When I posted the first post on this new site, I mentioned that one of the things I write are journal-like pieces. I also said then that I wasn’t sure which direction the site would take. Well, now I know at least part of the answer to that, and it came via a friend of mine this past weekend. We were out and about and I was showing him around some of the sights in both the Wirral and Liverpool (UK). We were having a great time and he said he hoped I’d blog about it, so that others could share and indeed experience the day.
IMMEDIATELY my friend suggested it, I knew that it was a great idea, and this new series, “Creative Wanderings”, was born. So, if you’re ready, let’s explore…
Summer seems to have FINALLY arrived after quite a few false starts, and I’m always keen to make the most of the good weather, whenever I can. I can also be quite impulsive. Yep, I don’t mind admitting that! It was mid afternoon on the Saturday, July 18, when I quite suddenly decided to plan a trip for the following day. I did so not really concerned about the weather. I wanted to get out. I needed to get out, and within a few minutes the itinerary for the day was set. We’d begin in a very pretty and historical village, Port Sunlight, then head further up the peninsula to Woodside, where the world-famous ferry crosses the river Mersey, and take in the view over to Liverpool; then we’d head to the southern side of the peninsula, to West Kirby on the Dee estuary. Our final destination of the day would indeed then be Liverpool.
I quickly checked the weather forecast and saw that while there was a chance of showers early, the day would be mostly sunny, but windy. It can be much cooler on the coast anyway, so I’d already grabbed a hoodie and put it into my backpack in anticipation. I’d also packed my notebook, pen, a couple snacks, bottle of water and a small medical kit; the usual things that are needed for any kind of trip. I enjoy visiting all the places we’d see and one of the last things I did to prepare was to check the tide times. Why? Because another of my favorite places, Hilbre Island, is only accessible from West Kirby beach at low water. I wasn’t too disappointed that due to the high tide it wouldn’t be possible to visit. The day would be full anyway and we’d see LOADS! It would be a full day and as such the alarm would be set. Yep, I KNOW it’s a Sunday, but it would be worth it. I promise!
I slept fitfully. I usually do when I know I’ve gotta be up early. HOW early? You’ll find out in a few, ok? I’ve never, ok, hardly ever, slept through my alarm and I’d even tested it the night before, to make sure it would go off, but still I didn’t want to oversleep. I’m sure I’m not alone in that? When it went off, I got up immediately, yep. No hitting snooze for me. TODAY! Within 15 minutes I was dressed, had grabbed the backpack, camera and even the tripod and was out the door for the 10 minute walk to the railway station. It was sunny and warm, around 70F, even in the breeze.
So what time was it? Let’s just say we were on the train by 6:00 am! Yep, I said it was early… So where exactly were we going? I’ve already said that our first stop would be Port Sunlight, but what’s there? Time for a quick history lesson… I’m sure that most, if not all of you are aware of the brand “Unilever”, the maker of detergent and such? Well, the founder of the company that was then just “Lever Brothers”, was one William Hesketh Lever. He bought some land, built the factory and started employing workers. All that is great, but where would they live? His solution was to build them a fully functioning village on the land near the factory, including houses, shop, library, schoolhouse, church and even a bar. He named the village Port Sunlight, after the company’s first soap, “Sunlight”! You can read more about the history here and here.
Port Sunlight War Memorial
I’ve visited the village a few times, but not for several years and there were a few “must sees” on the list for this visit, including the magnificent war memorial, built in honor of all those from the village who served in the First World War, the so-called “Great War”. Also on the list was the fountain at the far end of the immaculate rose garden at the heart of the village and Christ Church, where Lord Leverhulme, as was William’s title at the time of his passing, and his wife, in whose honor the Lady Lever Art Gallery, is named, are laid to rest. The first stop of the day would be the Victorian Tea Rooms, opposite the railway station, for breakfast. Unfortunately, although I’d intended to get a pic there, I forgot to. Sorry! Here are some of the ones that were taken…
Christ Church, Port Sunlight
We could quite literally spend all day in the village and we will return, soon, I promise! After a ten minute rail journey we arrived at our second destination of the day. It was here at Woodside, Birkenhead, on the banks of the river Mersey, were we really noticed the wind for the first time. So much so that I struggled to keep both the camera and cell phone still for the pix! What about the tripod? To be honest, it was too windy even for that! I did manage to capture the shots I wanted though…
Liverpool Waterfront & Cathedral
Within minutes it was back to the railway station for our third and so far longest, journey of the day, 35 minutes to West Kirby. I mentioned Hilbre Island a little earlier and you can see her and her smaller sisters, Middle Eye, or Little Hilbre and Little Eye, in these next pix. While the two larger islands can just about be classified as islands, Little Eye is not much more than a large sandstone outcrop. Each of them is beautiful. So beautiful that I previously nicknamed them collectively “Sandstone Gems”. Yep, you’ll see more of them and indeed some of the writing they’ve inspired, at a later date…
Little Eye, Dee Estuary
Middle Eye and Hilbre, Dee Estuary
You can see from the pix that there was NO WAY we’d be getting any closer! Indeed I’ve never seen the water so high! You can also see that while it was extremely windy, it was sunny. After taking the pix above and having taken my sandals off to walk barefoot on the soft sand, I warmed up with a coffee from a beach side vendor! The water was so high that as the next pix were taken, while walking around the retaining wall of the marine lake, we got SOAKED by the waves and spray hitting the wall. Who needs a theme park flume ride with high tide and winds? Grin!
North Wales across the Dee
North Wales across the Dee
Within minutes of reaching the promenade again, the wind had dried soggy clothes and after a last look at Hilbre, for now, it was back to the station and on to our final destination of the day. Liverpool. It’s a city I know so so well and while my friend and I have gravitated toward the Albert Dock during several recent visits, I wanted to show him and indeed you, that there’s SO much more to the city than that. I can’t promise that we won’t end up there though. Ok?
Our first stop, having arrived at Lime Street railway station, was the grand St. George’s Hall. It was the world’s FIRST publicly funded concert and festival hall and was opened in the mid 1850’s on St. George’s Day, April 23, as you can read about here.
From the Hall we visited St. John’s Gardens to the back of it, then headed to a sight that you should be able to recognize from the earlier waterfront pix, the Anglican cathedral…
St. John’s Gardens
St. John’s Gardens
Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool
As you can see, the vastness of the cathedral is incredible up close! Indeed it is the largest Anglican cathedral in the UK and fifth largest in the world! While we were in there, I went looking for something in particular. What? Well, here it is…
I hope you’ll find the story as funny as my friend did when I told him when we left… I was in high school when I first visited the cathedral, on a school trip. The guide asked the group if anyone went to church. I did and so told him. He then pointed to the chair and asked me to sit down. I did so. He then told me that I was sat in the chair that Queen Elizabeth sits in when she attends services there! What? In retelling the story I told my friend that this is the first time I’ve found the chair since then, even though I’ve been back since, but NO, I wasn’t going to sit in it this time! Grin.
We’d seen a heck of a lot and had so much fun, but there was one more place I wanted to share before we headed back into the center of the city, and perhaps thankfully having already walked around 7 miles, it was seen on our way back. The magnificent decorative arch in Chinatown…
Chinatown Arch, Liverpool
The day was still warm and sunny and so, having walked so far and seen so much, we headed back toward our favorite green space in the city, Chavasse Park, grabbing a takeout lunch from a famous burger chain on the way. Oh, there’s one more thing. The park just happens to be near enough opposite our beloved Albert Dock. So, yep, the last shot of the day had to be…
I know this has been a long post, but if you’re still reading, THANK YOU! I truly hope you’ve enjoyed the visit as much as we did! There is so much more to see, and I think that in the next post in this series, we’ll visit the Albert Dock.
I hope to see you then, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear what were your favorite spots from this visit? Perhaps you’ve got personal memories of the places we went? Please leave a comment and let me know.