The first hint that our planned perfect day out at Crosby may not go to plan was the large apple that was thrown at the windscreen of the Taylor-Gee bus (our 7 seater) from the side of the M57 by a tracksuited child. The old bill were informed, they knew all about this idea for Saturday afternoon fun, and were on their way.
At a roundabout near the entrance to the docks was a posse of hoody youths flicking Vs at passing cars. We told our lads that they were waving to welcome us to Liverpool. Which in a way I suppose they were.
Following the signs to Antony Gormley's statues we parked up at the far side of Crosby Marina (as it turned out) and the kids played in a park for a bit. The hike to the dunes took a while, with most of us suffering from one ailment or another - I've got a gammy eye, Rachel's got the twins' party to worry about. Then there are the kids: one has a cold, two have a disorder called LOF (Lack of Football) which means they can't cope without a ball to kick around, and the hike made all of them tired.
The statues were great, and it was worth the trip to see them and to spark the kids fascination, even on a cold day. But the beach was effectively the municipal tip. Rubbish everywhere. Including syringes and broken bottles. Nice.
The dunes provided a more fertile space for imagination and play. But most of us seemed to have at least one close encounter with dog poo. And as much as I love my Timberland boots, getting it out with a lolly stick and a packet of wet wipes was a struggle.
Hungry kids need food by 4pm and Satterthwaites came to rescue. Even gently microwaved sausage rolls were crisp and tasty. Best I've ever had, said both Rachel and the senior lad. Too small, said one twin. The pork pies, as recommended by Dougal Paver, were warmed at home in the Aga and eaten with Marrowfat peas. I think we have another winner.
I'm reluctant to take cheap digs at Liverpool and draw conclusions about the European Capital of Culture 2008. But some of our memories of this day out consist of all of the above, plus more scally kids, a surly youth in a paper shop, a feral biker doing wheelies up Crosby's main drag on an off road trials bike, and the veneer of dog mess on the park. But this was my truth; tell me yours...