Wirral Coastal Walk
The Date: 4th April 2001
The Place: Wirral Coastal Walk
The Occasion: Not raining
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The day before (April 3rd) the four of us among others were down at my local
pub taking part in the quiz and generally having fun. As usual, I brought
up the idea of going on a walk sometime - generally we take turns to mention
it and it'll always be left at 'we'll do it next week.' However I was shocked
out of my serene state after asking about the walk when someone replied, 'How
[Digression: I hope you're not falling asleep from this introduction, by the
way. There's a fair bit of commentary here, a surprisingly large amount of
which is actually related to the photos.]
[Digression digression: I found out that three of my ambitions are the same
as my friend Colin's. To write a book, to learn to play the drums and to write
and star in our own sitcoms. To be fair, I didn't expect him to share my ambition
of wanting to walk on Mars.]
So the next day when I got up and peered out of the window, I concluded -
'Overcast, grey and miserable. No walk today then.' Luckily it cleared up
a bit later and we set off at about 10:30am. These pictures are pretty deceptive
- it looks like a nice day, and it was for the most part - but it was extremely
windy. Fair enough, I suppose I should've expected it, it being a coastal
walk, but there you go.
Due to the ol' foot and mouth crisis there weren't any other walks that we
could go on that didn't involve concrete paths so we had to settle for the
coastal walk, which was about nine or ten miles long.
Matt's currently struggling with coat and bag, trying prevent both from
flying off in the wind. I was asked not to use his coat as a sail although
it did prompt an interesting discussion about the use of sails to propel little
cars along the coast (they'd have to be on rails though or else they'd probably
fall off the side.)
I always remember seeing those neat little sail-cars that zoomed along the
beach on episodes of Blue Peter, but for the life of me I've never seen it
being done in real life. Definitely a shame. Seems like fun, and all you have
to do is to pull bits of rope to make the car go left or right.
[Digression: Someone just told me they're called 'land yachts'. Silly me.]
Typically Katherine (left) and Frances (right) are their charitable selves
and have not decided to wait up for either Matt or myself. This was a pretty
interesting scene - the dry sand you can see across the beach was flying along
the surface like pale mist - pretty disconcerting was when it flowed around
corners and over walls. If I saw it in a movie I'd have thought it was computer
Of course, this just goes to show how young kids these days don't really get
out enough or appreciate the environment. I was watching 'Crouching Tiger,
Hidden Dragon,' the other day on DVD with commentary on. In one scene, in
the desert, Ang Lee (the director) remarked that test audiences thought the
rainbow cliffs (or whatever they were called) were computer generated. They
thought they simply looked too otherworldly to be true. Fair enough, to many
Americans, China is another world.
[Digression: Reminds me of what George Dubya Bush once said - 'The United
States is ready to enter the Solar System!']
In another scene, where Jen and the bandit guy (Adrian - good at faces, bad
at names) are standing in front of a glacier just before Jen goes back to
rejoin her family, the audience thought it was blue-screened (or chromakey,
if you prefer). Perhaps this was due to the strange lighting they used but
there you go... these days if you see something incredible in a movie, you
assume it can't be real.
Stopped off for lunch here. Most of the benches around this place were missing
a few slats so I came up with the ingenious idea of taking one slat from each
bench and constructing a new, fully-operational bench. Unfortunately we never
got to try my idea out because we found a good bench. It just goes to show
that true inventors are never appreciated in their own times.
Which is an interesting point - Frances mentioned that Trevor Bayliss ('the
wind-up radio guy') wants to introduce an A-Level for invention. Naturally
I'll believe it when I see the syllabus; certainly the idea of promoting invention
is laudable but is it really suitable for examination and a qualification?
Surely the recognition and achievement comes from the invention itself, not
whether you can pass exams? Anyway, it's probably not important since it'll
just get folded into the Technology A-Level.
My camera has a good timer setting; finally I can get in my own photographs.
Something to note here - Katherine's face (second from left) is always obscured
by something in these photos. Hair in this one. I suspect nefarious purposes
on her part, no doubt due to her criminal background. But more of that later.
After a little over three hours of walking we got to Seacombe Ferry where
we took the ferry down to Birkenhead to catch a train back home. I think we
encountered possibly the most unhelpful ticket seller there. Example:
"Hi, I'd like a ticket for the ferry to Birkenhead."
"Ah, you won't be wanting the ferry, it's £1.90. The bus is cheaper."
[Matt is thinking: What? They don't want to take my money?]
[I am thinking: Finally, I've fallen into a parallel universe where capitalism
is one of those systems of government that only works 'in theory'!]
[Katherine is thinking: Be quiet, you two!]
"Uh, okay then."
Ten minutes later after waiting at the bus stop...
"You know, we think we'll get the ferry anyway."
[I chip in by saying: It is, after all, 'the most famous ferry in the world'
- something I read from a brochure]
Can't say I'm sure what Matt and Frances are looking at in this photo. Clearly
it's interesting. Always is, when you can't see it in the photo.
Yet again, Katherine (middle) has her face obscured by shadow. What, I ask,
is going on here? There can be only one possibility - she's wanted by Interpol
and doesn't want her identity matched by those new face recognition programs
they have these days. It'd explain a lot of things; her super sensitive hearing,
and those strange men from the Democratic Republic of Congo loitering outside
her house with those fake passports. The less said about her comments of gunning
down tourists along the seafront, the better...
I have to say I sympathise to some extent. As a Rogue Train Traveller myself,
I understand the need to remain undercover during covert operations. Why else
would I be the person taking the photos all the time?
The ferry, which usually carries tourists, has a PA system that informs passengers
on the top deck about the sights they're passing. An example:
"For over a hundred years, a cannon used to fire at exactly one o' clock
every day, except for Sundays and bank holidays, so that the ferries could
all set their chronometers to the right time. This practice ended in the 30's
due to [I didn't hear this bit, probably because I was making some silly joke
about chronometers] .... but if you look very carefully you'll be able
to see a cannon on a wooden mount."
And so there was a cannon on a wooden mount. However the cynic in me feels
that they probably moved it to a more prominent position or even just bought
a new cannon for the tourists.
That's Liverpool in the background in this photo.