I am sitting perfectly still, at peace on a Sunday afternoon in one of my places. I’ve been coming to sit on this log for years, in the middle of Sefton Park. I decide to photograph the view, all the way around my log.
In all the times I’ve sat here I’ve never done this. But from now on I’ll be able to look back and remember this place, on this day, when I was at peace. And in the future people may be able to date these photographs from the clothes the people in some of them are wearing, or from whatever may happen to the bandstand. But essentially they are, if not outside of time, then slightly to the side of it. It’s the trees and the grass and the hill and the water and the sky that matters. ‘Views – Sefton Park, Liverpool, poss. early C21.’
I’ve taken these pictures because of the book I’m sat here reading, which contains lovely photographs of places in England that are, again, slightly to the side of the time when they were taken. Here are a couple of the photographs.
The book is a gift from a friend in Western Australia who knows how much I like going around looking at the country. It’s very beautiful and no doubt you’ll be seeing more of it when I’ve finished reading it.
But the reason the book and its photographs have caused me to appreciate the peace of this Springtime day in England is related to when and why the book was published.
It was published in 1940.
“The trend of recent events has led or forced many people into a first-hand acquaintance with the country for the first time in their lives, in the course of the greatest shift of population the kingdom has ever known – bigger in numbers, if more pacific and less permanent, than any in its erratic history. It is a new form of exodus of an irregularly scattered and peripheral type, entailing for many participants an Abrahamic ignorance of destination. Under the threat of a new type of invasion, as destructive as it is fugitive, business staffs, teachers, school-children of all ages and classes, well-to-do and slum families have alike been wrenched suddenly from their surroundings to find themselves in close and continuous contact with rural England.”
So it’s a guide-book to a version of the country its readers hadn’t been planning to live in. So they can see it, understand it, appreciate it and love it while they’re there. But it’s also a heart-twistingly poignant guide to the precious places in a country that might be living in its last days of freedom.
And we’ll be back to take a closer look at it, and at England at war in 1940. So far away, so close.
But for now, let’s continue to appreciate the peace of now.
Up from the log, down the hill and along the path, this is clearly an altered landscape, a public park. But the water here is in fact one of Liverpool’s ancient streams, the Upper Brook. Soon to join with the Lower Brook and form the park’s great lake. It’s Springtime, and the Brook is celebrating its children.
Along the path beside the lake there are more children of the Springtime.
A man stops to watch me taking these photographs and observes ‘There were six of them yesterday.’ Their peace on this sunny afternoon is precious and can’t be taken for granted.
These photographs, and the Sunday and Monday walks I did a couple of weeks ago might make you think we’re having an idyllic English Spring. We’re not. The days in between have been cold and bleak and the climate is once again not behaving in a May-like way. But it is today, so let’s appreciate it while it’s here.
Walking on to streets around the park.
Where two new ventures are to be encouraged and celebrated.
Across the park into Plot 44.