Growing up in North Liverpool

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.

My Dad, Joe Hughes, with his sister Terry.
My Dad, Joe Hughes, with his sister Terry.

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.”

When the war comes three years later Joe is still too young to join the forces. Continue reading “Growing up in North Liverpool”

A Weekend in Early December

I’ve loved using this space I have to write more deeply these past few months. To change the balance between words and pictures on here and have more to say. I’ve particularly had more to say during this time for the reasons many of us will have more to say during times in our lives when we are ill or things generally are not going so well. From late July onwards things did not go well for me and I found myself, to my own relief and slight surprise, trying to write my way through my own doubts, illness, depression and unhappiness. It’s turned out I had a lot to say.

Now, come this weekend in early December, things are much better. Through the love and help of friends, the passing of time and perhaps the writing, my life is in a better place. So I’ve decided to write from this better place. For myself as much as for you who might read this. So I will remember, the next time depression darkens my door, that happiness, sometime soon, can always be a tangible possibility. Continue reading “A Weekend in Early December”

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”

The Clearing

Earlier this afternoon I carried a bag of Sarah’s books down the road to our nearest charity shop. She’d sorted them out as being ready to go while doing some clearing yesterday afternoon. They were a mixture of horticulture, kayaking and even one about how to make books. I’d bought her that one as well as a couple of the others, but they’d come to the end of their time with her and are now gone.

When I’ve done with writing this post and need a photograph to illustrate it I’ll sort out a small pile of my own books and, once photographed, they’ll be ready to follow Sarah’s down to the same charity shop.

We’ve always done this, not keeping things we don’t need. These days we’re much better than we used to be at not acquiring things in the first place. But even so, things accumulate on shelves, in corners and even in plain sight, attempting to become part of the household landscape, until they’re noticed, identified as beyond their usefulness, and cleared.

We enjoy it and we like living in a home without much stuff, so there’s room for us. Clearing, be it books, furniture, music, gadgets, clothes or old interests, always fills us with the energy and ideas to do whatever’s next. And it always has. At times when we’ve felt our lives becoming becalmed and stale a good bit of clearing has usually helped us to move on and then look back and wonder ‘what was all that stuff for?’

Which fits perfectly with the ‘year to live’ thoughts I’ve been having these past few weeks. Continue reading “The Clearing”

Top Lock, Top Day: Walking to Leeds, Section 6

Another day, another Top Lock. We suspect this won’t be the last of these on our way along the canal from Liverpool to Leeds. As usual now, we begin the day where we aim to finish, parking the car here at Wheelton.

Me and a very happy Sarah Horton, who particularly loves these canal days.

Sarah, to give credit where it’s definitely due, is the principal arranger of these days. Does all the maps, food and logistics and on this one will also do a good half of the photographs.

Sarah’s map. How to get from Adlington to Blackburn along the Leeds Liverpool Canal.
Our day begins in steady rain.

Continue reading “Top Lock, Top Day: Walking to Leeds, Section 6”

Walking Free: Liverpool

Walking free
In the centre of my city
On such a sunny day
In such an awful week
Is not to be taken lightly or for granted.

The freedom to get the bus to town
To buy my lunch
And find a quiet place to eat it
Getting lost in a wonderful book while I do
Not to be taken lightly or for granted at all.

Buying a long awaited new record
The day it comes out
Then riding home upstairs on the bus
Free to be full of opinions about all I then see
On such a sunny day
In such an awful week
Is not to be taken lightly or for granted
Not to be taken lightly or for granted at all.

Continue reading “Walking Free: Liverpool”

The Road to Wigan Pier: Walking to Leeds, Section 4

The fourth section of our walk along the whole of the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

This time we’re going to be walking from Burscough, where we left off last week, all the way to Wigan. Though in fact our journey begins where it will end, at Wigan. (Now we’re walking a good way away from home we’re beyond local Liverpool transport and so are driving to where we’ll finish each day and using their local transport to get to where we’ll walk from.)

So here we are in Wigan.
Where our walk will end later.
On a quiet Sunday morning in a beautiful place.

Continue reading “The Road to Wigan Pier: Walking to Leeds, Section 4”

The Darkling

dsc07246Out walking this Sunday late in November it feels as if the light of the day is already waning at just after one o’clock. I decide I’ll take some photographs for a blog post called ‘The Darkling.’ My long used phrase for this time of the year where the days are made up of progressively more darkness than light.

Feeling like I'm already walking through the twilight.
Feeling like I’m already walking through the twilight.
The year fading like the last beech leaves on the trees.
The year fading like the last beech leaves on the trees.

Continue reading “The Darkling”

The day after the clocks went back

No apologies for this, but I’ve spent another peaceful Sunday ambling around with my camera pointing at the autumn.dsc06989As the clocks have gone back last night we’ve entered the time of the year where the light hours get more precious. Where those of us who are prone to depression anyway get more depressed if we don’t get out in the light enough.

Though it's a fairly dark slate grey day anyway here on Penny Lane.
Though it’s a fairly dark slate grey day anyway here on Penny Lane.
But coloured in brilliantly by the variety of the autumn leaves.
But coloured in brilliantly by the variety of the autumn leaves.

Continue reading “The day after the clocks went back”