Where there is sun, there are shadows

I couldn’t identify the Big Friendly Giant – but then he had no nose.  The bishop, though, was instantly recognisable. He had a mitre. And a sign. Plus he was standing right beside the church gate.

His ecclesiastical lordship, the BFG and I were keeping each other company in a small Lancashire village on a sunny, silent Sunday.

Well, silent except for the traffic.

And the occasional drive-by joker.

And the birds.

So, no, not really silent at all.

But it was that wrap-around kind of heat. When it feels as if everything, including sound, has been stifled by a hot, humid, invisible summery facecloth dropped on the world.

We’d parked at the village cricket ground, where a couple of chaps left over from Saturday’s match still hung around in their whites. Presumably waiting for the next game. Or perhaps Sunday lunch.

A stroll down the leafy main road brought us to the church and now, venturing past His Lordship, into the baking heat of the churchyard, I was a bit nonplussed to come across Joan of Arc (born 1412). But then, given the church tower is contemporary with Agincourt (1415), who knows what it has witnessed since?

Part of the tower and spire of St Cuthbert’s Halsall

 

Despite the fact it was Sunday, the church door wasn’t open, so I can’t vouch for the treasures that lie within. But others have been there before me.

I have an unreliable, but charming guidebook I often use when delving into the past of my home county.

And, sure enough, ‘Lancashire,’ written in the 1930s by Arthur Mee, offers a tantalising, romantic glimpse of what lies within St Cuthbert’s  church. (While saying nothing whatsoever about the village.)

 “in alabaster on their altar tomb are Sir Henry Halsall and his Margaret, he in heraldic armour and she in a long tightly-waisted dress, but without a head”

How inconvenient for poor Margaret.

“a faded wreath sent by Queen Victoria from Balmoral for the grave of one who had been her maid-of-honour”

I wonder if it is still there?

And, perhaps saddest of all the memorials in this place of many memorials:

“ still treasured in this place, where once his father was 42 years rector, is the sword of Wilfrid Blundell, tragically killed in the Boer War by an enemy to whom he was offering a drink of water.”

Aged 28, in 1899.

But none of these things we saw.  And leaving behind the enigmatic church and its welcoming graveyard, toddled off sightseeing.

And what sights we saw.

Across from the church, an artist sitting on a bench, sketching (I don’t think she should give up the day job).

A tiger (who’d come to tea)  in the nature walk’s picnic area.

A beekeeper taking a break, small bees buzzing beneath a tree at his side.

A couple in their wedding finery.

Escaping convicts.

Even Donald Trump.

And a glamorous roadside siren – 50% mermaid, 50% princess.

My poor feet, in that blistering [groan] heat, were ‘Tyred out’ when at last we reached the canal.

And conveniently, the pub.

Here the first turf was cut for the Leeds-Liverpool canal.

A striking stone memorial rises from the ground, a tribute to the ‘navvies’ – ‘navigation’ workmen – who built the waterway.

Adjourning to the pub, with two shandies and a bag of salty crisps before us, we sat by the cool water. Watching.

A duck preening.

Canal boats, moored or puttering by.

And then, the sun still high in the sky, we drove home, to a glorious day in the garden.

But even in the heavenly sunshine, surrounded by blossom, with water boatmen rowing on our tiny pond, the wretched chiffchaff chiffing and chaffing non-stop, the remnant shadow of tragedy lingered.

A year ago Jo Cox, MP, was murdered. In a place I spent many a happy evening in my late teens, meeting my then boyfriend at the pub.

Thanks to Jo’s husband and her friends’ efforts, a memorial fund was set up and last weekend, around the nation, celebrations were held. To remind us we have more in common than divides us.

But other shadows linger, too. Wisps of cool, chill, emotional air.

The murderous London attacks: most recently a white man, in a white van, driving into Muslims leaving their worship.

The charred, accusatory finger of that tower block in London, home to hundreds of the less-than-wealthy, in our capital’s richest borough.

But closer to home, for me, those families, some just down the road, whose loved ones never came home from a pop concert in Manchester.

And I felt a little guilt that I could sit there, drinking chilled rosé, eating local asparagus, delighting in the quirkiness our world can still display, amid all the tragedies and terrorism.

But the truth is, our world can be both tragic and joyous simultaneously – it’s how things are.

And so, I’d just like to say thank you to the villagers of Halsall.

Thank you for reminding us what a wonderful world we humans can create. In such a small, yet such a happy, quirky way.

And to you, dear readers, wherever you are in this world of ours, thank you, as ever, for reading.

And I hope you enjoy the other ‘scarecrows’ (rather a lot of them!) that I’ve posted here below.

An annual festival of fun

Man at work

Not really a scare bear is it?

Beautiful ploughed field just beyond the bear

Aw, her hero

Go on whistle – don’t worry be happy!

More tea, Vicar? (A quaint English saying, just leave it at that)

Sporty Santa!

A very cheery garden with a beautiful rose hedge

Incoming crow!

Sports related by any chance?

More workers, midwife (?) and a decorator

Mr Clean Teeth is quite the scariest dentist I have ever seen

Sigh. This couple really have their work cut out

A very bright day in the farmyard

A selection from the fence outside the school – starting with? I want this to be Weetabix but…

My little pony 😉

The lollipop man – always a cheery sight (and lollipop women of course)

Howdy, cowboy

Minion?

Pirate with sadly deflated head… but nice right hook

Did you know Spiderman can bilocate?

The jilted bride

A scarecar speed camera and a sneaky speed trap, scarecrow style

Nice advertising!

He hasn’t got a brain. And you can tell 😉

And finally, I nearly forgot, the one you have been waiting for all this time,  the Big Friendly Giant.

Yes, really 😉

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

19 Responses to Where there is sun, there are shadows

  1. Liz ferguson says:

    Wonderful ,where is Halsall ? Liked your blog . Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just across the moss, about 2-3 miles from here – could cycle it if the moss road wasn’t precariously perched above deep drainage ditches and so straight most people speed… Glad you liked it.

      Like

  2. Thel says:

    The folks of Halsell have been very busy! And you couldn’t have a straw festival without including The Donald’s haystack hairdo… so life-like. I loved the Navvies ground-breaking sculpture. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome! The people of the village have been most inventive – and we were told still more are in production. Yes, I liked the sculpture too – it conveys the arduous physical nature of that work, doesn’t it? The Leeds to Liverpool canal is the longest in the north of England stretching 127 miles across the Pennines – there are, I have read, 91 locks along the way and it reaches a summit level of 487 feet. Must have been an absolute nightmare.

      Like

  3. Audrey Chin says:

    Mary

    My prayer is that the scarecrows will scare the crows of hatred away. You are right, where there is sun, there are shadows.

    Warm wishes for the summer. We are sweltering here on the equator. And still, some persist in believing global warming isn’t happening.

    Audrey

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Audrey how good to hear from you.
      I agree, those crows of hatred have been flying too much, just lately, everywhere.
      And we are sweltering (well, to us it’s sweltering) too – shades of the long hot summer of 76 they say – and yes, some Presidents – or it just one – don’t believe in climate change. Stuff of despair isn’t it?
      Hope you are well, I must pop by and see what you have been up to.
      Mary

      Like

  4. Goodness, that was fun!
    While we still have the confidence to be as daft as brushes nothing can beat us down.

    Like

  5. seer1969 says:

    I’m still puzzled why farmers ever got the idea crows needed scaring. You’d think we would have scarepigeons, since pigeons are eaters of grain, while crows, the most intelligent bird family, are scavengerss, eating all those insect pests which destroy crops, but not the crops, so are really the farmer’s friend, following the tractor in crowds when ploughing turns up more insects. But, after hundreds of years of scaring, they are the most nervous bird, with none of the confidence of robbins and blackbirds. These are a far better use!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trust you to go to the etymology! 😉 I did read that they eat corn so maybe …
      But anyway, I agree about the pigeons. Round here it’s wood pigeons. Sadly Larry’s catapult is broken. Don’t worry, his aim is good and his goal simply to scare. It works. All he has to do is walk to the window and they flee.

      Like

      • seer1969 says:

        I have an air rifle but have never managed to set the sights so always miss. The crows who visit are gone at a slight movement indoors, their culture must include fear of hominids, avioidance of hominids, tales of torture in the nests at night to scare the babies … 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Heide says:

    “But the truth is, our world can be both tragic and joyous simultaneously – it’s how things are.” So beautifully said — and so beautifully illustrated too. Thank you for today’s shot of joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are very welcome. Always a pleasure to please! I have some toil and trouble brewing though, feel it is time I did some moaning and groaning… but we’ll see. Meanwhile, thanks as always for your very kind words. And for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. jilldennison says:

    Awesome sightseeing! I’m jealous! I particularly liked the couple in their wedding finery … from the looks on their faces, I think neither is to sure this is what they really want to do 😀 And the scariest of them all, of course, was the Trump-a-crow! My … that would scare the crows off for 100 miles!!! Glad you had a fun and relaxing time! I love these pics … so much fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jill thanks for doing the tour! Sorry it’s taken a whiel to reply – been getting the archaeologist ready for his expotition 😉 . Yes, I agree about the wedding – it looks as if they are have reservations. Perhaps it’s just nerves, comes of having bellies full of hay! Glad they amused. Life is so serious I can’t face blogging about it somehow. Hat off to you for that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jilldennison says:

        Yes, I should bookmark this so I can come back and re-visit it when I need to smile! And thanks … but some days I think I can’t do it either … but then, I just do it anyway. It does take a toll, but then somebody will tell me that I am making a difference, and it’s all worthwhile. 🙂

        Like

  8. Rosemary Reader and Writer says:

    Lovely photos, Mary. What a lot of scarecrows!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was going to edit them a bit but then felt guilty for the ones I left out! Glad you liked them – there are more now but I’ve not got the energy to add any more. Sorry it took a while to reply been getting himself off to Africa for his fieldwork. Now, where was I? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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