Monday, 31 May 2010


 Sometimes you can walk on a familiar path, and then notice something and think

has that always been there, or have I just never noticed it. An inventive way to close the gap in a dry stone wall and of course a photo opportunity.
After a walk on a warm day head for an ice cream from Haverigg Beach Cafe and an unexplained flag. A Quality Coast award for 2010.  I had to look it up on the net which tells me it is the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy award.  There were lots of peole enjoying the tidy beach. This is the path along the top where you can sit and eat your ice cream while gazing out to sea.
Trying out the macro of my new camera on the peony which this year is unexpectedly perky after its mulch but due more I think to a prolonged period of dry weather and no stormy winds.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

St Helens

A rainy day in St Helens, viewed from the bus station while we waited to go to the St Helens Rugby League ground, full of optimism, well OK a pinch of optimism, as this Super League team were Barrow Raiders (a second tier club), opponents in the Challenge Cup quarter finals.
A 'Go Penguin' of Johnny Vegas, comedian and famous supporter of St Helens wearing the kit. These penguins were part of Liverpool's 2009 finale to the Year of the Environment used as a fun way to highlight the impact we all have on  climate change. I have not seen any left in Liverpool but St Helens seem to have taken them to their heart.
Haydock Park (the racecourse) penguin showing its Lancashire rose and Penguinelena from the back.  I took these on the way back, as you can see it has now stopped raining.
After lunch in order to keep out of the rain before going to the match we found the North west Museum of Road Transport  It accounts for 10% of the nations surviving stock of preserved buses and coaches. It is one of those enthusiast museums where they just love the objects and cram as much as possible into the space. They pressed an events list on us when they take these buses out for a ride, didn't have the heart to say we were just visiting the town for a day.
A lot of the old industrial Northwest towns now have soulless shopping centres but some of the fine old buildings still survive.  Here is the Beecham's building, manufacturer of pills and potions in times past,
 and its clock tower. It is now a centre for arts and design.

On the way home changing at Preston, with some of the 2000 Raider fans who had travelled south only to return home loosing 32-12, but not downhearted because we never expected to win.  I was rather in a win-win situation as although my local team is Barrow, my Super League team is St Helens.  This may be my last to visit Knowsley Road, home of St Helens since 1890, as they are due to move to a new stadium next year.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

ABC Wednesday - Steps

I will start with rustic steps, at the moment the bracken is just unfurling ,but here in this image it is forever July and the foxgloves just coming to an end. The steps lead from the car park at Tilberthwaite where some go to laze by the stream but for the more energetic the steps warm up the tendons and lead past the old slate mines, whose walls are now scaled by rock climbers,
and on to the fell-side towards Wetherlam and the Coniston range. Tilberthwaite Gill is out of sight running below the trees
Stylish steps

leading to the Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park which is Lancaster's most visible monument, it perches on top of a hill.  In the 19th Century Lancaster became the national centre for the manufacture of linoleum and the leading manufacturer was James Williamson who gave the site of the park to the town and his son, James Williamson Jnr, who later became Lord Ashton, continued the development.
This enormous baroque confection was prompted by the death of his second wife Jessie in 1904 and was designed by John Belcher.  Construction commenced in 1906 and was completed, using some of the most advanced building techniques of the day, in 1909.  The stonework reflects the sun and can be seen in different hues depending on the light and time of day  It comes complete with a fountain
which on a sunny day is super to splash around in. This carefree twosome were soaked but simply satisfied. 
The monument is a great setting for the promenade performances put on by the Duke Theatre every year in July. A few years ago I saw a performance of Shakespeare's 'As You Like It' on a warm summer's evening. We were taken through the woods and dells and ended up at the monument, a magical experience. This year the play is Peter Pan so Never Never Land comes to Williamson Park.

and Peter Pan can swoop down these balustered stairs, perhaps Wendy will lay a hand on the top but

not  on the handrail on these steps further round Morecambe Bay which is probably only held together by gravity.
Some steps are a little steeper, leading up to the road at Llangottock from the Brecon Canal, and can be tricky, notice the length of the gap from the top step to the  top of the wall, this one is not  built for small people, stretchy legs would be useful.

Saunter over to the ABC Wednesday meme where there are more words beginning with the letter S

Monday, 24 May 2010

Town & Country

Travelling to Lancaster by train I cracked open 'The Good Husband of Zebra Drive' to settle down to the journey and then realised that I knew the end, it was one of the episodes the BBC made of  McCall Smith's books. No matter, this series set in a bucolic Botswana where there might be a few deaths and matters to be investigated but ultimately nothing bad is going to happen, a cosy read and a pleasant way to pass a journey.

This weekend has had some wonderfully hot weather so after visiting the town we headed for the canal and then to Williamson Park whose view from the first photo is over the town.

But the best way to spend days with glorious blue skies is either by the beach or a river
so back to home ground and a walk over to the Eskdale Valley. The water by Doctor Bridge was very inviting and the crowds were out by the Duddon and the Esk.  Well when I say crowds I really mean a couple of dozen people.
After an unusually dry May the River Esk is quite low but the gorse
and broom are in full yellowy blaze.
And the lambs, well I never can resist a picture of them. They always lamb late in this valley because of its hight above sea level.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

ABC Wednesday - Railway Station

A red danger sign on the gate and the semaphore signal is straight, stop, danger, risk.
The station seems empty, just one man and his dog
Oh here is the ticket office, I wonder if I have the requisite change
Well really, there is nobody resident here
A girl relaxing and texting on this sunny and radiant day.  Lets roam down the platform and have a look in the signal box.
Remarkably two are pulled out, a train must be due.
But what is this no rail track, just a little family group taking refreshment, the rails have been removed.
A railway station frozen in time, as this notice explains.  How many stories are told of ghost trains but not even these run here.
Go round the back of the station house by the roadside
and with Victorian confidence the date is emblazoned above the door, 1866, the 1st October to be precise, when this railway opened to serve the Wirral.  A peninsula jutting out south of Liverpool with the River Mersey on one side and the Welsh coast and the River Dee on the other.

The line declined after WW1 when the main users became the rural community and secondary school pupils, with a further reduction in traffic as the Neston Colliery closed  in 1927 it became uneconomic, but remained open for the local communities and day trippers to the seaside of Parkgate and West Kirby. The increase in road use and further decline in passengers saw the service withdrawn in September 1956 but it continued to be used for goods vehicles until May 1962 when it finally closed and Hadlow Road was - redundant.  In 1964 the demolition gangs moved in.

But this is not a story with a sad end for in 1968 the Hooton West Kirby Branch was chosen to be part of Britain's first Country Park.  There are now over 400 Country Parks in England alone, accessible green spaces near or within towns and cities. The railway station was preserved in 1950s condition. The old railway line is now replaced with a 12 mile cycleway and footpath
Popular with horse riders too.
Walkies anyone?

Run over to the ABC Wednesday meme for more words starting with the letter R

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Wirral in Black & White

Despite the airports on the west coast being closed because of volcanic dust the last few days have been full of blue skies. A perfect weekend to head south to visit Al and Claire on the Wirral peninsula, Merseyside. One of the things that struck me when downloading my photographs was I seem to have a superabundance of black and white images, in fact I could have had may camera on a black and white setting.  Not really, I cannot resist a blue sky background.
  The pub at the far end of Parkgate looking over the Dee Estuary.  In the last century this are was a popular seaside resort but over time the shoreline silted up until it became marshgrass and now a wonderful place for birds rather than people.
It is still a popular place for its famous ice cream, eating, drinking and a wander along the front. A view of the Ship Inn and Mostyn House School.
Further inland at Willaston, do you notice a theme, another pub you can sit outside and take in the sunshine. This  building is from 1745 but altered in the early 20th century. The centre round the village green is of 17th and 18th century farm houses which is a typical medieval fashion dating from when farmland would have been held as strips in communal fields.  A very quaint place.
Leaving the peninsula a visit to Chester, also full of pretty black and white building, and shoppers.
Who  then relaxed and chilled out in the park.
Time to admire the Horse Chestnut trees in flower
Catch a view of a grey squirrel having a nibble. But not everything was black, white or grey
for our weekend was also shared with a chocolate brown Labrador.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

ABC Wednesday - Quadruped

Quadruped, a four footed animal, usually a mammal, yup these two fit that bill. I think they are giving me the evil eye after disturbing their afternoon nap, but who could resist taking a picture of this pair and the pink Hello Kitty wellingtons. Somebody loves cats in this house.

They look more likely to eat an owl than marry one but they may like the meal the owl and the pussy cat had, for they "dined on mince and slices of quince/which they ate with a runcible spoon" which leads to

 Quince on a Rainy Day
the flowering quince which has been prolific this year and is just going past its peak. Who could not love a bush which is winter hardy, disease resistant, flowers early and thrives in any type of soil.  It may be a thorny tangle for the rest of the year but then it produces fruit which are almost as pretty as the flowers.  An other name for quince is a queene-apple.  It is a fruit that has fallen out of favour but in 17th Century English Cookery books there were more recipes for quince than for any other orchard fruit.  Things like Quidini of Quinces or the tranluscent paste jelly quiddany.  For more historic recipes from a food enthusiast see Historic Food.
But back to our quadrupeds
newly born lambs, not yet licked clean, an older one looking on quizzically at these new arrivals in the Eskdale valley.
But you cannot have sheep without cows, not in Cumbria which has mostly mixed farms, so here is one doing what they do best quietly munching away at the grass.

But sometimes grass does get quite boring, or so these Bagot goats appear to think, but what they found so tasty in the woodpile is a bit of a quandary.

For more words beginning with the letter Q visit the other participants of the the ABC Wednesday meme