bedroom.

dsc02888r

 Fancy a bath – the shower is a stand alone shower on the left.

dsc02883r

Taken from our small balcony.

dsc03030r

Our Madrid location was about five or six minute walk to the Royal Palace.

dsc03001rRoyal Palace

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Happy hour – local wines, pâté, cheeses, and bread or crackers along with good company, what more could we want?
In our opinion the city of Madrid is less vibrant, but with a more historical culture than Barcelona. The free tapas with a beer or wine were noticeable, because in Barcelona all the tapas that we had with our drinks, were charged to the final bill.

tapa

Madrid tapas were a good size.

dsc03020r

Every time we ordered a drink we had tapas. We sat outside under a sun shade and watched the world pass us by.

dsc03021r

Inside the La Mi Venia

dsc02883rc

dsc03040r

Bar across the road from our accommodation – just right for a night cap.

Just one small disappointment while in Madrid, and a warning to my ‘older readers’.
We booked a hop on hop off bus trip through a local travel agent, which was located not far from the apartment. It cost us Eu 25.00 each, about $39 AUD.
On boarding the bus, we were given route maps, which included various pieces of information. Reading the information I noticed that for those of us over 65 were entitled to a discounted rate of Eu 13! ($18.50) I asked at the information centre when we left the bus if I had understood the information correctly and was told that we should go back to the travel agent and ask them for a Eu 12.00 refund.
Of course, when we did return to the agent they were closed for siesta and due to our other commitments we never did have the time to challenge the travel agent. There is no way that I would be considered under 65 (my age at the time was 70), so I would expect a competent travel agent to offer the discount without being asked. The youngest of my group was sixty-seven, so the agent failed in her job and her customers felt cheated.
I wrote about this on Trip Advisor and the travel agent responded blaming us for not asking for the discount, as if we, as foreigners should have known. Fortunately, this experience did not spoil our enjoyment of our few days in Madrid.

On our departure day we opened the street door a couple of minutes before our departure time, to find our transport waiting for us. The ride to the airport, during rush hour, took us thirty five minutes, even though the driver diverted a few times to avoid traffic jams. I do love efficiency, and reliability.
Check-in education started as we entered the airport building. We checked the departure board for our Iberia flight (the national airline of Spain) for our check-in counter and made our way to the correct area. On arrival we found it all to be self-service.

check-in
I placed my passport in a reader and it pulled up our booking. On completion of the check-in the computer required the number of bags that we were lodging. I input four, and the machine started to print our boarding cards followed by four self-sticky luggage labels. The machine then started a short video on how to strip the backing from the labels and to attach them to the bags, along with instructions to remove the sticky receipt label.
We then dragged our bags to a lodgment counter where a ‘real’ person accepted our boarding passes; asked us to load the bags on to a conveyor belt, and then pushed a button to activate the belt.
The whole episode made me wonder how far the self-service aspect of flying would be taken – perhaps the next step is to use a flight simulator before boarding, and the person with the best score gets to fly the aircraft. Those who just fail the flight test might become cabin crew to explain the safety procedure to the rest of us who are too thick to get involved.

The aircraft was an AB320 (not sure of the version)

dsc03042rc
The seats had been packed too tight. I am over six feet in height, so my knees were jammed in to the back of the seat in front. Every time the passenger in front moved I had to stick my legs out in to the aisle so as not to have my kneecaps damaged.
The flight was just over the hour, but it seemed much longer. Our destination was Lisbon, a city famous for its sardines, which are exported worldwide packed in tins. Of course after our flight, we re-christened Iberia to Air ‘Sardinia’.

We had planned to take a night train from Madrid to Lisbon to experience the rail en-suit sleeper service. After I’d investigated the train I realised that the train would arrive in Lisbon station at 7.00 am, and we would not be able to check in to our accommodation until 2.00 pm.
What would we do with all our luggage for seven hours – I suppose we could have found a left luggage office, but as the station is not in the centre of the city we would have to find places of interest in a town that didn’t open until mid to late morning. It all seemed too hard so we decided to fly and have a leisurely breakfast in the Madrid accommodation and leave at a civilised hour of 8.30 am for the airport.

The additional benefit was that the airfare was cheaper than the rail fare!!

Speed can not be seen.

DSC02877r.jpg

Speed like the wind can not be seen, but unlike the wind you don’t feel speed.

Our Paris taxi had been ordered for 6.00 am on our departure day and it was a pleasure to see it pull up on the stroke of six, for the twenty-minute drive to Gare de Lyon. As I mentioned in the previous blog we had decided to use the train to our next destination, Barcelona, rather than fly.
The train being a double decker allowed us to book four seats upstairs around our own table. The extra height, due to double decking, gave us a much better view of the scenery during our trip to our first Spanish city. The transit time was supposed to be about six and a half hours, but due to a problem on the line we were about half an hour late. The delay didn’t bother us because we were not due to meet our ‘greeter’ at the apartment until 3.00 pm.
The trip was well worth the money because of the views of the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea at the same time as we glided along at over 300 km per hour.

dsc02708r

 Pyrenees in the distance.

dsc02712r

Crossing very low lying ground on the coast

We stopped at Perpignan, 30 km short of the Spanish border, followed by the next stop Figueres Vilafant, which is in Spain, via the 8.3 km Perthus Tunnel.
Until recently passengers had to change trains, because the rail gauge in Spain was different than that of France. Fortunately for us, this problem had been fixed in December 2013.

Our apartment was a three-bedded apartment with the master bedroom en suite and the second bedroom next to the main bathroom. The layout was quite ‘roomy’ and it also had a large balcony with a table and four chairs for our ‘Happy Hour’ before dinner. Although we had everything that we wished, from microwave to percolator, the one thing that was missing was a kettle to make a simple cup of tea! We had to use the microwave to boil the water.DSC02723r.jpg
We were on the second floor. The lift looked ‘old’, but it wasn’t, plus it was very efficient.

dsc02817r

This is the corridor from the main entrance – our bedroom and the main bathroom was on the right.

I searched my original booking looking for website pictures of the bedrooms, but the whole place has been refurbished.

27723388What a difference to my original picture of the corridor from the entrance. The mirror made the place look a lot bigger and lighter.

27723395

Our room which has been refurbished, I couldn’t find a photograph of the room during our visit.

Our friends had the main bedroom and en-suit, after all they did sleep with a washing machine in Paris.

P8290340r.jpgThis a a picture of the original main bedroom.

DSC02721dr.jpg

Dining come sitting area in the large lounge. In the picture below you can see the door to the main bedroom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

dsc02820arHappy Hour area

P8290342r.jpg

Our location was about a ten to fifteen-minute walk to the major shopping stores and the main city square – very convenient. Our first port of call was to the tourist office for a map so as to familiarise ourselves with the layout of the city. As the sun set the lights of Barcelona added to the excitement of the city.

dsc02824r

dsc02825r

dsc02826r

Barcelona is a vibrant and entertaining city with plenty of places to visit on foot, although we did use the metro system a couple of times – buy ten trips and get a discount. We were four adults so we passed the card back and forth over the barrier every time we used the system – this worked very well and the system, being colour coded, was easy to follow after our first usage.

The difference in the standard of accommodation between Paris and Barcelona was huge. The pictures of the Barcelona apartment matched the web site. Decent accommodation adds to the overall enjoyment of the first visit to any city.
We would return to the Barcelona apartment if we ever do the self catering again in that city, but there is now way that we would return to the Paris accommodation – even if it was free.

Next stop Madrid.

Do pictures lie?

DSC02646r.jpg

Shakespeare in Paris – I loved browsing in this shop, they have a large selection of books in English.
My wife and I and another couple decided to do a self-catering holiday in Europe staying in Paris, Barcelona, Madrid & Lisbon. We wanted to travel between each place by train, but between Madrid and Lisbon we had to fly – we didn’t want the night train and flying was more economical.
In Paris I was looking for a two-bedroom mid-priced apartment, not too far from a metro station, and within walking distance of some of the main attractions.
I found what looked like the right place, and after we’ve all seen the web site photographs and read the accompanying blurb I booked this apartment for four nights.

salonwithdiningarea-1500

livingarea-1500

The above photographs are from the web site of the agency renting this property.

The above two pictures are of the living / dining room. The problem was that on the left-hand side of the mirrored cupboard was a very large damp patch that we could smell before seeing the area. Below the damp area was an electrical plug, which was lose. I found this out when trying to plug in a recharger for my camera. The plug came out of the wall and was damp. Fortunately I did not receive an electric shock.

entryway-1500The hallway was close to the actual hallway. Again taken from the web site.

armoire-1500

This was our bedroom with the en-suite to the left of the wardrobe. The wardrobe door was a struggle to open, and I was always concerned that if I pulled too hard the whole thing would fall on me.
The toilet in the en-suite was an ‘electric’ toilet, which I’d never heard of, and my wife & I were always concerned that it wouldn’t flush properly after making some very strange noises as it built up power so as to actually flush.

chestofdrawers-1500

 The next bedroom was used by our friends.

When researching for the right accommodation I wanted to make sure that we had access to a washing machine, but the web site never mentioned that the washing machine was in the cupboard of our friend’s bedroom. It can just be seen in what I thought was their wardrobe.

All the remaining photographs are mine.

dsc02692r

 This one is of the entrance to the apartment, through the green doors.

DSC02693r.jpg

We could have done with a miner’s helmet each, as we fumbled our way through the alleyway, after entering through the green door.

DSC02538r.jpg
Climbing the stairs to the apartment’s front door was OK, to a point, but try carrying heavy suitcases up the narrow stair way.
Let’s just say our Paris accommodation was a great disappointment.

I did like the dinky toy parked outside of our entrance.

car 1.jpg

And it seems that you can park dinky toys where every you like in Paris . .

car 2.jpg

Regardless of our accommodation we did enjoy our time in Paris and shopping for our own food.

 

A touch of colonial class

p1010075-22-mar-05r

A beautiful piece of history in Penang, which was created by four Armenian brothers in 1884. Originally named the Eastern Hotel, which soon became known as ‘The Premier Hotel East of Suez.’
Hotel de l’Europe, also in Penang, was run by one of the brothers who changed the name to The Oriental Hotel in 1885, and in 1889 the Oriental Hotel was sold and the Eastern Hotel was renamed The Eastern and Oriental.
The brothers also created Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and The Strand in Rangoon, Burma.
Over the years the Eastern and Oriental became the place to stay for the ‘rich and famous’. Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Noel Coward, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Charlie Chaplin, Lee Kuan Yew, Sultan of Brunei and Hermann Hesse (German author). Many have their photograph displayed in a special glass case in the foyer of the hotel.
Eight of us (four couples), first visited the E & O in 2005 just for a beer in the Farquhar Bar.

P3190814r.jpg
Entrance to the hotel is behind the car on the right.

As we approached the hotel we were met by a pith-helmeted doorman who greeted us and opened the main door. A real touch of yesteryear as we stepped in to the main foyer of the hotel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

img_0662r

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Reception is in the foyer.
But on this day we were looking for a cold drink.

p1010072r

p3180720r

The bar had a ‘Colonial’ feel – which is very un pc to say so, but for me it was a touch of   ‘yesterday’.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

beer

English cold draft beer – what more could I want?

malaysia-holiday-098r

My new best friends  . . .service was very good, they were friendly and helpful, so we stayed and had lunch.

The following year we booked in to the hotel as guests. All the mod cons that you could want – each bedroom had a sitting room attached and very large bathroom with his & her sinks. Total area is 52 to 54 sq mtrs, with sea views.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA               OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The same sitting room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A choice of shower or bath.

2008-06-10-368r

Swimming pool below our window

2008-06-10-366r

Sunset from our bedroom.

england-trip-2008-115r

Drinks around the pool?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A year or so later a friend of ours from the UK came out to Australia to stay with us. We had arranged our holiday in Malaysia to coincide with our friend’s return to the UK so that we could have a few days with her in the E & O.
Instead of booking two rooms I found it cheaper to book a suite with two full bedrooms, (both en-suite), lounge, kitchen and sitting room etc.

imgp4322r
This is our bedroom as part of the suite. We also had a walk-in dressing room attached with his and her wardrobes.

imgp4325r

imgp4326r

imgp4331r
Sitting room and dining area can just be seen – TV in each bedroom and in the living room.

imgp4336r

Part of the kitchen. Of course, we were not in to home cooking, and breakfast was always downstairs in the main dining room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Or we’d eat outside if the temperature was not too hot.

imgp4342c

A few years later we planned a transit stop through Penang and of course wanted to stay at the E & O. This time when I checked the rates I found that their new ‘extension’ had been refurbished and was now part of the hotel.
The extension had been bought some years ago, but during our previous visit the hotel had not completed the refurbishment to compliment the colonial feel of the original area of the hotel. They had now.
We booked in the ‘new’ part which is called the Victory Annex and the original area is now called the Heritage Wing.
The Victory Annex rate included access to The Planter Lounge (in other hotels it would be known as the club floor). You could have breakfast in this lounge as well as taking part in the cocktail hour in the evening. Overall we always preferred the main dining room for breakfast because the choice of food was huge and you could have any fruit or vegetable or any mixture of both that you fancied turned in to a smoothy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

bali-2014-449r
Lounge area, which had a small library & quiet reading area.

bali-2014-448r

The Planters Lounge has its own balcony and to sit outside with a glass of wine and a few nibbles was very pleasant.

Our room in the Victory Annex was slightly smaller than our room in the Heritage area – we didn’t have a sitting room, but we did have a small balcony that overlooked the sea.

bali-2014-435r

bali-2014-437r

bali-2014-439r
View from the balcony, which felt as if we were on a cruise ship.

Once again the bathroom had his & hers sink & wardrobes, as well as the separate bath & shower.

bali-2014-444r

On the same level as the balcony of the Planter’s Lounge is the horizon pool. It is ‘L’ shaped so that those who wish can swim for exercise can do so, and those who just wish to play can also do so, without interfering with each other.

bali-2014-457r

The smaller enclosed pool is for children.

Bali 2014 456r.jpg

An evening meal outside while watching the ships leave port or perhaps just coffee and a final glass of wine before bed. At the right time of the year the weather in Penang can be magic.

imgp4348r

At the rear of the hotel you have a choice of lawn or just sitting on the sea wall.
Is it any wonder that we return as often as our cash flow allows us?

 

Not all of the above photographs are mine, some are from the friends with whom we travel.

Hotel or Museum

imgp4377r

A few years ago, my wife & I, and a friend of ours, stayed in Penang, and during our time there we decided to visit the Cheong Fatt Tze museum, which was a short walk from our hotel.

imgp4373rWe had to book a time to be allowed in to the museum, and waited outside, with a few other people, until the allocated time.

imgp4374r

The whole building was coloured blue – hence the name – The Blue Mansion.

imgp4376r

We thought the place was a museum, until half way through the tour.

boutique-hotel-penang-island-blue-mansion-architecture-01-1-600x600

Hotel rooms on the left of the above picture. The odd thing is that we were not allowed to take photographs during our visit, why I don’t know, because the above is from their web site. Perhaps they have changed the rules.
We walked around a corner only to find a lady sunbathing in her swim suite while reading a book. Quite surprising considering that we all thought we were in a museum!

boutique-hotel-penang-island-blue-mansion-architecture-04-1-600x600

The one above is from the museum’s web site.

stairs

As is this one.

 Cheong Fatt Tze (check the link for more details) is a real rag to riches story – born in China in 1840, left home at sixteen and moved to Indonesia and worked as a water carrier, and later as a shop keeper. Some would say that he married well, because he married his employer’s daughter, and with the help of his father-in-law he started a trading company.
He worked hard and expanded from Jakarta to Medan. He traded mainly in agricultural products until he bought a bank. This purchase made him wealthy.
In 1886 he expanded in to Penang, where he became the Chinese consul.

memoir-2-01

His Blue Mansion of thirty-four rooms, was built between 1897 to 1904 to house his third, sixth & seventh wife (he had eight wives spread around Asia), eight sons and six daughters.
When he died in 1916 he was held in such high regard by both the Dutch & British that their flags were flown at half-mast.

tails

If you are ever in Georgetown, Penang, The Blue Mansion is a ‘must see’ for those interested in unusual places. Click on this link Mansion Hotel and it will take you to the hotel details of the mansion.

 

 

Should I write or research?

old-dock

The first commercial wet dock in the world was opened in Liverpool in 1715. It was known originally by the engineer’s name Thomas Steer’s Dock, but later, as other docks were built it became known as the Old Dock. This Old Dock was infilled in 1826.

When Liverpool One was being created they found the Old Dock during excavations in 2001. The Old Dock has been preserved as much as possible and is now part of Liverpool Maritime Museum and you can take tours of this Old Dock and see where the original stream flowed in to the Pool.

As Rome was built by the local people who lived on seven hills, Liverpool, nearly 2000 years later, planned its layout in 1207, based on seven streets.

High Street, (1207), which used to have a weekly market and annual fairs and was originally called Jugglers Street

Chapel Street, (1257), named after the Chapel of St Mary, which no longer exists, having been demolished in 1814.

Water Street (1207), used to be called Bonk (Bank) St, the street to the river bank of the River Mersey.

Castle Street (1235), the street that lead to the castle.

Dale Street (1207), used to be called Dell St., through which the stream ran to the pool (Liver Pool).

Tithebarn Street, used to be called Moor St, which I think was connected to the Salthouse Moor district, or perhaps the Moor family. It ran from Castle Street to the river. Later in 1523 Sir William Molyneux bought the tithe rights from the monks of Shrewsbury Abbey and erected a tithe barn to collect produce as a tithe. The street then became known as Tithebarn St

Old Hall Street (1207), (used to be called Milne or Mill St) and changed to Old Hall Street after the Moore family moved from this hall to another on the outskirts of the city. The Moore’s ‘old hall’ remained, so the street’s name changed over time to Old Hall Street.

Making sure that the background of Liverpool was correct for my novel Ice King, which is set between 1804 to 1807 was very time consuming , but for me, very interesting. I had to make sure that I didn’t refer to any location in Liverpool that didn’t exist in 1804.

So the research was to find out what did exist in 1804.

imgp2403r I was safe in using St Nicholas Church – the sailors’ church, because it was used as a guide by sailors to bring their ship in to port in 1804. It had been a place of worship since 1257, so I felt safe if I had to refer to the church building. The above photograph taken a few years ago.

georges

The above photograph of St Nicholas’ church taken a few years after William King’s, my main character, adventures.

So what else can I use from 1804? After a great deal of searching I found just what I wanted, an old map of Liverpool which was produce by John Britton (1771 – 1857) and as far as I can make out he produced the map in 1807!

liver-map

From the above map I was able to expand the area that was of my particular interest – the area around George’s Dock. As sailors did in the early days they used the tower of St Nichols’ church to navigate in to the ‘Bason’ and then in to George’s Dock.

map-cropped

George’s dock was opened in 1771, and named after King George III.

In 1874 the Bason was filled in, and in 1899 the dock itself was filled in to create what we know today as the Pier Head.
Later (1914) Cunard Shipping Line commissioned a new headquarters,which was opened in 1917. The Cunard Building, which is to the right of the Liver Building, can be seen in the picture below. A section of the George’s dock wall can still be seen in the basement of the  Cunard Building.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What was the river like in 1804 (sand banks, wrecks etc), so I need a chart.

chart  Chart of the Mersey Bar area dated 1801; produced by William Morris, (the link will take you to the National Library of Wales) a fascinating man who also charted the seas around the island of Angelsey.

When researching for an appropriate gentleman’s club, one where a prosperous ship owner and trader would frequent in 1804, I came across the Athenaeum Club. I wanted to develop the background and life style of the main character’s father.

This club was opened in 1797 and the location of the club as in Ice King is correct for 1804, but not for today, because the club moved from Church St to  Church Alley in 1928. The club is still active in Liverpool.
There is an Athenaeum Club in Pall Mall, London, which was founded in 1824.

One of the founder members of the Liverpool Atheneum Club was William Roscoe who was a very strong anti- slavery advocate. Other founder members were some of the most prosperous slave traders in Liverpool. I found it odd that the needs of the members for a club, such as the Athenaeum, over came their like or dislike of the African slave trade. Perhaps William Roscoe thought that he might be able to influence the slave traders, to reject the trade, in a social situation.
Roscoe was a strong Christian and fought in Parliament, as the member for Liverpool, for the rights of Catholics and other denominations to hold high office. In 1807 he voted with William Wilberforce to stop the slave trade, which successfully passed in to law, but caused William Roscoe trouble back home in Liverpool. He lost his seat at the next election.

roscoe

William Roscoe

In the novel I referred to a character who had won £20,000 in a lottery in 1776 – this is true.
His name was Thomas Leyland and he was the Mayor of Liverpool three times. When he died in 1827 he was one of the richest men in the Britain. His wealth was due to him investing a large amount of his winnings in to the slave trade. In 1807 when Britain made it illegal to trade in slaves he switched to banking.

leyland

Thomas Leyland

The bank stayed in the Leyland family until 1901, at which time it merged with the North & South Wales Bank.
Later, in 1908, they were taken over by the the London City and Midland Bank. Eventually this bank became just ‘Midland Bank’, before being taken over itself by the HSBC Bank. I wonder if they realise that part of their foundation is based on slavery?

The hours of research helped produced less than a chapter, but hopefully a reader would enjoy the story that much more because of the research, but I am still not sure if Maureen is correct when she said that I  prefer the research to the writing. . . .

pic