Wednesday, 29 April 2015

castles made of sand

Despite all these years zooming off to the Welsh hills and passing Hawarden, this was the first time we've stopped!!
to discover the world of William Ewart Gladstone - four times prime minister in the 19th Century and born not far away at 62 Rodney Street, Liverpool.
 So this building and magnificent library are his memorial - Gladstone's Library no less
 and we all enjoyed a most interesting tour of the reading rooms (in whispers)
 a peruse in the little bookshop
 then a great Sunday roast in the cafe (I don't know why my eyes are always shut!)
 This was the sitting room
 and one of many imposing portraits of the man himself
 and we find ourselves on the outside again
 noticing for the first time the statue set back towards the road
wow - and according to this wiki entry, Gladstone "hauled most of his 32,000 books a quarter of a mile to their new home using his wheelbarrow".
 so now it was over the lane and into the beautiful church of St Deiniol
More to read about the church here, and it was restored after a fire by Sir George Gilbert Scott at one stage!
 lovely old sandstone
and here are Gladstone and his wife - I love their little feet upturned!  He's actually buried in Westminster Abbey though.
This is part of the exquisite stained glass west window which was one of Edward Burne-Jones's last designs
Further round the church, another of the stained glass windows gave this amazing reflection, which looks like some sort of ethereal disciple from biblical days, pointing down with one arm on the left and up with the other!  Can you see it?
But the adventure didn't end there - turns out Gladstone lived in Hawarden Castle - just over the road in the village and still owned by the Gladstone family!  So off we trotted . . .
 through the secret red door and into this other fairy-like woodland world
 Spring coming with us . . .
 Trees just starting to bud
 A magnificent undulating glade
 with the original mediaeval Hawarden Castle sitting majestically ahead of us
 Loved this tree too
and what a great day we all had.  It didn't end there, we tried to find the nearby Ewloe Castle but having forgotten the OS maps it was a helpless quest.  
Next time . . . . .

Though we did still manage to fit in an evening Wirral walk along the sea's edge - read on if you have the stamina!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

turning corners

I'd forgotten how special this peninsula is and especially how wild Red Rocks can feel even though it's so close to houses, roads and the Royal Liverpool.  It always felt a sort of secret refuge when I was little, and it's lost none of that magic.  It's just about at the very point where the Wirral turns one if it's top edge corners to meet the Irish Sea.

On Sunday the evening was balmy and warm and the last bits of the evening sun were glistening over the mouth of the Dee, across Hilbre, Great Orme, Ynys Mon and all the way from Ireland.

And the gorse was ablaze, just as it will be in Anglesey and the Llyn at the moment.

So I'll leave you to enjoy walking with us along the edge of the sandhills and the beach - with little skylarks singing their hearts out overhead . . .

and leaving too early for the bestest of sunsets, we watched it burning away in the distance from a zooming M53 on our way back over the Pennines.

Ahh - perfect end to a fabulous Sunday - because, going back in time, this is what we were up to earlier in the day - our first ever visit to Gladstone's haunts in Hawarden.