Time Off and a Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey

Ronnie Hughes, Sociology, University of Liverpool, (2018 Cohort)

I don’t know about you, but as a post graduate well into his thesis it’s far too easy, tempting and can often feel as if it’s required for me to work all the time. To begin each morning with planning my reading, writing and research for the day. Reviewing how far I haven’t got by the evening and promising myself I’ll do better tomorrow when the cycle of the PGR day begins again. Sound familiar? Well let yourself off, because right now it’s still just about summertime and PGRs, students generally, need a break as much as anyone.

And yes these are difficult times and travelling to anywhere even not that far away is hard to impossible. But have you thought about going to the other side of the river from Liverpool? Because that’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks. Over to the Wirral where there are beautiful beaches, interesting places to walk to and employ, and you can read about my days out here on my blog. But it’s one in particular, the simplest of them all, that I want to tell you about here. About the day I got on the ferry, yes, across the Mersey.

It was one sunny morning early last week and I caught the early ferry to Birkenhead to have coffee in a new place a couple of friends had told me about. Which is quite a city sort of thing to be able to say isn’t it? But it’s about the city where you’re studying at the moment and I’m taking a bet, if you’re still reading, that you’ve never got up early one morning to do what I did on this holiday from my work?

The Mersey Ferries only run as commuter voyages in the early mornings and home time evenings. The rest of the days they’re on tourist trips doing circular tours for heaving boats-full of visitors around the Mersey Estuary. So I got to the Pier Head early. Me and hardly anyone else. In fact, just me and a bloke with the bike got  onto the mostly empty Peter Blake psychedelic-painted ferry. Which surprised me, because on any summer’s morning at all this seems unquestionably the best way to cross the river. I’m from Liverpool and so merely walking down that gangway I became as excited as a seven year old version of myself running up and down there when it was a more echoey and enclosed green and cream version of how it is today. No less excited as me and the bloke with the bike got on the ferry itself and sailed out across the water into what’s a seriously impressive river, one you get out there. The wide distance disappearing into the eastward mist towards upstream Runcorn. And behind you? Unquestionably the best view of the whole cityscape of Liverpool.

Too soon, anyway, I was arriving at Woodside on the Birkenhead bank. Remembering as we did my seven years old days when my brother and I would plead with our dad to let us

Stay on just one more time?!”

And back and forth we’d go for as long as our patient parent and the ferry conductor with his turn-the-handle ticket machine would let us.

All of those excitable days crossed the river with me again that Monday morning last week. Still so glad, even in this later dawn, to be alive in this place and arriving for the simple joy of a cup of coffee in somewhere new.

Which is quite a city sort of thing to be able to do isn’t it? So why don’t you? None of us should be working all the time, especially in the summer, and this is such an easy way of giving yourself the day off. The early ferry times are here, as is the suggestion that you then walk through Birkenhead to where I went for, in fact, two coffees. To Future Yard, up at the top end of Argyle Street, open from 9am and stylish, musical and interesting. Tell them I sent you!

You won’t be able to get the ferry back to Liverpool because it will have turned into a tourist boat now now. But Hamilton Square underground station is nearby, and by then you may well be singing the old Gerry and the Pacemakers’ song:

“We don’t care what your name is boy
We’ll never turn you away”

Because you’re very welcome here, we all are. So give yourself some time off to catch that Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey? You mostly work hard and you deserve it.

More about Future Yard, its why’s and what’s on’s here.


Tw  @asenseofplace1

a sense of place – visit my website and blog about my work, Liverpool and what really matters to me

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