Saturday, 21 November 2015

2015 - Day Out 17: Liverpool

Following on from our weekend break in London, it is time to go back on the coaches and this time Greenline Coaches will be taking Mr UKBuses and myself to Liverpool on what will be our last coach trip of 2015.

The Albert Docks
Time to go and catch the coach, so I make my way to Wollaston, where just after 07.30am, I board National Express West Midlands service 276 leaving on time, so I send a text to Mr UKBuses to tell him that we are on the way. Mr UKBuses boards at Norton and we make our way to Stourbridge, alighting at Stourbridge Interchange. A quick visit is had by Mr UKBuses to the cash point to top up his ever bulging wallet and we make our way to the pick up point in Birmingham Street where "fresh air" is had while waiting. It is getting cold as there is a sharp wind blowing so to hurry up the coach, I have some more "fresh air" and as I finish my break, the Greenline mini coach "Herbie" arrives. We board and take our seats and get ourselves warm. We are waiting for a few people still and after waiting ten minutes extra and the coach driver trying to contact the missing passengers, the coach driver is about to pull off until he sees a group of people running towards the coach (they waited at the ring road bus stop, the other side of Stourbridge). With all our passengers on board, we make our way to Colley Gate, where a few more passengers board, before making our way to Dudley, where we change onto the main coach.

Bram, Our Coach
We depart from Dudley just after 09.00am and we make our way through Bilston and onto the M6 motorway heading north, bypassing Stafford and Stoke on Trent. As we head further north, the coach driver pulls of the motorway at Sandbach Services, where after a comfort break, Mr UKBuses decides to wait in the queue for his McDonald's, whilst I pop next door where I have a BLT sandwich, which I have almost eaten by the time Mr UKBuses gets served and joins me. A "fresh air" break is had before we board the coach to complete our journey, once we take our seats and wait again for the same missing passengers earlier, we head back onto the M6 motorway and after passing Warrington, we turn off onto the M62 motorway which gets us to Liverpool, arriving at our drop off point, The Albert Docks, just before 11.30am, see picture above left. We alight our coach "Bram",see picture right, before we make our way into the city, a "fresh air" break is had.

We don't have far to walk and we make our way out of the docks and virtually opposite is Liverpool One, one of the main bus stations in Liverpool. After a few photographs are taken, we make our way to the travel centre situated in the bus station, where we purchase our Savaway All Areas day ticket. After asking for our day ticket, we are presented with a smartcard, The Walrus, which Merseytravel have recently introduced, so instead of showing the bus drivers our paper ticket, we just simply scan our card upon boarding our buses.

The Roscoe Head
Our first destination in Liverpool (and to get out of the cold), we catch a Stagecoach Merseyside service 86 bus which takes us from Liverpool One, through the city centre streets, where, as we reach Renshaw Street, we alight, and have a short walk into a side street and have a little warm in "The Roscoe Head", see picture left. This pub is under threat of closure with a campaign from the regulars to try and keep it open. After sampling the Roscoe Head, I can understand why they want to save it from closure, the bar staff are pleasant and friendly, it is an old fashioned pub with different rooms, if it wasn't for visiting other places in Liverpool, I could have stayed in The Roscoe Head for a few hours. After we finish our drinks we do have to go back out into the cold and make our way around the corner again into Renshaw Street, where as we arrive at the bus stop another Stagecoach Merseyside service 86 pull sup, so we board and we make our way back to Liverpool One.

Arriva Birkenhead Bus Depot
We alight at Liverpool One, where we decide to get a few more photographs. Our next destination is Birkenhead, the other side of the River Mersey. Looking at the time, we wouldn't be able to get to Pier Head to catch the famous ferry, so we have a walk through the main city centre streets, which are quite busy in the run up to Christmas. We arrive at Whitechapel, and get confused when we see a destination of Tower Hill on the buses going past, thinking that we are in London, rather than Liverpool. We have a few minutes wait and we board another Stagecoach Merseyside bus, Service 1 which takes us from Liverpool to Birkenhead bus station going underneath the River Mersey through the Queensway Tunnel. We alight at Birkenhead Bus Station and just miss our next bus, so have about twenty minutes to wait for our next bus. Whilst Mr UKBuses is taking a few photographs, I go in search of a toilet as the pint in The Roscoe Head has taken it's toll. I do find one which is out of order, so make my way back into the bus station after being pestered by a TalkTalk broadband man and take our place in the queue for our next bus. Our Arriva North West Bus pulls up and we board service 407, where after ten minutes we alight just past Mallaby Street and cross the road to take some photographs of the Arriva North Birkenhead Bus Depot, see picture right. After taking some photographs, we make our way to the bus stop where we see a Arriva North West Service 437 bus pull out of Mallaby Street, so a quick dash to the bus stop is taken, which we need not have done as their was a driver change about to take place. We take our seats and shortly arrive back at Birkenhead Bus Station.

The MacKenzie
Time for a warm again, so we decide to have a walk from the bus station past the J D Wetherpsoons (yes, Mr UKBuses did walk past!) and up Claughton Road, where after about five minutes we arrive at "The Mackenzie", see picture left, a pub we have been in before and after a few years away, the place hasn't changed. There are no real ales on, so a John Smith's Smoothpour is chosen and Mr UKBuses has a Guinness. Whilst Mr UKBuses is ordering I go for a long overdue comfort break, which was made worse between the depot and The Mackenzie with the now freezing winds. After watching a bit of football and resting our legs, we make our way back out into the cold and back to Birkenhead Bus Station, via the Pyramids Shopping Centre and being pestered again by a different TalkTalk Broadband person and also where Mr UKBuses makes another visit to the cash machine (twice in one day!). Instead of catching the bus to the ferry terminal at Seacombe, we decide to miss out the ferry due to the cold wind and get the bus back to Liverpool. We board a Stagecoach Gold Service 2 and head back under the River Mersey and back into Liverpool, alighting at Sir Thomas Street. We are getting a bit peckish now, so we make our way around the corner and into Queens Square, passing through the bus station and into the main shopping centre, where we decide to rest our feet and have something to eat at J D Wetherspoons "The Fall Well". Before we go to the bar, we decide to have a look around first to see if there are any tables available as the pub is quite full, we do luckily get a table towards the back after we spot someone leaving. We have a look at the menu and Mr UKBuses goes for the BBQ Chicken melt "without the melt" and a pint of Guinness and myself, I opt for the Gammon and a pint of real ale. I head towards the bar where it is taking ages to get served, but I eventually get served and somehow I end up with two pints of ale and a pint of Guinness, even though I have only ordered one real ale. As my pint was a porter and looks the same as Guinness, Mr UKBuses thinks he has an extra pint!! We wait about fifteen minutes and there is confusion and our meals are offered to someone else, as close by is another table with the same number as ours. We do eventually get our food and tuck in. With us fed and watered, we decide to make our way back outside.

We leave the Fall Well behind and make our way back through the busy shopping centre and back to Liverpool One, it is now too dark to take any photographs, so we head straight towards The Albert Docks and have about forty-five minutes to wait for our coach to pick us up. Mr UKBuses wants to go to "The Beatles Story" shop so he may be able to pick up a Christmas present, so we make our way around to the shop and after having a little look around, Mr UKBuses decides not to get a present after seeing the prices and nearly fainting. We leave the shop behind and still have a while to wait, so we head into the warmth and a few doors away there is a pub / restaurant which we decide to rest our feet. We head into the "Circo" Bar and Restaurant and I decide to nearly faint when it is my round and despite only having a pint and a soft drink, the round comes to over £6. We take a seat overlooking the Albert Docks and before leaving I make sure that every drop is drunk out of the glass. We head back out and around the corner where our coach is waiting. A "fresh air" break is had before we board and we take our seats and get warm again. There are a few people left to board and a few minutes after we are supposed to have departed, the missing passengers (guess who?) turn up and we are on our way.

We head back out of Liverpool and back onto the M62 motorway and eventually back onto the M6 motorway, bound for the West Midlands. There has been an accident further ahead along the motorway, so as we battle our way through the traffic, Mark, our coach driver decides to quickly pull into Knutsford Services so anyone could have a quick comfort break. I opt for a "fresh air" break and board the coach and we are waiting for our favourite passengers again before we head back out onto the M6 motorway, where the traffic is moving more quickly now. We head back towards the West Midlands and are nearing Stoke On Trent where the coach driver decides to have a proper break now and we pull into Keele Services where we have about twenty minutes to stretch our legs. "Fresh air" is had and we board our coach again, where our favourite passengers are yet again late coming back to the coach. We head back onto the motorway and alight at Junction 10, where we head to Dudley arriving at 07.50pm. We change back onto the mini coach, "Herbie" again and yet again even though we are just changing coaches, our favourite passengers take there time. After they board we make our way through to Colley Gate and back to Stourbridge where we alight in Birmingham Street. Luckily this time we have plenty of time to walk up to Stourbridge Interchange and also some more "fresh air" is had along the way. We board the National Express West Midlands service 276 at 08.35pm, saying goodbye to Mr UKBuses when he alights at Norton and I carry on to Wollaston where I alight and have a nightcap or two at "Grahams Place" and "The Unicorn" before getting back home to rest my legs. 

Despite a freezing cold wind, another great day out was had in Merseyside, with thanks to Greenline Coaches, our coach driver Mark and the company of Mr UKBuses, speaking of Mr UKBuses, his bald spot made an appearance in the cold weather:

Bald Spot 1

Bald Spot 1: The Bald Spot causes glaring issues at The Albert Docks.

Bald Spot 2

Bald Spot 2: The Bald Spot tries to hide at Arriva Birkenhead Bus Depot

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