On the Liverpool

Founded in 1207 along the River Mersey, Liuerpool (meaning thick/muddy creek) grew from a fishing village to an important location for the English military, an important seaport in the 1600s regarding trading with the new world, followed by an important industrial center.

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Today’s Liverpool is a vibrant center of culture and urban rebirth that also embraces its heritage. After all, look who we saw along the waterfront. Sorry to say that we missed their local tour that includes real places as Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, their childhood homes, and more.

Today’s downtown is a modernized center popularized by Liverpool history with music, the arts, and nightlife. The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, A Flock of Seagulls, and others are rooted in Liverpool’s fabric and heritage.The area around Temple Court, Mathew Street, and Ramford Square is highlighted with music venues, historic landmarks, and other stores boosting its heritage.

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City Center is multiple-block, pedestrian shopping area with a wide variety of stores a short distance away – and not far from the waterfront and the cruise terminal. Today’s waterfront bustles with food, entertainment, shopping, hotels, amusement, and museums.

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… and yes – including a ferry to cross the Mersey.

For other posts about our time in the British Isles, click here.

Next post is a surprise. Hmmmm … Wonder what/where?

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 340

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Sorry to interrupt the cruise tour of the British Isles, but think of Opinions in the Shorts as a cruise day without a port. So far we’ve visited Guernsey, Cork, Cobh, and Dublin. Do you have a favorite? Liverpool is the next stop sometime Saturday.

Last week I forgot to mention the passing of Henry, Fiona’s father. Henry was up in age (36) for a hippo, had a hard time fighting an infection that eventually led to kidney failure. Here’s a positive column at the hippo family from the Cincinnati Enquirer focusing on Henry.

Two weeks to go on the current season of Dancing With The Stars. There is no question in my mind that Jordan Fisher is the best dancer. The question: Will the fan voting validate that point?

We the movie LBJ. We enjoyed it, but I’m not sure how long it will stay in theaters.

It’s Cincinnati Pizza Week … and as of this writing, we have yet to participate. 😦

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Some say that Tuesday’s election served as an anti-Trump referendum. My thoughts on that point.

  • Not only are some voters predictable partisan, another slice is fickle – fluid – always changing with the flow.
  • New Jersey: A Democrat wins the governor’s race replacing a Republican in a solid Democratic state. NOPE
  • Virginia: A Democrat wins the governor’s race replacing a Democrat in a state won by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. NOPE.
  • Virginia: Democrats unseating 15 Republicans in the state Legislature. BINGO!
  • Maine: Voters solidly passed Medicaid expansion over objections from their Republican governor. YAHTZEE! … at least in terms of health care.

Last week’s shooting at a church in Texas brings forth numerous emotions: including the typical Republican response saying the situation is not a gun issue, but a mental health issue – which sparks me to ask two questions: What have the Republicans done to address mental health issues in the past 10 years? Why haven’t the Democrats pushed the Republicans on their own words?

I looked at the GOP tax-form postcard. Whereas the current tax form follows a list-to-list-then-calculate format, card filers must complete calculations “off” the postcard before entering a value. In other words, simplifying the process and the code is a ruse – but it is in need of a thorough review!

About the tax plan, I liked this article from Politico.

Several weeks ago I watched an interview with columnist Thomas Friedman. I like his analogy (and I paraphrase). Donald Trump and many of his supporters are first paragraph people. The first paragraph states a position as “get rid of (fill in the blank)” (NAFTA, the Iran Nuclear Deal, or whatever). But when faced with the “then-what” question, they don’t have an answer because there isn’t a second or third paragraph.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers tips for getting organized.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man resolves to read the Wikipedia tabs he has already open before starting new ones
Woman wearing jacket indulging in forbidden pleasure of having pockets
Excitement shifts to concern after coworker brings baked goods into office for fourth consecutive day
Styrofoam to spend next 500 years reflecting on how well it protected blender in transport
Office bad boy sees right through team-building exercise

Interesting Reads
Linking forensics and doll houses
The power of Calypso music
Dodger Stadium: The communities it replaced
The Lady Gaga of the 1920s
Science transforming the world
US cars is Japan

For your weekend entertainment, here’s another classic that still sounds great today. Besides, the next cruise stop is Liverpool. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Dublin

Dublin – Located on the River Liffey where its mouth meets the Irish Sea. This 9th century Viking settlement has grown into Ireland’s largest city and capital.

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Dublin – The place I initially called “the most walkable” city on the trip, this vibrant city embraces its rich in history. Home to Yeats, Beckett, Shaw, Wilde, Swift, Stoker, and others, Dublin is a UNESCO City of Literature.

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Dublin – Home to Trinity College (founded in 1592), a prestigious university in the likes of Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford, and US Ivy League schools.

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Dublin – Home to Dublin Castle, the fortified center of the Norman Empire

Dublin – Home to two distinguished cathedrals of the Church of Ireland (Anglican): Christ Church and St. Patrick’s.

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Dublin – Home to Guinness, the creamy brew that tastes better in Ireland than elsewhere. The Guinness family has also done much for local residents. We regretfully didn’t take the tour.

Dublin – Home to Ireland’s Famine Memorial – a somber collection of bronze statues along the River Liffey’s north bank about the 1845-1849 famine.

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One of the benefits of cruising is being able to see many destinations. On the down side, time is short in the port. From what I observed, Dublin is a city I would be willing to return for multiple days. Here’s a 3-minute video providing a short overview of this wonderful city.

For other posts about our time in the British Isles, click here.

Next stop: Across the Irish Sea to Liverpool

On Back in Cobh

Cohb is along Ireland’s southern coast. Given its large natural harbor, it serves the entire area, including Cork. After a day in Guernsey in the English Channel, the Caribbean Princess docks in Cobh to give passengers access to Cork, Blarney Castle, and the rest of southern Ireland. After time in Cork, we spent our remaining time wandering Cobh.

Although the area’s history goes back to 1000 BC, Cobh was first called Cove, but from 1849-1920 it was known as Queenstown, then the name change to Cobh (which is Gaelic for cove).

The first striking figure that is more than obvious is St. Coleman’s Cathedral (Roman Catholic) – a neo-Gothic structure towering over the waterfront.

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A statue of Annie Moore and her brothers greeted us at the dock. Annie Moore was the first person admitted into the US through the new emigration center at Ellis Island on January 1, 1892. Besides the Moores, between 1848-1959 over 2.5 million emigrated from Cobh in their search for new lives in new lands.

The town square is a short walk from dock – and an ominous statue greets visitors – the Lusitania Memorial Monument. On 7 May 1915 a German u-boat sunk the RMS Lusitania as it was en route to Liverpool – 1198 died and 700 survived. Because Cobh (then called Queenstown) was a base for British and American naval forces, rescuers brought survivors and recovered dead bodies to Cobh – therefore 167 are buried in Cobh.

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Three years before the Lusitania disaster, Cobh was the final port-of-call for the RMS Titanic (123 passengers boarded). The Titanic Experience is an attraction located in original White Star ticket office. When we arrived, tickets were sold out, but we heard good comments about it.

Up the hill we went to see the cathedral. The barricades are for a balls-racing-down-the-hill event, a fundraising effort we unfortunately missed.

It took 47 years to build (1868-1915) St. Coleman. An outstanding structure with a grand organ having 2,468 pipes and a tower including a 49-bell carillon.

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The plaza around St. Coleman provides excellent views of Cobh and the harbor region.

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Because of its maritime heritage, here’s a song by the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Maken about Cobh meeting the needs of sailors. Next stop: Dublin, Ireland

On Time in Cork

After a relaxing day in Guernsey, we arrived in Cobh, Ireland – the port for Cork – the main city in southern Ireland. We initially planned to visit Blarney Castle, but those plans changed (the night before) after discovering the day was a holiday. (A good decision because we eventually learned that Blarney Castle was packed with people!)

Cobh, Ireland is one of the main ports in southern Ireland. We initially planned to travel to Cork (by train) to catch a bus for Blarney Castle. However, we heard that the day as an Irish bank holiday, so we scratched Blarney because we thought it would be extra crowded. (We heard that was true).

Cobh’s train station is beside the dock, so a 20-minute inexpensive train ride took us to Cork.

Given the holiday, it seemed many of the 125,000 inhabitants we either elsewhere or inside. Many businesses were closed and the city wasn’t bustling with people. Although a quiet day, we still had a good day walking in the city founded by the Vikings in the 6th century A.D. along the River Lee.

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Because we suddenly changed our plans for this day, we stumbled across this gem early in our day. A church on a hill caught our attention, so we migrated that way – and oh what a treasure would await us.

Built in 1722, Church of St. Anne (Anglican, Church of Ireland) with its towers provides a striking landmark above the city. We walked the 132 steps to the top for a beautiful 360-degree view of the city and surrounding region.

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The Firken Crane is directly below – a name that caught my attention. 🙂 It’s history is tied to the butter industry, but today it the the Institute of Choreography and Dance.

St. Anne’s tower is well-known for it’s bells. Given its location within Cork’s Shandon district, the bells are also known as The Bells of Shandon. Famous enough to have a song written about them.

For us, the trip to the tower’s top provided an added bonus. The first stop along the narrow corridor was the bell ringing station – actually known as change ringing. They provided a songbook for visitors to ring. After ringing, we continued our journey to the top, which included passing very close to the bells – as they were ringing! – so visitors are required to wear devices to protect their hearing.

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Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral (Anglican, Church of Ireland) is one of Cork’s must-visit locations. This gothic-styled cathedral built in 1879 is impressive.

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Elizabeth Fort sits on a hill south of the medieval town near St. Fin Barre. Built in 1601, its history includes time as a fort, military barracks, prison, police station, and tourist attraction. Actually unimpressive, but it has a historical role in the region.

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St. Patrick’s Street is a downtown shopping district that now includes pedestrian friendly streets. Unfortunately for us, many businesses were closed due to the holiday. That gave us time to return to Cobh to examines the quaint setting near the dock, which will be the next stop on this tour. Meanwhile, enjoy this 4-minute walking tour of Cork.

On a Stop in Guernsey

After boarding in Southampton (and visiting the lunch buffet), we set sail to cross the English Channel. Coincidentally, the Titanic originally departed Southampton for a 12-night cruise. Little did we know how many times we would encounter the legendary ship in the days ahead. (Reported on this past post).

The next morning we awaken anchored in the water of St. Peter Port – the capital of Guernsey.

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The currency in Guernsey is the Pound Sterling – but – this was our first encounter with something we didn’t anticipate – and would encounter it several more times during the trip. Although Guernsey has a currency union with the UK, Guernsey issues their own currency. They take British pounds but return Guernsey pounds as change – which may or may not be accepted elsewhere in the UK.

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It’s a quaint town of about 18,000 people, but it was Sunday, so many of the stores were closed – therefore, a great day to walk the cobbled, narrow, sometimes steep streets of its old town.

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We couldn’t find poet Victor Hugo’s house, but we enjoyed the views in the search.

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Castle Cornet stands on the rocks guarding the harbor – a site that has housed protection since the early 1200s.

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Our journey would not have many sea days (a day without a port). But after 4 days in London, we welcomed a less-hectic day.  Next stop: Cobh, Ireland

Enjoy a final walk around St. Peter Port, Guernsey.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 339

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Well, the handbell monstrous piece is over – finally over – and at least out of our folder of music (although I fear it will return). We played it OK – but not our best – probably better from the director’s position than from mine. I gave us a C. Now we race to prepare a piece for an upcoming November service (1 more rehearsal), followed by the hectic month of December with the Christmas services.

Congratulations to the Houston Astros for winning baseball’s World Series. What a great thrill for a city still a long way from recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

The double elimination on Dancing With the Stars most definitely was a Halloween surprise.

I’m making headway with the vacation posts; so one may appear this weekend.

Many of heard the saying “all politics are local.” We attended a Meet the Candidates night of city council candidates. Even local politicians seem to have a way of not answering questions. Yep – I say, Throw the bums out – so I will not be voting for any of the 3 incumbents.

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On initial assessment, I like the Republican idea of decreasing contributions to 401(k) accounts. As a matter of fact, I could be more aggressive. But they seem to have given up on the idea.

Last week I listed 10 verbs of President Trump’s leadership style. Here’s one more – forgetting.

Republicans say tax reform would grow the economy by 10%. News Flash! Growing from 1% to 1.1% will not take care of the tax reform plans debt. Therefore, 3-to-5% growth in the current GDP (from President Trump’s own Council of Economic Advisors) through the corporate tax cuts would be minuscule … and all that is different than tripling the growth to 3% (said by others). So then, why the disparity – even within the same party?

For those wanting President Trump’s impeachment, I say, Be careful what you wish for.

I will not be surprised if the newly released Kennedy assassination papers indicate Obama was at fault … Who else could have work with Oswald in such secrecy? Now that’s a powerful and destined 2-year-old.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion identifies the most popular Halloween costumes for couples.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Delirious koala hasn’t slept for 72 straight minutes
Most incompetent office worker once again shines at office Halloween party
Startling reports indicates Democrats may have attempted to influence 2016 election
Man wouldn’t have worn costume to work if he’d known he was getting laid off
Alpha trick-or-treater established by third house

Interesting Reads
Protestantism 500 years later
Leonidas of Rhodes
Dark matter & Halloween
Making Mt. Rushmore
Hardy spuds
Spanish Celtics

For your weekend entertainment, fortunately those no longer with us left their music. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.