Posted by: Natalie | October 3, 2011

The last of summer . . .

How is it possible that after a couple of weeks of swearing blind that autumn/winter has well and truly routed itself in, the North-west with its bitter winds and blustering tidal waves of rain, suddenly decides to fling us back into summer?! I had just managed to negotiate the heating and its over complex methods of failing to heat my flat; I had dug out two blankets, an eiderdown and a slanket to keep my evenings cosy; I had organised my wardrobe according to layering levels and relished the opportunities to pull on my thick scarves and gloves. Then October arrived, and with it the most glorious weather of the year!

Steve had joined me ooooop north and along with my brother and E, realised that it was far too perfect a day, far too rare an occasion to waste inside a one bedroom flat, despite the bonus of Sky. We didn’t go far but had a walk through the reservoirs and trees of Rivington to the mock Norman Castle ruins, basking in sumptuous sunshine. Its a while since we clambered walls and climbed up trees (to be honest, that was mainly the boys) and certainly even longer since we care-freely gathered conkers and twizzled long sticks between our fingers as we walked by the long grass. Scents of hay and summer lingered long on the air despite the colours and tones glowing softly of autumn, the distant swell of winter somehow a strange anticipation. We knew our time was short; it was exciting – like those extra five minutes in bed once the alarm has rung, the rebellious feeling of leaving work while others slave away, that extra biscuit no one watches us eat! It may have been an old haunt and a well trodden path, but this was genuinely one of the best days the year has offered up.

According to my brother, this is his album cover!

It is of course not a real castle (although my wishlist will count it as such!) but it fits with the fairy tale feel which goes with much of the surrounding area. William Lever, the first Viscount Leverhulme liked his follies. Not only did he have constructed a twisting, turning, mesmerising series of oriental staircases, bridges and monuments around the wooded hill (The Japanese Gardens) leading to a particularly well known local site, the Pigeon Tower, Leverhulme also wanted a castle. Begun in 1912, this particular indulgence was apparently designed to resemble Liverpool Castle, and is named accordingly. I don’t care that its not real. I do care that although it was never completed, vandals over the years have broken the ruins even further so as to unpick so much of its beauty. It has been made ‘safe’ over the years so still maintains some majesty, but not on the scale it deserves.  However, it stands proud on the bank of the lower reservoir, it is still a favourite place to visit, an inspirer of memories and fantasy.

Such a wonderful day; swiftly followed by mild rains and the potential of snow before the week is done. Odd it is indeed, but so bloody marvellous its untrue. Cherish such days for they are those of lasting memory; of scents and tastes and laughter; of family, of friends and a splice of happiness which will linger, always.

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