Parading on the Parade
I love the Wirral, the peninsula in the North West of England. The first time I went there was in May 2019 when they invited me to read some of my poems at the Wirral Festival of Firsts.
I was staying in Liverpool, took the train and got off at West Kirby, where the festival was due to start in the Arts Centre.
It was such a sunny day and I found myself in this delightful landscape: a hectic sea village, a spectacular view of the Dee Estuary, the Welsh hills, children and adults rowing and sailing on the small lake. What a wonderful and relaxing place, I said to myself.
It was actually a pity to spend hours in the Arts Centre. My Italian spirit wanted to stay outdoors. But when I went in I met nice poets and the atmosphere was friendly, and my poetic spirit overwhelmed the Italian.
When I got out at the end of the day it was still sunny and warm, so I took a walk on the Wirral Way, the path which follows the tracks of an old railway in mid-Wirral offering superb views over the Dee Estuary to Wales. Later I went back to Liverpool and promised myself I’d soon be back and visit more of the Wirral.
It was love at first sight.
And here I am now, speaking about my favourite place on the Wirral: Parkgate.
I think my point of view is different from a person who was born in this village, and even from someone who was born on the Wirral. After all, I am an Italian experiencing the quintessential English villages.
Strong gales, grey and drizzly days, a 2 week summer (if you’re lucky it’s a 3 week summer), shops that close at 4 or 5 pm, muddy shoes all the time. No, don’t worry, I am not writing about that, which - as you can imagine - it’s a real nightmare for any Italian! Apart from joking I am happy when I am on the Wirral, and in particular in Parkgate.
For those who don’t know this village, I will briefly say that it is part of the town of Neston, it has a population of around 3,500 people, and its promenade - the Parade - attracts lots of tourists every day of the year.
It has a timeless beauty and calm, thanks to its view across the vast salt marsh that leads onto the Dee Estuary. Its all white listed houses that date back to past centuries, the 2 famous ice cream shops, independent restaurants and pubs add to the charm of the village, which was a prominent port during the early 1800s, that then was surpassed by nearby Liverpool. It was an important port connecting Dublin and England. Apparently the great composer Handel disembarked as he returned from the first performance of The Messiah in Dublin in 1742.
It soon became a popular resort for holidaymakers to enjoy sunbathing on the sands and swimming in the river or in the open air baths along the quay until the Second World War.
There were also donkey rides on the beach to give children some amusement.
That landscape has changed, the marsh has reclaimed its place and is now as vast and beautiful as it was before the passage of ships and cargoes sailing from the sea to Chester.
There are no more pools or sand, because the sands have disappeared beneath the marsh grass. Luckily it is now famous for its abundance of wildlife in the estuary including a large variety of migrant and local birds (I will write specifically about this in another blog post).
It’s a great place for walking, cycling, birdwatching, eating and drinking or playing golf at the nearby Heswall Golf Club.
It is also an ideal position to visit Liverpool and Chester.
The small local community is friendly and takes care and pride in their own village.
Apart from all these above mentioned good aspects, there is another one that has attracted my attention: people come parading on the parade. Whether it’s for showing their vintage Vespa or Lambretta or their classic car, they come here on purpose as if it were a traditional thing to do. Well, nobody has told me this, I have just come to realise that this is the case, after all the time I have spent here. The promenade, or the Parade, as it is called here, is long, straight and full of people sitting for a beer, a chippy tea or an ice cream. On top of that the prom is very narrow, which makes you drive very slowly. So, see what I mean? It is a perfect catwalk!
It is an ideal place to see and be seen, to admire and be admired.
As an observer and a photographer, the moment I realised the sort of interesting social dynamics that were going on, I took my camera and started taking pictures of all the particular vehicles parading on the parade.
I am fascinated by the vast array of wonderful cars and motorcycles I have seen. Never in my life have I witnessed such a high number in such a small place.
That adds more charm to Parkgate.
Today I am going to start the “Parading on the Parade” photo series.
I will upload photos of cars and motorcycles that have struck my attention while being on the Parade (whether driving or parked).
Do not expect a new “standard” Porsche, this is not so particular, unless it has a very striking colour or another peculiar feature. The series wants to show the trend of people coming to Parkgate to enjoy and show off their vehicles.
I have enjoyed being a spectator of all this. I want to make it clear that the series is not intended to make fun of people or their vehicles. On the contrary the series will display what I find particularly fascinating and pleasant and it is meant for you to enjoy as well.
As it is August now and England has just passed its second heatwave, I am going to post a classic car that caught my attention: the driver has covered the seats with a black umbrella!
Below are some photos of the promenade, as this is my first post about the Parade.