We were briefly in North Wales earlier in the week, Hawarden specifically, Ants’ ancestral home. It’s been 2 long years since we’ve been back, so it was lovely, as always to see Anthea. Family reunited.
On a drive over to the Wirral, we went to Rock Ferry at Birkenhead with Liverpool looming across the murky Mersey where it meets the Irish Sea. There’s been a ferry service here at Rock Ferry since the 17th Century, but its heyday was the late 19th Century and early 1900’s when over 1 million passengers crossed these waters. Local maritime industries have long gone from here with the slipway merging into the river, the rusting piers and the ghost hulks of half-submerged boats all that’s left.
There are some imposing grand villas facing the river at Rock Ferry that must have housed some pretty wealthy people back in the day. Alas now-a-days these magnificent character-full buildings have fallen into some disrepair or have become flats, but there’s a sense of hopeful rejuvenation in the air.
I have to say I’m a sucker for industrial landscapes. There’s an eerie sense of the ‘ghost in the machine’, of abandonment – in many cases as if the workers have just downed their tools and disappeared. The mossy Rock Ferry slipway and pier have long since seen their working heyday, rusting away into the Mersey, a haunting reminder of glory days.
We had lunch at The Refreshment Rooms, adjacent to the Rock Ferry pier. It was the original refreshment room for the cross-Mersey ferry in the 1880’s. It too had lain neglected for some years before restoration in 2012, so today there’s a real sense of a working 19th Century pier. Anthea had the local hero dish, Scouse* which traditionally around these parts was made from leftovers and whatever was around at the time, though here at The Refreshment Rooms it has become a rather delicious winter stew of lamb and beef, veggies and pickled red cabbage, accompanied perhaps by lashings of Worcestershire sauce. Anthea can confirm that it was indeed delicious. I plonked for the locally caught Cod ‘n Chips with a mouth-wateringly tasty and rather unusual salt and vinegar sauce and of course, mushy peas.