Saturday, 27 May 2017


I've recently returned from a holiday on Anglesey, off the coast of North Wales. We stayed in a holiday cottage at Treaddur Bay which was owned by a woman who was a native if the island and her husband who was from the Wirral. They actually live about halfway between Liverpool and Anglesey as he works out of Liverpool as a pilot guiding large ships up the Mersey to the port.
     That knowledge went a good way to explaining the presence of maps on the walls of the cottage. In the living room there was a large map of the world which fascinated, not only me but my husband and two eldest sons. Other maps were of places such as the approaches to Bristol, Glasgow and Gibraltar.
     Since I was a young girl growing up in Liverpool I have found much enjoyment visiting the Pierhead and other places situated on the Mersey, the Dee and Welsh coast.
     My grandfather Milburn was a stoker on one of the dredgers that helped keep open the ways between the sandbanks in the Mersey, paths the pilots had to be conversant with. In Medieval times it was Chester on the Dee that was the premier port not Liverpool but when the Dee silted up, Liverpool went from being a fishing village to
a town given a royal charter by King John and it is from Liverpool that most business was done with Dublin. Cattle would come by boat and be driven through the streets of Liverpool to the abattoir even within living memory.
     When I was doing research for one of my sagas I read about a paddle steamer that used to be a mecca for gamblers that sailed to Wales. There were also ferry boats that travelled to Llandudno taking people on day trips and I don't think I'm mistaken but once up on a time there was a ferry between Liverpool and Holyhead, Anglesey, too.
      I remember after the war there were buoys in the Mersey showing the sites where ships had been sunk, another danger that pilots had to be aware of.
      Finally I must mention that although Liverpool no longer has the number of ships in the Mersey that it once did, it has resurrected itself and visitors, whether by air, train, bus or boat still find the city and its environs worth a visit.
    At time of writing we've just had two of the hottest days of the year so far, so son No 2 took himself off first to the beach at Waterloo/Crosby and then the next day across the Mersey to New Brighton. Needless to say, he wasn't the only one making the most of sun, sand and glistening sea.

Monday, 8 May 2017

The sun is shining on Merseyside again.

Despite the elections for the Metro mayor for Liverpool and its surrounding area I haven't been down in the dumps because the sun seems to be shining most days here lately and it certainly lifts one's spirits. I'm reminded of days in the past when on such days in summer it would melt the tar between the cobbles in Whitefield Road and we'd burst the tar bubbles with lolly ice sticks and I'd end up going tar on my ankle socks. Mam would almost have a fit and I'd get a clout while she attempted to get rid of the tar by rubbing it with butter.
      The only thing I remember about elections in my childhood was the name Bessie Braddock. She was a large woman in the days when obesity was not the bugbear it is today. In my mind's eye I see her wearing a navy blue frock with white spots on it. I've a feeling too the word Battling was connected to her name in those days too. She was said to fight for the rights of the people. My dad was a labour man but I took little interest in politics.
     I was one of the people but I never thought about my rights but just got on with my life and didn't expect anyone else to fight my battles for me. We were poor but there were no food banks or social workers visiting. Some might say I was lucky. I would say I was blessed in having a father who had a trade, being a journeyman plasterer, who was only out of work occasionally in winter when the weather meant he was laid off. We had scarcely any toys but being a reader I spent a lot of time in the library or at home reading.  Of course, there were few cars around then so the street was our playground as was Newsham Park were we made up games. My mam didn't go out to work until my youngest sister was at secondary school. We'd come home and just finish cooking the meal which was all prepared for us. Our house was rented and if it needed fixing my dad did it.
So is it surprising that I, along with many others of my generation, have little sympathy with those who want to mollycoddle the poor. I'm not saying there aren't people who need help because of course there are and I'm grateful for the National Health Service and all the technical advantages of today and that I and my brothers and sister and our spouses were able to work so we could afford to buy our own houses.
   My books are generally about working women or girls who have to overcome difficulties to win through to a happy ending within a family setting. Most are not utterly poverty stricken. But all readers like to see the heroine or hero overcome difficulties by them making an effort but they also have some help.
    Check out my website