Not in any way a last resort

Easter Sunday. Cold. Grey. Windy.

The occasional teardrop falling. Not mine. They dripped, now and then, from the eyes of the Rain God, lurking in his lair in the dismal clouds above.

But I wasn’t surprised. Or disappointed. I’m used to Easter’s vagaries. And customs. And I don’t mean just the eggs. Or bonnets.

There was a tradition, in my family, of giving ‘Easter fairings’ – small gifts.  In the days when fairs came to town at Easter, as they did in my home town, the custom was to buy these small gifts at the fair – hence the name.

And I have happy memories of very-young-me riding the ‘little wheel’ at the annual fair in our marketplace. Clutching a cardboard ‘clock’ whose numbers were all tiny eggs. Ah, happy days!

But my abiding memory of long-gone Eastertides is not of the fairground, nor eggs, nor chocolate, but of shivering. Because Easter was also when my mother bought me a new outfit.

A new summer outfit.

Wearing my new summer clothes I would sit hunched on the bench, or fidget on aching knees for the long hour of Mass in our unheated (as of Easter) church.  Father Hickey waving his glasses as he spoke to us ‘dear brethren’ from the pulpit. The organ itself probably wincing each time the organist missed random keys as we plodded through

‘Christ the Lord is ris’n today-ay,

ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-lay-ay-loo-oo-yah’

Apparently, it brings good luck, wearing an item of new clothing at Easter. So perhaps a fair bit of luck has been my lot, in compensation for the chills.

And last Sunday, although it was pretty bleak outside, I wasn’t too downcast.

Yes, the weather was far from spring-like – but then, what is spring like?

March winds? April showers?

Hmmm. English weather, I’m not so foolish as to trust to a rhyme.

Anyway, we had our (rather large) hot cross buns to start the day. Admittedly one day late.

We’d bought them on our way home from a short break. From a real bakery in a real Lancashire village.

Here in old Lancashire, many proper local bakeries still make hot cross buns for Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). Indeed, in the bakery near our last house, we had to order them or be disappointed – and still join queues on Holy Saturday morning.

Supermarkets sell them most of the year, now. Packed in plastic. In various flavours.

But not for me the chocolate abominations of hot cross buns.

I love the tradition, the once-a-year-iness of them. The currants and raisins and cinnamon of them – and the ‘what is the cross made of’ of them.

They cost a bit more now than the ‘One a penny two a penny hot cross buns.’ But still cheap enough to ‘Give them to your daughters, give them to your sons.’

But even a large hot cross bun can’t cheer you all day. And the downside to grey weather is, of course, that a lowering sky can also cause the mood to darken.

A walk on the beach, the usual preferred antidote to gloom, wasn’t on. Too cold. Too windy. Too spitty (thank you, Rain God).

Nor the bird walk (as we call it). Too wet on the marshy mosses leading to the sea. Meaning wellies would be essential. And we didn’t feel wellington boot-y.

The pier? No, no, no! Gusty in the extreme. And the pier train would defeat the object of walking.

Then came the brainwave.

We live in a resort. A seaside resort with a marine (don’t mention Le Pen) lake.

It was a bad day for photography, sorry. But you get the idea. Pretty bridge, big top of the visiting circus, big wheel back for the summer at Pleasureland, cold water, grey skies – and seagulls

In all our three years here, we have never, ever, walked around the lake.

So, off we set.

Beautiful Victorian seaside occasional architecture – there are always windy days with a little rain at our seaside resorts!

The promenade train

The Royal Clifton Hotel seen from the King’s Gardens

Southport is famous for its potted shrimps – this big one got away…

The merry-go-round is a permanent fixture at the town end of ‘the longest iron pier in the country’

And along with the sights and sounds of Easter. Of families and fairgrounds and seagulls and motorbikes – and did I mention wind? – came a surprising reason to smile.

And not just the sun struggling through …

Yes, the sun trying hard – over the pitch and putt – probably one of the last arduous of the Golf Coast’s golf courses! Certainly not a rival to Royal Birkdale, a hop-skip-and-a-jump down the coast, which this year is host to the British Open

As you may have noticed, I like to look at the labels on benches. There’s usually some poignant, loving, remark about a dear departed relative, a passionate fan of the park, the view, or the nature reserve. A tribute to a generous volunteer.

Well, our local resort has its own, rather lovely benches and – yes – many of them are sad, heart-warming, caring little tributes. In silver. With teardrops, in the rain.

But. Hang on. Wait a minute.

This isn’t the post I wanted to write today. I still have some ranty, angsty, possibly gloomy, despondent-y things to post – from politics and the state of the world to – well, politics and the state of the world.

But since all around me bloggers and readers alike are tearing their hair out and fretting and worrying and despairing at the state of the world, I’ll wait a little while longer.

Instead, I’m going to let some images speak for themselves.

And here’s a message from me. Imagine it as an overlong message on this metaphorical-bench-of-a-post.

“Dear friends, relatives, fellow-bloggers and all readers who pass this way,

The last few weeks have shown me what a lovely community you can be. We can be. So, in an attempt to cheer your day, in return for consolations you have given me, please, have these little gems, on me.

With my very best wishes.”

This reads:
In loving memory of Nell and Gerry Dolan
“Up in the attic keeping the gravy warm”

One of King’s Gardens’ elegant benches

Tea and rather glamorous scones (however you care to pronounce them) in the King’s Gardens tea room. Ahhhh. Then home again to chicken and new potatoes. Later. 😉

This entry was posted in Art, jaunts & going out, Britain now & then, Lancashire & the golf coast and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Not in any way a last resort

  1. I was in England at Easter…too grey and windy to take mother out at all, so we enjoyed the spring flowers in the garden from the warmth of her sitting room.
    I had made our own hot cross buns – first time for years so was relieved that they turned out to be reasonably shaped and edible…the smell from the oven took me back to when my mother used to make them years ago.
    I had to go to London to renew my passport – nasty flimsy thing that it now is – so had the chance to enjoy Hyde Park in all its glory on a sunny day – I know I’m losing track with the seasons in England but surely the horse chestnuts were jolly early to be out in bud?
    I did enjoy your shrimp up aloft…and ‘why the long face?’ still has me giggling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it was a bit gloomy, especially considering where you had journeyed from! But the flowers are well out as you could see – they have been lovely this year – and yes, I think the horse chestnuts are part of a serious trend. The bees were out VERY early and it was worrying as there was so little for them to feed on. No such thing as climate change, huh?
      Glad I made you giggle! 🙂

      Like

    • Oh – and very impressed at you making hot cross buns. Next year I might give it a try, Have just been to a water-powered mill and bought stoneground flour which I feel deserves to be made into bread.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. MELewis says:

    This quirky post went on a bit of a roller-coaster ride but made me smile at the end. Love the bench jokes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha – roller coaster – yes it was a bit random. I’m feeling a bit random! My favourite joke is the ice cream man one but I do wonder if everyone calls the sweet stuff they drizzle on cones ‘sauce’ or whether it’s just a northern and/or English thing?

      Like

  3. Fiona says:

    Lovely piece, Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Fiona! Hope it gave you a chuckle. I love the one you mentioned on FB – it’s so nice to see humour not just pathos in parks. I like the idea of a miserable old g– commemorated by a bench other people cna enjoy!

      Like

  4. jilldennison says:

    Thank you for this fun post! Especially since I know you really, really wanted to rant! 🙂

    I bought hot cross buns this year in the local grocery … the packaged in plastic sort. They weren’t bad, once warmed up … soft and flavourful, but I had the feeling they were not even close to the real thing!

    I loved the pics from your walk around the lake … especially the carousel! And I had q good laugh over the jokes … thank you, my friend! 🙂

    And now … I think you should go ahead and let loose with a rant before it explodes inside your head! 😀

    Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Miz B says:

    I was grumbling in agreement about Spring weather and “chocolate abominations,” and then you made me grin with those bench plaques. Isn’t that just like Spring? Thanks for the wry smiles!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh so glad to hear you say that – the range of ‘flavours’ is so irritating. A hot cross bun is a hot cross bun!
      And you are so right about Spring. I read an interesting analysis of writing on spring which suggested that one or two of the most famous of the English language poets wrote misleadingly about Spring, intentionally, thereby both creating and mocking popular conceptions of it as a month of prettiness and showers … when actually it is so variable (and dry here) it makes us all unsettled… well, that was the gist of it. I am too spring like in my approach to take in the detail and report it accurately!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. hughcurtler says:

    What a lovely spot — even on a cloudy day. And a terrific post, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, kind sir! It is old-fashioned but charming, though there are spots I wouldn’t show, isn’t that true of all towns? She has fared relatively well as our seaside resorts go in these days of financial constraints and cheap air fares.

      Like

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