Walking Home: A meditation

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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”

A halcyon summer’s day in Stanley Park

DSC05290An idyllic Sunday afternoon this in one of Liverpool’s loveliest places. When I was little Stanley Park was just ‘the park’ as we lived right next to the Walton side of it. And this past year I’ve been happy to renew my acquaintance with it as I’ve been spending so much time in North Liverpool.

Some of this time has been because my friend Rachael O’Byrne, as well as being a City Councillor, now has a job here where she’s doing all sorts of things to attract more people back into the beautifully restored park.

And last week Rachael told me about this.
And last week Rachael told me about this.

So here I am.

Glad to see several football matches being played as I walk across the fields.
Glad to see several football matches being played as I walk across the fields.

Continue reading “A halcyon summer’s day in Stanley Park”

The Cranes of Anfield

16.03.07 Anfield - 14What 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.

As you’ll know if you’ve been around this blog for a while I’m a big fan of giant cranes. So today I’m in for a treat. Continue reading “The Cranes of Anfield”

Springwatch in Stanley Park

Stanley Park - 29Walking in the park on an early spring morning

A few weeks ago I had a walk round Stanley Park with my friend Rachael O’Byrne one winter’s morning. Well today we walked there again, with some other friends, because spring is on its way and we’re going to watch it carefully as it turns up in our lovely Stanley Park.

A cold bright morning turning off Priory Road into the park.
A cold bright morning turning off Priory Road into the park.
Walking across...
Walking across…
To the other side.
To the other side.
We met at the Isla Gladstone.
We met at the Isla Gladstone.
And set off walking. Jan, Rachael, Ros, Pat and me.
And set off walking. Jan, Rachael, Ros, Pat and me.

Continue reading “Springwatch in Stanley Park”

It’s Liverpool, in 1964: City of Change and Challenge

Or ‘Seaport: A Life in a Book’challengeSeaport - 1This book came out originally in 1964 when I was ten years old. And though I had my adult-side library ticket by then it must have been a reference only book, as I have no memory of bringing it home. Instead I would sit in the North Liverpool library of my childhood and pore over it for hours. Fascinated by such a gorgeous book about the place that, even then, I considered myself lucky to have been born in. Much of which I hadn’t yet seen. My Liverpool was a Ribble bus to County Road and Stanley Park, near where I’d first lived, or all the way into town, with occasional rides on the ferry, back and forth, back and forth.

My parents, having lived through the war years in Vauxhall and Bootle next to the decimated docks, had been glad to move their little family out to the new northern suburbs where everything was new and life could only get better. And Maghull back then was a fascinating place to grow up in. Between our house and the library there was still a farm where you could watch the great big sow suckling her piglets. And the surrounding streets as they got built filled up with footballers from Everton and Liverpool who we would constantly pester for autographs. But also, of course, by 1964 the Beatles were among us and together with this book only added to my fasciation with the place I was actually from, my Liverpool.

So I would sit there in Maghull branch library, gazing at places I hadn’t yet seen and dreaming of finding them. Then over the decades that came I would find the book occasionally in the Liverpool libraries I by then lived near, and notice that in a way, the book and those early dreams were shaping my life.

Eventually a copy of the 1993 reprint of the book entered my life. The father of my partner Sarah, Frank Horton, was dying of lung cancer. And having seen how often I would look through ‘Seaport’ while visiting him, tenderly passed the book over to me, saying “I think it’ll be more use to you than me now.”

It’s one of my greatest treasures and I’ve long thought of writing about it on here. So here goes. No clever editing, we’ll just leaf through the book, and skipping back and forth across the decades since Liverpool in 1964, I’ll tell you the story of my life. Continue reading “It’s Liverpool, in 1964: City of Change and Challenge”

Stanley Park: A Liverpool Treasure

Stanley Park - 1I’ve walked through Stanley Park occasionally on this blog when I’ve been doing one of my general inspections of Liverpool but I’ve never stayed long enough to write a whole post about the place. In the bright winter sunshine of yesterday I decided to put that right.

I was born just along there by Everton's ground.
I was born just along there by Everton’s ground.
So Stanly Park was the first park I was ever brought to.
So Stanley Park was the first park I was ever brought to.

Later on I’d also walk across it frequently when, as a 12 year old, I began regularly going to Liverpool FC matches, usually on my own (it was a different world then). Continue reading “Stanley Park: A Liverpool Treasure”

Springtime in Walton Hall Park?

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Walton Hall Park, Liverpool, April 2015.

So another springtime reliably arrives in Walton Hall Park in North Liverpool. Nothing special, just an ordinary miracle? Well maybe not. For reasons we’ll be coming to this could be one of the grand park’s final springtimes.

But to tell the full story today’s long and intensely photographed walk begins in another park a couple of miles away.

Welcome to Stanley Park. Just across the road from Everton FC's football ground.
Welcome to Stanley Park. Just across the road from Everton FC’s football ground.

Over there next to Diana Street, the place where I was born. Many of my baby days would be spent in here, the park at the end of the road.

Even though we lived in tightly gridded terraced streets, we were all just across the road from our beautiful municipal park.
Even though we lived in tightly gridded terraced streets, we were all just across the road from our beautiful municipal park.

Continue reading “Springtime in Walton Hall Park?”

On being defined by your place

Long time readers may remember a post from last May called ‘Who are you?’ As well as musing on life and death, as ever, in this post I set myself the task of defining myself in as few words as possible so I could use them on the new business cards I was ordering.

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And here are the cards.
And the words by which I defined myself then.
And the words by which I defined myself then.

Well the cards have just about run out now and in getting ready to order some new ones I’ve been having a look at those words. And they felt limiting.

“Story teller, Historian, Writer, Film maker.”

I do those things (though I’m no longer available to make films for other people). But I also do other things that I write about on this blog and that are described elsewhere on the website. So in retrospect I think the exercise I set myself was too limiting, an attempt to appear to be relatively straightforward. Continue reading “On being defined by your place”

Rise up Anfield!

A post from November 2013 in Homebaked’s early trading days, looking back at the years of doubt and destruction in Anfield and the gradual recovery Homebaked has been such a significant part of. Contains some film, at the end, of how Anfield was in 2005, including now long gone streets, seen from the top of Liverpool FC’s ground.

Eight years ago we were working with the people of Anfield and our friends from Urbed on possible futures for Anfield. Some of this involved us filming and photographing everywhere as it was then.

Including getting up on top of the Kop.
Including getting up on top of the Kop.
Ad photographing Mitchell's Bakery. Long before Homebaked was dreamed of.
And photographing Mitchell’s Bakery. Long before Homebaked was dreamed of.

In looking for this Homebaked photograph a couple of weeks ago, I found lots of others from back in 2005. And I thought people might like to see some of them. Continue reading “Rise up Anfield!”