Friday, 15 June 2018

Carlisle, Chester and Barmouth

Weeping wave and window, Carlisle castle

I was invited recently to read at a benefit evening for SHARE, an organization based in Mold, North Wales, that supports refugees and homeless people.

I travelled there by bus and train, and with some time to spare in Carlisle, I discovered that the Weeping Window installation of ceramic poppies, on tour throughout the UK just happened to be opening to the public that very day, at Carlisle Castle. This display commemorating WW1 has been on tour since 2015 and will end on November this year (2018). It’s at Carlisle until July so if you are in striking distance I would definitely recommend going to see it. 

After arriving in Wales, I went with my friends that evening to the beach at Talacre, Flintshire, with its old lighthouse, no longer in use, backlit by the setting sun. The walk from the road to the beach, through dunes and marsh ponds with the sound of marsh birds reminding me so much of La Laune in La Petite Camargue, with its network of canals and its many ponds and lakes, its birds and bats, and its fields of grazing white horses and black bulls.

This area in Wales of ponds and marshes, close to sand dunes, is also home I was told to the rare natterjack toad, with its distinctive call.

The event the next evening at the Lock Keeper’s, Chester, was a delight. All the work put into organizing the evening by Maureen and Paul paid off, both financially, in money collected for the charity, and in the enjoyment, shared by participants and audience alike. Splendid poetry and prose, songs and music and a lovely warm gathering, where I met up with several old friends.

Maureen Weldon and Paul Beech, organisers of the benefit concert at the Lock Keeper's, Chester

The next day, we drove to Barmouth, on the coast. After a spell of glorious weather, this was the first overcast day and the next morning was misty. The train bridge crosses the water to the peninsula and a pedestrian walkway runs alongside.

View from the railway and pedestrian bridge, Barmouth

In the afternoon, the mist cleared and we had another hot and sunny day. Walking through the town we saw a flyer for St John’s Gallery, and walked up the hill to the current exhibition of paintings in the gallery by Bernard Barnes, Reyna Ruston and Alexandra Cook. As well as housing the exhibition space, the artists’ studios, the gallery has weekly meetings of musicians, and hosts other events of interest to people who live locally or are visiting the area.

Painting by Alexandra Cook in the exhibition

The following day I made the long journey back, going across country from Manchester to York, to avoid the rail works on the tracks, and the inevitable replacement buses. And the sun still shone until we reached Berwick on Tweed, crossing on the railway bridge high on its elegant stilts over the water. The tide was out and the estuary exposed its banks of sand. From this vantage point I see the mist rolling in, great spools wound round spindles that came from far out to sea.

So the spinning spindles have unwound and all the coastline is covered now – the red rocks, the cliff paths, with wet grass – the mist has ridden in, on horses with soft-shod hooves. A damp curtain drawn across a shore. The train veers inland and sunshine spreads its fingers over land again. Sheep graze beside their dark twin shadow selves. North has a near monopoly on shadows or at least – a long discussion re cause and effect, investigations and opinions, a long literary history. Great gulps of gorse flash past on rocky rail embankments and on the woodland slopes beyond. Acres and yellow acres of it.

The sea at Barmouth


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Morelle for your beautiful photographs and wonderful account of those special days.

Maureen and Paul

Paul Beech said...

Dear Morelle,

Maureen and I were delighted that our evening of poetry and music at the Lock Keeper on 24th May was so well attended with a decent sum made for our chosen charity, SHARE. And it was wonderful of you to travel so far to be one of our two Guests Poets – your brilliant poetry and prose, and your beautiful song, contributed greatly to the warm, friendly atmosphere. (Thank you for linking to my blog post on Grandy’s Landing.)

Of course Maureen and I loved showing you Talacre and Barmouth, two of our favourite places – Talacre, overlooking Liverpool Bay, one of Europe’s most important wildlife sites, with its supposedly haunted lighthouse on the beach (inactive since 1883, when it was replaced with a lightship); and gorgeous Barmouth, overlooking Cardigan Bay…

We look forward to seeing you at Callander in September – take care,


dritanje said...

thanks so much Maureen and Paul, these were unforgettable days. all thanks to you two for your hard work and your company, such fun!
M xx

Forest Dream Weaver said...

The Weeping Window installation looks interestingly constructed. I wonder what the medieval occupants would have thought of it! The lighthouse photos are beautiful. Rxx