open days

The Heritage Open Days were going on this week, with most of the places opening their doors only on the weekend. While we would’ve liked to have gone to as many places as possible, we ended up only doing two because it’s a little crazy to be running everywhere on foot, especially with a kid in tow. Actually, we’d planned on checking out three places — the bombed-out church on Friday, Edge Hill Station yesterday and the Bridewell Studios (housed in an old police station) today, but the studios were closed due to ill health. I guess we’ll just see it some other time then. It’s just right down the street from us (we pass it just about every day) and they’ll probably have another open day of sorts in time. Based on the information on the website, I’d been under the impression that you had to book a tour in order to see these places, which I found rather annoying as I’m not a fan of being led around; I much prefer a self-guided tour. It was much later that I realized that booking a tour wasn’t necessary and that you could pretty much just walk in when they were open.

On Friday, we endured some damp weather to go to the bombed-out church. Raspberry and I had been there in the gardens on a sunny spring day but couldn’t go inside. They regularly hold film screenings and musical performances within the church but we’ve never been to those either. I’ve only seen pictures of what it looks like, but it’s one thing to see images and another to experience it for yourself. We got there about a half-hour early, as I’d gotten the tour time wrong. That gave us a bit of time to look around the inside, which is pretty much a garden. There was a table with tiles you could paint with acrylic and Raspberry wanted to do that, but it was drizzling and I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out. Because it was mostly a green space, there was only so much to see and Raspberry looked like she was getting bored waiting for the tour to begin. I was getting a little antsy myself and wouldn’t have minded skipping the tour but Lucas sounded interested in it. The tour guide, Ambrose, took us on the outside first, where he explained the church’s history and how it’d been bombed. He also highlighted creepy faces carved into the sides of the windows. Raspberry seemed to like that and because it was an old building, she asked if the church had any columns, which it did on the interior, but I don’t think they were the Greek-style columns she was thinking of. The tour was going to take us into the crypt; we were assured there was nobody buried there. Raspberry said she was nervous about going, so Lucas initially suggested he’d take FACT to warm up and that I could go, but I didn’t have that vested an interest in the crypt so I offered to stay with her instead while he went. I don’t know about Raspberry, but I was quite glad to be out of the rain and in some degree of warmth.

At FACT, she watched the fracking exhibit through the window, but mostly she watched and helped a person put together some wooden planters for a new space. She’s always enjoyed watching work like that being done and wanting to have a go. This time, she got to drill a couple of screws into the wood. When we met up with Lucas, he seemed pretty excited to have gone on the tour. He was telling me all about it and said I would’ve liked to have taken pictures from inside the crypt. I think there are fairly frequent open days at the bombed-out church, so perhaps I’ll have another opportunity to see the crypt another time. No matter.

Lucas had to work the following day, so it was just Raspberry and I heading to Edge Hill station, the oldest railway station that’s still in use. Metal, an artistic collective works out of part of the station too. I’ve been meaning to visit them for a while but hadn’t gotten around to it, so I used the open day as the perfect excuse to finally do so. It was a rare sunny day, perfect for the half-hour walk to the station. We walked a little down Wavertree, an area I’ve never been to and I was surprised by how many stores were either closed at midday on a Saturday or permanently shuttered. It makes me glad for the area we live in. Actually, being around artists in the space Metal occupies was almost like being in a whole different world, given its surroundings. When we left, I’d almost forgotten what neighbourhood we were in. Anyway, there was a new community garden and that’s what we chanced upon first. There was a tie-dye workshop happening, with blackberries, vinegar and soap-flakes and naturally, Raspberry wanted to try it. For someone who enjoys playing in dirt, I was surprised she was hesitant to get her hands in the blackberry juice. But she sort of did it, and now we have a piece of tie-dyed fabric as well as a painted one the artist running the workshop made for her. We went inside Metal’s part of the station for some juice and cake and to see their space. They’ve done an amazing job doing up the space — I’m a big fan of integrating open brick with modern design and that’s precisely what they’ve done. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say I was in love. They’ve got a library of art books, as well as some to swap. We didn’t have anything with us, but the person there said Raspberry could take a book if she wanted. She found one on kestrels, complete with some pressed leaves inside. If she’s not too into the book, we’ll probably bring it back the next time we’re there and maybe trade it for something else. Their library’s open weekly for browsing and working too, so I might go sometime to look through their collection of art books. There was also an animation workshop happening, where Anna Mulhearn was working on a film depicting the train trip from Liverpool to Manchester at twelve frames per second. Both Raspberry and I each worked on one frame, her with tons of glitter and glue and me with a fineline pen and some chalk pastels. I always feel some degree of pressure to come up with something creative at the spur of the moment. While I really should attempt more spontaneous creativity, it seems I generally sway toward planning out my artistic endeavours. Because of this, I don’t usually partake in many of the crafts Raspberry does at the various museums, even though I keep thinking that I should. Ahhh, ambivalence, how I hate you so.

After checking out Metal, we spent quite a while on the station platform, where Raspberry kept jumping up and down and waving at trains. While we were having our lunch inside beforehand, she kept running out the door to wave at the trains every time she heard one pull up or go by. She got one wave from a conductor, but mostly the passengers seemed oblivious to this bouncing kid on the platform. When I looked at my pictures that evening though, I noticed the smiling, amused face of one woman out the train window. I hope she made that woman’s afternoon. We’d plans to go to the Wavertree Botanic Gardens after the station, since it wasn’t too far. Their playground’s right by the entrance so that was convenient and it’s a pretty decent one too. Being not only the weekend, but the first sunny day in a while, it was of course teeming with kids and their parents. Raspberry enjoyed it though, and kept wanting me to play fair rides (a game she made up several weeks ago) with her, but having been on my feet for a while, all I wanted to do was sit on the grass. I think she had the most fun as we walked through the park to leave though. With fall approaching, there was a trail of dry leaves, which she gleefully stomped and then rolled in. Her goal seemed to be to get as many leaves on in her hair and on her skirt as possible. There were also some dry leaf angels (the fall version of snow angels?), burying her stuffed cat Violet (formerly Avycat), and attempting to stitch together a leaf skeleton with a leaf. I think she was reluctant to go and I’d love to have stayed if it wasn’t getting late. It should’ve taken us about a half-hour to get back home, except I assumed I knew where I was going but walked in the opposite direction instead. The area we were in was off the map I had, so there was no way I could’ve known exactly where I was. I actually stopped at a bus shelter, looked at where the buses were going and thought that we were heading the right way… except that I forgot they drive on the other side of the road here and in reality, the buses would’ve been going the other way. Oops. But I figured it out and confirmed it with someone who was trimming his hedges. We actually ended up pretty far from where we were supposed to be, in the area we’d visited back in December while apartment-hunting actually. I effectively doubled our time coming home, that’s how lost we were. When I told Lucas what had happened, he said it doesn’t surprise him that it did. Ha. He said we could’ve followed the sun too, since we were west of home, but honestly that didn’t occur to me. Good to know for next time though! Despite taking a circuitous route home, Raspberry said she had a fun day (“can we have another big day out?”). We were all a little wrecked today so a quiet day in was in order to recuperate (minus the brief jaunt out to the Bridewell, only to discover it was closed). The thought of maybe wandering out to see a couple of other places by myself did briefly cross my mind, but my sore feet, combined with some gusty winds and rain, were a major deterrent. Oh well, more adventures will be had another day.

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