Cities Liverpool Wonderland MicroAdventures

I’m taking the kids back to my Liverpool childhood

Written by Kirstie Pelling

Ferry Across the Mersey. I know it so well from growing up here.
Image: The Mersey Partnership

I’m taking the kids back to my Liverpool childhood

It all starts online, like most things do these days. I am looking for accommodation for a pre-Christmas city break. I don’t really have a location in mind. Barcelona perhaps? Or Edinburgh? Wimdu, the site I’m searching, has around thirty thousand properties spread across the world, so it’s not like I’m going to be short of choice.

For some reason I click on accommodation in Liverpool. Now if I had to make a list of places I’d choose to go on holiday, Liverpool probably wouldn’t be at the top. OK sure, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and a former European Capital of Culture and a fashion icon and a football paradise and a Beatles Mecca. And it has what I call the whacker ducker, or if you’re not Scouse, a yellow floating duck bus. But I was born and brought up a few miles away from the city and Liverpool was our nearest decent shopping centre. Basically I did Scouse for eighteen years and then I moved on.

But yet there’s this joker boat

There’s this boat. It’s a houseboat in The Albert Dock. And it’s not just any old boat. It provided the home for Jack Nicholson’s Joker character in the Batman films. The current owner rescued it from an LA scrapyard where it had been left to ruin. He moved it to Liverpool and renovated it; installing 3D TV and six sets of goggles for holidaying movie fans. And it’s available for a family in the run up to Christmas.

It’s no joke. You can rent this boat! Image: Wimdu/Alfie Mack

“Is it really The Joker’s boat?” asks Cameron.

“I’m going to watch the film again and compare it to the website,” says Matthew, the sceptic.

“I don’t like The Joker. He’s scary. Does he still live there?” enquires a rather worried Hannah.

The promise of a limousine transfer from Lime Street station seals the deal. But what else will we do in Liverpool? Much as I love my Mum, I don’t want to spend a week visiting her. I look around for other local activities and remember that The Tate Liverpool has its home in the Albert Dock. I discover it’s current exhibition is Alice and Wonderland. Suddenly we have a theme.

Themes give travel a point

Having a theme for a journey is very important to us. It gives the trip a point. It gives Stuart and I something to focus on, and helps us get the children on board. And it makes it all more interesting. From a music tour of The Danube, to a pilgrim tour of Spain, our best trips have always had a clear theme and purpose.

The Liver Building is so familiar from my childhood, so childhood is our theme.
Image: The Mersey Partnership

I decide our trip to Liverpool should be all about accessing my long buried inner child, and seeing what the city can offer my small people. Alice in Wonderland has been a favourite book for several generations of my family. My children and I will go and find out more about Alice and her creator Lewis Carol. We may also venture into The Curious Garden, to ride the tea cups and experience some wonderland activities. As a cake obsessed family, we plan to have our own Mad Hatter’s tea party too.

Lots of family friendly Liverpool options

“Did you know that the name of the Mad Hatter is never mentioned in the book?” asks Matthew, a mine of information. “Lewis Carol called him something else, but I don’t know what.”

We will find out. And sticking with galleries, The Bluecoat is asking children from all round the world to donate their milk teeth for a unique sculpture made up of teeth and resin called Palaces.

“The tooth fairy took all my teeth,”exclaims Hannah. “Where does she live? Can we get them back?” As we have no current address for the magical tooth collector, we borrow a milk tooth recently dislodged from the mouth of Hannah’s best friend, and we set up a visit to the gallery.

I think about all the times I visited The Bluecoat with my own mother. And then I get to wondering. What if this trip is a voyage into my own childhood too? Maybe we should take a ferry across the Mersey like I used to, go and see the statue of The Beatles that I used to worship, visit the building my Dad used to work in; and take a drive through the Wallasey tunnel?

The Liverpool Big Wheel. Image: John Morris MOZ278

Underground and overground too

It turns out that the Wallasey tunnel isn’t the only impressive underground passage in the city. The tourist board arrange for us to tour the city tunnels with a local guide. And what child doesn’t like a tunnel? We can also see the city from above too; from a pod in the Big Wheel that looks down on those proud Liver Birds and the world famous architecture of an industrial city that once dominated the globe. Speaking of architecture, the kids are looking forward to a visit to the Empire State Building – well, a model version of it made out of thousands of Bayko Bricks and now in the Museum of Liverpool. And we are following in some quality footsteps; The Queen of England called in recently to check out this new museum.

Perhaps we might finish off the trip by helter skeltering through Liverpool One; spiritual home of shopping obsessed WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends). I’ve heard all the women walk around it in their curlers in preparation for a big night out and I pass that information onto the children who are very impressed, and then they ask me what a curler is. Oh the GHD generation!

So. Family friendly Liverpool it is for our pre-Christmas break; staying in The Joker’s former home, shrinking ourselves down to the size of Alice for a child’s view of the city, visiting the tooth fairy’s workplace and spinning high above the city I grew up in. And perhaps while rediscovering my inner child, I may end up rediscovering myself. I’m not sure that ever happened in Gotham City.


Read more from our  Liverpool Adventures: 

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

1 Comment

  • Sounds like it will be a wonderful break – can’t wait to hear how it goes! Liverpool is someplace that I would love to visit – despite the fact that a friend who grew up near there is always telling me that there isn’t much to see. The Joker’s boat looks really cool – I hope your kids love it! Have a wonderful holiday!

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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