Tag: Liverpool

Northwest hotel reviews for The Hotelegraph

Foodie escape: Northcote, near Preston, Lancs
Foodie escape: Northcote, near Preston, Lancs

I’ve seen a lot of hotel rooms in some 16 years of travel writing.

And I saw a whole lot more over the summer months on a journey that took me from a castle in North Wales to a country haven for foodies in rural Lancashire [pictured above].

The reason? Telegraph Travel has been beefing up its hotel coverage and I picked up a fair few of the reviews around the Northwest and North Wales.

The bulk were in Liverpool and have been appearing steadily — digital first, of course.

The home to the majestic, Unesco-listed waterfront offered a colourful range of properties from budget basics to a Titanic-themed hotel.

But the stand out place was a night at 2 Blackburne Terrace, a hidden-gem boutique guesthouse in the city’s Georgian district.

Here’s a sample of what I said about it:

Set in a late-Georgian townhouse, this is very much a bespoke experience with frissons of flamboyant design and theatrical flourishes from the hosts to foster a very personal ambiance.

And here some of the reviews.

2 Blackburne Terrace

30 James Street

Epic Apart Hotel

Doubletree by Hilton

Aloft Liverpool

For autumn I will be packing my reviewer’s notebook for Carmarthenshire and Hull.

Please drop me a line with any suggestions.

More from: The Hotelegraph.

River Pilots exhibition at the Merseyside Maritime Museum

Pilots

They are the quiet men of shipping.

While the captain is struggling to navigate the treacherous tides of the River Mersey, one of the Liverpool River Pilots will shimmy up a rope ladder, come aboard and peel off their waterproofs to reveal a neatly pressed suit before extending a firm handshake and taking conduct of the ship.

It may sound like a scene from the new Bond film but for Chris Booker, Chairman of the Liverpool Pilots, it’s another day at the office.

Liverpool Pilotage Services was founded 1766 and this year celebrates its 250th anniversary.

The Merseyside Maritime Museum is now hosting the exhibition In Safe Hands: The story of the Liverpool Pilots [pictured above] to explore the vital role of the service in navigating ships in and out of the Port of Liverpool for more than two centuries.

Action man

I met Chris at their offices on the Birkenhead side of the river, historic paintings of pilot ships at sail alongside whiteboards of calculations and twin high-tech simulators.

It was at the controls of one of the latter that Chris planned the meticulous set of manoeuvres for Cunard’s Three Queens event last May to mark the 175th anniversary of the first transatlantic crossing.

“We gave our time for free, only being paid for the piloting on the day,” says softly spoken Chris.

“The event brought 1.5m people to Liverpool but we don’t get carried away. We’ve simply got a job to do.”

As we pour over a huge chart of the approach to Liverpool in the Chart Room, Chris points out the natural features that make the waters some of the toughest in the world to navigate.

“Liverpool has a lot of idiosyncrasies: strong tides, westerly weather and a series of locks,” he explains.

There are also some 5,000 wrecks beneath the surface — hence ships entering the Mersey rely on the skills and knowledge of pilots to ensure their safe passage.

Unusually, captains entering UK waters must hand over conduct of their vessel to the pilot coming aboard, integrating him into the team on the bridge. It’s an agreement only also observed in Panama.

“We are not advisors,” says Chris. “We take control.”

Life at sea

Later, over lunch at the Woodside Ferry Terminal, sunlight glinting off the Echo Arena across the Mersey, Chris tells me about his love affair with the sea, a romance that started aged 12 on a coaster with his father, sailing from Yorkshire to Holland.

“I remember it like yesterday,” he smiles. “It was a defining moment.”

Chris went onto study at the Hull Trinity House Academy in before serving an apprenticeship at sea. At 16 he was flying to New York to join a ship trading down the east coast to Central America.

After years as a captain and master with the Mobil oil company, he joined the Liverpool Pilots in 1995. The pilots, already captains, undergo a further seven-and-a-half years of training to gain their full qualifications.

“Having gone round the world as a captain, I wondered, at first, if I would get bored on the Mersey but, just last night, I was piloting gas tanker into the Mersey with one engine in bad weather,” he says.

“It was properly dry-mouth, hands-shaky scary.”

Now aged 52 and with three grown-up sons at sea, Chris has had more than his fair share of sea-faring adventures — from fending off pirates in Nigeria as a teenage cadet to charting an undiscovered sea mount off the coast of the Philippines.

“I remember sailing from Japan to Canada and we could smell the pines before they even appeared on the radar,” he smiles. “I loved the adventure and I’d do it all again.”

We finish our coffees and watch the unusually calm water of the Mersey ebb and flow outside.

It’s a big year for the Liverpool Pilots with more events to be announced (details from the website) to add to the latest chapter in Liverpool’s rich maritime heritage.

But Chris says the Liverpool Pilots will continue quietly with their valuable work. “All the other visitors to a ship want something but the pilot is different,” he says.

“The service we provide is a proper challenge but, ultimately, we’re just there to help.”

Read more: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/pilots

  • Published in the Daily Telegraph, February 2016.
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Telegraph Cruise profile: Liverpool River Pilots

IMG_2157

They are the quiet men of shipping.

While the captain is struggling to navigate the treacherous tides of the River Mersey, one of the Liverpool River Pilots will shimmy up a rope ladder, come aboard and peel off their waterproofs to reveal a neatly pressed suit before extending a firm handshake and taking conduct of the ship.

It may sound like a scene from the new Bond film but for Chris Booker, Chairman of the Liverpool Pilots, it’s another day at the office.

Maritime history

Liverpool Pilotage Services was founded 1766 and this year celebrates its 250th anniversary.

The BBC recently broadcast the documentary series Sea City: Liverpool while the Merseyside Maritime Museum hosts the exhibition Liverpool Pilots from July to celebrate the landmark.

Both explore the vital role of the service in navigating ships in and out of the Port of Liverpool for more than two centuries.

I met Chris at their offices on the Birkenhead side of the river, historic paintings of pilot ships at sail alongside whiteboards of calculations and twin high-tech simulators.

It was at the controls of one of the latter that Chris planned the meticulous set of manoeuvres for Cunard’s Three Queens event last May to mark the 175th anniversary of the first transatlantic crossing.

“We gave our time for free, only being paid for the piloting on the day,” says softly spoken Chris.

“The event brought 1.5m people to Liverpool but we don’t get carried away. We’ve simply got a job to do.”

Dangerous waters

As we pour over a huge chart of the approach to Liverpool [pictured above] in the Chart Room, Chris points out the natural features that make the waters some of the toughest in the world to navigate.

“Liverpool has a lot of idiosyncrasies: strong tides, westerly weather and a series of locks,” he explains.

There are also some 5,000 wrecks beneath the surface — hence ships entering the Mersey rely on the skills and knowledge of pilots to ensure their safe passage.

Unusually, captains entering UK waters must hand over conduct of their vessel to the pilot coming aboard, integrating him into the team on the bridge.

It’s an agreement only also observed in Panama. “We are not advisors,” says Chris. “We take control.”

Later, over lunch at the Woodside Ferry Terminal, sunlight glinting off the Echo Arena across the Mersey, Chris tells me about his love affair with the sea, a romance that started aged 12 on a coaster with his father, sailing from Yorkshire to Holland.

“I remember it like yesterday. It was a defining moment.”

Chris went onto study at the Hull Trinity House Academy in before serving an apprenticeship at sea.

At 16 he was flying to New York to join a ship trading down the east coast to Central America. After years as a captain and master with the Mobil oil company, he joined the Liverpool Pilots in 1995.

The pilots, already captains, undergo a further seven-and-a-half years of training to gain their full qualifications.

“Having gone round the world as a captain, I wondered, at first, if I would get bored on the Mersey but, just last night, I was piloting gas tanker into the Mersey with one engine in bad weather,” he says.

“It was properly dry-mouth, hands-shaky scary.”

Anniversary plans

Now aged 52 and with three grown-up sons at sea, Chris has had more than his fair share of sea-faring adventures — from fending off pirates in Nigeria as a teenage cadet to charting an undiscovered sea mount off the coast of the Philippines.

“I remember sailing from Japan to Canada and we could smell the pines before they even appeared on the radar,” he smiles. “I loved the adventure and I’d do it all again.”

We finish our coffees and watch the unusually calm water of the Mersey ebb and flow outside.

It’s a big year for the Liverpool Pilots with more events to be announced to add to the latest chapter in Liverpool’s rich maritime heritage.

But Chris says the Liverpool Pilots will continue quietly with their valuable work. “All the other visitors to a ship want something but the pilot is different,” he says.

“The service we provide is a proper challenge but, ultimately, we’re just there to help.”

What did you think of this story? Post your comments below.

This story was first published in the Daily Telegraph last weekend.

Story of the week: Seafaring Britain for the Trafalgar anniversary

DSCN3004

As a seafaring, island nation, we have traditionally looked to the sea as our defence in times of war, our trading link with the wider world and a source of natural resources.

This link provides the basis for the SeaBritain 2005 festival, a year-long programme of events and festivals based around the theme of Britain’s maritime history, culminating in the Trafalgar Weekend (21-23 October) with events throughout the UK and the Channel Islands.

“The sea touches our lives in countless ways,” says David Quarmby, Chairman, SeaBritain 2005.

“Being surrounded by sea has defined our history, our culture, our national psyche, how as a trading nation we have prospered, and the kind of recreation at which our nation excels.”

Festival city

The Battle of Trafalgar was a defining moment in British history, whereby Admiral Lord Nelson saw off the invasion threat led by Napoleon, against a combined fleet of French and Spanish ships.

He may have been fatally wounded by a sniper’s bullet on October 21, 1805 – you can still visit the spot where he fell on board Trafalgar – but his legacy lives on. Particularly, that is, in Portsmouth, the festival’s hub city.

Portsmouth is where Captain Cook arrived after circumnavigating the world, Captain Bligh of Bounty fame sailed from its harbour and Lord Nelson himself set sail in his flagship vessel, HMS Victory, in 1805 for the Battle of Trafalgar.

Today the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is home to some naval big-hitters, including the restored HMS Victory, the oldest commissioned warship in the world.

It also houses Henry VIII’s warship, the Mary Rose. This was raised to the surface in 1982 after 17 years of salvaged operations and now restored to its Tudor glory.

But the festival, and wider links to our maritime heritage are not confined solely to Portsmouth.

As the festivities get underway, we profile six of Britain’s best coastal cities for messing about on the water this spring.

Liverpool

Maritime heritage and Liverpool’s history are inextricably linked, a fact recognised by Unesco’s decision to award the Liverpool waterfront [pictured above] its World Heritage status.

The abundance of merchant’s houses reflects the city’s erstwhile status as a major commercial port, while amongst the warehouse conversions, the Merseyside Maritime Museum today traces the links between the city and the sea.

Liverpool has designated 2005 ‘Year of the Sea’ as part of its Capital of Culture 2008 countdown. As such, the 25th annual Mersey River Festival will be the biggest ever this summer from June 10-13.

But if culture doesn’t float your boat, don’t worry. The Albert Dock has some of the city’s best shopping, while Mersey Ferries still ply the famous ferry cross the Mersey.

Bristol

The redevelopment of Bristol’s harbourside over the last ten years has re-established the city’s links with the sea.

This year also sees the completion of a conservation project to restore both Brunel’s iron-hulled ship, the SS Great Britain and the Victorian dockyard it was built in, to their original Victorian glory.

The Bristol Harbour Festival runs 31 July to 1 August this summer with a slew of family events.

Meanwhile, if you fancy something more active, the Severn Way is the longest riverside walk in England and terminates in Bristol.

If you prefer getting in the water than admiring it, the World Heritage Roman Baths in nearby Bath have reclaimed the steaming dipping pools for public use after years of restoration.

Wales

The redevelopment of Cardiff Docks has seen a run-down area transformed into a ‘little Covent Garden by the sea, especially since the opening of the Millennium Centre last November.

The Cardiff Bay Regatta (July 28-29) kicks off this summer’s Cardiff Harbour Festival along the waterfront, while Nelson Week has family activities, such as visits to the tall ship Tenacious.

Further afield, Wales plays host this year to two major maritime festivals: the Swansea Bay Summer Festival in June with the Welsh Power Boat Grand Prix; and the Cleddu Waterway Festival in Milford Haven.

Meanwhile, Wales continues to act as a magnet to adrenaline-seekers trying new sports such as kitesurfing and coast steering, especially around the Gower Peninsula and the Pembrokeshire coast.

Penzance

With the Atlantic crashing in on the beaches of Cornwall and the heart of Britain’s burgeoning waterspouts industry located along the coast, the South West is natural seafaring territory.

This year, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth hosts a major surfing exhibition from July 1 to December 1 in its Flotilla Gallery, celebrating Britain’s surf culture.

Newquay, the home of British surfing, boasts the Extreme Academy for the pick of adrenaline adventures.

Otherwise, nearby Plymouth Hoe is rich in maritime heritage as Frances Drake’s favourite bowels green and the National Maritime Aquarium Plymouth  has the deepest tank in Europe.

Newcastle

The Northeast’s cultural hub has transformed its waterfront in recent years with projects such as the award-winning Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the Sage Gateshead performing arts centre bringing new vibrancy to the area.

This summer the city will launch its own River Festival, the main event of which will be The Tall Ships’ Race, whereby 120 tall ships will drop anchor in the Tyne before setting sail across the North Sea to Norway.

The Northeast also features some of the best coarse and game fishing in the UK, not to mention great bracing walks, accompanied by seaside vistas, along the spectacular Cleveland Way walking trail.

Scotland

From the Tall Ships on the River Clyde, to the erstwhile Royal Yacht Britannia now berthed in the port of Leith, just outside Edinburgh, Scotland is also celebrating its maritime heritage this year.

This year’s Edinburgh Military Tattoo, running August 5-27, has a strong nautical theme, while the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, held in Portsoy Harbour, Aberdeenshire, from July 2-4, features one of the largest collections of traditional boats in the UK.

Meanwhile, the Glasgow River Festival celebrates its second year in 2005 with events along The Clyde. Special events will take place over the weekend at venues along the waterfront and on the river itself, including Glasgow Science Centre, The Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour and the SECC.

This summer will also see further completion of the Waterfront Edinburgh project, one of Scotland’s largest urban regeneration schemes to transform derelict land around Granton.

What did you think of this story? Post your comments below.

This story was first published in Hotline magazine in 2005.

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