Saturday, February 21, 2015

Liverpool library

Liverpool's central library is awesome. I have missed English language libraries so very much. Since I have family and friends who are librarians, and I probably would have been one in another life, I thought that I would use today's blog post to showcase it.

The  Main part of the library was completed in 1860, with the Picton Reading Room (see below added in 1879 and the Hornby Library (also see below) added in 1906. Then the library was bombed in a blitz in 1941. Most of the building needed to be rebuilt, and then between 2010-2013 they rebuilt parts of it again. The result is a mix of modern and old, and it is charming in the extreme. Plus there is a cafe on the ground floor.

The outside of the building looks very historic.

The entrance is a touch more modern with a wide walk wide walkway with the titles of famous books.

This is what you see when you walk inside. A beautiful dome and floating stairways.

One of my favorite parts is the Picton Reading room.  It looks like something out of a historic novel. I wish I had a better picture of it, but it is a quiet zone and every sound is reflected back by the dome. That lotus lamp is massive, I doubt that I could stretch my arms to touch either side. and there are three floors of leather bounds books which you can get to by little iron spiral staircases.

If you walk through the Picton Reading room (built 1879)  you can come to the Oak room, where directly in the center of the room in a massive display case is an original Birds of North America by John James Audubon. The book must be a meter/yard tall!

The history of this particular edition, and ties between Audubon and Liverpool are interesting.

The walls of the Oak room have display cases where huge leather bound books are kept. Can you see that I took this picture as a tribute to Madrid?

The Hornby Library is also off of the Oak room, and it is a little library museum with rotating displays. When I took this photo there was a display to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Liverpool Philharmonic.

But when we visited in early January to look at houses, there were first edition Charles Dickens books, including amusing hand written correspondence  (click to enlarge).

If you love libraries, be sure to give this one a visit. I am sure that I have only just started to explore it (I haven't been above the first floor yet, I hear that there is a roof top terrace.)

We are all doing well, I hope you are too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Liverpool Love

Ahh, where to start? Well first off I am now living in my third country. It is no secret to anyone who has known me that I have wanted to try living in the UK for some time. When Javi got the job I was thrilled and excited. That emotion soon became a feeling of being overwhelmed. That feeling has lasted through today. However with each day my anxiety seems to fade more and more. Today as I was happily walking around one of the many local parks to me I couldn't help repeating in my head "this place is so beautiful, I am so lucky to live here".

Even though I have wanted to live in the UK for 7 years or so, and oddly the first place I so desperately wanted to live is only 16 miles from where I currently reside, I was overwhelmed. Why? Because I strongly feel that I failed in Madrid. I was not expecting it to be so hard. I was not expecting for me to be so set in my ways and resident to change. I did adapt to the culture a bit, and I learned a ton about myself, Spain, and the world, but at the end I did not enjoy living in Madrid. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was unemployed, and my DH was desperately unhappy at his workplace. However, if Madrid was a person I would have broken up with it with the infamous "it is not you, it's me" line. Plenty of people are very happy living in Madrid, and I hope they get the chance to stay, but I wanted my place to be happy too. I dare to hope that maybe I have found it?

I was in a state of culture shock for a while, and will probably have bouts here and there in the coming months. As I write I have been living here for 3 weeks (it took a while to get broadband). 
I noticed one day that I was upset because I did not get to at least visit the US for a "reset" in between the two countries. I thought that it was unfair and that I would have been able to cope better with the change (and who knows? I might have been) but I think that is because I am desperately homesick. I have not really been to the US (except 6 hours in an airport) in over 3.5 years, and I know that soon I will have to surrender my passport for the residency card process which can take up to 6 months. At least I will be stranded in a country that I have always wanted to explore.

It is simply marvelous to live in a culture more similar to mine, and to be able to speak my native language. I enjoy it very much. Although some of the slight differences in the language are simply alarming and hilarious, like when the technician installing my broadband asked me "where is your master socket" (main phone jack) and told me that he would "knock me up if he could turn it on, love" (that he would ring the doorbell and tell me if he had turned on our phone line). (For any UK readers that means "I will get you pregnant when I turn it on, I love you".)

Anyway, let me take you through the highlights of my walk this morning.

I currently live in a victorian terraced house, much less grand than this one. I took this photo to give an example of the marvelous touches of stained glass that they can have. It is much harder to take pictures here, as more people are concerned with their privacy, so I snapped this of an empty house, and quickly.
A house on Queen's Lane

I live within 0.2 miles of the famous Penny Lane, and I thought that today I would walk from the bank to the Penny Lane Millennium Green. One of the things that I love is that there are so many parks and green spaces in Liverpool, especially within a 1.5 mile radius of my house. I took the back roads and discovered this church. I have no idea if it is still being used or not, but isn't it splendid?

Dovetail Baptist Church
I circled the green on three sides before I realized that the only gate open to me was the one closest to my house. I am guessing that it is the one the all the tourists take pictures of. (Am I a tourist? It is hard to tell.)

The green was small, but gave a sensation of walking in a meadow.

After the green I turned West and walked Penny Lane to it's end. I passed a charming pub.

I crossed over the train tracks.

I took a touristy photo.

Then when I reached the end of Penny lane I turned right and walked to Greenbank Park, and I am glad I did. it is fairly tiny, but so breath taking. There were Canadian geese, swans, herons, and at least three kinds of ducks.

I think that big nest is a heron's, thoughts?

 The daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops are springing up right now, though, we might have snow this weekend.

Everything is green here, even sometimes the trees.

There is a beauty shot of the heron, some ducks, the terraced house in the distance, the vibrant green lawn and the blue sky (which is not common here, click to enlarge).

There was a little corner of the park that had been set up as an English garden. It is not very impressive right now, as it is still winter, but I have a feeling that it is will be interesting to see it as spring progresses.

Doesn't it look like something out of Secret Garden? And through out the walk, the air was sweet, the birds called and the area was beautiful. After 5 States, and three countries, I hope that I have finally found where I belong. Do you see just how beautiful it all is?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Liverpool Bound

I am so excited to announce that we are moving to the UK! And we are moving soon, as in January!

St George's hall, the largest neoclassical building in Europe

I know that the blog has been silent for a long time. This summer we have been on trips to Canterbury and to Prague and while they were both beautiful and I had photos to share I didn't post because I was not feeling too positive about the way life was going. Spain is a beautiful country and I will always have a space in my heart for it, but it was not enough. DH is miserable in his job, I have no job (have you heard the state of Spain's economy?), and both of us are more "early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise" kind of people.

My new flag

Just as DH was going to give up on his academic career, he got an interview, and a 39 hour mini-trip to Liverpool ensued. I went along as flights were cheap and the interview fell on our 11th wedding anniversary. We found out the next morning that he was being offered the job!

a LJMU building

We are so excited. Both of us has wanted in live in the UK for quite some time. From everything that I have heard, seen or experienced the culture will be a better match for us.

The central library, which sounds like a wondrous place

There was not much time to explore, but at least it didn't rain. Everything that I saw was in a two mile (3.2km) radius from the city centre.

A real autumn!

Even though I am a Beatles fan, I sadly realized that I would not have to the time to see anything Beatles related. Luckily now I will have loads of time!

Liverpool One, a truly massive pedestrian mall with all sorts of shops.
I have a lot of information to share with you about what a cool city Liverpool is, but that will have to wait until after we finish the move.

Canning Dock, and an example of modern vs old architecture

So I will leave you with this announcement and some scenic photos of the city centre and go chip away at the mountainous to-do-list that every international move generates.

This is a Superlambanana, a symbol of Liverpool

The three Graces, beautiful buildings along the docks.

The church of our Lady and St Nicolas

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Somewhere in England in the East Midlands is the country of Lincolnshire, and nestled in amongst the farmlands is it's capitol city, Lincoln. It is quite possibly the cutest English town that I have ever seen.

View of the fields from the train.
Lincoln, while far off the beaten track, is well worth a visit. There has been a colony, town or city located there since 100BC. Because it has be around so long there are relics from every age: From the early axes and log boats found in Brayford pool and housed at the local museum...
Brayford pool
To the lasting remnants of a thriving 12th century Jewish community.

Jew's house is now a restaurant

To the gothic architecture of one of England's most notable Cathedrals.

The cathedral in the golden dusk

To the many tutor houses in the town centre.

The tudor visitor centre

To today where the only 18 year old Lincoln University is combing the old with the new and growing rapidly into a top class university.

University blend of old and new

Lincoln's University library
My husband and I found ourselves in Lincoln last Thursday after a harrowing journey involving an international taxi strike, delayed planes, and a complex train schedule. As usual while with my DH in England the weather was shockingly perfect. We spent what was left of the evening having a meal in a pub and simply walking around the town centre admiring the view. I was pleased to note that there is the same rose-gold slant to the evening light here as there is in France and Spain. While we were eating our dinner, on the back patio of the pub, five of the Red Arrows from the local RAF base did a fly over trailing red white and blue. I didn't have time to grab the camera so no photos, but I do know that they were probably practicing for flying over the Lincoln Festival on Saturday evening.

The next day dawned clear and warm I went off exploring on my own as DH had an appointment at the University. As this was the second time that my DH had been here I headed off to do some of the more touristy things on my own. It was a great feeling to wander about and know that if I was lost or need help I could just ask in my native tongue. 

Memorial in front of a small church
I went to the castle first. Lincoln Castle is up the aptly named Steep Hill road. The entrance fee was remarkably cheap, but the man whom sold me my tickets explained that I could only really go into the gardens and a small section of the wall. The castle is mostly closed for massive renovations and when it re-opens in April 2015 I hope that I get to see it. The plans for the renovations look super cool.

Castle tower from the outside 
The was the castle's last line of defense
Just across the square is the this gem of architecture. I walked completely around it before popping my head inside. Supposedly there are Roman mosaic ruins and a medieval library inside, unfortunately I did not have the time to see them. The Cathedral usually displays an original copy of the Manga Carta but it is on tour now and will come back for it's anniversary next year.

Even the outside had flying buttresses

Main call of the cathedral from the door
 One thing I really like about Lincoln is that they seem to really want to integrate historic structures into everyday modern life. Below is a medieval gate still in use for traffic, and there is also the only Roman gate still used for traffic in the world inside Lincoln as well.

To one side of the Cathedral is the ruins of the bishop's palace. Which was destroyed in an earthquake hundreds of years ago and never rebuilt. It is well worth the price of admission and to get the audio guide. Also I have seen online that they might do Shakespeare in the park here! That would be so fun.

So that is it, a short a sweet visit to Lincoln. I hope someday I might be lucky enough to call a place like this home.