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”

Walking Into the Light

Since resuming my interrupted practice of walking around Liverpool last weekend, published on here as two linked posts called ‘Emerging from Winter’ I’ve continued to walk. Back into Winter as it’s turned out, but into the gathering light of what feels like brighter days to come. The brighter days of soon coming spring time of course and, well, brighter days.

Like the days of good light these have been this week. Good, sharp, clear days to look up into and walk around in thinking about what’s next? What new things will get made up soon, what ideas are yet to be thought of, yet to be walked into being? Continue reading “Walking Into the Light”

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”

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”

The Stranger in Skelmersdale

Yesterday I was ‘The Stranger in Skelmersdale.’ One day, 200 years after my precious book, of being taken on a walk round a nearby town that I hardly know at all.

“The Stranger in Liverpool” – my precious 1820 guide for visitors.

I remember the moment I was introduced to Skelmersdale.

It’s a summer evening in 1965 and we’ve come out for a drive after our tea in the brand new family car, a dark blue Ford Cortina, ELV 397C. We’ve travelled out from North Liverpool into the Lancashire countryside. All winding lanes and old churches, where the most modern thing in the landscape is us in our car, until we arrive at what I remember as the crest of a hill where we are looking down into the huge bowl of a building site landscape:

“What’s that Dad?”
“It’s a new town they’re building down there. It’s going to be called Skelmersdale.”

After that my memories are few. Of riding through the brand new place most days on a Ribble bus, on my way to Wigan Tech, as the 1970s begin. A few years later some friends lose their home in Melling as the M58 is finally, and more than a bit late, built through there to Skelmersdale. Then in more recent years some contacts and one visit through my work with the School for Social Entrepreneurs. So, not much and definitely not enough to claim to know the place.

Which is how come I turn up here, late November in 2017, as The Stranger in Skelmersdale. Continue reading “The Stranger in Skelmersdale”

Love and Happiness: A moment

It’s late on a Saturday afternoon, it’s yesterday, already dark and already shading into evening, now we are in late November, when I witness this moment of the purest love and happiness.

I am walking along Smithdown Road in Liverpool, not long before I’ll be turning left up my own street, when I see them all. Five figures in an undulating line across the pavement, walking towards me. Apart from the Mum figure nearest the road they look like they’re walking in age formation, the youngest holding her hand, then in steadily increasing ages towards the eldest, no more than ten years old I’d say, walking next to the wall, nearest to the shops.

From a distance they all seem to be talking at once. But as we pass, the Mum contracting the line of them slightly to let me through on the outside, the notes of their conversation separate into this moment of the purest love and happiness: Continue reading “Love and Happiness: A moment”

A tale of two ducts: Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Cefn Bychan Viaduct

A ‘Letter from Sarah’ here with a slight difference. She’s put all the structure together, taken and selected all the photographs and will be the main writer. But I went on the day out in North Wales too, so we’re going to sit and write together. My occasional contributions in italics.


So… with one thing and another it’s been a while since me and Ronnie have had a day out together. Me being up in Knoydart, off in my kayak, and of course, Ronnie not being well from early August, have all meant that we’ve simply not had the time or wellness until now to pack our day bags and go off exploring.

I’ve suggested that we come to Pontcysyllte Aqueduct today, out of sheer curiosity. (For those of you not fluent in Welsh, a helpful sign tells us, ‘Pontcysyllte’ is prounounced Pont-ker-sulth-tay.)

We arrive at Trevor Basin, not far from Llangollen.

It’s the day the clocks have gone back so we’re a bit disoriented. And after an early start from home we eat much of our packed lunch as soon as we arrive. Though our watches are telling us it’s only 11am our bodies know full well it’s lunchtime.

We arrive here without a plan (for once), but knowing it’s a World Heritage Site expect good signage and obvious things laid out. Continue reading “A tale of two ducts: Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Cefn Bychan Viaduct”