Mum was right. Always bring a jumper.

Sefton Travel Blog

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Astonishingly, the sun was shining.  This doesn’t happen very often in the UK; it tends to be glorious whilst you are stuck in work and foul as soon as you walk out.  So after my run (second this week – possibly a record!) I nagged Iain into driving out to the coast.  I’m not that fussed about beaches, of course – I can burn through cloud cover and have no attention span for lying on a beach, and anyway, it isn’t really that hot yet.  But I did want to get out to get some fresh air, after the humidity of the city. 


We decided to aim at Crosby Sands, home to Anthony Gormley’s Another Place installation. This is one of my favourite pieces of art, as it happens.  He has made dozens of casts of himself standing looking out to sea, some of which become submerged in the high tides, and some of which are up to their knees in drifting sands.  I’ve been there before (my last trip is in my hometown unicorns blog, I think…) and loved it, and that was on a very wintery day.

  I wanted to see it in the sun.  Iain had also been in midwinter, when he lived in Liverpool a few years ago.  In winter, they look bleak and brave, standing against the elements all together, but lonely.  It’s well worth the trip out of Liverpool if you have transport.


It’s a different place in summer, of course.  The dunes are dotted with happy children digging castles and dogs and people sunbathing in the shelter of the dunes.  This is typical British eccentricity, as far as I’m concerned – it’s too cold to lie on a beach so we will get sunburned in a hollow in the sand.  I’m not sure whether or not I’m slightly prouder to be British, because it’s so ingenious and so mad, or to roll my eyes!


We walked along the beach for a while.

  It was a lovely day, but very blowy, and my attempts to eat an ice cream resulted in a very, very sticky mess on my little short sleeved summer cardigan.  This was fine at the time, because I could take it off and carry it, and the splodges on my dress weren’t too bad.  It got to be a bit of an issue later when the sun went in, though.


After we had finished eating ice cream we set off exploring.  First, we drove along the coast towards Liverpool.  It’s astonishing how quickly you come from pleasant little towns like Crosby, through huge industrial docklands, to ruined factories, and then suddenly the modern city centre.  There was one enormous factory or warehouse in particular that made the remaining mills in Manchester seem like cottages.  It was huge, and deserted, and looked like there had been some unimaginable apocalypse at some point.  Parts of the docks are still in use; by Crosby there is still commercial container shipping, and further in some of the old docks are timber yards.

  But this vast building was just a home for rats and pigeons. 


Iain wanted to go through the Mersey tunnel to Birkenhead.  It’s an incredibly long tunnel, and by the time we came out of it, there was a thin layer of cloud over the sun and it was turning cooler. 


Birkenhead is still mainly industrial and ports, although bizarrely, there was a mill converted into luxury flats right in the middle of a patch of scrubby, post industrial waste land.  Why someone would buy a luxury flat so far from the city centre, in a patch of wasteland, is anyone’s guess – maybe they are very cheap?  There was also some fantastic industrial architecture, including two amazing bridges with control towers that I think probably work, given that the shipping in the docks is obviously still working.

  Of course, I was in the car and persuading Iain to stop and take photos of random bridges was probably not going to work, so you’ll have to use your imagination.


Pretty much on a whim, we went up to New Brighton to see some more coastland.  New Brighton is a little seaside resort, with burgers and fish and chips and  candy floss, a little fairground, a nice theatre pavilion, and by the time we got there, a stiff breeze off the Irish Sea.  We bought some chips, and I tried to persuade Iain to sit in the car to eat them.  I failed. 


“let’s sit on these chairs instead”

“Iain, they are metal,  and I am frozen.  Let’s sit in the car.”

“we can’t sit in the car.  Let’s go for a walk instead”


And so we walked along the front, with me back in my ice-cream splodged cardigan, starting to shiver.


“let’s sit on these benches.”

“Iain, I’m frozen.  Let’s not.  If we can’t sit in your car, at least lets keep walking.”


And by this time Iain was sitting down on the benches.


Eventually, with me in my silly summer dress and ice cream splodged short sleeved cardigan and Iain – predictably – in jeans and a sweatshirt, we went back to the car.  I passed Iain his glasses for driving, and our hands touched.


“bloody hell, Sarah, you’re freezing!  Why didn’t you say?”


You’ll be glad to hear I didn’t hit him.  But it was a close run thing!

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photo by: Gulliver86