The next morning I'm on the phone interviewing fencing coaches throughout the Manchester area in my continued quest (I suppose I haven't mentioned this before), to find out the history of British fencing. The calls are relatively unhelpful - no one seems to know the history of their art. Several recommend Richard Cohen's "By the Sword", though that book doesn't concern itself with British fencing specifically and only becomes truly accurate after the advent of electric fencing, which is about the point where I become disinterested.

Margaret drives over sometime towards mid-morning to pick up Sheila and I for a trip to Liverpool, my grandmother's hometown. On the way Margaret shows off her prodigious knowledge of the family tree by naming everyone in it back until before my grandmother. I try to keep up, but it's a lot of information all at once. All this takes a while and we arrive in Liverpool, still at it.

Liverpool's warehouse district has been converted into stores and restaurants and we walk among these as they intertwine the water's marge in a fractaline patterns in search of food, following which we return to the river to do what one must do in Liverpool: ferry across the Mersey. Later, when I tell my friends of achieving this life-long goal, they stare at me blankly, not having heard of the Mersey. Apparently, not everyone has grown up listening to the song.

But I have…

The Three Graces
We do a circular tour, holding hot cocoa and sitting outside, at the very front of the boat. Circling past Liverpool's seaside windmill farm we loop back and head upstream and, shortly, have the boat's safety messages memorised as it docks repeatedly at the far side of the river. On the far shore the Three Graces gaze stoically across at us, much as they may have stared at my grandmother, who is also a Grace.
Margaret, myself, and Sheila

The Three Graces only got that name officially in 02001, shortly before the Liverpool waterfront's 02004 induction as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between 01908 and 01916, the three buildings are now iconic of Liverpool. The Royal Liver building, on the left, was one of the world's first reinforced concrete buildings. It's also the roosting place of the Liver birds (Lie-ver), visible atop its towers, although Liverpool has been home to Liver birds since at least the 01350's. The birds face away from each other keeping watch over the City and the Sea, the People and their Prosperity. Should they get bored and face each other, they'd mate, fly away, and Liverpool would cease to exist. Fortunately, they don't do this while I'm there.

The Mersey's followed by visits to my grandmother's old residences. We tell stories as we go… how my great-grandfather built a boat in the backyard, and then had to flood the yard to get the boat over the back wall. How it had to be carried above head-level down the narrow alley. How they left the boat on the beach while they picked up the picnic supplies and came back to find that it was missing and he, without a trace of emotion, said he hoped someone was enjoying it. About the air raid shelter and gas masks he built.

Chris, Ian, Sheila (and destructive bunny), John, and I
After a stop by the cemetary and the big locks, we head back to Stockport and I to the train station. It's been a most perfect weekend. Thanks, Drake's!
And, because I knew you were missing it, here's another picture of Temple Meads.

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