Wood Works for Women

Next Wood Works for Women at Make Liverpool, 19th November, book here.

One of the things I love doing best is walking around Liverpool discovering people who are doing interesting things that are adding to the sum total of human happiness and fairness round here. I’ve always written about these in a haphazard kind of way, but now that I’ve decided how much I like doing so as a core part of what I do you might expect to see more of what might be subtitled ‘good ideas from interesting people.’ Anyway, here’s the first.

Introducing Aleksandra Ola Rug.

I met Ola recently when she turned up at a couple of the events I’ve been helping to run for the Beautiful Parks Project. She came along with strong opinions and a track record in market gardening. And I’d suspect some of her ideas will feature in whatever happens next or soon in Liverpool’s parks and open spaces. But this post isn’t about market gardening. Like most interesting people Ola’s got more than one idea, and this one’s about wood and women. Over to her. Continue reading “Wood Works for Women”

My Day in Funeral Land

Sarah, in case you didn’t know, has been working as an Independent Funeral Celebrant for four years now. Here she takes us through one of her days. A fascinating and gently observant account of helping three families through what will happen to us all one day.

“Here’s my day.

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8.30am. Breakfast in my car in Anfield Cemetery. Seems strange? Well not for me as I often spend parts of my day in places that are close to crematoria, because I work in the funeral industry, as a funeral celebrant. I create and deliver individual funeral services for families and friends. It is a huge privilege. Today I have three services in three different crematoria.

6 April_05This is my trusty A to Z which is falling apart but is my navigation tool of choice. My regular crematoria are marked L (Landican on the Wirral), S (Springwood, south Liverpool), A (Anfield, north Liverpool), T (Thornton), S (Southport) and H (St Helens).

Driving along Queens Drive this morning I notice that the blossom on the weeping trees is beginning and remember how much I want to tell my friend Rachel every year when I see spring start to arrive. She died in February 2012, I miss her. These strange small trees are really unremarkable for the rest of the year, but for a brief period are in blossom, and are lovely. Do look out for them if you are in Liverpool.

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Image from Google – Queens Drive, April 2015, near Larkhill Place.

I am then up at Anfield Cemetery in good time for my service and take some time here. I love it here. Continue reading “My Day in Funeral Land”

The Big Circle

As the rain was pouring down from a leaden sky today, Sarah made a special request that we have a day out in the countryside. Somewhere not very far away…


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Today, at my suggestion, we went to Rivington, to find the terraced gardens. I had never heard of this place until very recently when someone sent me a photo of some monkey puzzle trees there, which are featured on my Monkey Map blog – here. Named as one of Britain’s Best Lost Gardens in 2014 (by Countryfile), they were financed by Lord Leverhulme, founder of Lever Brothers, and begun in 1900. I was intrigued. So off we went. In the rain.

We arrived at the car park, as directed from the Rivington Trust website. Only to find no evidence of any signs or directions to the gardens. Ronnie asks a friendly local who says they are ‘just over there’, along the footpath. We set off, constantly being reminded that we are on land that is owned by United Utilities, which of course immediately sets the tone for our conversation which starts with, ‘How can you sell the rain?’ Continue reading “The Big Circle”

Competing with Loneliness

HCT - 1Most of this week and much of this year I’ve been working with a bus company. No ordinary bus company, though. Rather one that can state confidently and clearly that “We are the world’s leading transport social enterprise.” More importantly, they say this:

“Outside of our explicitly commercial contracts, our competitors are not other bus companies. Our competitors are social exclusion, loneliness and social isolation.”

Having spent time with HCT Group’s front line staff in Bristol and in Leeds, this week we arrived in Hackney, where the organisation was born as Hackney Community Transport in 1982.

Now Hackney Community transport has grown into a much bigger operation.
Now Hackney Community Transport has grown into a much bigger operation.

And I’m here at Ash Grove in Hackney having a look round with bus drivers and other HCT Group people from London, Bristol, Leeds, Wakefield and the Channel Islands. Though as you’ll hear later we come from many more places than that in reality. Continue reading “Competing with Loneliness”

Taking Tea with the Lord Mayor

Three proud citizens of Liverpool. Sarah Horton, Erica Kemp, Lord Mayor and Ronnie Hughes.
Three proud citizens of Liverpool. Sarah Horton, Erica Kemp, Lord Mayor and Ronnie Hughes.

It’s not every year that your allotment neighbour is the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. But this past year that has been so. And Sarah and I were delighted to get an invitation to come into our Town Hall and visit our friend Erica as she nears the end of her term of office.

Along Castle Street we walk.
Along Castle Street we walk.
Ready to go in.
Ready to go in.

Sarah’s never been in here before, and me not for a long time. Continue reading “Taking Tea with the Lord Mayor”

Celebrating our place: The Liverpool Awards

So the judging panel have met and the awards are made. In some strange and convoluted ways, as you’re about to find out. But this is Liverpool. We do things in our own way here.

We met in the Everyman Bistro.
We met in the Everyman Bistro.

A panel of ten, selected by the random chance of who felt like turning up on a brightly cold night. Still, as many people as no doubt pick many another Booker, Oscar and what have you award. We set to work, not so much looking for winners as to glory in shining our mutual lights on places some of us might have overlooked or forgotten in the place we all so love.Awards2

Best place in Liverpool

Granby 4 Streets, Eldon Grove, Homebaked, Top of the hill in Everton, Plot 44 – Sarah’s allotment, Hope Street, the Palm House, Sefton Park, Lark Lane, the bombed out church, Lime Street vista especially the new steps, Fairy Glen in Sefton Park, Albert Dock padlocks, tunnel in St James gardens. Continue reading “Celebrating our place: The Liverpool Awards”

It’s Liverpool, in 1943

war-damageWe are nearly four years into the second Great War of the century. Many thousands are dead and large areas of all sides cities and docklands are in ruins. Already though, thoughts here are turning to the longed for ‘afterwards.’ The Beveridge Report has been published the previous December, enthralling hundreds of thousands at home and at the front with plans for making a better world. A world that will deal with the ‘Five great evils’ of squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease by, amongst other things, creating a National Health Service. And wartime Education Minister Rab Butler will soon be bringing his Education Act to Parliament. Creating a new education system for all and raising the school leaving age to fifteen.

Well Joe Hughes, our guide to wartime Liverpool today, has avoided that and left school at fourteen. Largely because his family needs the income. Born in Chisenhale Street, just off Vauxhall Road in 1928, and now living in Owen House in Kirkdale, close to the North Docks, Joe is in Liverpool to start his second full-time job.

Having begun as a gas-welder close to home Joe has now managed, at just fifteen, to get his first office job. At Exchange Flags, just behind the Town Hall. Joe is starting as an Office Boy, running errands for the Liverpool Exchange Company.

Joe Hughes is my Dad. And today we are walking round wartime Liverpool together. Continue reading “It’s Liverpool, in 1943”

Living for the City: A tale of two markets

Saturday dawns. I put on my wet weather gear, get my camera and leave the house. I know where I’m going first, but after that, who knows? I’m living for the city, rejoicing in my place. And, as ever, I’m about to walk through its history and think about its future. Let’s go.

First stop, the far end of Lark Lane.
First stop, the far end of Lark Lane.
For the Lark Lane Farmers Market.
Where the road is closed for the Lark Lane Farmers Market.

Continue reading “Living for the City: A tale of two markets”