Thursday 29 September 2011

West the Best

It is not easy to write in a familiar style. Even if what you are writing about is really familiar to you. Perhaps especially if what you are writing about is really familiar to you. This particularly holds true for those places we stay in for a long while, the place, or places, that we call home. How can we capture the elements of human, natural and man - made geography that define the patch of ground in which our home sits.

Perhaps we just can't capture these elements and we should live with it. Perhaps we can capture them with words and images.

I live with my family in a small coastal town called West Kirby, in the North-West of England. In many ways it is a tiny and very ordinary part of the UK. Altogether it is no more than about 5 by 5 kilometres in extent and at no point does it raise itself more than a hundred metres above sea level. Yet if you have a mind to and you have your eyes wide open, then within this tiny patch maybe there is air, sky, land and sea enough to keep you busy and amused over a lifetime.

The Wirral peninsula, on which West Kirby stands, is defined by three water filled absences of land; the River Dee, the River Mersey and the Irish Sea. West Kirby sits prettily at the apex of the peninsula where the Dee meets the Sea. It is a small patch of land bounded to the North by the Irish Sea, to the West by the Dee and to the South by a hill of modest elevation and extent; Caldy Hill.

The Dee estuary has been silting up for decades and for much of the day the view is dominated by the sand flats. At low tide the water is a long way out. But at high tide you get a sense of what a huge volume of water is held by the Dee estuary.

The images were taken at lunch today from the foot of Caldy Hill, where it runs right down to the coast of the Dee estuary. It was a full high tide. The air was hazy and warm and I sat for 20 minutes soaking up the smells and sights of this modest coast.  

The hills in the distance are in Wales. This was one of the estuaries that the Viking warrior Ingimund sailed into in 902AD. In those days West Kirby was known in Norse as Vestri Kirkjubyr (the West village of the Church).