Sunrise, Penarth Pier

Sunrise Penarth PierI took this a couple of weeks ago, on a day when the spectacular sunrise coincided with me being out early to take Ronan to his childminder’s house. I’m using it as a bit of a test post: WordPress seems to be doing some funny things in terms of sharing posts on social media, and I wanted to try to find out what is happening. Although I’ve shared this around the place before, I thought that it was at least prettier to look at than a page full of Lorem Ipsum text.

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Beach mornings

Eoin at the beachFor Eoin, hunting for beach glass is a serious business: a young man cannot consider himself properly equipped without his magnifying glass. Fortunately, the tired beachcomber can always enjoy a hot chocolate on the pier after long, windy walk. Cheers!

Disappearing

I’ve already tweeted a version of this picture, but I decided to post it here too, as I’m really rather pleased with it. It’s only an iPhone image, but the setting is so splendidly spooky that I think it’s worth a post.

This morning, we woke up to quite spectacular mist and fog. We live on the coast, so this isn’t unusual, but it is unusual for me to be scarcely able to see a few metres down the road when I come out of the house. On my way back from dropping Eoin at his childminder, I stopped on the Esplanade to see how the Pier was looking under the unusual weather conditions. Well-nigh invisible, it turns out, at least until you were right on top of it. I only had my phone with me, but I took some pictures while clambering precariously on top of one of the seafront benches in search of some much-needed extra height.

I enthusiastically shared my misty photographs online, but I felt that I could improve on them with a little bit of digital tweaking. A couple of filters later, and I feel I have an image which is closer to the eerie scene by the Pier.

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A famous seaside place

Although I wasn’t born there, I did most of my growing up on the Fylde coast in Lancashire. Now, unless you’re fond of holidays in Blackpool, or a fan of the British Open golf championship, it’s probably not the sort of place you know well. In fact, if you only know the place by reputation, you may think there’s not much to celebrate about it.

While it would be wrong to suggest that Blackpool doesn’t have a lot of problems, I do think there’s a lot to admire about the area. The flat coastal landscape has the same potential for dramatic, Constable-ish skyscapes as Cambridgeshire, but the area is bounded to the north and east by the mountains of the Lake District and the Pennines, so you are always close to some genuinely rugged beauty. Lytham is genteel, Blackpool is brash and somewhat shabby, but it’s all unique. If you’re a fellow knitter, you no doubt know Kate Davies’s blog: although she lives in Scotland, she has family in my neck of the woods, and her photos of the area on her blog are really gorgeous, full of wide, empty skies, tarnished Pleasure Beach fitments and unexpected architectural beauty. In a different genre, but in a similar vein, the video for “Kingdom of Rust” by the north-western band Doves is a melancholic odyssey through Lancashire and the Pennines, past piers and gasometers, culminating in the sand dunes in St Annes. Alex Petridis noted this focus in his review of the album of the same name: “the landscape of Lancashire is depicted with the grand Romanticism songwriters usually reserve for America: “The road back to Preston was covered all in snow,” they sing, sounding not bathetic or knowing, but rather awestruck at the sight”. And why, indeed, should Lancashire not deserve this treatment, as much as anywhere else?

In an attempt to add my own input to the small celebration Lancashire in general and the Fylde in particular, I am posting a few of the photos I’ve taken while I’ve been at home. They’re not anywhere near as good as Kate’s, but they’re a snapshot of some of the things I love about the area. There are also a couple of gratuitous Eoin pictures, because I admire him too…

Abandoned boat, Granny's BayAbandoned rowing boat, Granny’s Bay.

Ribble Cruising ClubThe fabulously-named Ribble Cruising Club.

Windmill, LythamThe windmill, Lytham.

Anchor on slipway, LythamAnchor on slipway, Lytham.

Seafront at LythamThe lost beach at Lytham. Yes, it is covered in grass: you can find out why here.

Fibreglass bear at BisphamThe bear loves Blackpool as much as Eoin does. I have it on good authority that these bears have been rolled out as part of the illuminations for at least the last 15 years.

Daleks at BisphamDaleks on the seafront at Bispham.

Eoin at the zooEoin, Blackpool Zoo.

At the beach

After numerous recommendations, we went to Southerndown beach for the first time a couple of weeks ago. If you’re in the Vale, and you haven’t been to Southerndown yet, I’d suggest you drop what you’re doing, pack a picnic, and head over there post-haste. It’s really, really lovely.

If you’re looking for lunch, stop off at The Pelican in her Piety on the way: the food is delicious, and the pub itself is opposite the ruins of Ogmore castle (great for exploring), a river with some rather exciting and precarious stepping stones, and a field housing these rather fine fellows:

þæt hors bíteþ man. Possibly.  At the beach itself, you can indulge in as much Doctor Who location spotting as a single stretch of sand can reasonably afford (surprisingly, rather a lot: the Who team evidently love filming at Southerndown), paddle, forage for seaweed, eat cake while dangling your toes in a lovely warm rock pool, and generally have a marvellous time.

If you’re Eoin, you can gaze wistfully after the passing surfers, and wonder how old you have to be before you can get up on a board yourself.

Eoin at Dunraven BayThis is going to be the first of many visits: we’re really awfully lucky to have a place like this on our doorstep.

Winter morning light

Gulls looking a bit worried: did they leave the gas on? Steps down to the beachPassing boatBeautiful winter sunlightA beautiful crisp morning on the beach, for which I fortuitously remembered to bring the DSLR. The light was gorgeous: I haven’t tweaked these pictures at all, so you can see just how lovely the beach was looking. The gulls seem a little worried, though: the one the in the middle, in particular, looks as if he is wondering whether he left the gas on.