Category Archives: Art and architecture.

PEACEFUL EASY LANCASHIRE.

I’ve got this peaceful easy feeling.

It is that sort of day; no wind, sun shining, rural Lancashire, the bike cruising effortlessly, no traffic, virtually no sounds. What more could you want. I’m on a linear canal ride where time has stood still, almost a parallel universe. The canal takes you along without you realising where you are in relation to familiar roads and settlements. I could be in Rotterdam or anywhere  – sorry that is a link to a recent post. But I meet people, interesting people in this parallel universe.

At the start I chat to an elderly cyclist who is setting off on his electric bike admitting it is heavy, and you can’t pedal it if the battery dies on you. He suggests that if you are over eighty then this is for you – well I have a few years of proper pedalling ahead of me. He speeds off and I never catch up.

There was the lady by the swans, they are here every year she says, using the canal towpath as a route to and from her shops. How lucky she is and I think she knew. There were seven cygnets, all strengthening their wings ready for a first flight, enchanting.

I pass, incognito, through Lancaster City at times elevated above the streets and housing. I have a picture in my mind of what would happen if the banks broke. That must be linked to my childhood stories of the little Dutch guy with his thumb in the leaking dam. Lots of the converted canal warehouses are now student accommodations, how lucky are they. There are some iconic canal features along here where the horses could cross from one side of the towpath to the other side without unhitching. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Now in the countryside I chat to a houseboat owner, probably a former dropout but now elevated in my esteem to an interesting canal dweller. He may have the advantage over the rest of us in our current cost of living crisis. How the worm turns. Drifter.

A dog walker talks of his previous life as a travelling rep. No more motorway hold-ups for him.

The towpath takes me through shady cuttings and open fields. I don’t look at my phone to see where I am, preferring to let things happen. I can’t get lost. A southerner recently moved to these parts is interested in my route, but I have the feeling he won’t be tackling anything more than a gentle walk to the pub. How judgemental is that?

It seems to take an age on rather overgrown and awkward paths, I’m not as agile on the bike as before, talking decades here, and I’m very wary of skidding off the path head first into the canal. I walk some of the way. Picking ripe sweet blackberries was a joy. I was in no rush.

Eventually I reach the junction with the Glasson canal built to link the port of Glasson with Lancaster. And then the railway came. More of that later.

I’m still in that peaceful easy feeling as I continue without meeting a soul through fields towards the coast. It was along here that I witnessed a heron trying to swallow a wriggly eel earlier this year.

Glasson is as busy as ever with motorcyclists and tourists of a certain age, so I head across the bridge to the little shop where I’m in time for one of their freshly baked cheese and onion slices. Sat in the sunshine with a coffee – perfect. It must be high tide as the lock gates to the ocean are open.

I’ve taken a long time to cycle 12 miles to Glasson, what with all the stops and awkward sections, but now it is head down on the old railway, which superceded the canal I’ve just been following. Back into Lancaster and on to Halton Station. That has set me up for autumn and thoughts of trans Pennine trails.

I switch the radio on when I’m in my car, but this time there is no déjà vu link to the Eagles from way back then. Here it is nonetheless.  I may have played this before in other contexts, but it is a favourite of mine and perfectly reflected this sunny day’s ride. California dreaming.

I highly recommend this 20 mile off-road circuit, after a short ascent to reach the Lancaster Canal on the period Aqueduct it is flat all the way even if a little rough towards Galgate. The section to Glasson is totally rural and as peaceful as you could wish.

CaptureGlasson.

A SMALL STRETCH OF COAST.

P1090292I’ve just cycled a 16mile stretch of the Fylde coast, Fleetwood to St. Annes and then back again. As I’m putting my bike back in the car I spot a heavily laden touring cyclist.

“Have you come far?” I ask.

“Yes I’m cycling around the coast of Britain”

“Gosh – For charity?” I ask seeing the Multiple Sclerosis logos on her T-shirt.

It turns out that Lis has been diagnosed with MS in 2013 but is determined to complete this 6000mile challenge to raise funds for the MS Trust as well as benefiting her own health. She is amazing, full of enthusiasm after three and a half months pedalling. We swap a few stories, I donate to her charity, and she cycles on towards Blackpool and then Preston.  The balloons on her bike celebrating her 50th birthday today. I’m well and truly humbled with my small stretch of coast.  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/LisvanLyndenP1090282

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My day started when my clandestine climbing partner phoned to say he might have caught Covid on his recent trip to Montenegro and didn’t think he should go climbing. Neither did I.

The bike was already in the back of the car, and soon I was on the M55 heading to the Fylde. The traffic was heavy, I wondered about the possible bank holiday crowds on the promenade in Blackpool. However, parking at Fleetwood sea front is always easy. I pedalled down the coast, had a snack at St. Annes and pedalled back against the wind. The only busy spots were between the tower and the pleasure beach. ‘Kiss me quick’  hats de rigueur.

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Empty prom north of Blackpool.

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Crowds thinning out on St. Annes beach.

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Heading back to Fleetwood.

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‘Steampacket’ to Ireland passing Black Combe and Barrow.

Job done – well not quite. In the week I had listened on Radio Lancashire about the unveiling of a memorial to a lost trawler boat, the Goth.

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                                                                                 GOTH.

The trawler, the Goth, failed to return in December 1948, 21 men were lost in a fierce storm off Iceland. Then 50 years later the funnel of this vessel was trawled up in the net of an Icelandic boat, Helga. The Goth’s last resting place is now known. The funnel had eventually been brought back to Fleetwood – to become a lasting memorial. It survives as a reminder of the Fleetwood fishing community and a way of life of courage, comradeship, generosity and good humour.

Fleetwood at one time was a major port, the third largest in Britain, for the trawler industry, no longer alas. On the seafront where I park are several reminders of the hardships and losses of these seagoing boats and crews.

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Welcome Home. Anita Lafford

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Past this place, the fishermen of Fleetwood have sailed for generations while their families watched from the shore. Their courage and comradeship under hardship is a living legend. This memorial, depicting equipment from a trawler, was placed here in recognition of the great contribution which the men and women of the fishing community have made to the life of Fleetwood.

The plaque lists 39 trawlers lost in 50 years with an awful loss of lives which can be seen if you click and enlarge this photo  —P1090287

But there was no sign of Goth’s funnel along the seafront with the other tributes, I have to ask a local where the memorial funnel is located. He somewhat ashamedly tells me it is on an inland roundabout next to Asda! I drive there and park up. A grotty path around the side of the supermarket takes me to the edge of the busy roundabout. And yes here is the memorial funnel squeezed ingloriously into the roadside.

P1090234P1090231P1090235 I can only assume that the cooperative cash of Asda has paid for this location. But how on earth has it been approved – nobody can see it. I challenge Wyre Council to come up with a decent reason. How much better if it had been located on the sea front or at the Mount park for all to appreciate. Lunacy.

One day I will find time to visit the Museum housed in one of the oldest houses of Fleetwood.

END OF AN ERA.

I had intended writing a detailed post on our visit to The Tudors Exhibition at the Walker in Liverpool, hoping to tempt some of you to visit, but I now realise it is closing in a few days. (29th August). Unfortunately the boat has almost sailed, all I can say is you have missed a treat. Here are a few poor quality phone pictures to give you an idea.

Charting the reigns and intrigues of Henry VII, Henry VIII and his six wives, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I from 1485 to 1603. Notable portraits of them took pride of place in the first part of the exhibition.  Along the way were minor parts – Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Francis Drake, William Shakespeare, Mary Queen of Scots, all portrayed and documented.

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Henry VIII 

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Edward II

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Elizabeth I.

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Thomas Cromwell

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Sir Francis Drake.

At the time England was waging war on Ireland,Scotland, France and Spain. The Reformation and dissolution of the monasteries took place under Henry VIII and we veered from Catholicism to Protestant several times. England achieved global expansion through piracy and slavery. One of the most dramatic times in Britain’s history.

Highlight loans in the exhibition were the Westminster Tournament Roll, produced on parchment in 1511, the Roll celebrates the birth of Henry VIII’s son with Katherine Aragon, Henry, who unfortunately died in infancy. This spectacular document and accompanying video was last on public display almost 20 years ago and never seen outside London. Another incredible loan was the Bacton Altar Cloth which new research suggests is an item from Elizabeth I’s wardrobe, making it the only known surviving example of her clothing. The Bristowe Hat loaned to the exhibition, a very rare example of original Tudor fashion. The Armada Maps were on display, recently saved for the nation, these intricate drawings illustrate the dramatic conflict between the Spanish Armada and English fleet off the south coast of England in 1588. I was so impressed with these that I forgot to take a photo.

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Westminster Tournament Roll video screen.

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The Bacton Alter Cloth.

That was a three-hour journey, broken by coffee, cake and a rest.

At the end we wandered outside for a breath of fresh air and a spot of lunch before returning to sample some of the other Walker Gallery’s many highlights. In the shop I splashed out on a humorous card for the next person I know getting married.20220826_114554

LANCASTER MARITIME MUSEUM BY DEFAULT.

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My bike has lain in the back of my estate car since early June when the day after a ride in Morecambe Covid eventually caught up with me, but that’s another story. Today was my first ride since then. I was pleased with my progress to Glasson Dock along the Lancaster Cycleway on the old railway track. A cheese and onion slice at the wonderful village shop went down a treat. Forget the touristy snack bar on the marina. I watched the children ( and their Dads) catching crabs from the dockside. All I had to do was cycle back the 10 miles to Halton.

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Lunch at the village shop.

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Quayside fishing,

 

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Crabs galore.

 

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The motor cyclists hang out.

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Down a side street – do you remember these?

The only excitement along the way was a lady cyclist who came past me remarkably quickly. Of course, she was on an electric bike and disappeared into the distance. That set me thinking. 

  1. Would it be worth buying one, how long does the battery last, how heavy are they? For me, one would only be useful for that extra push up the hills that I find increasingly difficult.
  2. How legal are they on cycleways shared by pedestrians? One would not be allowed a motorcycle on a cycle/pedestrian route. Apparently in cities they are becoming the transport of choice for muggers snatching valuables – silent assassins.

I pedalled sedately along into Lancaster. How many times have I been past the Maritime Museum and never visited it? I was in no rush so decided there and then to rectify that omission. They kindly allowed me to take my bike inside as I didn’t have a lock. £2 admission fee seemed very reasonable, if I had carried my Art Fund Card with me, it would have been cheaper.

One and a half hours later I emerged from the museum well satisfied. It is based in the original Lancaster Docks C18th Custom House and an enjoining warehouse overlooking the Lune on St. George’s Quay. (header photo)

Before Lancaster Port and Glasson Dock were established Sunderland Point was the main port on the Lune.

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The harbour front Sunderland Point.

 

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Unloading cargo at Sunderland Point, c1890

There were extensive and informative displays on the history of the port of Lancaster, focused on the transatlantic trade which made the city prosperous. This obviously involved the slave trade picking up Africans cheaply and transporting them inhumanly to the West Indies for profit and then the goods that then came back to Britain – sugar, rum, cotton, timber, tobacco. Ship building became a significant industry in the area and a furniture making firm Gillow’s established itself in the C18th. Felt hats were manufactured in Lancaster which I didn’t know. All these facets of life in Lancaster were thoroughly explained with a great selection of artefacts and photographs.

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The price of a slave.

 

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Cotton and rum in the warehouse.

There was detailed information on the history of the local fishing industries. Salmon from the Lune, Shrimps, cockles and mussels from Morecambe Bay.

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Cockling, Morecambe Bay.

 

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Salmon fishing in the Lune with haaf nets.

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A fisherman’s cottage.

 

The perilous sands of Morecambe Bay were explored with mentions of the ancient crossing routes, still possible today with a local guide. The many deaths though were highlighted.

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From a gravestone in Ulverston.

Morecambe had its own history from a minor fishing port, to a passenger port for the Isle of Man and Ireland, a bustling early and mid C20th holiday resort (Bradford by the Sea) and the development of the port of Heysham not forgetting its nuclear power stations. All presented with excellent interpretation and original artefacts.20220817_151740

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The ‘super’ lido.

Aqua-Loonies

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Painting by Norman Wilkinson.

The coming of the canals and the railways was well documented. Included were the original plans for an Aqueduct over the Ribble at Preston to connect to the Leeds Liverpool Canal, this never was materialised, and instead the tram bridge was constructed. The latter is currently closed due to safety issues and one wonders whether there is the will or the finance to repair this historic structure. I was impressed with the ‘express’ passenger canal barge preserved in an upper room, these, with regularly changed horses, reduced the time of travel on the Lancaster Canal when coach travel on rutted roads was slow and uncomfortable.

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Inside an express canal barge.

A lot of the exhibits were to attract children with interactive features, but this didn’t distract from the amount of serious, learned and well presented history throughout.

In a room in the warehouse section I watched a video detailing the history of Lancaster since Roman times. Well worth the time. By then the café had closed, and they were ready to throw me out at 4pm closing time. Highly recommended, and you need a couple of hours in there to appreciate all the exhibits.20220817_153242

I was the last car at the Halton Station.

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – back on the trail.

P1090151It’s two months since I was last able to do a walk out of Mark Sutcliffe’s guide book. Finding one locally I strode out today on his Jeffrey Hill chapter. The suggestion was to park at Little Town Dairy, a farm shop, nursery and café. I feel guilty using a businesses’ car park if I’m not giving them any business so I parked by the road higher up on the route, which was to prove tiresome later in the day.

I had reservations about the initial route through the upmarket barn  conversions at Dilworth Brow Farm, previously a run down property. There was no need to worry, the path through was obvious, and even the local dog was friendly. Every farm seems to be erecting holiday lodges, Is this a result of the recent ‘staycation’ mentality?

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An uncertain start.

 

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Dilworth Brow.

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Once into fields I could enjoy views over the Ribble Valley and distant Pendle as I dropped to an ancient bridleway. Being enclosed and sunken this was once a boggy mess, but drainage has been installed and an upgraded grit surface added. This was only a short section of the right of way, one wonders why certain paths are improved (a further one later) when others are neglected.

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Note the size of the left-hand gatepost.

I made the obligatory short diversion to view the Written Stone, I have written of this before,excuse the pun. A car passes down the farm lane, I thought I recognised friends from years ago and regretted not stopping them. As I walked through the tidy environs of Cottam House I asked a man about the history of the place, he turned out to be the son of the above couple. So we had a catch-up, I passed on my regards and walked on.

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The Written Stone.

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This was the start of a slow climb back up to the ridge of Longridge Fell. Rough ground skirting the golf club and then the road up to Jeffrey Hill at Cardwell House. A large walking group was coming past and didn’t seem over friendly, head down mentality. There was a straggler taking some interest in his surroundings. We ended up in a long conversation about all things, as he said “it’s not dark till late”. I felt he had lost connection with the route march he had been on. Nobody came looking for him.

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Up to Jeffrey Hill.

 

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The Ribble Valley and Pendle.

 

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No time for stragglers.

I took a picture of the iconic view which I mentioned in a recent post. A ‘glass wall’ has replaced the iron railings depicted in the painting I own from 40 years ago.

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That view from Jeffrey Hill.

Nearby was a bench for refreshments. Some stones had been intricately carved as part of an art sculpture from 2014, It was a shame they removed the star of the installation, the Sun Catcher.

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Remains of the sculpture installation.

Now steeply downhill, look at the contours, ending up on the road at Thornley Hall. The ford leading off the road was surprisingly full. The next bit of track starts as a track but quickly becomes an overgrown narrow path, the book advises a stick for hacking back the vegetation. I happily swashbuckled my way along and at the end came onto another strange short stretch of gritted path.

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Looking back up to Jeffrey Hill.

 

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The listed C18th Thornley Hall.

 

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The ford.

 

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A promising start to the bridleway…

 

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…soon becomes this…

 

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…and then unexpectedly this.

Familiar lanes took me past Wheatley Farm and a house that always has a splendid floral display. Onto the busy main road where care is needed on the bend. I was glad to be back in the peaceful fields of Chipping Vale under the Bowland Hills. Heading towards Little Town Dairy where I could have parked at the start, but no I was faced with another steep climb back onto the fell. I reckon I had climbed over 1000ft in the 7 miles which took me 4 hours including all those stops.P1090169

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Wheatley Farm, 1774.

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One has to spend one’s money on something. 57 has gone shopping.

 

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Parlick and Fairsnape.

There was one more encounter at Sharples House. The farmer there had previously talked of having the largest cheese press in Lancashire, I believed him. In the past many farms in the area made their own cheese, tasty Lancashire. Today he seemed in a good mood, so I enquired further, and he took me to see the stone, it was indeed large and must have weighed a ton. He explained that the house was from the late 17th century. A former occupant, a Peter Walken (1684-1769) had been a nonconformist minister as well as a farmer. Uniquely he kept a series of diaries, most have been lost but two from 1733-34 have been found and published by a researcher from Preston museum. The present farmer was contacted and was able to see the journals but described them as boring, though they must have given an insight into farming life in the first half of the 18th century. He also told me of a mystery from the last century when two thieves broke into the house killing the farmer, but the daughter perhaps escaped hiding in an adjacent barn. One wonders how much local history has been lost.P1090183

There is another mystery just along the lane at Birks Farm – what is this structure in the wall built for? I should have asked the last farmer, next time.P1090184

Up the steep lane, over the last stile and I finish this splendid walk back at my car overlooking Longridge.P1090186P1090189P1090190

***

 

Capture

A BLOGGERS GIFT.

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                                                                                    Beacon Fell.

My friend and blogger Sir Hugh, conradwalks , often talks of ‘a bloggers gift’ Some unexpected happening or conversation that brings the story to life. He seems to collect these occurrences on a regular basis, many of them centred around a cup of tea with complete strangers. I’m secretly jealous.

Picture the scene – we are walking down a country lane when a man recognises me and enters into conversation. We are just passing his house, and he suggests showing us around his garden. We are not rushed for time, “Yes we would like that” was our innocent reply. The garden was large and unruly with many interesting plants. His main passion was apples and he had many varieties, most grafted onto stock by himself. We had finished the garden tour when his wife offered us tea, we couldn’t refuse. Next thing we were seated in the garden with tea and chocolate birthday cake. Talk was inevitably about the old times, we had many shared acquaintances.

As we came away after a good hour in their company I realised I should have had a photo of the occasion – a bloggers gift. Too late, what a missed opportunity.

Anyhow, here are a few photos from our stroll around the Whitechapel area beneath Beacon Fell. The emphasis was on beautiful Lancashire pastures with extensive views and on the multitude of very expensive properties, you don’t get much for less than a million. Mike was prospecting a possible route for a walk he is leading later in the month starting and finishing at the newly refurbished Cross Keys Inn.

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Whitechapel St James Church.

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Into the fields.

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Himalayan Balsam in profusion.

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Hydrangeas at Crombleholme.

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Modern day fencing.

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Wood Fold.

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Barnsfold barn conversion.

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C17th Ashes Farm, moated.

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Cross Keys Inn, closed on a Monday lunchtime

***

Whitechapel

LITTER ON THE FELL.

 

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             Longridge Fell looking across the green Chipping Vale towards the Trough of Bowland.

 

At the risk of raising the blood pressure of my, environmentally sensitive, readers – read on.

Following on from my brush with Covid I  have not kept up with the walks featured in the Lancashire Cicerone Guide book. I hope to resume them shortly. Today I needed a gentle leg stretcher – Longridge Fell always has something to offer. I’ve not done a ‘litter pick’ up there for several weeks so that became the object of the morning’s stroll. 

Parking up I was immediately confronted with discarded pizza boxes and drink bottles , also strangely two plastic motor oil containers. There is a litter bin 10 metres away, though admittedly it is usually full to overflowing. Not a good start to the day. P1090074

I set off on my walk intending to clear this mess up when I return, it won’t all go in my bag. Longridge Fell was bone dry making for easy walking though the threats of moorland fires must be high. I noticed the bilberries were very small perhaps a reflection of our lack of rainfall this June and July. The other thing that struck me was that the heather was already blooming – I seem to have missed some seasons this year.

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A sad finding on the ridge was a recently dead Kestrel. I could see no signs of it being shot, but I did wonder afterwards about possible poisoning. Should I have picked it up and sent to the RSPB or police for toxicology tests?

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Up to the trig point and back in a circle I half filled my bag with the usual doggy poo bags, drinks cartons and food wrappers. The short stretch on the road at the end provided an equal amount of rubbish dumped out of passing cars. All I had to do was pick up the rest of that rubbish in the car park. 

This is a local beauty spot with a fine view of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills so there are always cars parked here. In lock-down it was a free for all with all the verges taken over, things are back to normal now. Today I noticed two artists busy painting the scene. I wandered over to have a chat and admire their work. One was using watercolours and the other acrylic, they both complained about the high temperature affecting their paints. What a talent to be able to capture that view with a few brushstrokes. I wish I had asked them to email me a copy of their finished paintings.  That reminds me, I have on my study wall a watercolour of the very same scene done for me by a Mr. A Long, an artist who lived in Longridge 40 odd years ago.  

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Mr Long’s painting.

What a contrast from two gents fully appreciating their environment to the louts who drive up here with their takeaways and don’t take them away.

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – To the points.

I’ve never been fully around Sunderland or Bazil Points so walk no 18 in Mark Sutcliffe’s Cicerone Guide to Walking in Lancashire was an attractive proposition especially as it was flat as a pancake which suited my crumbling body.

I have a fear of rising tides, so the logistics for this walk were important. Tide timetables were consulted and double-checked, last Saturday looked good with a low tide at 9am. Unusually for me, I was parked up at Overton at 9am. Would my car disappear under the waves whilst I was out, I said I was nervous about the tides around Morecambe Bay. Remember the disaster in 2004 when at least 21 Chinese illegal immigrant labourers were drowned by an incoming tide whilst picking cockles off the Lancashire coast.

There was little sign of water as I walked across the causeway, just mud and marsh grass in all directions. The Sea Thrift gave the area a pink glow. A few cars passed heading to town. Soon I was at the few houses that call themselves Sunderland, once the major port for Lancaster and beyond. I wrote of the history of this place when I visited in October last year.

That time I was on my cycle so didn’t go right round the point itself. Today I continued past the last house onto the rocky shoreline and found a place to sit at the very end looking out over the Lune to Cockerham and distant Knott End. There was Plover Lighthouse seemingly on land today. As the tide was well out there were virtually no waders on the shore, just the odd shelduck, but curlews were calling in the fields behind me and goldfinches flitting through the gorse bushes. A local lady walked by and talked of the unique life here. I enjoyed the peace and the view knowing that when I turned the corner Heysham power stations would dominate the landscape.

Glaucium flavum only found on the coast.

I passed by Sambos Grave and the Camera Obscura, I couldn’t resist going inside for the upside down view. Cows were grazing on the marshes. A wild rose had the most delicate perfume.

Up at Potts’ Corner more people started to appear on the sands, presumably from the nearby caravan parks. Here I joined the zigzagging lane for half a mile before cutting across fields to use the sea wall leading back to Overton. The village is a cluster of cottages on an elevated site above the Lune. Some of the properties dating back to the C17th when it was a farming and fishing community.

I walked on to the church, one of the oldest in Lancashire. It was locked, so I couldn’t view the interior box pews and balcony. I found a seat near the Norman doorway and ate my sandwich looking over to Glasson. Then along came a gent in a tweed jacket, shorts and trilby, he cycled in to get some photos of the estuary as the tide comes in. Turns out we had mutual interests and spent a pleasant half hour chatting about this and that.

There was an old lane leading down to the shore from where at one time a ferry crossed to Glasson which looked very close. I walked around Bazil Point on the edge of the rocks, which would be difficult if the tide was in. Each gate on the way has a smart red sign. The point was as atmospheric as the one I’d walked this morning and as the tide raced in the surface of the water displayed a silver shimmering which I found mesmerising.

Ferry Cottage – considerably modernised. What a situation.

Looking back to Bazil Point.

At one stage I left the beach to walk in the fields, though I later found I needn’t have. The path left the field by a most unusual high stile down to the beach. By now I was surrounded by a herd of cows with a sturdy bull coming my way. I was glad of the escape route.

The bull is prowling at the top.

And then I was back at my car, still above the waters. What a magic area this is and well represented by Mark’s walk.

FLAG WAVING IN BLACKPOOL.

 

 

I was confused by the rash of Bank Holidays and Jubilee Festivities and found myself in the midst of Blackpool’s celebrational party, and they know how to party here. The crowds were too thick to cycle through safely, I was returning from Lytham to Fleetwood on the promenade. This was my first time out on the bike since my collision here which resulted in torn knee ligaments. I was being extra careful. 

I had accomplished my mission to visit the Mussel Tank which I’ve passed so many times without realising it was there, thanks to Shazza for highlighting it. There is some purpose to blogging after all. The tanks, built in 1934, were used for cleaning the mussels harvested from the muddy Ribble Estuary. By the mid 1950s the beds closed down, mainly  because of changes in the Ribble channel affecting restocking. There were three tanks. A cleansing tank now the RNLI, a chlorination tank now the Ribble Cruising Club and the storage tank now the Mussel Tank which has been given a face lift as an open space for public enjoyment. There are interpretation plaques about the mussel trade, an art wall displaying ceramic tiles portraying local features produced by students at Lytham Sixth Form College. There’s also a large-scale mussel sculpture by a Martyn Bednarczuk which I thought resembled a smiling dolphin rather than a mussel.

 

One of the original tanks. Lytham St Annes Civic Society

I was glad to see that they had restored the sails on the iconic windmill.

Nearby was an installation by Tom Dagnall reflecting on the diversity of the SSSI Ribble Estuary.

It was time for an excellent coffee break in St. Annes.

There seemed to be an awful lot of people on the prom in the vicinity of the tower. I just assumed Jubilee celebrations but as I cycled on there were more and more camera clutching folk by the tram line.

I stopped to enquire and was informed of a parade of trams from the past. Nothing seemed to be happening, so I cycled on keeping to the higher way alongside the tramline. Eventually the parade arrived. A motley collection of Blackpool trams and an exquisite turn of the century Bolton tram. There was a lot of flag waving from the passengers, they must have thought me a misery. The photos may mean something to someone.

I made it back in one piece, quite pleased with the 30 odd miles I’d cycled.

I BELONG TO GLASGOW – Part 4.

*****

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

First stop on arriving in the immense baroque red sandstone Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was their café where we relaxed and enjoyed a light lunch whilst the organ concert was taking place above.

This place is like the British Museum, Science Museum,  the V and A, Natural History Museum and the Tate all rolled into one. It’s immense, one needs a battle plan to find a way around the multiple galleries on two floors. The entrance hall is large enough for concerts with the organ at the north end.

We were most interested in the art galleries in the east wings. We were straight into another Mackintosh exhibition. Lots of examples of his work and that of his collaborators. There was a partial reconstruction of a Glasgow Tearoom which he designed for Miss Cranston who owned several tearooms in the city. There was metalwork and glass from the same era. I was struck by the design of the leaded window as it was almost identical to those in my parent’s inter-war semi-detached.

The next gallery was devoted to an extensive collection of The Glasgow Boys. Encountered earlier in the University this group of local artists rebelled against Victorian sentimentality and revolutionised Scottish painting at the end of the C19th. Outdoor naturalistic painting of local scenes and people with strong brush strokes and later French-inspired techniques bordering on the abstract. 

Time for coffee and cake, 

Now on the first floor.  Scottish landscapes, French art, Scottish Colourists and Dutch art. Quite a variety.

Lavish Scottish landscapes.

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Large French display – mainly impressionists.

Renoir.

Monet.

Signac.

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The Scottish Colourists, a colourful modern French style for Scotland at the start of the C20th.

J D Ferguson.

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Classic Dutch paintings.

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And in a room of its own ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ by Salvador Dalí. This iconic painting was purchased by the gallery in 1952 for £8200 and now estimated to be worth £50million. Dali said he had dreamed the scene of Christ looking down on a shoreline from the cross, no nails or blood.

We had only seen a fraction of the displays in the Museum. In the west wings were a multitude of history, science and nature which we didn’t explore.  There were some outstanding paintings on the landings surrounding the first floor and from up here one had a view into the two courts.

A bus back into town, a pint in the Counting House (Witherspoon’s superb use of an old bank) and back home to Preston in a few hours.  Glasgow is certainly worth a visit whatever your interests.

I BELONG TO GLASGOW – Part 3

*****

Mainly Mackintosh.

A taxi was used after breakfast to take us quickly up to the Hunterian Art Gallery in the University. The taxi fare of about £13 was almost as expensive as our train tickets from Preston to Glasgow, £15 for the two. From the outside the gallery was a big block of concrete, brutalistic Mike said. But inside is a hidden gem – The Mackintosh House.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was a renowned architect, designer and artist creating modern Art Nouveau buildings with the interiors and furnishings complementing his minimalistic ideas. His wife Margaret was a talented artist/designer and collaborated on many of his works.

One of their projects was to transform the interior of the house they were living in from 1906 to 1914, 78 Southpark Avenue.  They had a vision for light clean lines, often taken from nature, and designed everything from the furniture to the curtains to create integrated spaces for living in. “the room as a work of art”  Subsequent owners kept the interior and eventually Glasgow University took it over in 1945. The furnitures were put in storage and when the house was demolished in the 1960s the interiors were preserved along with drawings and photographs of the house. By 1981 the interior of the house had been carefully replicated inside the university art gallery and the original furnishings installed. Carpets, curtains and soft furnishings were produced from drawings and photos.

So we found ourselves stepping into the Mackintosh’s entrance hall from over a century ago. The adjoining dining room was more of a sombre hue with distinctive Mackintosh chairs. On the next floor up elegant stairs was the L-shaped drawing room created from two rooms, As soon as you enter you are transfixed by the white decoration, flooded with light from windows which replicate the original house’s orientation. All was sublime. Delicate details from Margaret compliment the distinctive furniture of  Charles. Up a floor, and you were in the bedroom, again an L-shaped area. All white with furniture inspired by plant and bird forms.  Everything was exquisite.

For an in depth look this video is recommended.

The adjacent art gallery had more of Mackintosh’s work, complemented by his wife, and fellow artists and collaborators, the husband and wife James and Frances McNair. This included a reconstruction of one of Mackintosh’s last interior schemes from Derngate, Northampton, 1916, pictured in the heading photo.

Adjacent galleries highlighted the painter James A M Whistler. I don’t remember seeing any of his works before and was particularly impressed by his long portraits, delicate impressionism.  No sign of his mother.

The university gallery had several of the paintings of the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists.

The ‘Boys’ – an informal group of 20 Glasgow artists that came together in the early 1880s – they challenged Victorian Scottish painting, and developed a distinctive style of naturalist painting. Outdoor painting of local scenes and people with strong brush strokes and later French-inspired techniques bordering on the abstract. Whistler’s work was an influence.

Hornel, Henry and Gauld.

The ‘Colourists’ – four painters – Francis Cadell (1883–1937), John Fergusson (1874–1961), George Hunter (1879–1931) and Samuel  Peploe (1831–1935).  They used vibrant primary colours and simplified avant-garde forms. I first became aware of them at an exhibition in Woking in 2019.

Still Life . Cadell.

There will be more of these Scottish painters in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum this afternoon. Time for a break.

I BELONG TO GLASGOW – Part 2.

*****

The Burrell Collection.

A good buffet breakfast set us up for a full day. The bus took us south of the Clyde  alighting at the entrance to Pollock Park. A pleasant walk through the grounds and we were  outside the Burrell Collection building, reopened in March after a major refurbishment. It originally opened in 1983 to house the vast collection of the Burrell family, gifted to Glasgow in 1944. Sir William Burrell, (1861–1958) a wealthy shipping merchant, devoted more than 75 years of his life to amassing one of the world’s greatest personal art collections, renowned for its quality of Chinese art, exquisite stained-glass and intricate tapestries, as well as its breadth of fine art. The galleries are built with a warm sandstone and lots of glass, situated in the middle of all the greenery of Pollock Park.

We were in for a bumper day. 9000 objects from 5000 years.

Burrell collected just about everything from all over the world and the first we noticed were the many medieval doorways from monasteries and country houses, they have been carefully incorporated into the building giving access between the galleries. The interior is a pleasing blend of stone, wooden beams and glass giving a beautiful light for the visitors.

In the covered courtyard is the Warwick Vase. It was found in the C18th in fragments in the villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian outside Rome. It was restored and given to the Earl of Warwick. The Vase stood in the courtyard of Warwick Castle for almost two centuries until it was purchased for The Burrell Collection in 1979. A large marble sculpture in the form of a two-handled drinking cup, with motifs to the Roman God of wine Bacchus. So one of the star exhibits was not actually collected by the Burrells.

Off we went around the ground floor outer galleries with exhibits scattered throughout the rooms. Burrell started collecting Chinese antiques around 1910, Jades, porcelain and furniture from all dynasties. 

 

Egyptian artefacts were well represented, and I was particularly pleased to see the lion head of the goddess Sekhmet, 1390BC. My cat Seth is named after this goddess, the name change when the vet pointed out his sex. 

 

Suits of armour were everywhere,  I was amazed at their intricate artistry and the fact that somehow they had survived intact from the C16th.

 

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The museum is home to more than 700 ecclesiastical stained-glass panels from across Europe, and the outer galleries are ideal for displaying them with natural light.