Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Harry has bounced back from his recent health problems quite well. He still limps and he's had to get used to shorter walks, but he's happy. Recently he's become a little more vocal. I don't mean he barks. Harry rarely barks. If he catches anybody getting out of vans filled with bottles who audaciously try to appropriate the empty bottles from our step... then he might have a go. Or if strange blokes bearing ladders and buckets start dabbing our windows with damp cloths... well then surely he's allowed a few vocal outbursts. No, I mean he makes more grumbly noises than he used to, usually because he wants stuff clearing from his next settling point, or if folk insist on eating buttered toast without offering it up to him entirely. Or if you stop scratching his ears too early... if there is such a thing.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

White Rabbit

Wild white rabbits are quite rare I believe. I suppose this one, visiting our local cemetery, is an albino. He doesn't blend in very well does he. I suppose this accounts for their rarity. Perhaps last winter, being so cold and snow filled, might have contributed to this buns survival chances for once.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Hidden treasures

Stained glass windows in the village of Brindle that I visited a few weeks ago in a previous post, depicting the possible burying of the great Cuerdale treasure, following what might have been the battle of Brunanburh. That sounds like a lot of suppositions but much of the details of medieval history rely on joining scattered facts together with a network of ifs and buts.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Season's end

I keep hearing a certain word. An innocent sounding word. A quiet little adjective that trips off the tongue too easily. That word is autumnal. I don't have anything against autumn, it's a splendid time of the year, but with every spectacular autumn you have to know that winter is just around the corner and unlike the other three seasons just seems to last forever. I like spring and summer too much and this year's offering of new life and sunshine has skipped past in the blink of an eye. The familiar sights of summer are fading away again. The gatekeepers are gone and the last of the small whites are drinking their last sips. The day feels autumnal.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Eagle & Child

A few miles outside Blackpool is a village called Weeton. It's an old village. So old it was mentioned in the Domesday Book, though back then it was known as Widetun, which derived from the Old English means willow settlement. If you were to visit the place now you would see that some fine willows grow there still. The rather unusual name of the village's pub The Eagle & Child is taken from the crest of a former local land owner Lord Derby. The pub itself is one of the oldest public house in Lancashire, dating back to 1585. It's got a lot of history. Oliver Cromwell is reputed to have stayed here and there are many stories of ghosts and strange happening, though quite a few of these were created over the years to add to the old place's mystique to drum up trade. Tales of ghosts are always popular and I must admit that I too was drawn to the place purely by its supernatural reputation. I'm not saying I believe in ghosts, though I'm always open minded about such things, but I'm more interested by how history generates folklore and mythology. And of course, I love a good ghost story. The story that has gained the most notoriety is that of Bleeding Ears Murph, a highwayman who can be heard muttering to himself in the quiet of the night. I visited the place in daylight so I didn't get a chance to find out what the unfortunate fellow mutters about but I did get a chance to sample the pub's excellent cuisine.

Friday, 3 September 2010

The Ship Inn

With the prospect of a long cold winter to match last year, I've been trying to make the most of every brief appearance of our mostly absent summer sun. This week we ventured further westward along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, fetching up at the Ship Inn near Haskayne, somewhere well off the beaten path - in this case just off the Maghull Southport Road.
I sat for a while watching a coot eyeing up the canal boats as if he were searching for the best words to introduce himself. Some patrolling ducks came along. One duck peeled off and jumped up onto the bank and a coot followed him. The two strolled along together, uncommonly friendly, like the oddest couple promenading proudly together. At one point they managed to get the wrong side of a fence separating them from the water. They marched up and down that fence at least three times, searching for the way back, turning back on themselves just before the gap each time.
"It's this way, dear," they quacked.
"No I'm sure it's the other way."
"No dear, I distinctly remember..."
"No, no, I remember this daisy..."
"There are daisies all over."
At last they found the gap and the duck went back to the other ducks and the coot went back to eyeing up his canal boat. It never would have worked.
We had a drink and lunch while we watched the canal boats emerging from under Ship Bridge #22. Although the location was pretty much ideal, with shady trees, the soothing atmosphere of a place by the water and picnic tables right up to the canal bank, I can't really recommend the food. It was pretty basic. But the ducks, the coot, the sunshine, the shady trees and the quiet water more than made up for it.