Oktopus//20thOCT|2017

Any fellow Londoner will agree with me: Sometimes this city can be a bit too much.

I’m a relative recluse when you compare me to my journalistic colleagues.

Still – the exhausting, relentless tide of social engagements and meetings, when combined with the hectic travelling logistics of a city like London, can get the better of me. I suppose this is why people choose to have holidays…

When I need to ‘get away from it all’ or ‘let my hair down’, I don’t choose to sit on a crowded flight, to then continue a sardine-like existence in the confines of a sordid holiday resort, before squeezing myself into a cramped swimming pool – all to simulate ‘the good life’.

No.

Instead, I save all that money and jump on a train up North, where there’s room to breathe and people speak words, instead of vacantly exhuming a pungent blend of hot air and hollow farts.

I’d turned down my third telemarketing call this week, when my phone started buzzing, reminding me that I had a meeting across the other side of the city with an upcoming chef who was intent on ‘changing how we think about hare forever’. I imagined attempting to force down some kind of awful hare taco and decided to cancel immediately.

In fact, the overwhelming sense of nausea that the aforementioned taco inspired in me, led to my calling in sick immediately and booking a train to Liverpool.

Now I’ve already professed my love for this city’s down to earth nature when I looked back on my visit to the excellent Mowgli, but there’s really something to be said for a city where you can book a return train ticket and one night’s stay for less than £80. Simply put, the place is a budget-oasis, compared to the high-end, sickeningly expensive desert of London and, if it weren’t for work, I’d be seriously considering moving there.

[If I’m being completely honest, I had an ulterior motive for making the 150 minute train ride up, I had a meeting scheduled with a social media marketing agency in Liverpool – of course, I could have gone up and back in one day – but then I’d be missing out one of the great wonders of Great Britain: Liverpool’s Concert Square on a Friday night.]

After my meeting had wrapped and I’d managed to figure out my Instagrams from my Twitters, I thought I’d take on board some recommendations from the marketing agency and work my way down into town – stopping off along the way to enjoy a few pints and a bite to eat.

Although my patience has been well and truly tried by some recent attempts at brewing by certain London-based startups, it quickly became clear that the publicans of Liverpool have got infinitely better taste in beer than their counterparts in the capital. The Pen Factory offers a diverse selection of local and national ales, including some great specimens from the city. The small plates coming out of the kitchen tempted me, but I decided to forgo them in favour of an early dinner at recently opened Oktopus.

Word had travelled as far as London about this laid back tapas-style European eatery and it did not disappoint. Full from excellent food, I let myself drift through the raucous night life that Liverpool is famous for, before crashing out with a stupid grin on my face in the brand spanking new EasyHotel.

If only every city could be like this.