At Peace

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.

To the left of me.

To the left of me.

Down the hill.

Down the hill.

In front of me.

In front of me.

Along the path, to the right.

Along the path, to the right.

Up the hill to the right of me.

Up the hill to the right of me.

And to complete the circle, behind me.

And to complete the circle, behind me.

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.At Peace10At Peace11At Peace08

And here is the book.

And here is the book.

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.

The swans with their cygnets.

The swans with their seven cygnets.

Here comes the Lower Brook.

Here comes the Lower Brook.

Into the lake, which will flow into the river which runs under Otterspool into the Mersey.

Into the lake, which will flow into the river which runs under Otterspool into the Mersey.

Along the path beside the lake there are more children of the Springtime.

At perfect peace.

At perfect peace.

In the middle of the path.

In the middle of the path.

With their watchful parents.

With their watchful parents.

Four tiny goslings.

Four tiny goslings.

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.

Walking on, around the lake.

Walking on, around the lake.

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.At Peace20

And again, this photograph is to the side of time. It could be from almost any time. Turned into black and white it could be from ‘How To See the Country’ in 1940.At Peace21

Walking on to streets around the park.

The garden of 49 Livingstone Drive filled with Bluebells.

The garden of 49 Livingstone Drive filled with Bluebells.

Into Lark Lane.

Into Lark Lane.

Where two new ventures are to be encouraged and celebrated.

A new ice-cream shop. Yes I did and exquisite it was.

A new ice-cream shop. Yes I did and exquisite it was.

And yes, a post office. Without which a street doesn't quite work.

And yes, a new post office at last.

Across the park into Plot 44.

Semper Vivum, always living, in the sunshine.

Semper Vivum, always living, in the sunshine.

Summer fulness coming on, but right now even the Horse Tail looks fresh and green. And Gemma's painted the wheel-barrow yellow. Lovely.

Summer fulness coming on, but right now even the Horse-Tail looks fresh and green. And Gemma’s painted the wheel-barrow yellow. Lovely.

Evening arrives. All at peace, all is well.

Evening arrives. All at peace, all is well.

Meanwhile back in the park, we wish the goslings well. A peaceful day for us all, and one to be treasured.At Peace29

12 thoughts on “At Peace

  1. Gerry

    Lovely! I can’t thank you enough for this,Ronnie,since I can’t get around much after breaking my ankle.More importantly,there is a beautiful tone to this- the way your thoughts shift from the book,the photos,the idea of being sideways to the time -to (as always in your posts) the observation of tiny,telling details that we pass by each day.

    Reply
  2. Ronnie Hughes Post author

    Update, Monday 20th May.

    Out running round the lake earlier on, the gosling’s are fine. The four of them plus parents sitting happily up at the Aigburth Vale end near the café.

    As I passed I heard someone saying ‘There were seven of them yesterday.’ Not true. The gosling urban myth lives on!

    Reply
  3. Stephen Roberts

    Lovely. The book reminds me of “In Search of England” by H.V. Morton which was written in the 1930’s. My dad used to go into Sefton Park to eat his butties at lunchtime. I can see why when I look at these pictures. What a gift it is to be at peace.

    Reply
  4. Mandy

    I love the way you’ve used ‘How to see the country’ as a companion to your own sensitive portrayal of your ‘country’. We should hold on to our personal explorations of place and treasure those memories in case they disappear.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      That’s why I love writing the memories down Mandy, so I don’t forget. But I’ve also been working on a book this morning of this last year of ‘Observing Liverpool.’ Because, as your gift proves, books last.

      Reply

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s