Category Archives: Reflections

Alone in Silence

Sarah has gone away, sea kayaking this time, and I’m alone again. Not lonely though. I find I rarely get lonely. Which is just as well as I find myself alone a lot.

Usually I’m alone here in this peaceful house. This house where I’ve lived for twenty six years, the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. A typical Liverpool three bedroomed terraced house that I’m appreciating so much while there’s only me here to keep it company. Bay windows top and bottom at the front, no carpets, sparsely furnished, gently coloured and a small yard at the back leading on to the entry, alleygated in recent years.

Sarah moved into the house a couple of years after me, so I never think of it as mine and have few memories left now of the brief time I lived here on my own. Though I do have the feeling that I was lonely here then but for the twice weekly stays of my young daughter Clare. Memories when Clare wasn’t here of cold evenings, with nothing much to do when my dishes were washed up after tea.

It’s been a good house though, and I’ve been happy here. Continue reading

To get to here: Knoydart and the Hebrides

Knoydart_01

“But really, I thought, to even want to do this? To get to here….”

A guest post with reflections, by Sarah, on her wilderness walking last week.

“‘Walking’ is an understatement I feel. To get to places like this”

*

Knoydart_02

Knoydart_03

As I sat on the shore of Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Skye, some 450 miles from home, having my lunch, I thought, ‘How long did it take to get to here?’ Loch Coruisk sits in heart of the Black Cuillin, it is surrounded by 22 peaks. It’s only accessible from the sea by boat, or on foot from two villages, both about eight miles away.

Today, the 15th of September 2017, it took nearly four hours from Doune on the Knoydart peninsula to get here. But including travel from home, more like two days. But really, I thought, to even want to do this? To get to here…. Continue reading

Through reading glasses

Long ago, it seems now, I was entranced by a Paul Simon song called ‘Proof.’ It’s 1990 and I listen to his ‘Rhythm of the Saints’ album over and over again on my brand new first CD player, particularly to hear this song about ageing:

“It’s true, the tools of love wear down
Time passes
A mind wanders
It seems mindless, but it does
Sometimes I see your face
As if through reading glasses
And your smile, it seems softer than it was”

I’m in the middle of being thirty something at the time so this song, curiously beguiling as it is, feels like a message from a distant country which I can’t yet imagine visiting.

Nowadays I see everything I read and write through reading glasses.My previous blog post on here was a reflection on living as if I have a year left to go. Hoping I have many more but, at 63, knowing it would be a misguided conceit to carry on calling myself middle aged. In that post I wrote that all posts from now on would have to pass the test of ‘Would I bother writing this if I thought I had  year to live?’ Since then I’ve wondered ‘Well what exactly am I going to write about?’

I know there’s going to be a lot more Liverpool than there’s been on here lately. Not because it’s necessarily any more special than where you live but because it’s my home,  where I’ve chosen to live the whole of my life. There’ll also be more about people I know or meet who are doing good things that I want more people to know about, because I like helping out people I judge to be making their corner of the world into a kinder place.

Beyond these, well what? Continue reading

A year to live: Slow reflections

Almost four years ago I began writing a sequence of blog posts on here about living as if I only had a year to go. My thinking being that one day this day will certainly arrive for all of us, but we’ll rarely know it when that day comes. So I decided to live for a year as if it were my last and write about how I felt as the year happened.

It was a reasonably popular series of posts, even gathering up its own podcast along the way. Then at the end of the year, so three years ago, I summed up what I’d found in a succinct top ten thoughts:

  1. You truly never know the day
  2. You know that stuff about the ‘Present moment?’ It’s all true.
  3. There has been a definite and seemingly permanent slowing down of the rage to succeed.
  4. I don’t have the time to ‘fix things’ – I would rather be happy than right.
  5. I am glad to be older.
  6. I am happy where I am.
  7. My camera and my writing give me great joy.
  8. Most stuff is useless or worse.
  9. Music matters deeply to me still. But not all music.
  10. All you need is love, really.

So there, and most of them I’d still pretty much agree with. Don’t worry though, it’s not my intention here to go tediously through that list, as if there’s something definitive about it, and review how it all feels now. Continue reading

Arriving at Burnley: Walking to Leeds Section 9

Resuming our complete walk of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, by the end of this walk we’ll be very conscious that we are now walking through the heartland of the industrial history of the north of England. Burnley, as you’ll see from this post and the next one, is a fantastic place that is a privilege to walk through

These walks also mark the end of our doing each canal section as a separate day trip. We’re now too far from home for that, so have booked ourselves a long weekend away in Barnoldswick. A place so far into East Lancashire that it feels just like Yorkshire.

Barnoldswick, quietly lovely.

A friendly pub that we go to and a café that we don’t call their place ‘Barlick.’ so maybe all the locals do? We wouldn’t presume to know.

Naturally on our evening of arrival we stroll down to see that we think of as ‘our’ canal. It’s yours too of course.

We’re not expecting to reach Barnoldswick itself on this weekend’s visit, but definitely will next time we come to stay. Continue reading

Ten Things We’ve Learned: From walking the Leeds Liverpool

Now we’re precisely half way to Leeds and taking a weekend’s break from canal walking, Sarah and I have done a bit of reflecting on the eight walks we’ve done so far and a few things we think in general. So here they are.

1 Canal time is different

Now we’re far from home it’s been taking us a good while to get to the canal to start each walk where we finished the last one. But once we get there and slip onto the tow path we enter a very different place, where we’ve never walked before and yet it feels like we’ve never been away. Like setting off from the Harry Potter platform into our own magical world. A slow world too, where us and the occasional canal boat all move along at pretty much the same pace. Except we have the freedom to stop frequently, smell the flowers and gaze at, well, all the beauties and leftovers and canalscapes we’ve been showing you this year.

Losing track of the time and even of the century, because canal time is different.

2 Bikes are a problem

It pains me to say this, though I’ll say it anyway, because most of my best friends are enthusiastic bike riders. But bikes on the canal path are a nuisance. Not all of them of course, but too many of their riders to be comfortable with think us walkers are in their way. We might get an imperious ‘Get out of my way’ ring of a bell, but we pretty well never get a thank you. Two ‘thank yous’ I’d say we’ve had.

Local authorities themselves might be part of the problem here, including stretches of the canal in things like ‘The Chorley Trail’ to encourage bikes onto the tow path. But it means that particularly around towns, and because we’re walking at the weekends, we’re walking in single file to the side of the main path because of the bikes. Which are in turn, by the way, turning much of the main path into a narrow rutted groove of a path by their over use of it.

So, Canal and Rivers Trust, maybe a better quality path with a line down the middle if bikes must use the canal? End of rant. Continue reading

Half Way There: Walking to Leeds Section 8

One last day trip from home before we do the rest of our canal walk from stops along the way. (Yes, I know we said last week’s was the last day trip. but we couldn’t resist another.)

One last day trip to get us to the half way point between Liverpool and Leeds.

Early on, our walks all used local public transport to get to and from each walk. But since we got beyond the reach of local Liverpool transport we’ve done what we do today.

Drive to where we plan to finish the day’s walk.

Then walk to the nearest train station or bus stop.

In today’s case walking along the canal itself for a while.

Continue reading