Walking Home: A meditation


In a troubled world the freedom to walk home & know it will be there is not to be taken lightly.

It will soon be Christmas Day and many people are thinking of home. Walking home, sailing home, even flying home. Getting home come what may. So I’d already decided that for my Sunday walk this week I’d get on a random bus, get off miles away from here and then walk home. Simple and always a joy to do.

Then just as I’m about to walk round to the bus stop Cerys Matthews plays a song on her BBC6 programme that’s so beautiful it stays with me all day on my walk. It’s called ‘Bound for Lampedusa’ by The Gentle Good and is about being driven out of your home and setting off for a new one you may never find. It’s for everyone waiting to walk out of Aleppo into uncertainty, through the meltdown of human decency and kindness that is Syria this Christmas. Maybe you’d like to listen to the song as you read the rest of this walking meditation about home: Continue reading “Walking Home: A meditation”

It’s Liverpool 1969: Growing Up In Granby

cleaning the pavement outside her homeA while back something precious arrived in the post in Granby from Nick Hedges. A CD full of photographs he’d taken in 1969 and soon after of life in Granby and around Liverpool 8 in those years. He said we could make whatever use of them we thought best, so I’m going to use a selection of them on this post today, as I continue telling the evolving story of Granby.

As you can see in these years Granby is full of people looking after their homes and the streets where they live. And in the years leading up to 1969 Granby Street, the main street through the middle of the area, is lined with all kinds of shops on both sides of the road.


Corner of Selborne Street.

A sign there pointing along to the public baths on Lodge Lane that still existed then. Continue reading “It’s Liverpool 1969: Growing Up In Granby”

Liverpool Pubs: A Personal Selection

liverpool-pubs-7Now in late August 2015 comes the news that the very seriously great Roscoe Head, featured below is in some danger. Therefore the people of Liverpool, including me of course, are gearing up to get it declared a community asset and then move towards some sort of buyout, along with the family who’ve ben running the place for many years now. To help us do this please sign this petition now.
Liverpool Pubs - 1At the beginning of his new book ‘Liverpool Pubs’ author Ken Pye explains:

“I have chosen what I consider to be the most interesting or significant for this book. However, I do recognise that this is very much a personal and subjective view, and I have had to leave some places out, but only because of limitations of space. I hope, though, that you will appreciate and enjoy reading about the ones I have been able to include.”

Fair enough as, though he’s limited his drinking area to in and around the city centre, there are still more pubs than he could have possibly fitted into his lavishly illustrated 100 page book.

Well for this article I’m going to reduce his selection even further. To those with particularly strong attractions and memories for me. Though I reckon that over time I’ve happily called in at around two thirds of the 25 pubs covered in here I’m only going to make a very personal selection. You’ll have to get the book to read about the rest.

So let’s set off then, good and thirsty with our Ken Pye guide in our collective hands.

Peter Kavanagh’s, Egerton StreetLiverpool Pubs - 2When I arrived at Liverpool Housing Trust in Falkner Square in 1975, on my first Friday afternoon there I found myself almost alone in the offices. ‘Because,’ as the only person I could find told me ‘Everyone goes round to the Grapes on Friday afternoons.’ Already thinking I’d arrived in Paradise I immediately walked round to Egerton Street to find it was Paradise with a Bar.

Continue reading “Liverpool Pubs: A Personal Selection”

The kindness of public librarians

A librarian at work.
A librarian at work.

I’ve often written about public libraries but not for some time. I have been spending a lot of time in them though lately, as I’ve been writing a book. It’s a book on the 50 year history of Liverpool Housing Trust, one of the ‘Cathy Come Home’ era housing associations and a place where I first volunteered and then worked in myself for 20 years from 1975. No doubt when the book comes out, which will be soon, little hints of what’s in it or long bits of what turned out to be too long to go into it will appear on here.

I’m not writing it on my own mind. My friend and ‘proper’ writer and publisher, Fiona Shaw of Wordscapes is doing much more of the writing than me and also editing the whole thing. But we divided up the bits we’d do and mostly write on our own, getting together occasionally to see where we’re up to.on-national-libraries-day22

And I’ve done most of my own writing of it in public libraries. In our grand and lovely Central Library when I wanted to lift my spirits and get going on what felt like a big project. Then most often in my local library at Allerton Road as I’ve settled into the work and enjoyed every minute of it.

Enjoyment much helped, as it’s turned out, by the kindness of public librarians. Continue reading “The kindness of public librarians”

When the South Docks were dying

Liverpool+South+Docks+1I am fascinated by Liverpool’s docks. As well I might be, since there would be no Liverpool without them. The idea of a commercial wet dock controlled by floodgates was invented here in 1715 after all, and all of our subsequent prosperity, for good and ill, flowed from that.

As a boy, growing up in the north of the city and with a father and mother who both came from down by the docks, I  saw a good deal of the North Docks as a child. Once I even remember me and my Dad getting into one of them and walking around it one quiet Sunday afternoon. There wasn’t much going on that day but mostly I remember ship’s funnels over the dock wall, busy activity along the dock road and lists of ships coming into and out of port still being printed on the front of the Liverpool Echo every day.

But I didn’t even know there were South Docks too. Continue reading “When the South Docks were dying”

Great bus journeys of the world: the 82

the 8244That was just to get your attention really. There will be a journey on the 82 later on, but this is principally a Friday Walk. First walk of any length I’ve been on since I injured my ribs the other week. The doctor said there’d be a week of strong pain, followed by five weeks or so of ‘discomfort’. He was right about the pain, and as the discomfort is easing I was keen to make the most of the light on one of the shortest days and get out there walking.

Across Greenbank Park in the low December sunshine.
Across Greenbank Park in the low December sunshine.

Continue reading “Great bus journeys of the world: the 82”

10k Sunday: A walking version of a run

Noticing the unkempt state of the former Garden Festival site towards the end of this November 2014) walk, you may well be glad to hear the whole site, including the unbuilt housing bit has now been bought from the non-developers by Liverpool City Council (June 2015) with plans to make better use of the place than at any time in the last 30 years. At last.

This is a favourite route of mine as a run. But it’s also a good walk. And since runs are tricky to photograph decently me and my camera set off to walk this particular 10k today. A sunny Sunday and the last day of November.

Along Crawford Avenue.
Along Crawford Avenue.
And up the hill over the railway at Penny Lane.
And up the hill over the railway at Penny Lane.
Down the other side.
Down the other side.
Past one of the two houses round here where the great feminist and politician Eleanor Rathbone used to live.
Past one of the two houses round here where the great feminist and politician Eleanor Rathbone used to live.

It’s now become part of a ‘Spire’ private clinic where, strangely, I was recently given NHS treatment when my left ear went deaf. A bizarre and unsettling experience getting state care in a place full of cosmetic surgery adverts. Continue reading “10k Sunday: A walking version of a run”

Liverpool 8: From the air

Much of today’s post will take place high up in the air and back in time.

We're going down the side of O'Connor's and up to the top of the Cathedral. It's 1973
We’re going down the side of O’Connor’s and up to the top of the Cathedral. We’re imagining it’s 1973. I’ll explain why in a bit.
Passing the great bells of the Cathedral as we climb the tower.
Passing the great bells of the Cathedral as we climb the tower.

The highest peal of ringing bells on all of the Earth, a sign up here tells me.

But the Cathedral is not our subject today, it’s merely a vantage point.

Neither is our subject the magnificent views of the 21st century city Centre.

Merely to observe in passing how ridiculously close we allowed suburban cup-de-sac housing to get to the middle of our city.
Merely to observe in passing how ridiculously close we allowed suburban cul-de-sac housing to get to the middle of our city in the late 20th century.

No today’s subject, today’s Friday Walk, is Liverpool 8. Continue reading “Liverpool 8: From the air”

The story of A Sense of Place 9: Put the message in the box

The wonderful thing that is ‘A Sense of Place’ continues in the writing of this blog and in the work I do. But the story of Sarah and I having the idea, leaving our jobs, getting going and changing our lives comes to its conclusion in this episode of our story.

By early 2007 we are busier than we have ever been. We are also closer to the end of our joint adventure as ‘a sense of place’ than we realise.

By late 2004 our long term work with Trafford Hall and Furniture Resource Centre is more or less finished.

With FRC we have one final idea together, which is ‘The Beatles Homelands.’ A plan to take over and renew the long derelict 1984 Garden Festival Site and turn it into a Beatles-based social enterprise. Liverpool people, you won’t be surprised to hear, are often cynical about The Beatles. We’ll say things like ‘What did they ever do for us?’ And comment on the way they shot off to London as soon as they got successful.

The derelict 1984 Garden Festival site.
The derelict 1984 Garden Festival site.

Continue reading “The story of A Sense of Place 9: Put the message in the box”