Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Liverpool rocks!

Sorry it's all about the kids and our summer holiday doings at the moment, but that's all there is right now :) I am only Mummy Linda at the moment (this is what Matthew calls me, or sometimes it's just Linda).

Today we went to Liverpool on the train - it was quite an adventure! It took me a while to decide whether to drive or to go on the train, because while I know that it's quicker to drive, Liverpool roads scare me half to death and I can never remember how to get to the best car parks, and then how to get from the car parks to the right galleries, and there are just too many variables for me to consider. I'm not usually so pathetic, but Liverpool does this to me, makes me unsure of myself. So we went on the train, because I know that the Walker gallery is practically on the doorstep of the train station. Easy peasy. (Of course, I forgot that I seem to have some kind of curse hanging over me, that never fails to ensure that I will have a horrendous return journey - but a little more about that later.)

The boys were very excited about going on trains, but not so overexcited that they couldn't behave nicely. They were perfect! I was so proud. They had some colouring to keep them occupied, and they worked away diligently for the whole of the journey, playing 'I Spy...' at the same time (yes, it would seem that my boys can multitask!), and they kept asking funny questions about where we were going and what we could see out of the windows, making the older gentleman, whose table we have taken over, laugh quite a lot. One change at Preston, absolutely no problem, all children present and correct when we disembarked at Liverpool, all walking nicely and doing as they were asked.

Weird weather in Liverpool - when we got to the exit at the station I looked out and saw that it wasn't raining. We must have flicked some kind of weather switch as we stepped out the door though, as we were suddenly spat upon by all the Gods! Soaked almost to the skin within a matter of moments by a completely freaky downpour, that ended as quickly as it started. That was kind of fun :) The boys thought it was hilarious!

By the time we got to the Walker Gallery - what is it, about 200yds away from the station? - the sun was out and we were already starting to dry.

I had no definite plan for the day, but had it in my mind that we would do the Walker Gallery until the boys got bored (I expected them to last about an hour at the most), and then we would try to remember our way to the Tate on the Docks. I am very pleased and proud to be able to report that we stayed in the Walker for four and a half hours :D It was really fantastic. They have a kids' room, called the Big Art room, right by the entrance which is full of arty activities and books and all kinds of things to look at and touch and listen to. It's really great for creative kids, like mine :) Today one of the activities was Magic Maize, and the boys made a picture each using these things that look like Wotsits, that you wet and stick onto paper. Thomas made a plan of our house, James made a pumpkin, and Matthew made ... erm, something abstract.
So this here picture is Thomas, James and Matthew in the Big Art room - this look of concentration on Thomas's face was fixed in place for the whole afternoon: he used it in this room, he used it in the workshop upstairs, and he used it when he was sampling a chocolate torte in the cafe :)

We checked out some paintings on our way up to the First Floor, and James was very interested in them - he particularly liked Napolean Crossing the Alps (sorry, can't remember if names of paintings are italicised, or stuck in quotation marks!). Thomas was not so interested, which surprised me because he's been talking about how he wants to be an artist for the last few months. He was more interested in the sculpture display - that was very, very good, and we all liked that. We spent a lot of time looking at the sculptures and talking about what each figure was doing and who they were and when they would have been alive and what their stories were. Thomas liked looking at the materials that the sculptures were made from. Matthew liked telling us, in quite a loud voice, which ones were naked, and which ones had bottoms and boobies! If I hadn't have been laughing so much I might have been very embarrassed!

Upstairs on the First Floor there was a fantastic workshop going on, and that is where we spent the most time. A nice lady showed us one of *Lowri's famous paintings, and explained to the boys about the matchstick men, and invited them to make their own interpretation of the painting using pipecleaners, tissue paper, masking tape and coloured pens and pencils. All three boys made their own picture (which I will post pictures of later when I get chance to scan them), and sat so quietly and studiously for about an hour. I was stunned. I thought perhaps they would be content to work for fifteen minutes or so, but when I kept asking if they were enjoying themselves and if they were happy to stay, none of them looked up from their work, and each one nodded enthusiastically and grinned and said that they were having fun. Fantastic!

Laurence Stephen Lowry (1 November 1887 – 23 February 1976) was an English artist born in Barrett Street, Stretford, Lancashire. Many of his drawings and paintings depict nearby Salford and surrounding areas, including Pendlebury, where he lived and worked for over 40 years at 117 Station Road (B5231), opposite St. Mark's RC Church.

Lowry is famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial districts of Northern England during the early 20th century. He had a distinctive style of painting and is best known for urban landscapes peopled with human figures often referred to as "matchstick men". He also painted mysterious unpopulated landscapes, brooding portraits, and the secret 'marionette' works (the latter only found after his death).

Now for the story of the Mystery of the Missing Priceless Lowries. After we had finished our work in the Walker gallery, and had taken some refreshments in the cafe, and had purchased some small souvenirs in the gift shop, and had had a final loo stop before the train, we went outside for a leg stretch and some fresh air around the big-black-fountain (see photo). Another delightful half hour was spent here, the boys choosing to hare it around the fountain getting wet in the puddles and sprayed by the fountain water whenever the wind picked up. Another little boy came to play, and after a few minutes I noticed that he had made a Magic Maize picture as well. That was when I realised, with complete disabling horror, that our artwork had not left the gallery with us. In a second I knew exactly where I had left the beautiful pictures - on a shelf next to the sinks in the toilets! Without a moment's hesitation we were on our way back across the road to the gallery, hoping against the odds that the priceless works would still be there. Thomas was brave and fast and he ran ahead. Of course, the pictures were not to be found in the toilets. So, already sweaty and red in the face, I set off to find out who had stolen the precious pieces, that my boys had laboured over for hours. Half of our day had been spent on those masterpieces, and I was not about to just leave without them. I spoke to every person in uniform on both floors, asking, with tears in my eyes, if anyone had handed in any particularly impressive drawings. No-one was very helpful, or very interested, and didn't seem to think our loss was particularly important. I am not ashamed tell you all that I went back into the restroom and rooted through the bin - to no avail :(

But then, as we were about to give up and leave the gallery, I noticed a bin by the exit. In it were some large sheets of rolled up, slightly crumpled paper. I stopped breathing for a second, as my shaking hand reached into the bin to retrieve the treasure. Oh what a deep, deep sigh of relief we all breathed when we saw that the Lowries had been recovered! Phew! And that the was the story of the Mystery of the Missing Lowries :)

The big-black-fountain picture:

James posing for a photo out front of the Walker Gallery ('do you want to take a photo of me Mummy?' 'Where do you want me to stand Mummy?' 'Shall I stand up on this step Mummy?' 'Do you want me to smile like this Mummy?'):

James and Thomas looking at the lasered artwork in the pavement outside Lime Street station (I don't actually know if these reliefs were lasered, but they looked it):

Matthew making a run for it (this the first of many attempts to escape before we got back to Lancaster - this photo captures the exact moment that the devil entered his soul):

This is where the perfect day ended! Return journeys always go wrong for me for some reason or other, but it is enough to say that my children are not the most patient of little dudes when there is absolutely nothing to do, and will always resort to teasing each other and invading each other's personal space until two or more of them are howling and screaming loudly enough to make fellow travellers raise one eyebrow in disgust at my useless parenting. I never really like to think that my children embarrass me - I'm almost always so proud of them - but today they were pretty embarrassing, as they decided that it was going to be more fun to spend the journey (and particularly the waiting periods at Wigan and Preston) thwacking each other about the head and arms, and whining about having nothing to do. Matthew got possessed by some demons, and although he had no tantrums at all, did spend two full hours laughing his head off and saying very inappropriate things about 'bums' and 'poos' so that not only our carriage, but the whole train, could hear :) I had to keep one hand on him at all times to prevent him from legging it out of the door each time the train stopped, and to stop him from hurling himself onto the tracks at the stations.

I lost my patience lots on the way home, and kept promising that I would never take them on the train to Liverpool ever again. But now that I'm home and I'm thinking about the day, and am remembering that it was proper ace fun, and that even the adventure on the way home was pretty funny (only because I made it home with all three children) I think I will probably take them back to Liverpool quite soon :) They really did enjoy it, and it really was a huge success - one cannot expect absolutely every aspect of a day trip such as this to be completely perfect with a six-, a four- and a two-year-old to look after.

My next goal is to teach Thomas, James and Matthew to be patient when necessity dictates that we must sit for a time with absolutely nothing to do - I must teach them the art of intellectual conversation (trouble is that I don't know how to have that kind of conversation myself outside of Aberystwyth and without having imbibed several pints of snakebite and black!)

Might not post for a bit now, so I'll see you when I see you :)

Have fun.

1 comment:

  1. Fonts and line-spacings are being silly again :( Sorry.