Sundown over Clwyd

The Marina lake at West Kirby was mirror-like as people walked around its edge on a fine January afternoon (featured image).

As sundown approached, it was impossible to look directly at the twin suns, but somehow the camera made some sense of the scene, making it appear already dark.

Walking along the beach towards Hoylake and Red Rocks, there was promise of a good sunset over the wet sand as cloud welled up and sun slipped down.

With the sun gone, the colours of the sky began to deepen.

And finally, the coup de grace, layers viewed over sand, sea and mountains at Hoylake.

It didn’t last long. But what magic. Not bad for telephoto lens, hand held in low light.

Red sentinel

A group of red deer are grazing or just enjoying the low January sunshine under the oaks in Tatton Park. Just one magnificent specimen keeps an eye on us, as we walk by with the dog.

Taken with zoom lens to retain respectful distance.

Lake, oak, puddle

A crisp, sunny January afternoon in Tatton Park. A glorious day to raise the spirits.

One of Tatton’s lesser lakes. The featured image shows another one.
Mature oak tree

Don’t just look up and around, look down when snow is melting.

Puddle with oak.

Lake, oak, puddle.

Brimstone

Here’s a picture from springtime in Devon to light up these wintry days – a brimstone butterfly on a dandelion flower.

It’s a fairly shaggy individual with weak markings bleached out by strong sunshine, probably over-wintered. The distinctive green colouring suggests it’s probably a male.

Feeding from the dandelion.

At first I thought it was a clouded yellow, but the markings and time of year suggest brimstone.

Beauty and the Beast

From the promenade at Southport, the sun goes down over Liverpool Bay. At a wide angle, great brush strokes of cloud over the setting ball.

Zooming in gives a different riot of colour.

In a detailed crop (featured image), the setting dome highlights the oil and gas rigs of Liverpool Bay.

Beauty and the beast!

Amid the mêlée

In autumn and winter huge numbers of birds gather together at WWT Martin Mere ready for feeding time. When the warden scatters seed on the ground, the great rush and natural spectacle begins. Particularly prominent are the shelducks, greylag geese, mallards and Icelandic whooper swans. But there are quite a few species there in the mêlée. The challenge is to make any sense of it all photographically.

Here are just a few individuals I managed to isolate with a reasonable shot, albeit in rather poor light.

That was 2022 on this blog

My favourite photos from posts of 2022

Featured image is the chateau at Chinon and River Vienne.

My favourite wordy posts of 2022

  • 1965 Kiev – reflections on visiting Kyiv in 1965, at the start of the still-ongoing Russian invasion.
  • Fens overview – overview of a series of posts on a journey through the Fens of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.
  • The Matter With Things – Review of Iain McGilchrist’s masterwork, vital to understand where humanity is at, psychologically.
  • Trauma and the Body – Review of Bessel van der Kolk’s excellent book The Body Keeps the Score.
  • Letting Go – the need to let go of old attachments, both for living and for dying.

Most viewed (2022)

  • Mint Moth (2017) – amazing furry moth, also in 2021 list.

Most liked (6 years)

  • Trauma and the Body – Review of Bessel van der Kolk’s excellent book The Body Keeps the Score.

A happy new year to you all!

Hope you enjoyed at least some of it, and maybe learned something from it.

Thanks to you fellow bloggers for your comments and likes!

Catching up on Southport

Catching up with photos from our autumn visit to Southport, I was intrigued to relate them to the history of the place.

It all began in 1792 when an innkeeper named William Sutton built a bathing house on the beach, and then in 1798 he built a hotel, the South Port Hotel. This soon became popular and a settlement grew around it. The deal was sealed in 1848, when the railway arrived, followed by the crowds. In 1860 the pier was established (see earlier posts).

Lord Street was always the main shopping street for Southport, a ‘Victorian canopied boulevard edged in scenic gardens’. Here is a small part of it today. I remember a summer’s day trip there in the 1950s, when it seemed very posh to me with all those glass canopies, and it was extremely crowded. It’s not so busy these days and many shops have closed.

Originally Lord Street was just set back from the sea front. In 1887 local entrepreneurs had a wonderful vision to handle the mass of visitors. A huge new Marine Lake and King’s Park was established and the beach itself was effectively pushed out to sea by several hundred yards, away from Lord Street. Attractions now included the lake, walks, boat rides, funfairs, a bathing pool… And half the pier was now over land, rather than over sand and sea, which certainly surprised me when I first realised it. The Marine Way Bridge in the featured image links Lord Street with the modern sea front.

Here are just a few photos of the Marine Lake area.

I realise that Southport was still in its heyday on that visit in the 1950s. Today, it obviously struggles to sustain the magic without the mass tourism of those days. It’s still popular though, and well worth visiting.

At Lincoln Cathedral

I never cease to be inspired by Lincoln Cathedral. Growing up in Lincoln, it was always there, dominating the city and visible across the fens for miles around. On our recent visit we caught the afternoon sun full onto the stunning and newly cleaned West Front.

Our purpose was to attend the candlelit Christmas Carol Service, enjoy listening to the sublime singing of the choir, and join in with the well known Christmas carols, all the while inspired by that superb gothic interior.

Afterwards, purple lighting on the cathedral towers gave some magical effects. I particularly liked this one.

God’s own cathedral, I call it. But then, I am a bit biased!

Featured image is a part of the West Front.

Altrincham Market and Public Toilets

During my childhood there were always public toilets available. It was part of the civilisation we inherited from Victorian times. In the two-mile walk or cycle ride from home to the centre of Lincoln, I still vividly recall the public toilets at the South Common, in the Park, at Gowt’s Bridge, in the station, the market, and by the High Bridge in town. There was always a toilet handy in case of need. Of course, there were few cafes with private facilities in those days, so public provision was essential. But it has to be saiid that, by the 1950s, the loos were often rather smelly places.

Since then it has been downhill all the way. Public provision of toilets has not been a priority, and free public loos have gradually disappeared, some replaced by limited automated paying facilities.The rise of cafes and bars mean that there are many more private facilities available to those who can pay for a drink.

How refreshing then to find these old loos still open at Altrincham Market (Altrincham was given a Royal Charter for a market by Edward 1 in 1290.) Separate Gents and Ladies facilities are down steps each side of the entryway – clean, hot water in the taps, working hand driers, all spotlessly maintained. Better than the old days!

Altrincham Market House itself is a rather fine regeneration project, repurposing the old covered market as a community facility with small retail outlets, with the still-thriving open air market alongside. As the publicity blurb says:

One beautiful listed building; part restaurant, part market, part town square. Eat, meet, drink, shop, watch, talk, listen, laugh. Come in, be yourself and if you like it bring your friends!

All very civilised!

Be The Change…

I went into Manchester the other day, on the Metrolink, while the car was being serviced. Now Manchester is certainly not the most beautiful city in the world. It was a leader in the industrial revolution, and there is an air of functionality about the place, although the Victorians did put up quite a few beautiful buildings.

There is much modern development going on, so I kept losing my way as I went in search of Manchester Cathedral, although I was once quite familiar with the central area of the city. Eventually I found it. The thing is, the cathedral is usually quite easy to find in most cathedral cities, but here it is hidden away, dwarfed by its surroundings. Here is a photograph of the cathedral, with a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the foreground.

This is a bit of a cheat, as I applied perspective correction to the original wide angle shot from my phone (see featured image). With so many tall buildings around, it is difficult to get a complete framing from street level without using a wide angle lens.

The cathedral is not the grandest building in Manchester, which is probably the Town Hall, larger and more impressive. Manchester’s priorities are clear.

The Gandhi statue was put up in 2019, in memory of the 150th anniversary of the birthday of this great man of peace. A plaque includes the quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

An important reminder to each of us. If we want a world of love and peace we have to create it day by day, acting ‘as if’, and it shall happen… But maybe not in our own lifetime

Southport Pier and Clwyd

As the sun was going down there was sure to be something spectacular going on after a sunny day in Southport, despite gathering cloud. I had never really noticed this particular feature before – the Clwydian Hills of North Wales, emphasised by back lighting from the setting sun, framed by the picturesque structures of the Victorian pier.

Just wait for the walker to reach the centre and shoot… Shame about the bin.

Southport pier is the second longest in England, after Southend-on-Sea.

Prize parasol

The featured image above illustrates the size of this magnificent parasol mushroom recently spotted in Knutsford’s Tatton Park.

The dog refused to stand by said mushroom and pointedly looked the other way. Using him as a measure, the height and diameter must be something like 10 inches.

They’re said to be edible and make a good pizza base, but you’d have to really know what you’re doing, as similar fungi are poisonous.

Eymet decorated

Last summer there was a flower festival at Eymet (pronounced as French ‘aimer’), one of the Dordogne area’s picturesque bastide (fortified) towns. We thought the decorations were quite striking against the background of the old buildings.

Crossing feature

Limeuil is just one of those pretty little Dordogne villages. notable for its dramatic location overlooking the confluence of the rivers Dordogne and Vézère. The bridge over the river Dordogne was asking for something to feature crossing over. The cyclists were first to appear. (Featured image.)

Next came the walkers.

And finally, a horse and rider.

I wasn’t quick enough to capture the 2CV!

Chatellerault abstract

On a long journey by French autoroute, we’d detoured into Chatellerault to eat lunch by the river Vienne. Something about the pattern of weeds under the water surface caught my eye, resulting in this photograph, taken quickly but long forgotten, until I eventually caught up with the backlog.

At least, I think that’s what it was!