Category Archives: Liverpool

WIRRAL WALKABOUT – it’s a dogs life.

 

Hoylake – Hooton.

What is it about dog walkers?  This stretch seemed to be inundated with them in all shapes and sizes, usually the dogs get more exercise than their owners.

The first person I asked for directions strangely didn’t have a dog, but nonetheless he gave me  advice about getting round the beach to Red Rocks. It had rained all night and it was difficult to tell if the tide was in or out so I quickly walked round Hoylake beach to reach these rocks. Expecting a cliff they turned out to be no more than a platform of reddish sandstone. Inland was now The Royal Liverpool Golf Course more commonly called Hoylake when I have watched the Open on TV. Not much could be seen over the dunes and I didn’t spot anybody famous.

The second man had one dog and gave me good advise about traversing the dunes and information on walking out [at low tide] to the three islands Little Eye, Little Hilbre and Hilbre less than a mile off the coast at West Kirby. I think summer would be the time to return, they looked totally inaccessible today with wind blowing up the waves.The weather took a turn for the worse and I was fairly miserable as I walked the promenade on the landside of the Marine Lake, people using the path on the seaward side looked in danger of being swamped and there was not a boat in sight. My saviour came in the shape of Tanskey’s Bar which was open at 9.30 [despite the staff having a hangover from last night’s Christmas Party] and served me a wonderful coffee, with classy background music, whilst I dried out. These little cafes are a treasure, I notice they even have a classic cinema evening with food once a month.

Refreshed I navigated round some expensive real estate and sailing clubs to the start of The Wirral Way which follows the abandoned railway line calling at all stations to Hooton through the Wirral Country Park along the Dee Estuary. It was now full steam ahead on the flat straight trail. Passing through the exclusive looking Caldy Golf Course, bridges passed regularly and an old station platform appeared at Thurstaston.  Getting bored with the railway I wandered through fields onto a cliff top path which gave me views across the Dee to Wales. Committed to this path I followed it to steps leading down through the loose red sandstone cliffs and on to the sandy beach. Turn left and walk along the shore was my only option, ahead I could see a boat on a ‘side stream’ of the Dee. From the map there was no obvious way off the beach.

But I met a man with two dogs, we chatted about Liverpool, Thurstaston and Thor’s Rock which I had wanted to visit. Its some distance inland and hence an excuse to return to this delightful area.  More importantly he showed me the way, by a little path, off the beach to regain the Wirral Way. After more marching along the railway and then nondescript streets saw me hemmed in at Neston Golf Course, I felt the need to rejoin the river. The couple with three dogs showed me a lane towards the estuary which when I reached it had become an extensive salt march. There was evidence of stonework of ancient quays from before the silting up of this area. A birdwatcher reported peregrines but none of the harriers he had come to see. Lanes then took me to the ‘sea front’ promenade at Parkgate, Neston. There was previously a port with links to Ireland but gradually this silted up in the 19th century, this also put paid to the local bathing. All that remains is the stone sea wall and some elegant houses on the ‘promenade’ – rather surreal. However today it is still popular for its pubs and eateries and for the birdwatchers who come at high tide which sometimes floods the salt marches. Here the Wirral Way turns inland, still faithfully following the old railway which closed in 1962.

The silted up River Dee.

The silted up River Dee.

After a few more streets built on the line I found myself in a kilometre long, stone cutting completed in 1866. This was an amazing place. Quarried sandstone cliffs enclose the track and you can see the marks of the picks used to carve it out. Also featured are areas of ripple sediments known as ‘current bedding’. Ferns bedeck the walls and tree roots seek weaknesses in the sandstone. Met a man with three greyhounds who was equally enthusiastic about the place, he was interested in my walk and I was beginning to unravel the ‘scouse’ accent.

 

 

 

 

 

Once out of the cutting I was surrounded by green fields and horses of the Cheshire countryside. A lady jogging towards me had four dogs – the record – and as she bent down to ‘poo scoop’ explained it kept her hands warm, rather her than me. I was transported back to my youth at Willaston where Hadlow Road station has been ‘preserved’ giving a real sense of past travel on the railways. A last rural stretch through trees saw me chugging in to the platform at Hooton station for my modern train journey back to Preston.I found the Wirral a fascinating area with lots of hidden gems. A good way to spend a couple of days and avoid the Xmas shopping .

WIRRAL WALKABOUT – a breath of sea air.

Seacombe  Ferry  –  Hoylake.

Despite its proximity I’ve not visited the Wirral Peninsular very often, I remember once  going to Ness Botanic Gardens to buy some rhododendrons and magnolia. They are still thriving in my garden. But there are two walks which combined seem to highlight the best of this peninsular – the North Wirral Coastal Path and the Wirral Way. Due to the weather and Lake District flooding I thought now was a good time to explore.

Could have subtitled this as ‘Ferry across the Mersey’ but opted for a more practical train journey under the river.  I wish I had taken the ferry as it would have made a superb start to the day. Too late now as I watch from this side the ‘Dazzle’ ferry heading across with the famous Liverpool sky line behind. The Three Graces are being overshadowed by elegant modern buildings. The day is overcast.The Wallasey promenade stretches before me and opposite are the remnants of the once mighty  Liverpool and Bootle dockyards. Few cranes remain now but on this side of the river are poignant reminders of their wartime duties. Plaques have been put on the sea wall to honour the many boats lost in both wars, each plaque placed opposite the dock where the sinking took place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whole waterfront along here is full of history – Guinea Gap, the ‘back to front’ Wallasey Town Hall, the Egremont Ferry, Magazines Drive, Vale Park and The Tower Grounds. Look them up at – http://www.visitwirral.com/dbimgs/3WCT%20-%20North%20Wirral%20Coast%281%29.pdf

Wallasey Town Hall.

Wallasey Town Hall.

Egremont Ferry - pub sign.

Egremont Ferry – pub sign.

As New Brighton approached there were avenues of houses from more opulent times. New Brighton had its hay days either side of WW2. Ferries from Liverpool stopped sailing in 1971 and the famous Open Air Bathing Pool closed in 1990. There has been an attempt to regenerate the area but mainly by building new retail outlets, Brand New Brighton. The past is remembered at Fort Perch Rock and Rock Lighthouse.

Lighthouse and Fort with shipyards across the river.

Lighthouse and Fort with shipyards across the river.

Leaving the mouth of the river and turning along the north coast brought a change of character. Inland suburbia was replaced by sand dunes and a bracing sea breeze. Sand had been blown and deposited everywhere. The tide was retreating and flocks of birds were feeding at its edge – oyster catchers, redshanks, knots, turnstones and others – I had forgotten my binoculars.  I was able to walk along the beach on firm sand, a change of surface. Crunchy empty Razor Clams were everywhere. Out to sea were lines of wind turbines.Clambering back up to the sea wall there is a golf links course in the dunes, a ruined ‘Mockbeggar Wharf’ and another redundant  lighthouse passed, the Welsh Hills were glanced in the late afternoon sunshine. Small fishing boats waited on the beach.Housing reappeared and Hoylake was reached. Next to the modern lifeboat house a couple of intrepid sailors were fighting the wind across the pond. An information plaque relates some of the tragedies at sea. Nearby an ornate cast iron drinking fountain erected in 1901 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Xmas parties were in full swing at my hotel for the night, but needless to say I experienced friendly Merseyside hospitality. Thank you Green Lodge Hotel.

NOT ANOTHER ECLIPSE PHOTOGRAPH!

The forecast for this morning was poor with cloud probably obscuring the partial eclipse. Slept in till 9.30 when I woke up with a start, lept out of bed and pulled the curtains open to reveal the clouds just parting as the moon crept onto the sun. All disappeared just as quickly. Following my daily resuscitating strong coffee peeped out again to see the moon scuttling past the sun.  Quite pleased with the morning so far.

Of course I hadn’t bothered with any special sun blocking measures as it was so misty in the first place and I was only taking quick photos as the clouds opened. But it made me think of the measures you should take for viewing eclipses, pin hole cameras or very dark glasses or….

blackpool-1968-by-tony-ray-jones

… this chap was safe from the sun but missed the eclipse. He was the photographic subject of Tony Ray-Jones in 1968. This links me in to an afternoon this week I spent at the Walker Gallery  enjoying          Ray- Jones was prolific in the late 60’s but died young from leukaemia. He produced a historical document of the English psyche and eccentricity from those times. Tony Parr was influenced by the photography of Ray-Jones though he never met him. Parr has gone through Ray-Jones negatives and selected a series of prints for this exhibition. In addition there is a room of Parr’s own prints from a decade later  mainly exploring the quirky environs of Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire and its people.Jpeg

You should watch ——–  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV817fJgd28

and also

And also    https://vimeo.com/116251335

Just to keep you interested see also the insights of this favourite blogger of mine —-  https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/only-in-england-photos-by-tony-ray-jones-and-martin-parr-at-the-walker/

Get yourself to the Walker to view this fine exhibition and start to explore their other gems………

CATS, FOOTBALL and the EGYPTIANS.

One of my most memorable trips abroad in the last ten years was a three week wander around Egypt, I visited Cairo, Luxor and Aswan using local transport. Some chance now. I was thoroughly captivated by the culture, the people and the food. I was able to visit most of the major sights at my leisure and uncluttered by any mass tourism. Amidst all the ruins, graves pyramids and museums  I was particularly impressed by many of the beautiful sculptures. The modern museum in Luxor stood out for their display. I became immersed in the world of past gods and their significances.  Cats were revered 4 – 5 thousand years ago and given god like status.  I came home with several reproduction stone and pottery feline figures. My cat, aged ten, had recently died from feline leukaemia and I therefore on my return took up the offer of a couple of delightful  kittens from a local farm. The female I named Bastet [Egyptian cat goddess] and the male Seth [Egyptian animal god]  good and bad, noble and dark, ying and yang. They have been constant companions and live up to their names.

Bastet and Seth.

 

This week I visited the Atkinson Arts Centre in Southport once again, this time to view the recently opened Egyptian Gallery. Seth and Bastet were well represented, much to my delight.

Bastet.

Bastet figure.

This exhibition has a colourful background.  A Mrs Anne Goodison from Liverpool collected Egyptian artefacts on her travels at the end of the 19th century, before the tomb of Tutankhamen was even discovered, and displayed them in her home. One can now wonder and debate about the ‘ethics’ of this style of Victorian collecting.  She was the wife of George Goodison a well respected local civil engineer who had installed a sewerage system to the Everton area of Liverpool.  When the Everton Football stadium was built in 1892 his name was immortalised  in sport.

Anne died in 1906 and George having no interest in her collection sold it on for £400 pounds!! and it ended up in Bootle  Museum. This gallery closed in 1974 and the collection of over a 1000 artefacts has been in storage ever since. With lottery funding and some obvious passionate effort they are now to be viewed in a permanent gallery at the Atkinson.     Brilliant.

The exhibition is in a small intimate area and highlights some beautiful pieces. OK so you get the mummy but the main objects to relish are the small pieces – jewellery, beads, ceramics, shabtis [servant figures for the next life] rare ‘paddle dolls’ [fertility symbols] sandals etc.

There is a colourful and informative video presentation of two young children talking, in Lancashire accents!, about their life in the time of the Pharaohs in an attempt at reality. One a boy hoping to be a scribe, a very important person, and the other a humble peasant girl.

The exhibition is fascinating and enthralling partly because of its small scale and everyday objects but yet it displays the magnificent art work the Egyptians had achieved  up to 5000 years ago. This has to be an important addition to Egyptology study in this country. Its origins make me wonder how much more may be hidden in long forgotten or neglected private collections.

I highly recommend a visit to The Atkinson if you are in the area to view this collection.  Remember ‘small is beautiful’.

Seth on a Gold ring.

Seth on a Gold ring.

 

 

PASSPORT TO LIVERPOOL.

The lady on the Passport Office ‘helpline’  threw me into a panic when she said you need 3 months spare on your passport to fly abroad. I seem to remember this rule from years ago!  My passport runs out in October and I will be in France most of September so I hurriedly booked an appointment at the Liverpool office for a one day application. Yesterday a quick round from the PO with form to a photo booth in Azda to my neighbour for counter signing. All a trifle stressful to ensure accuracy. A subsequent phonecall to the French Embassy, they speak French!, informed me more accurately that for the EU you can travel up to the final day on your passport. Still I had an appointment for today so let’s get it done with. On an early Sunday morning the drive past the port to the Passport Office was easy. Last time the office was in the old India Building but has now been transfered to a shiny  block in a sea of tall glass buildings. All was very efficient, I had filled in the form correctly, Phew!    Just pay the fee and come back at 1PM for your treasured new passport.

Set off to walk up to the ‘cultural centre’ of the city passing some varied buildings and street sculptures.

The last time we were in Liverpool [see post –  https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/a-busy-weekend-a-long-post-of-short-walks-art-and-restaurants/%5D we had ended up with a quick visit to the Walker Gallery to view some early Hockney paintings. I promised myself a return to sample the rest of their extensive collection, one of Europe’s finest, today was that day.

The Walker Gallery

The Walker Gallery

First a coffee in the ground floor cafe to unwind and then from Medieval to Modern, Holbein to Hockney, in 15 galleries. Along the way Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Turner, Millais, Monet, Cezanne, Matisse, Freud, Lowry and up to date with the John Moores 2014 Prize paintings.

John Moores Prizes.

John Moores Prizes.

In amongst all this was a delightful small exhibition of Edward Wadsworth ‘dazzle ship’ prints. This technique was used in the WW1 to confuse our ships to the enemy. Dazzle Ship. Some colouful arty videos of Mexico enabled me to sit down for a while.

Mexican videos.

Mexican videos.

Staggered out and down into the commercialism of Liverpool 1 which seemed to be populated with the dregs of last nights hen and stag parties, not a pretty sight.

Liverpool 1

Liverpool 1

Walked back past the iconic Liver building to collect my prize. So off to France clutching it next week. Au revoir.

A BUSY WEEKEND. A long post of short walks, art and restaurants.

  A mad dash down to Preston station on Thursday to rendezvous with Mel, my old walking pal from way back. His wife had sent him up north for the weekend. Our usual first visit is to a local Indian takeaway  for a quick lunch of Samosas.   http://www.rksweets.com

Tempting delicacies.
Tempting delicacies.

The afternoon was showery with dry sunny intervals, we took the opportunity of one of these intervals for a quick walk, to blow the cobwebs away, around the forest tracks on Longridge Fell.

Pendle from Longridge Fell
Pendle from Longridge Fell

Just made it before the next downpour.

The local curry house, http://hamadanrestaurantlongridge.co.uk/,    

had a half price meal deal so no debate about where we should eat.  

 Liverpool was our destination for the next day. Down to the docks and first The Tate Gallery and some interesting linked art exhibitions showing the influence of the masters on the their successors.  In no particular order…

Girl in a Chemise. Picasso.

Jackson Pollock.

Simon Starling   Five-Man Pedersen (Prototype No.1)
Simon Starling     Five-Man Pedersen (Prototype No.1)

Haven’t been down here for a few years and the place is busy, some new statues including one of the iconic Billy Fury.

Billy Fury.
Billy Fury.

Liverpool 1 seems to have taken over in this end of town. Managed to find a Chinese buffet for lunch – cheep and cheerful! http://www.maysumrestaurant.co.uk/

Next on our whistle stop tour was the Walker Art Gallery with some early David Hockney paintings.

Early Hockney.
Early Hockney.

Watch this video for more interpretation. —

http://homotopiafestival.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/david-hockney-early-reflections.html

I will return to the Walker soon to look at their other exhibits. But now we were down to the Liverpool Library. Wow what a place!

The writer Frank Cottrell Boyce has said that the new library had been completely overhauled to an unrecognisable degree.He said: ‘It’s like going to meet your gran and finding out that she’s turned into Beyonce,’       Just stunning.

Celestial!

Go up onto the roof for wonderful views of the city and North Wales.

View from the roof.

View from the roof.

Time to go home and reflect on the days experiences. They were getting ready to switch on the Christmas lights and delightful stilted fairies were wandering about.

Christmas fairies.
Christmas fairies.

Getting out of some of these gated and ticketed car parks is never straight forward. Have a dread of getting to the barrier, nothing working and a great line of cars behind me!

Saturday was for relaxing, short afternoon walk in the local countryside…..

….and a meal with the family at night.

We had arranged to meet up with more friends on the Sunday for a walk based on the Witton Weavers Way near Blackburn. Lucky to have a bright clear day so that Mel doesn’t think it always rains up here.

...the three stooges...
…the three stooges…

The Leeds – Liverpool Canal tow path was busy with dog walkers, runners and cyclists.

Soon we were in the Hoghton Gorge with the river running high.

Above is Hoghton Towers the home of the de Hoghtons since the 12 C. It was claimed James 1st visited in 1617 and ‘knighted’ a loin of beef, this is most likely a false etymology for sirloin. We reminisced of adventurous climbing escapades in the nearby quarry.

Below Hoghton quarry.
Below Hoghton quarry.

But thoughts of food drove us on to the hamlet of Pleasington and the pleasant surprise of the Butlers arms pub. hhtp://www.thebutlersarms.co.uk

Butlers Arms

Despite our muddy boots and disheveled appearance we were made welcome and enjoyed a good pint and food. Highly recommended. The walk back through Witton Playing fields was enlivened by realistic model airplanes strafing us from 50ft.

The evening was spent with more friends at a favourite Indian restaurant in Leyland run by  the lovely Jamal.  Bangla Spice.

Monday morning was spent up in the village and a coffee stop at the best cafe [there are so many now] in Longridge – the converted station which has the added benefit of a heritage centre with old pictures of the railway and associated mills and quarries.   http://cafe.longridgestation.co.uk/   We discussed the route of our next, annual, spring walk  – maybe St. Cuthberts Way or the Icknield way.

By coincidence it was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month so we attended the service at the memorial next to the cafe.

Longridge station cafe.

In the afternoon I did a guided walk of the interesting historic sights of our village and will post this separately sometime. But more to the point of this post we were thwarted in the evening by the local Thai restaurant being closed. So off to Preston and the revamped Ming Dynasty. A new crew here served up a wonderful freshly cooked banquet of Chinese food. Highlights included salt and pepper fried Tofu,Dim Sums and fabulous prawns in garlic and ginger. Thanks.  [Update = now closed!]

The next morning Mel was on his way back to London realising that we have some good eating places up north. I hope his wife doesn’t notice the weight he’s put on!!

So we walked maybe 25miles, stimulated our minds, ate x thousand calories and enjoyed the company of many friends and family.

Phew!

Can’t wait to do it again.