❤️Short ❤️Sweet ❤️Magical…
…inspiration from some of my best places on earth!
Welcome to my home made mini movie!
The River Mersey is a mighty waterway in northwest England with an extraordinary history. John Lennon airport sits on the Liverpool bank, facing the shores of Wirral, where the Manchester Ship Canal transports shipping inland. Here’s a glimpse of it all, from an easyjet flight on the runway into the sky above the clouds on a beautifully clear day, with low tide in the river below.
This is my friend, an extraordinarily kind woman who has been visiting the swans of Liverpool’s glorious Grade 1 listed Sefton Park on a daily basis since 2010, forming an incredible bond with the resident adult pair and the cygnets they raise each year.
Feeding them only healthy food, especially sweetcorn, she is trusted absolutely by the swans. They recognise her from afar and it it is astonishing to see them fly or swim some considerable distance to reach her. On summer days, after feeding, the family group will often gather beside her on the grassy bank, to sit peacefully in the sunshine.
This young male cygnet is less than one year old and will soon be departing with his siblings to establish his own territory elsewhere. Meanwhile his parents will prepare the nest for this year’s young, all being well.
The Scottish ritual of hogmanay ushers out the old year and welcomes the new. And while there’s much tradition around whisky drinking with neighbours and taking a sod of peat or lump of coal for their fire, the South Lanarkshire town of Biggar celebrates hogmanay in a wildly pagan way.
In awesome annual spectacle, the citizens build one of the biggest bonfires imaginable on a public highway, using Manitous to reach the upper heights! The mountainous pyre is lit on New Year’s Eve and burns for days; the street party begins early evening December 31 2016 and ends sometime in the afternoon of January 1 2017.
Pagans consider fire to be a purging force; cleansing the air of evil spirits, cleansing the ground of disease and making way for fresh new growth. The good folk of Biggar are purging for the world!
While many tourists visit for the beauty of the local landscape, and especially the Pentland Hills, the mighty bonfire is becoming an attraction of international renown. For those who can’t make it, there’s live webcam coverage.
Talk about in your face! The paintbox chaos of artist Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny is exhilarating. Under cloudless blue skies, October’s scarlets, yellows and deep mauves clashed unabashed. A spectacular visual experience.
Impressionism reigns here; throughout his 43 years in residence, from 1883-1926, Monet’s planting scheme was about the colliding colour more than the plants themselves, though he was passionate about finding the perfect plant for his palette.
Many of his water lilies came from Latour Marliac nursery in the southwest of France, established in 1875, the nursery is still a thriving business and a beautiful visit. Monet’s fervour for water lilies was inspired by Latour Marliac’s exhibition at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris.
How to visit:
Easy! Take an SNCF train to Vernon Station 45 minutes from Gare St Lazare, Paris.
From Vernon station there’s a regular shuttle bus to the garden.
On my writing desk, my personal copy of my book 52 Weekends by the Sea, stuffed with inspiration and discoveries all around the British coast.
I show you perfect places to make magic memories, all backed up with tried, tested and trusted tips: where to eat, where to stay and who to check out, because meeting the locals is a great way to experience any place!
Take yourself away: experience breathtaking moments, like the romantic vision that appeared at the end of a glorious day on the vast sands of West kirby, with Hilbre Island and the mountains of Snowdonia beyond. I managed to capture it with my phone. Simply wonderful…
Discover West Kirby and the Wirral peninsula in Weekend 14 of 52 Weekends by the Sea. Buy it now from Amazon.
The wonderful Wirral peninsula oozes maritime history. Viking invaders liked the place so much they moved in; Thingwall village became their great meeting venue, the first parliament to be established in Britain.
Medieval Benedictine monks from Birkenhead Priory made the first Mersey river crossing. Rowing 90 minutes to Liverpool, their route was made more famous by the iconic Mersey Ferries that ply daily between landing stages at Seacombe and Woodside on the Wirral, and the Pier Head in Liverpool. While the monks are long gone, the 850 year old priory remains and is a fascinating visit.
Shipbuilders at the Cammel Laird yard have launched many famous vessels that contributed to significant world events including the CSS Alabama, a ‘commerce raider’ sloop built in 1862 for the Confederate states of America to do battle with Union merchant ships.
For the Royal Navy, the yard built two Ark Royal aircraft carriers, the first in 1937 and the second in 1950, this legendary warship was the largest vessel to be commissioned by the Royal Navy.
The great tradition of the Navy’s Ark Royals began in 1558 with the English fleet’s flagship in the Spanish Armada campaign.
Grabbing the headlines in 2016 is a polar research ship named in honour of Sir David Attenborough, though it made a narrowly infamous escape from the more jolly moniker of Boaty McBoatface in a public poll.
In a diplomatic resolution to the delicate problem of what might be deemed an appropriate name for a Very Important Ship, a lucky sub sea vessel operated remotely from the Sir David Attenborough won the Boaty McBoatface title. David and Boaty are due for completion in 2019.
The best view of the Liverpool waterfront is from Birkenhead docks; go and be astounded. If you are lucky, you might see one of the famous road bridges across the Great Float, a vast inlet of water, rise to allow ships passage to or from the Mersey, the event is especially spectacular when small and mighty tugs are called upon to assist.
This video reveals some of the drama.