Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Grand Day Out

In the continuing series entitled "What Groanin' Jock Did On Holiday", I will now recount the day Mrs Wife and I (accompanied by some close friends) spent at the Grand National, the highlight of the British steeplechase calendar.

In truth, none of us is a horse racing fan. In fact, none of us had ever been to the races before.

But when we were mulling over ideas for a weekend away, Mrs Wife and her friend reminded us that they had originally considered attending the National in 2006 for Mrs Wife's hen party (Mrs Wife was then known as Miss Fiancee).

So, leaving all of the arrangements to Mrs Wife, I agreed to go to the races for the first time.

I'd never been to Liverpool until last week, so the train journey south into the land of Morris Dancing, clotted cream and Premiership football was a journey of discovery in itself. Passing through towns and cities including Preston, Wigan and Warrington reminded me of how heavily populated England is in comparison to Scotland, and how much the north of England's history is tied to its industrial past - every town we passed through had a huge mill or factory dominating the horizon, although many of them have now been closed or are awaiting demolition.

As I mentioned in previous posts, the weather last week was stunning - unseasonably warm for April. (As my birthday falls at the end of the first week of April, I can generally remember the weather around that time - it was snowing in Dublin as I turned 19, this year it was scorching in Liverpool).

It seems, at first glance, that there isn't much to see in Liverpool itself - a couple of cathedrals, the Liver Building and the Albert Docks were about the extent of it. But we made the most of the chance to explore the area around our hotel on the night before the big race. The city centre was teeming with well-dresses ladies (in their own heads at least) and gentlemen, as the Aintree Ladies' Day takes place on the Friday before the Grand National. The extravagant costumes put Mrs Wife and her friend in a state of some alarm....

But come Grand National day itself, all was well. The trains from Liverpool Central to Aintree were jam packed, but everyone was in good spirits. There was a buzz all around the race course, as racegoers enjoyed the sun and prepared to lose their money betting on the favourites.

Between us, our four-strong party wagered almost 100 pounds on the main event - not one of us picked up a single penny at the end. Thinking I was playing it safe, I put each way bets on the winners from the previous two Grand Nationals - although both finished, they failed to make the first four.

This failure was compounded when Mither sent me a text message to say that she had backed the winner at odds of 33-1 - because she liked the jockey's silks.....

But even parting with cash couldn't put a dampner on an otherwise excellent day. We enjoyed an excellent dinner at a city centre pub before heading to Matthew Street, epicentre of Liverpool's Cavern Quarter and home to its most popular pubs and clubs.


Anonymous said...

Mither says WOW you do look smart and Mrs Wife lovely as ever. You can't criticise my method of choosing a works!!

Ole Blue The Heretic said...

I love horses and horse racing of any kind. I do not bet however!

BTW I tried to send you email. Your interview is ready and up on my blog.

I am happy to see that your Beautiful wife and you had a great time.