Great balls of fire

When I was at primary school in West Kirby, my teacher once told a story about how our sunsets are world-famous and how she met someone from Japan who’d heard of them. While I thought our sunsets were pretty impressive as well, being young and cynical, I scoffed at the thought that people as far away as Japan would know about them.

I came back to home in West Kirby this evening for the weekend, and my bedroom window directly faces the sunset here. Right on cue at about 9pm, a heartwrenchingly beautiful sunset appeared with a shock of colours rising over the trees and purple clouds puffing along before a deep blue sky. If that sunset had appeared in Oxford (which it never has and probably never will) then I imagine people would be amazed. Here in West Kirby though, it’s just another in a long line of wonderful sunsets.

Some photos

Selected photos of my trip to Madrid are now online, along with some old (and more complete) photos of West Kirby Marine Lake. There’s not an awful lot to say about Madrid; our days centred around two things, food and drink, both of which were plentiful, good and cheap (just like pretty much everywhere else in the world outside the UK). But more stories about that later.

A New Year

It doesn’t feel like 2004. It doesn’t even feel like 2003, but I suppose we’ll all just have to cope. It’s going well so far; what could be better than watching seven episodes of Friends (season one, no less) in bed and having someone else cook breakfast for you? I’m writing this sitting on an unusually pleasant train ride back to Liverpool.

I spent my New Year’s Eve in Leeds at a friend’s house party which was good fun, especially due to the entirely unexpected five inches of snow that fell overnight. I haven’t had such a great snowball fight for years; there must have been dozens of people out in the street forming lines of artillery and raiding parties.

A few days ago I was out walking around the marine lake near my home in West Kirby. It’s a little under two miles to walk around the entire lake and for the most part, the path is only a few metres wide and half a metre above the water. This means that on days like this one, where the sky was achingly blue and crisp, and there was not a trace of wind in the air, you can stand on the path and feel like you’re floating in space, with blue skies and water all around you. See photos of a reflection, an arcing path and the sunset.

I miss the water and shore when I’m at Oxford. When the weather was more amenable, I used to run along the river Isis for a few miles every week and I could get my fix water then, but there is little that compares to the looking out over an expanse of water that reaches as far as the eye can see. There’s probably a thousand different evolutionary psychological reasons why we humans love living along the shore and looking at the water, but in this case I don’t want to unweave the rainbow.

I’ve never really gone for New Year’s resolutions; if there’s something I want to do (or stop doing) that I feel is achievable, then making a resolution isn’t going to make any difference. This year though, if I were to make my first resolution, it would be to untangle the complicated and occasionally depressing web that my personal life is gradually becoming.

The Price of Ideals

“Are those what I think they are?” I asked incredulously, while walking down to the station with a friend. My friend affirmed that yes, the government had built a rather large wind farm off the shore of my home town.

This was a bit of a shock. I had absolutely no warning that they were building anything out there (although now I think about it, that would explain all the ‘oil rigs’ we saw in the summer); nothing in the newspapers or from my friends. It’s definitely an experience I would recommend to everyone, to have your perception of the world change so dramatically in a few seconds.

For the next five minutes, I mulled out loud my thoughts about the wind farm. I’m very much in favour of alternative energy (where appropriate) and given that we in Britain are ‘blessed’ with so much wind, it makes an awful lot of sense to take full advantage of it. I’ve always maintained that, sure, they might not look that nice, but it’s a small price to pay for clean energy. As a result, my reaction to newspaper reports on people complaining wind farms has always been, ‘Stop whining’. Yet my first thought on seeing the wind farm literally in my back yard was, ‘What the hell is that, and why couldn’t they build it somewhere else?’

After I’d calmed down a bit, I realised that it was pretty cool to have a wind farm in my back yard. Instead of alternative energy generation being something of an abstraction in my life, here it is, a permanent fixture on the horizon. If they had a way to make the windmill invisible, I wouldn’t say no, but it’s not a big deal. Best of all, it gives me vital ammunition in any future argument I have…

I will try to get a photo of the wind farm soon.


Saw a great notice at the gym today:

Q: Why isn’t there a weight scale available here?

A: We did use to have a scale, however, customers didn’t believe it. We advise that you buy a set of scales for your personal use at home instead.

Road Range Warrior

An amusing little saga has been unfolding at the Mercedes Road Range centre about five minutes away from where I live. Sometime last week, a new Mercedes SUV appeared, parked opposite the centre with large posters and writing on it that said, “Don’t buy from them!” and “If they treat you the same way as they treated me, don’t ever think of buying from the West Kirby Road Range!” etc etc.

It stayed there for a few days, accumulating various dents, newspaper clippings affixed to its windscreen wipers and spraypaint over its side that asked, “What did they do?” The Road Range centre made no visible response, and the SUV didn’t look as if it was moving either.

Then yesterday, it disappeared. Interested locals bandied conspiracy theories about the Road Range centre hauling it off or maybe the police intervening. Yet today the SUV reappeared, implacable as ever in its opposition. However, it wasn’t alone – parked just outside the Road Range centre was an ageing yet clean and serviceable Mercedes (at least 20 years old) with a sign proclaiming that Mercedes were great, and so was the Road Range centre, etc etc. (photos may follow)

Who knows what will happen next – will the mystery owner of the SUV, slighted by the Road Range centre, identify himself? Will the Road Range centre escalate the hostilities, perhaps with use of tactical nuclear weapons?

…the fact that this, along with the small forest fire that I was the first to spot last week, are the two most interesting things to have happened in West Kirby recently tells you quite a lot about the town…