I'm also talking about how much there is to do outside our homes - parties, shows, Christmas events, Christmas markets ... I think we've been out more in the last few weeks than we have been all year! It's all good fun though, and small daughter in particular has enjoyed this weekend as we've been to a couple of things as part of a big group of friends (you can't beat group ticket reductions!).
On Friday night, we went to the Lowry Theatre in Manchester to see the Horrible Histories show "Horrible Christmas". If you don't have younger children then Horrible Histories might have passed you by - it started off as a series of books which focussed on the more gruesome (and some would say more interesting) parts of history written in a child-friendly way to encourage interest in times gone by. It's grown in popularity to the point now that there is a TV show, stage shows and small daughter and I even watched a film about William Shakespeare from the Horrible Histories stable recently. I must admit that I am not a huge fan of the TV series so I was not overly keen to go to this show, but small daughter was very excited about it (especially as she knew she was going with her best friend and it was going to be a Night Out). And as so often happens when we're not looking forward to something, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was good fun, and quite cleverly done too - lots of historical facts (that small daughter is still repeating to me) woven into the story along with singing, dancing and a fair bit of zooming around on electric scooters. It really felt quite Christmassy! Sadly, though, the rain that we had to dash through to get to the theatre wasn't in the least bit festive although the tree looked pretty with it's reflection in a puddle.
We were out again on Saturday night - another concert! Two concerts in the space of a couple of weeks! My husband came with me to this one; it was a band called The Icicle Works which is another 1980s favourite of mine. Quite different to the Deacon Blue concert I went to at the Liverpool Echo Arena, this one was in a venue popular with students and indie bands and by the time we got there it was already rather hot and sweaty and the floor was awash with spilt beer. It was just like being 18 again!
What did surprise me was that when I looked around the place was full of middle aged people. "Why are all these older people here?" I wondered, "it should be full of teenagers like me!" and then I remembered .... J
There wasn't any time off from the Christmas fun even on Sunday as we were back out again with small daughter's friend and her family and on our way to Liverpool by train. I may have taken my knitting with me for the journey - I've realised that I don't spend nearly as much time in the car waiting for small daughter as I used to so progress on the Neat Ripple sock hasn't been as quick as I expected. A 40 minute train journey was just the thing to get a bit more done!
We were on our way to see the Dreamworks Lights Lantern Experience at St George's Hall and the Christmas market which was set out in front of the Hall. Our ticket for the lights show was at 2.30pm so we arrived in time for some lunch. There was no shortage of stalls to choose from - German sausages, Polish potato dishes, noodles, curries, chips, mulled wine and gin, cakes, marshmallows and other sweet treats ... we were spoilt for choice! I loved the huge pans that were used on several of the stalls - these were full of garlic mushrooms.
The children were fascinated by ketchup apparently dispensed from an udder ...
Big daughter and I opted for garlic mushrooms and seasoned fries whilst small daughter was tempted by a huge chicken burger on a brioche bun. Oh yes, and I did succumb to the mulled wine as it would be a few hours before we were getting back into the car. It might not have been crisp and frosty which would have been a perfect setting for a Christmas market, but mulled wine always helps the festive feelings along J
We still had an hour or so before our allotted time so we wandered around the stalls for a bit. Most of the stalls seemed to be selling food, but there were a few that had gifts, such as personalised Christmas decorations, wind chimes, wooden plaques and this stall, which sold these rather beautiful stars and a whole range of felted heads.
After we'd seen all the stalls, we headed across the cobbled plaza to the Walker Art Gallery where there's a special children's hands-on room. It's free to go in (although the gallery does ask for donations) and is worth a visit if you're in Liverpool. We find all the museums in the city are great for children and they're all free so it makes for a good day out.
The gallery was hosting a special installation of the biggest Felix the Cat that I've ever seen in my life. He looks rather smug sitting there at the top of the stairs, doesn't he?
This notice on the wall made me laugh ...
Then it was our turn to go into St George's Hall to see the lights show. It's a series of tableaux telling the stories of Kung Fu Panda, Shrek and Madagascar with music and videos. The sets take you from room to room inside the hall as you follow the stories. It might have been a bit young for small daughter and her friends, to be honest, but her friend's little sister enjoyed it and we saw lots of young children having a great time. I think small daughter enjoyed being with her friends best of all and there was certainly lots of joking and laughter going on.
St George's Hall is a grand building which overlooks the city centre. There are often exhibitions that you can visit so that you can see inside, and it's used as a film location too (some of the new J K Rowling film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was apparently filmed here) so you might be more familiar with the interior than you think! I admired the beautiful ceiling ...
and this carving on the door. SPQL stands for Senatus Populusque Liverpudliensis (or Liverpoliensis) meaning "The Senate and People of Liverpool". If you think you've seen something similar before, you'll be right as it's modelled on the letters SPQR which referred to the government system of ancient Rome.
I was also very taken by the stone carvings. "Muuum, not more acorns!" said small daughter on more than one occasion as I stopped to take yet another photo. I'm fascinated by sculpture and how a block of stone can be made to look like leaves and acorns. I'm even more fascinated by how blocks of stone are made to look as if they have limbs barely covered by clothes, but we were here to look at modern characters, not "the old stuff", so I'll just show you one picture of acorns if I may and then we'll move on J.
By the time we came out of the Hall, it was going dark. The Christmas market looked much more Christmassy and the temperature had dropped so it felt more Christmassy as well.
Liverpool was outlined against the sunset sky and it was time to get our train home.
It was a good weekend.
I'd better go and finish wrapping those presents because the dog doesn't seem to be interested in doing them for me. Time for Arthur Christmas and a mince pie, I think!