In the early days of this blog we had a look round Liverpool in 1953, the place I was about to get born into. In this follow up to that one we’re going to come in a bit closer. Having spent much of my life with no early photographs of my early days, I’ve recently gathered up a few, courtesy of my Dad. And they’ve got a story to tell.
But before I arrive, of course, my parents have to meet.
In this lovely picture Joe is eight and Terry four. Meaning it’s 1936. They are living in North Liverpool down by the Dock Road.
“Even at that age, in those days, we were allowed to roam wherever we liked and I was trusted to look after Terry’ Joe says now. ‘We’d go to church on our own and then go off wandering around the docks and streets and even into town. I remember me and Terry being in town together even after it had gone dark. We had a much bigger Liverpool to play in than children seem to be allowed now. It was great.”
A selection from the several thousand photographs I’ve taken this year for this blog. Taken all together they tell one story of the year. Not a definitive one, more of a meander as you might expect.
In a year that’s been turbulent in so many ways it’s been good to have this blog to come home to. A quiet place to reflect and to tell some stories. Stories of ordinary days and determined people, trying to make our part of the world a better and fairer place.
A guest post today by my friend Patricia Levey-Bennett who, as you’ll see, is a great photographer.
We decided to have a day out last weekend. We being me and Gaz, my boyfriend. There is only one specific requirement for our days out, and that’s to be near water. Everywhere I go to walk, or so it habitually seems, involves proximity to water.I was a lifeguard for many years – I’ve been called Water Baby and Little Otter in the past – so maybe it’s just something in my blood?
Rebecca suggests we go to Hilbre Island.Rebeccais my niece and you will get to meet her in a bit, along with Rachael, my other niece, who both decide they will join us for the day as they often do and have done since they could walk. We used to visit all sorts of interesting places when they were little (I tell them) …well, interesting to us as adults, or at least we convinced ourselves they were interesting. Motivated by the fact we had to get our money’s worth out of the English Natural Heritage pass we bought on a whim one year.We’d think nothing of making a 3 ½hrround trip to places as far afield as Shropshire to visit the sapling of the famous Royal Oak Tree.
Now,you might think three and a half hours in a car on a hot sunny day to visit a tree sounds like madness, but it was a surprisingly easy sell to a five and six year old, and we’djustify it by telling ourselves that they would be grateful for the experiences when they get older.In fact, when I tell Rachael that I’m writing this blog and including a few pictures from our visit there, she tells me she has absolutely no recollection of it whatsoever, or of the many other places we visited when they were younger! But she softens the blow with the addendum that all our days out were good and that what she remembers most is the lovely picnics.
What a beautiful day this Monday 7th March has been here in Liverpool? The kind of a day when a camera simply can’t go unused, even if just walking past things I’ve sort of got used to. Like the humungous new stand Liverpool FC are building between Walton Breck Road and Anfield Road.
I’ve arrived deliberately early for a meeting I’m having with the Beautiful Ideas Co. Partly so I can take some pictures, but also allowing time for me to call in at Homebaked. Where its good to see Cathy Alderson, usually just in for match days and street markets. And also good to have a Mushroom Stroganoff pie for my healthy social enterprise lunch! Lunch over I go outside to take the pictures.
Now normally I have some concerned words to say about Liverpool FC. Words like prevaricating, blighting and exploitation. But today we’ll let all that temporarily alone, because I’m here to rejoice in the engineering.
A Saturday afternoon here, spent as a member of Homebaked Community Land Trust looking for inspiration, as we now near the end of our first, year long phase, doing the basic design of the new building that will eventually rise next to the Homebaked Community Bakery.This is a day of two architects, both at the centre of the picture here. Marianne Heaslip, of Urbed and long-time friend of all of us here, together with Toby Wallis of Architectural Emporium who have been working with us now since March last year.
Our collective brief today, in Toby’s words, we are:
“Looking for sustainable features of neighbouring buildings,
Looking at building materiality, aesthetics and durability,
And looking at old and new building junctions.”
Marianne’s particularly here for her environmental and energy advice and experience. So we spend a while discussing things like ‘green-washing’ and the corporate drivel that can often stand in for real considerations in actual contexts of what true sustainability might mean to particular groups of people in their real place.
Feeling mildly down for no particualr reason, perhaps the darkening of the year or perhaps not, I decided to take a day completely off from working. It’s a privilege of being self-employed. The work will still get done, just not today. Today I walked around Liverpool. For the comfort and joy that always gives me, and for the beauty of the leaves.
I’ve done this before on here, walking round the North and the South of the city taking photographs to roughly see how it’s doing on an ‘ordinary’ day. Meaning not some great holiday or special events day, but one where the streets and the people are just going about their business much like they always do. My favourite kind of day.
In fact I’ve been doing this ‘inspecting’ for years, since long before this blog. Reasoning partly that someone’s got to and it might as well be me, and also simply out of love for the place where I live. This particular week I’d been mostly working in London and so felt a particular urge to see how Liverpool was doing once I returned.
As you can see, our irrepressible Tommy Calderbank did eventually bring the sun out with the sheer force of his optimistic personality, but for the first couple of hours of today’s Africa Oye in Sefton Park it was a different and wetter story.
I needed Africa Oyé today. For various reasons to do with this being a blog and not a diary I needed the healing joy that this free festival has been bringing to my life for well over 20 years now. These have been tough weeks and it was time for some time for me.