All posts by Graham Miln

The Giants in Liverpool

We had no idea The Giants would be in Liverpool. They appear in Liverpool every two years for one weekend only. The Giants come from Nantes and perform a circuit that sees this spectacle travel across Europe.

The puppets themselves are stunning. The crew powering their movements are impressive, highly coordinated, and dressed delightfully.

During the weekend, The Giants travelled across Liverpool performing a story. It was captivating and we were able to attend two sessions. We saw all three of the characters present this year. In past years a diver, the father of the granddaughter we saw, had been involved but he was not around this year.

The crowds in Liverpool were huge but easy going. We heard a father tell his family not to worry about getting too close. There was no need push forward. The Giants were tall enough that almost any viewing point would be a good location. It was good advice and he was proved right.

The rig holding the puppets was over six metres tall. Yet while watching the puppets it was easy to forget about the ropes, pulleys, and crew behind the motion.

To walk the grandmother, members of the crew leap off a platform pulling down with their body weight against a rope. Each leap was coordinated with another member of crew leaping off the other side of the same platform. In this way the grandmother’s legs lifted and she appeared to walk.

The use of three languages was a treat: German, French, and English were all used. The grandmother told her story in German, the crew spoke in French, and the narrator spoke to the assembled crowds in English.

I have put together a short film of The Giants.

The soon to be filled water front
The soon to be filled water front
A television van waits for The Giants to appear
A television van waits for The Giants to appear
Crowds gather to see The Giants
Crowds gather to see The Giants
The Grandmother
The Grandmother
The Grandmother
The Grandmother
The Grandmother
The Grandmother
The Grandmother
The Grandmother
The Grandmother
The Grandmother
The Grandmother
The Grandmother
Crew pull ropes and pulleys
Crew pull ropes and pulleys
Crew jump off the platform to lift each leg
Crew jump off the platform to lift each leg
The Grandmother walks away from The Three Graces
The Grandmother walks away from The Three Graces
The Grandmother appears on the horizon
The Grandmother appears on the horizon
A helicopter hovers overhead
A helicopter hovers overhead
The Giant Little Girl
The Giant Little Girl
The Giant Little Girl
The Giant Little Girl
A complex rig backs each giant
A complex rig backs each giant
Xolo
Xolo
Giant Little Girl resting
Giant Little Girl resting
Xolo resting
Xolo resting
Grandmother resting
Grandmother resting

We should have known about The Giants visit beforehand. We did not but were lucky. It was a highlight of our trip to Liverpool this summer.

Sitting on Art

Inside the wonderful Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, is a selection of classic chair designs. You can sit in each, enjoy – or suffer – their design, and then hop to the next classic design.

As someone who has a thing about chairs, my photograph of a cardboard chair from 2008 is a great example, this exhibit was a delight.

Marcel Breuer, armchair, designed 1925 – 1927
Marcel Breuer, armchair, designed 1925 – 1927
Charles and Ray Eames, LCW (lounge chair wood), designed 1945
Charles and Ray Eames, LCW (lounge chair wood), designed 1945
Harry Bertoia, Diamond chair, model no 421, designed or Knoll, 1950 – 1952
Harry Bertoia, Diamond chair, model no 421, designed or Knoll, 1950 – 1952
Verner Panton, Panton chair, designed for Vitra, 1959 – 1960
Verner Panton, Panton chair, designed for Vitra, 1959 – 1960
Verner Panton, Panton chair, designed for Vitra, 1959 – 1960
Verner Panton, Panton chair, designed for Vitra, 1959 – 1960
Philippe Starke, Dr Glob chair, designed for Kartell, 1988
Philippe Starke, Dr Glob chair, designed for Kartell, 1988

That last chair was designed by the same Philippe Starke who designed the Free.fr Revolution box connecting me to the Internet.

Ferry Across the Mersey

On our must do list for Liverpool was taking the ferry across the Mersey river. The song immortalised the idea and that same song played on loop as we stood in line waiting to board.

The ferry ride was fun. We spent the better part of an hour going on the full loop. Getting off the ferry where we had originally boarded.

Liverpool's modern ferry terminal near The Three Graces
Liverpool’s modern ferry terminal near The Three Graces
Gerry & The Pacemakers's song played as we waited
Gerry & The Pacemakers’s song played as we waited
The ferry was busy but not uncomfortable
The ferry was busy but not uncomfortable

The banks of the Mersey were varied. Ranging from rows of neat housing to industrial yards and docks. A few wind turbines stood proudly and in the distance I could see the cranes for loading and unloading the cargo ships.

Abandoned industrial buildings await revival
Abandoned industrial buildings await revival
Where the new development stops, older builds await attention
Where the new development stops, older builds await attention
Tower visible on the banks of the Mersey
Tower visible on the banks of the Mersey
Wind turbines dots the banks
Wind turbines dots the banks
Cranes for the ocean going cargo ships
Cranes for the ocean going cargo ships
Neat rows of houses descend almost to the water's edge
Neat rows of houses descend almost to the water’s edge
Sign on walkway of a ferry stop
Sign on walkway of a ferry stop
Crew make the ferry safe to board
Crew make the ferry safe to board
Wood footings in the Mersey
Wood footings in the Mersey
Liverpool Museum seen from the Mersey ferry
Liverpool Museum seen from the Mersey ferry
The Three Graces seen from the Mersey ferry
The Three Graces seen from the Mersey ferry

I had fun taking photos trying to capture birds in flight.

Birds flock around waiting for feeding
Birds flock around waiting for feeding
Bird mid-flight near the ferry
Bird mid-flight near the ferry
Bird cruising along the ferry
Bird cruising along the ferry
Sea gull swoops low along the ferry side
Sea gull swoops low along the ferry side

Liverpool

We were in for an unexpected treat visiting Liverpool. We arrived by train from Manchester. A short journey of no more than thirty minutes. The difference between Manchester and Liverpool was striking.

I felt Liverpool was more comfortable with itself than Manchester. Not sure why I have that notion about a city but it felt calmer, less forward, and easier going.

Manchester’s relationship to Liverpool feels like Sydney‘s relationship to Melbourne. One has the buzz and glamour, the other does not. Each city has a role and attracts different crowds. I happen to tend towards the less glitzy of both.

Liverpool Lime Street Station
Liverpool Lime Street Station
Clock in Liverpool Lime Street Station
Clock in Liverpool Lime Street Station
Our first view of Liverpool
Our first view of Liverpool
Digital pixel art carved into stone
Digital pixel art carved into stone
A Liverpool city street
A Liverpool city street
A grand street in Liverpool
A grand street in Liverpool
Grand building in Liverpool
Grand building in Liverpool

We stayed in an Ibis Styles hotel for the first time. The room was decorated in a “unique fashion” as explained in the hotel litrature; not always an appealing prospect it turns out. Something unsettling about having iconic faces plastered all over the walls of a small hotel room.

Ibis Styles room in Liverpool
Ibis Styles room in Liverpool

Liverpool has a wealth of galleries and museums. We were spoilt for choice and, as is common in the United Kingdom, many were completely free.

Modern shopping centre of Liverpool city
Modern shopping centre of Liverpool city
A seagull eyes our sandwiches
A seagull eyes our sandwiches
Waterfront in Liverpool
Waterfront in Liverpool
Liverpool Museum
Liverpool Museum
TATE art gallery in Liverpool
TATE art gallery in Liverpool
The famous ferry going across the Mersey River
The famous ferry going across the Mersey River
The Three Graces, three iconic Liverpool buildings
The Three Graces, three iconic Liverpool buildings
The "new" cathedral in Liverpool
The “new” cathedral in Liverpool
Liverpool's modern cathedral
Liverpool’s modern cathedral
Gate marking Chinatown in Liverpool
Gate marking Chinatown in Liverpool

Clearly Liverpool would be amiss if the businesses and city council did not make the most from its musical background. The Beatles are referenced frequently and at least a few businesses have taken it upon themselves to blur the facts to aid tourist footfall. Exactly which bar is the original Cavern Club again?

The Beatles are celebrated in Liverpool
The Beatles are celebrated in Liverpool
The Beatles souvenirs for sale
The Beatles souvenirs for sale
Boats moored near the TATE gallery
Boats moored near the TATE gallery

Along the Riverside

The riverbank of the Saône is being renovated. New paths, walks, and facilities are being constructed. The result will be grand, impressive, and well trafficked.

This post is about a different, less grand, bank of the Rhône river. A somewhat less trodden section that thanks to a new footbridge is now easily accessible from our apartment.

Three new bridges have been built in Lyon recently. We set out this weekend to cross one and then walk down towards the city centre.

The new bridge has a clever design that combines two paths into one structure: one flat and one curved.

Two paths join two levels of the river banks.
Two paths join two levels of the river banks.
Seats where the two paths join on the bridge.
Seats where the two paths join on the bridge.
A wide flat path spans the higher bank edges.
A wide flat path spans the higher bank edges.
Curves meet straight edges all over the bridge.
Curves meet straight edges all over the bridge.
One of Lyon's new bridges.
One of Lyon’s new bridges.

The walk from the west bank down to Lyon’s opera house was a mixture of delightful, narrowing, and surprising.

The crisp dry leaves on the path were delightful. I enjoyed kicking up the leaves with each stride. A simple pleasure.

A bird sits on a mooring in the river.
A bird sits on a mooring in the river.
Leaves cover the path at a junction.
Leaves cover the path at a junction.
Crisp dry leaves crunch underfoot
Crisp dry leaves crunch underfoot

The path narrowed along one section. Enough for us to question if the path would suddenly stop or become impossible to continue along.

The road and path follow the same route along the river.
The road and path follow the same route along the river.
The path transforms along the route.
The path transforms along the route.

The surprise came near the end. A small encampment appeared. We knew of larger encampments on the outskirts of the city, but I had not seen one in the centre.

An encampment near Lyon's Opera House and Town Hall.
An encampment near Lyon’s Opera House and Town Hall.

We walked through the camp and emerged onto the street near the opera house and town hall.

Pavement near the Opera House and Town Hall
Pavement near the Opera House and Town Hall
Road tunnels in Lyon.
Road tunnels in Lyon.
Autumn peaks through at the end of the street.
Autumn peaks through at the end of the street.