The Preston Model and other questions?

Preston, here in North West England, is having a bit of a moment. A moment about doing things for itself. Obvious things, in some ways, but a combination of obvious things that no one else is doing in quite the same ways. Economic things, social things, using your own resources and imagination kinds of things that are getting it a good deal of curious attention. So I’ve decided to come and have a look, and a listen.

Though Preston is fairly close to Liverpool it’s a London journalist, Aditya Chackrabortty, who’s brought what’s happening here to my attention in his new series about alternative approaches to the economics of running our places. And it’s Aditya who’ll be leading this night’s ‘Guardian Live’ discussion. First though, a look round. Continue reading “The Preston Model and other questions?”

In Liverpool: One Sunday Morning

Sunday morning always seems like such a special time to me. An in-between sort of time with nothing in particular to do, so you can do anything. No one’s likely to ring or email and there’s definitely nothing in my diary, so I begin the day by enthusiastically doing nothing at all. I’m good at that.

Before long ‘nothing at all’ turns into turning on the radio, which delights me by playing a couple of 13th century favourites, both of them about warmer days to come. Making me realise I’ve once again not turned the central heating on, for the severalth day running. Summer’s not yet ‘icumen in’ as the second of the songs claims, but spring is.

Book packed and camera charged up I go out.

Into Greenbank Park and along Greenbank Lane spring is poking its many coloured heads towards the sun. Though its obvious from the soil on their stems and leaves and more than a few battered petals that our new visitors have had a harsh time with the unexpected snowfalls this past week. Anyway, you are all welcome here. It always makes my heart glad to see you bringing in another spring. Continue reading “In Liverpool: One Sunday Morning”

Emerging from Winter/Part Two

The second of two linked posts, walking round the neighbourhoods where I live. Part One here.

This Sunday in late February arrives just as blue and just as cold as yesterday. Perfect then for another day of trying to walk my cold off around the streets of the neighbourhood. Starting by walking across to The Mystery, like yesterday, but after that who knows?

Under the London-line railway bridges and along to the Ullet Road/Smithdown crossroads. Past social venues old and new including a personal favourite, Naked Lunch. A co-op café and if there’s a friendlier place in Liverpool I don’t know it yet. Continue reading “Emerging from Winter/Part Two”

Emerging from Winter/Part One

The first of two linked posts, walking round the neighbourhoods where I live. Part Two here.

I haven’t done this for ages. Come out from the house on a bright blue day and let my camera take me for a walk. Making no plans about where I’ll go, I’ll see where my feet and my camera take me.

Across Grant Avenue and into The Mystery first. The great big sloping field close to our house. Emerging from the terraced streets into the open blue sky on a cold late winter’s day. Continue reading “Emerging from Winter/Part One”

What I’m Doing Now

Grateful for all of the contacts and attention from Aditya Chakrabortty’s piece in The Guardian recently about what we’ve all been doing in Granby these past few years, here’s what I’m doing and interested in doing now.

I’m sat writing this in a café near to where I live. It’s ‘the third cafe’ on Greenbank Road, near its corner with Smithdown Road. Newly opened by Carole Fleck, who used to run Greendays off Lark Lane, and already somewhere that makes me happy.

I’m sat here sorting out my website so it says what I want about what I’ve done recently and what I’m interested in doing next. Writing in the brightening year, with the sense of renewed energy that always brings,  about things I might do.

Things like? Continue reading “What I’m Doing Now”

A Quiet New Year

The day before Christmas Eve I wrote and photographed a poem called “Letting Go: A Quiet Breath” and the quiet days have continued here from then through to this new year of 2018.

In The Mystery, watching the sun set on 2017. Photograph by Clare Melhuish.

These beloved souls are my three grandchildren: Finn, 3; Theo, 8, and Eleanor, 11. In the park with their parents, Simon, with Finn on his shoulders and my daughter Clare, who took the beautiful photograph.

A little later I’m on the other side of The Mystery, gazing up at the Moon.

As night falls on 2017.

The evening passes in quiet thoughts of what was good in 2017, what didn’t really work out and what might change as the year gets called 2018. We call these new year changes resolutions, but of course some of them are nothing of the sort. While we can all change stuff like what we eat, how much we run and, maybe, the work we do, much else that we’d like to happen is in the realm of wishes and dreams, like always.

Still, we can all change some of what’s immediately around us, so this morning finds us back at Sarah’s allotment, where we’ve spent several of these quiet days.

Two against nature, January 1st, 2018.

Continue reading “A Quiet New Year”

A Weekend in Early December

I’ve loved using this space I have to write more deeply these past few months. To change the balance between words and pictures on here and have more to say. I’ve particularly had more to say during this time for the reasons many of us will have more to say during times in our lives when we are ill or things generally are not going so well. From late July onwards things did not go well for me and I found myself, to my own relief and slight surprise, trying to write my way through my own doubts, illness, depression and unhappiness. It’s turned out I had a lot to say.

Now, come this weekend in early December, things are much better. Through the love and help of friends, the passing of time and perhaps the writing, my life is in a better place. So I’ve decided to write from this better place. For myself as much as for you who might read this. So I will remember, the next time depression darkens my door, that happiness, sometime soon, can always be a tangible possibility. Continue reading “A Weekend in Early December”

The Old Map: Birkenhead and Wallasey

On Saturday mornings, when I’m content with the week’s work done, I like to walk around the neighbourhood more or less pointlessly. Sometimes the walk involves a sit and a read in a café then some food shopping, sometimes LPs. Today it was books. Restocking my shelf of coming soon novels from both the local library and the local Oxfam. While I was in Oxfam I also found this old map of Birkenhead and sat down for a good look at it and the stories it contains.

Like the story of the major line railway station which was running six trains a day from Birkenhead to London until the late 1960s? Read on.

Continue reading “The Old Map: Birkenhead and Wallasey”