A couple of months in the ups and downs

An old English folk song inspired the title. And to cheer you into this largely pictorial post here it is, sung by Steeleye Span.

Those ups and downs are NOT the kind I’m referring to – I’ve never asked a young man to tie my garter and gone off with him to be naughty in an apple orchard. Well, not recently.

Moving on…

It’s been a while since I posted.

My typing fingers have been still. I’ve been loathe to engage with the news, what’s happening in the prof’s world, or friends. I’ve been – well let’s just say, I’ve not been in the mood.

The last two months I’ve felt as if I’m living by a large, dark lake dotted with glistening islands. The lakeshore being life in general, the glistening islands escapes and evasions.

Evasions don’t work. Nor do escapes. The lake and its shore are still there when I get back. But at least I can see them shining over the murk.

Now, though, it’s time to move on.

By way of catching up I’m posting a series of captioned pictures, taken on my glistening islands. Fast forwarding to the present.  And since some of you seem to like joining me on my rambles, I’d welcome your company.

My thanks to the weather gods who have smiled on us here in the rainy north west for the last few weeks. And my apologies to my blogging friends. I’ve not been commenting lately, I’m sorry. I hope to be back soon 🙂

Strands – and stranded


Way back in April I walked further along our local beach  than I’ve ever yet ventured – and it was glorious.

Lunching in the car, while male lifeguards wait for the female lifeguard to dress Yes that’s the only reason I took this picture showing half naked men


The view behind me after 20 minutes

A scattering of sea coal along the edge of the high tide

About 40 minutes from the car, utterly beautiful view to Formby around the point, but getting thirsty  so have to turn around



In May we went out early one morning, the prof and I and found a fisherman stranded, waiting for the tide.

The tide is out. Far out!

What’s going on? Is it shrimp fishing?

Oh dear no, he’s stranded. Was supposed to be 25 miles offshore now, fishing over one of the coast’s many wrecks

The tractor can’t get him out, they have to wait till the next high tide, still five hours away



Solitary, another day, I walked on our local estuarial marshes accompanied by a musical guard of honour from the skylarks. What a privilege.

Although this is green, it is a fisherman’s path and the tide does come right in sometimes. This is on the Ribble Estuary and way in the distance Blackpool is glistening across the other side

Five seconds-worth of larks ascending:


When all else fails, we have the longest iron pier in the country in the middle of town. It runs out across the main Southport beach, which often appears to stretch out to infinity. The beach is notorious for the sea being out of reach. But that and its hard-packed nature mean it has been important in the history of aviation and racehorse training.

The legendary racehorse Red Rum trained on the beach.

During World War II, Spitfires and Anson Bombers, repaired at nearby Hesketh Park aerodrome, took off from the beach. Dick Merrill made two transatlantic flights from the beach, in 1936 and 1937. Read the fascinating story of one of them here.

And I’ve written before about our spectacular annual air shows .

Sometimes essential for seeing the sea

Heading back to town and the marine lake

Elegance for dark days and nights

Dune world

My neighbours, Carole and John, introduced me to the dunes that wrap around us, amid the golf course which I wrote about here – and now I’m hooked. Carole recently told me I could start from the other direction, Ainsdale village – it’s wonderful!

We have precious few hills around here, so sand dunes are good training ground. The soft sand makes them doubly tough on flat-surface-walkers’ muscles

On one side of the path, nature resplendent…

… on the other, manicured golf world (I think it’s Hillside golf course which abuts Royal Birkdale)

But golf-world also allows this glorious bank of gorse and pine

Magical slacks (pools),  filigree branches, reflections and shadows amid spring’s burgeoning greenery

I was so thrilled to see these – having nearly stepped on them

Can you smell it? Ahhh!

The dandelion clock says it’s time to stop

Hills and witches

Pendle Hill has been a looming, brooding presence in my life for as long as I can remember.

The hill and its surrounding villages are associated with the infamous witch trials of 1612. A brief account of them, on Lancaster Castle’s website, can be found here.

For me, part of the superstition was that the hill was unclimbable. I suspect that was my parents trying to avoid having to do it. Now I have scaled the beast and crikey, it is a beast! I’m not a big walker, it took us four and a half hours to climb, recover, eat our sandwiches and get back down. Our knees and muscles made themselves known next day.

Picture from last June when we decided against the climb…

A good hiding place for a witch’s familiar?

It is spring, after all, so we must have lambs

Through several farms, thinking – it’s further than I thought… But definitely on the witches’ trail

Uphill becomes a little steeper now and a warning to heed

Nearly there, one of many catching-my-breath stops

A panorama:

This couple with the sheepdog found the best spot for lunch

The other side of the hill – a view from our lunch spot

Breaking my self-imposed rule by posting a picture of myself, but I was just SO proud I made it!

About a third of the way down the ‘easy’ route down the main slope. See those people up there, marked by the little arrow I drew? They scrambled straight down the hillside… bonkers

Meadows and woods

One of my ‘charms’ – the special places I  wrote about earlier this year, is Lunt Meadows, a Lancashire Wildlife Trust nature reserve.

I’ve learnt, in the last year, to accept that special places set aside by humans for ‘nature’ will sometimes be managed – aka brutalised – and then I need to give them a break. Lunt Meadows is one such. But now it’s recovering from savage cutting-back and drainage management. And it’s a wonderful place to be on a quiet day with the birds of the air calling – and the wind in my newly-short hair.

A big drainage ditch – rather lovely I think, especially as the swifts and swallows squeal up above

Drainage ditches are essential to this meadow environment where cows often graze

Path to who knows what – for elves and pixies, satyrs and dryads

The joy of small things that pass and change and keep the world turning

And so back to the car park and the material world…

Romans and rivers

Ribchester in Lancashire is well known by northern Roman history enthusiasts – and possibly by others too 😉 My father’s friend and erstwhile headmaster at St Mary’s College Blackburn, Father Philip Graystone, wrote books on Roman roads (they are still for sale in the museum there). As a child I clearly remember scratching my head on a rusty barbed wire fence as we went on yet another picnic with him, looking for Roman remains.

It’s a beautiful area. We were lucky, recently to stay on the edge of the village, on the banks of the River Ribble from which the village gets its name. The ‘chester’ bit being from the Roman for camp – castra.

The Roman name of the garrison and civilian settlement, which was subordinate to Chester and lasted from 70 AD to the fourth century, was Bremetennaceum.

Looking towards Pendle on the banks of the Ribble not far from our b&b

Doves seeking shade at Stydd Gardens, a lovely relaxed restaurant in old glasshouses near the village

The Roman bath house at dusk – not a great picture, sorry

Did a little princess leave this slipper after bathing?


Roman granary behind the church

Tombstone of an Asturian cavalryman

Lice, nit combs and something phallic 😉


Here’s the eerily lovely Ribchester Parade helmet – a replica – rotating in its display case. The real thing is in London of course 😦

River Ribble a short walk over the other side of our b&b

A perfect Sunday morning in England, sun shining church bells ringing:


And finally, for those who believe Lancashire is all mills and clogs. Clitheroe, on a sunny Sunday morning in May, clog dancers at t’owd mill

Tall ships sailing

I’ll leave the day I spent on a typesetting course for another time – if you’ve made it this far I’d be surprised!

To finish with, then, please enjoy last Monday’s glorious, sunny spectacle – the Tall Ships ‘a-leaving of Liverpool’ and setting off for Bordeaux. Lowry would have loved it. And yes, he painted the sea, the seaside and landscapes – not just matchstick men.

One of Anthony Gormley’s Iron Men kindly acting as a seagull perch

Wheely good fun

Bon voyage!

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

17 Responses to A couple of months in the ups and downs

  1. hughcurtler says:

    Delightful! Many thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Goodness me, you’ve been making the best of it, at least your photologue suggests so. I’ve been noting, and sometimes ♡ing your Twitterings so I knew you were around. Busy, I figured, however I wouldnt have guessed the half of it, quantity or quality. I admire, so much, the value you get from and give to the everyday and the joy of your surroundings. But I love love love your triumphant portrait. So happy to see you ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw thanks Dale! I’m trying to enter a new phase and that ‘coming out’ so to speak is a major step for me! But the conquest of Pendle was a real joy. I hope things are going well with your gardens and studies and look forward to the next update on your blog – I may even stop by the other place! xxx


  3. Heide says:

    I am delighted beyond words to catch up with your adventures over the past couple of months (longest pier! witches! sheep! Roman ruins!!). Thank you so much for sharing them here! But please don’t fret about those times you just don’t feel like blogging … your reader-fans will wait patiently until you’re ready to come in from the sun.
    PS: I agree with Dale that it’s lovely to “see” you. xx


  4. Miz B says:

    Thank you for sharing your “ups.” I especially enjoyed the tall ships and the Roman roads and ruins. In my part the world, ruins tend to be considerably more recent. That is, unless we drive down to Cahokia Mounds, where an ancient Native American city once thrived.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I very much enjoyed your glistening islands…particularly the estuary and the tall ships.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post and photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Howdy Stranger! The countryside there is so beautiful and the beach looks like a wonderful place to kick back for a while. Congrats on making it to the top, I love the photo, too!
    -Kathleen aka Aisha ;^)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jenni says:

    Well that was very lovely. Spectacular views. Great words. Hope to be visiting some of them soon !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jenni! Look forward to seeing you and though time will not allow us to visit them all, let’s hope the weather smiles on us and we can at least do the beach and dunes. xx


  9. Alison Parry says:

    Wow, Mary! I thoroughly enjoyed your romps through such gorgeous countryside and seascapes. You are naturally mindful without having to go to lots of classes like the rest of us! You have a real gift. Love Alison PS Any chance of a glimpse of the prof on one of your meanderings?! The one of you atop is gorgeous…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Alison! I do occasionally feature a glimpse of the prof, but I keep him elusive 😉 Not as elusive as me, though. Hope you had a good hol and sorry our time was truncated, but lovely to see you – and the new botanical gardens x


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