Formby Point in February

037 View to the SeaFor the past few weeks I’ve been attempting to get on with my writing and for the most part, have succeeded in doing that. I still have some distance to go before I finish Book 3, but it’s coming along reasonably well. Unfortunately, last week, we needed to visit my 87-year-old aunt in Carnforth (north Lancashire) who has been unwell recently, so my writing was again ‘on hold’.

On one of the days we were there, we managed a run out to my hometown of Southport – a Victorian seaside town on the north-west coast of England.

Map of Merseyside, UK. Source Ordnance Survey Open Data. Author Nilfanion. Creative Commons.

Map of Merseyside, UK. Source Ordnance Survey Open Data. Author Nilfanion. Creative Commons.

Southport has had its ups and downs over the years, particularly since losing its place in Lancashire and becoming part of Mersyside in the early 1970s. I intend to write a post about the town at some stage, as I’ve always loved it and often long to be back there. Many golfers from around the world will know this coastal region for its famous links golf courses, including Royal Birkdale, Hillside and Ainsdale.

On this occasion we first drove a little further down the coast to Formby Point, and I thought I’d share some photos of the sand dunes and pine woods there. This whole area of coastline is managed as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Parts of the stretch, at Ainsdale, a litttle closer to Southport than Formby, have been a Nature Reserve for many years now – even when I lived there in the 1950s and 60s. The Reserve is the habitat of the Great Crested Newt, Britain’s most protected species of amphibian. I believe its numbers are now on the increase at the Reserve.

My sister and I often used to cycle down to the pine woods with a picnic when we were teenagers, and it hasn’t changed a lot since then – except that Formby Point is now managed by the National Trust.

The sand dunes are an important habitat for both the natterjack toad, now an endangered species, and the rare sand lizard. The pine woods are one of the few remaining areas in Britain where our indigenous (and also endangered) red squirrels are found. The woods flank the landward side of the dunes, so we walked through those first. The oak leaves and acorn symbol is that of the National Trust:

098 National Trust Squirrel Walk

100 Squirrel Walk

The ‘cages’ up in the trees are feeders for the squirrels. We caught a couple of  them inside, but the photos we took didn’t turn out well. We also saw a few scuttling across the ground – but they were too distant and fast moving to show up on a photo. I don’t have a good zoom on my tablet, and our small camera isn’t too wonderful either. This picture gives a vague idea -you can see a red squirrel in there, if you look closely enough:

020 Red Squirrel 2

These are a few photos of our walk through the dunes before we reached the beach. The marram grass is essential to the conservation of the dunes – without it, the westerly winds would very quickly erode them.

And eventually . . . the beach and the Irish Sea. The beach was almost deserted due to the time of year and the fact that it was mid-week:

On another day we went to Blackpool – an even more desolate seaside town at this time of year.  I’ll share a few photos of the town, and the adjoining Lytham St Annes another time.

*****

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About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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75 Responses to Formby Point in February

  1. Antonia says:

    This is so interesting Millie! I can’t wait to hear more about Southport down the road. I have never heard of a red squirrel. It is so neat how you can catch glimpses of them in the feeders. It looks like a lovely place.

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Antonia. The red squirrels have had a hard time surviving over the years, for many reasons – one being competition from the bigger grey squirrels which were introduced here from North America. But it can’t all be blamed on the greys. There are many reasons for the decline in the reds – including deforestation, particularly of coniferous woodlands, the red squirrels’ natural habitat. I could probably do a post about it all at some stage.
      This coastline is lovely – but I’m biased, of course, because it’s ‘home’ to me. I’m a real seaside girl! 🙂

      • Antonia says:

        Poor little guys! It sounds like survival will be difficult. That would be an interesting post! I am a seaside girl too, but from the East coast of the US 😀

      • milliethom says:

        All seaside places are wonderful to me, Antonia. The smell of the sea alone is perfect. I’ll do a post about the squirrels at some stage because I’m really interested in them. It might bore the socks off everyone, though! 🙂

  2. Shivangi says:

    Spell binding sea Millie and wonderful write up. Wantig for more😀

    • milliethom says:

      Hi, Shivangi. I’m really glad you liked the post. It’s funny, because I always wonder whether these kind of posts will simply bore the socks off people! I get a bit carried away, at times. 🙂 I’ll write up about Blackpool very soon – then probably try to get some of the places we went last year done, too. I still have several to do. I’ll try to visit as many blogs as I can before I disappearr again for a while. 🙂

      • Shivangi says:

        Sure Millie… I look forward to reading all your posts. I love yours posts, they are original and replete with information. How can I miss it? Hope your book turns out well… Waiting for the book release too. Take care😀

      • milliethom says:

        Thank you, again! Talk soon. 🙂

  3. Simon says:

    What a beautiful place, some great pictures and a great post 🙂

  4. cynthiamvoss says:

    Very interesting info and beautiful photos!

  5. Great pictures Millie. I love the seaside and I love nature walks so it was right up my street!

    • milliethom says:

      From what you say, Cameron, you would love this coastline. It’s an ecological paradise and wonderful in summer. I did a lot of work in the Nature Reserve at Ainsdale when I was at Uni in Liverpool, so I know that very well. I miss living in Southport like mad, but all our children are in Notts. now, so I think it will just have to carry on being visits. 🙂

  6. Hi Millie, so lovely to hear from you 🙂 . I thought that you were writing…hope it is all going well.
    I enjoyed this post, and found it really interesting. Your pics are lovely by the way. Take care. x

    • milliethom says:

      Yes, I am (supposed to be) writing, Lynne. But after we’d been away last week, the flow of my writing was broken so I thought I’d spend some time on my blog for a while. Thanks for liking my post! I can’t keep away from my home area for too long. The trouble is, I usually don’t want to head back inland afterwards. Take care, too. 🙂

  7. Lina says:

    Good post! Enjoyed the pictures as well the read! Hope your book is turning out well! Atb! So glad to see a post from you after a long time☺☺☺☺ hope your aunt s fine now? You needed this break though after all your hard work

    • milliethom says:

      Hi Lina. Yes, it’s been a while since I was on my blog – and I was really missing it! My book is coming along quite well, although I’ve also been working on a book of short stories and flash fiction. So I’ve been quite busy! I’d like to get both published later this year.
      My aunt will never really be well again, unfortunately. She’s already had two strokes, so when she gets ill, we have to get over there quickly. She’s 87, and I’d never forgive myself if anything awful happened and I hadn’t seen her for ages.
      I hope all is well with you. I’ll be popping onto your blog in the next day or two. 🙂

      • Lina says:

        I’m fine and super busy! I was on a blogging break cause I was directing my first short film! I’ll keep your aunt in my prayers…tc Millie….will catch up with you later

  8. anroworld says:

    What a wonderful place, Millie! I love it, I love sea and squirrels!

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Ann. It is a lovely place and I agree, squirrels are cute little things. The sea is much more appealing in the summer, when it’s a lot warmer. We were lucky that the day we went was nice and bright. February can be such a greay month. 🙂

  9. Sadie's Nest says:

    Beautiful shore Millie! Sorry to hear about your aunt. And congratulations on your book progress! Squirrel walk, that’s funny. I feel like I have a squirrel farm in my back yard.

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, Sadie. 🙂 I love watching squirrels – grey or red ones. Red ones are very rare now in England, and only to be found in certain areas of coniferous forest, like Formby, and Kielder Forest. Grey squirrels are common in many places, and their natural habitat is deciduous woodland.
      I imagine you and the children get hours of entertainment from your backyard ‘squirrel farm’! We only have one, unfortunately. He comes every autumn to collect walnuts (for stashing away for the winter, I think) from the tree at the bottom of our garden. 🙂

      • Sadie's Nest says:

        I never thought about it, but we do have a few Pines in the yard. Although in the winter we can see several of their summer nests up in the trees that lose all of their leaves. I’ve never counted how many, I should give it a try.

  10. Anna says:

    Lovely post, Millie, and such beautiful photos! So sorry to hear your aunt is not feeling well — I hope she is better. Sending hugs.

    • milliethom says:

      Lots of hugs to you too, Anna, and thank you for the lovely comment. My aunt isn’t at all well, and we’re at that awful stage of not wanting to stay away from her for too long.
      (I’ll be catching up on a few of your posts over the weekend, before I get back to my book! Thank you for bearing with me.)

      • Anna says:

        So sorry about your aunt, Millie. Sending hugs and prayers for you and your family. xo

      • milliethom says:

        Thanks, Anna. My aunt has aged terribly since the last stroke, and not only has limited mobility, but her hearing is very poor. We keep popping over there, but on days when the physiotherapist or other medical people visit, she always insists we go out. Thank you for your kind wishes – much appreciated. Old age can be very harsh sometimes.

      • Anna says:

        So very sorry to hear about your aunt’s health — you are all in my prayers.

  11. draliman says:

    Lovely photos! I like “Squirrel Walk” :-). I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen a red squirrel. Maybe when I was younger. It’s all American imports these days!

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Ali. Like you, with your lovely posts on places in Cornwall, this area means so much to me. We go back as often as possible (Nick, being a Yorkshireman, surprisingly willing to do so!)
      Grey squirels are called ‘tree rats’ nowadays, and seen as vermin. It seems such a shame, when they haven’t willingly brought about the depletion of of the red squirrel populations. As you say, though, they are American imports! The indigenous reds are to be found in the (usually cooler) areas of the UK where coniferous woodland thrives, i.e. probably not Cornwall. 🙂

  12. I love beaches in the winter, this is no exception. Around here we have grey squirrels and chipmunks but I’ve seen black-tailed squirrels in South Carolina. Charley thinks the golf links would make a marvelous vacation and I love the nature preserve. So it could happen!Glad to hear you’re continuing with the 3rd book. Sometimes a rest is the best thing.

    • milliethom says:

      Hi Clare! I feel a bit like an errant schoolgirl right now. I haven’t been on my blog for a few weeks. I really need to get on with this book – it’s well over a year since Book 2 was published on Amazon and I’m so behind with Book 3.
      I’m sure you would both love this coast, Clare (preferably in the summer). If Charley’s into golf, you’d be well away! As for wild life, I’d love to see black-tailed squirrels and chipmunks!
      Hope your writing is coming along well, too. I’ll be visiting your blog this weekend – before I disappear again for a while. Unfortunately, needs must, as they say.

      • Oh, Millie, I’ve been very lax about blogging, too. I’m writing weekend posts by the seat of my pants and it’s late Saturday night and I’ve yet to put pen to paper. I finished the mystery book but am dissatisfied with parts of it, so I’ve taken a break. Maybe fresher eyes will be able to see it differently??? I have visited England on many occasions and studied a summer at Cambridge, but have never been to your coast. I will have to remedy that. And I would love to show you around our coast if you ever decide to take a little trip. It really isn’t that far. Soldier on and I will hop over to your blog soon. I have many to catch up on, so no new posts means I get to check out your earlier ones. Yay! Don’t worry about getting to mine, as I am not writing very often, so you’ll probably end up reading an old post. Stay warm….Clare

      • milliethom says:

        I haven’t done many posts since Christmas, Clare, and please don’t think you need to read the earlier ones. Your writing must come first. I made the mistake last year of spending far too much time on WP and neglecting my book. I really have to make up for it this year.
        Congratulations on finishing your mystery. That must be a wonderful feeling. The editing/revising part is never as much fun, but it has to be done. 😦
        It’s turned colder again here, too, with sleety snow today. We’re forecast for warmer weather by the ens of the week.
        Cambridge is a lovely city. It’s straight down the A1 from Newark, and we go quite often. I’d love to see photos of your coastline, too. There’s something wonderful about all coasts. Talk again soon . . .

      • Oh,, Milly, I love reading all of your posts and catching up. I want to read the older ones. I am reading the new Elizabeth George mystery. (taking a break from writing) and I recognize some of the places in your posts.

      • milliethom says:

        Perhaps I should read some of Elizabeth George’s books. I’ve no idea which parts of the country she writes about, although I’ve seen a few Inspector Lynley stories on TV. One of them was set in Lancashire, but I don’t think they all were.
        I’m having a few days on my blog before I go back to writing, too, Clare. I’m in the mood for reading a few posts right now, so I’ll definitely pop over during the early part of the week.
        I’m in the middle of reading ‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee’. And what an eye-opener that is. My reading’s a bed time thing, so it usually takes me ages to get through a book. I usually fall asleep before I’ve read more than a few pages. 🙂

      • Yes, I read at night in bed, too. It’s not good to take the computer to bed. It ruins sleep patterns.When I go upstairs tonight, I’ll tell you the places I recognized. Book Lynley and PBS Lynley are different characters. Some of her books, I really didn’t like, but I’ve loved all of the tv series.

      • milliethom says:

        We watched the Lynley series some years ago, and they do look a bit dated now. (They keep putting repeats on TV.) The storyline is different to many detective series in that Lynleyis a ‘lord’.We always enjoyed them at the time. Plots and characters in films and TV series are rarely anything like the ones in the books they’re based on. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but sometimes not, I suppose.
        I read on my Kindle in bed, despite knowing it disturbs sleep patterns. But I sleep badly anyway, so what the heck! 🙂

      • Her latest book (2015) is “a banquet of consequences”. Some of the settings mentioned are:Spitalsfields, Dorset, Shaftesbury,Yetminster, Sherborne, Seaton, Camberwell. I don’t feel you have to read the previous books to enjoy this one. And- best of luck with your writing. PS I was up reading the book at 2AM!

      • milliethom says:

        Clare, I’m beginning to think you must be an owl.:) Don’t you ever sleep? ‘Banquet of Consequences’ must be good to keep you awake so long. I’ve been to Dorset a few times, and know where Shaftesbury, Sherborne and Yetminster are. Seaton is in Devon and Camberwell is a district of London – unless the author has a village with the same name in her book.
        Dorset and Devon are lovely counties, with very quaint villages and lovely scenery. The ‘south’ of England is generally less rugged than the north. High land increases as we go north, right up to Scotland.

      • They do go to Cambridge in my most recent chapter. I think I’m a worse insomniac than you, Millie. (If that’s possible) I was asleep from midnight to 2AM and then woke up, went downstairs and read until 7:30. There are nights when I sleep for 6-7 hours, but not often. Especially if I’m working on a book.

  13. giffmacshane says:

    Beautiful photos, Millie. I miss my house at the shore, too!

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Griff. This is the first time I’ve been on my blog for a few weeks, and I’ve missed it like mad. But I’m so behind with Book 3 that something had to give. 🙂
      It’s funny how the sea can mean so much to so many of us. I was born by the sea, and will never be truly ‘at home’ inland.
      (Hope to visit your blog over the weekend – before I disappear again for a while.)

  14. nowathome says:

    This is so interesting Millie! Thank you for sharing!

  15. Wow! Lovely place Millie and the photographs are totally amazeballs 🙂
    It’s been a while… Hope everything’s well at your end 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      I’m fine, and plodding along as always, thanks, Heena. I’ve not been on my blog much since Christmas, as I do need to write more this year. I won’t go on about that because I’m sure you are up to the eyeballs with your writing. Many congratulations again on the forthcoming publication. I’ll be sure to buy a copy. 🙂 Thanks for liking my home area. i don’t see it nearly enough these days, and I miss it like mad. 🙂

      • I can understand. Putting up with everything (blog, reviews, reading, writing, rewriting) is weighing down me as well…
        And thanks. You’re really sweet 🙂
        Your home area is extraordinarily beautiful, Millie. It’s been almost 9 years since I visited mine. But I’m planning to do it soon.
        Hope you’re having a great day! 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Thanks, Heena. We never forget the place where we grew up. I haven’t lived in Spouthport since I was 21, but it’s still home to me. Where is your home town? Nine years is quite a long time between visits, so I hope you make it back soon. But I realise how much work you have on with the coming publication of your book. That’s all so exciting for you! I bet you can’t wait. Hugs and lots of best wishes for its success.:D

      • Agreed. We can never ever forget it. My hometown is in Dewas, an industrial town on the outskirts of Indore (Indore is one of the biggest cities here in India.) My hometown is a small town with fairly less population (can’t say that for the present, though) and a place with only a handful of buildings and an abundance of bungalows. (Right now it’s like a dream in big cities to have land and a row house, let alone a bungalow.) Perks of being a small-towner 😀
        As much as I love big cities with busy lifestyle, there’s nothing that can replace the joy of living in a small town where people really knew each other and spent their days living happily together. The feels…
        And thanks again for your lovely wishes. Hope your writing is going great as well!
        Missed talking to you… Loads of hugs ❤

  16. Joy Pixley says:

    Beautiful! The dunes remind me of the dunes on the western part of my home state of Michigan. Such lovely childhood memories I have of there, too. I hope the red squirrels make a comeback! We had plenty of the grays in Michigan, so I’m more used to seeing elaborate feeders designed to keep the squirrels _out_ so that the birds actually get to eat.

    Good luck getting some writing in soon! Life intervenes, I know.

    • milliethom says:

      The grey squirrels are everywhere here, too. They were introduced here from North America and have bred a little too well! A lot of people hate them, and call them ‘tree rats’. Red squirrels are so rare now, but for lots of reasons, not just competition from the greys (directly, that is). I really should do a post about it, but I’ve already got a list a mile long to sort through.
      I’m having a few days going round blogs now, so I’ll be over to yours in the next day or so. Thanks a lot for liking my post! The Michigan coast sounds wonderful, too. It seems we both have childhood memories of the coast. 🙂

  17. So glad you are doing well on the third book! What beautiful pictures of the dunes!

  18. That’s such a lovely place! 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Yes, It’s lovely in the summer.I miss it like mad. I used to be able to walk down to the beach whenever I felt like when I was young. Thanks, Rockhopper. 🙂

  19. Sounds desolate but interesting!
    Great gallery!

  20. inesephoto says:

    Oh I love these dunes!

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Inese. The dunes always remind me of my childhood – I rolled down them many times when I was young. I can’t stay away from them for too long. A yearly visit simply isn’t enough.

      • inesephoto says:

        Childhood spent near the sea is special. My aunt’s house stood right behind dunes. The pavement was always covered with sand. Every summer she invited me for a couple of weeks to stay with her. Unforgettable time.

      • milliethom says:

        ‘Memories are made of this…’ How true the words of that old song are. Perhaps we’re just a couple of sentimental fools, Inese. (I deliberately left out the word ‘old’.) The sea – and the sandhills – have an allure that stays with a person forever. People from Southport were called ‘Sandgrounders’ for many years. In some places, they still are!

      • inesephoto says:

        Guilty as charged, I am sentimental, and my childhood is a big part of my total happiness. The sea and the dunes will stay with me forever too. Three years ago I spent two months near my sea. I will write about that some day.

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