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Tag Archives Liverpool Bay


Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter – tale

of adultery and obsession –

was published in 1850. In the year

the Crimean War began, he became

the U.S. Consul in Liverpool,

a post gifted by his friend the President.

He did not like the job despite the fees

from the cargoes of cotton and molasses

hoisted ashore. Whether in a Hansom cab

home to his family in lodgings in the town,

on the steam ferry to the rented villa

in the gated park on the Wirral,



This October’s high water has almost reached

the top of the sea wall, its lapping

silenced by two oafish nabobs on jet skis –

iconoclasts shattering the seascape

of the Straits. Rain clouds along the mainland

are lifting, greyness lightening, slowly

becoming white – revealing early Autumn’s

gradual alchemy. Two porpoises

surface briefly out in the deepest channel,

swimming, in the remnants of the Gulf Stream,

from Cardigan Bay to Liverpool Bay.


As the tide drains northwards over Lavan Sands

from the unexpected south a cold breeze blows.



The image has stayed with me since last summer

when we sat on the restaurant’s terrace

sipping Prosecco with our small family

to celebrate our first fifty years

of marriage: a view I had not seen before

of these straits I thought I knew so well

between Ynys Môn and Gwynedd’s coast,

a view – past Bangor Pier and Gallow’s Point,

over the Lavan Sands and Dutchman’s Bank

hidden beneath the high tide’s guileful waters –

to the rose horizon,



From my desk I can see the Methodist Church

opposite, built during the first quarter

of the last century entirely by subscription,

with its decorative buttresses, Welsh slate roof

and faux Romanesque leaded windows.

If the doors are open and the wind is right

I can hear opening chords on the organ

and ‘How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.’

I watch the congregation age and the hearse

draw up – modest folk, worthily dressed,

not averse to jumble sales and laughter.



As luck would have it, we were married this day

exactly half a century ago.

We holiday with our small family

to avoid the inevitable party

and announce our golden wedding to friends

via Facebook – and receive some humbling

encouragements that speak not simply

of being there like pebbles as the tide

ebbs and flows but of inspiration.


We chose to honeymoon by Bantry Bay.

Ireland spoke of mystery and romance –

to us ignorant of its privations.



From Woodside to the Pier Head by ferry

is a mile and a bit on waters

that smell always of mud and oil. Eastwards

is Overton Hill, the sandstone ridgeway –

westwards the Liverpool Bar Lightship,

Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea,

and, far, far beyond, the widening

Atlantic skies where the weathers are made.


The Saxons named the river – a boundary

between kingdoms –  the Vikings the place,

with their numerous settlements on the heights.