Greetings my friends.
I had a lovely day out at Formby (near Southport) today, on the stretch of coast between the rivers Mersey and Ribble. I visited the nature reserve, made famous for its population of red squirrels besides the many species of small woodland birds including, greater spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, tree creeper, redpoll, siskin, crossbill and several members of the tit family.
Just beyond the trees there are extensive sand dunes and the sea; there is also evidence that a sand dune environment once predominated here too, until the trees and shrubs slowly reclaimed the land. The soil is very sandy in places and the topography of the land also suggests such an earlier environment.
In the dunes one may see the natterjack toad, meadow pipit, skylark, stonechat and wheatear, whilst on the beach one may find the dunlin, knot, arctic tern, oystercatcher, bar-tailed godwit, sanderling and several species of gull – a wonderful diversity of life!
The red squirrels are used to human visitors however, the little chaps were not cooperative today and I had to quickly snap this character near the top of one of the trees, as it was flitting about.
On closer inspection and to my concern, the tail of the squirrel has some fur missing and the rest of the tail looks rather tatty too, I was worried this was some sort of mange or other disease, so I’ve informed the National Trust (Formby) about this.
I also saw a pair of squirrels playing chase, probably going through the throes of mating – spring is in the air for sure! This could also be a cause of the squirrels tatty tail as the males fight in spring and the tail is a prime target!
I was in awe when we arrived at the beach, I’ve never seen dunes as steep and high as this before. I think the recent storms have had something to do with it and even as we arrived the chap on duty warned us of this week’s big tides, they would come up to the dunes and would make escape very difficult, if one was caught out.
The dunes are bigger than they look on the photograph’s.
There are several trails in this area, one favourite is to walk along the beach to Crosby, one will find the famous statues which are one of the main feature of this part of the beach. The artist, Anthony Gormley, sculpted the statues in his own image, made of cast iron and facing out to sea, they occupy a two-mile stretch of the coast.
As the tide ebbs and flows, the statues are revealed and covered with each tide and in weather like this, they can look almost sinister! I’m definitely coming back here soon, this place has so much to offer a family on a day out; wonderful scenery, wildlife and the sea air – exhilarating!
Until the next time my friends, regards Supernova
Standing at 518′ 9″ (158m) tall and built between 1891 – 1894, Blackpool Tower is arguably the most famous landmark in North West England and is also the towns only grade 1 listed building. I’ve often looked up at the giddy heights and wondered what the view is like from the top, for even though I’ve grown up only a few miles from the tower, I’ve never actually been up there yet, I’m not the least bit scared though…..honest!
A Towering Success.
Designed by Lancashire architects James Maxwell and Charles Tuke and built by engineers Heenan and Froude of Worcester, they used a revolutionary method of fixing the steel girders by hydraulic riveting developed by Fielding and Platt, a much safer and quicker method than any manual technique of forming the rivet.
When the tower opened in 1894 there were several new entertainments for the delight of the many people who were expected to visit. It cost sixpence for entry to the Tower Complex, sixpence for the ride to the top of the tower and sixpence for the circus, but the initial interest was to see the sights from the top, to be able to climb this high on a structure in England was unknown at this time. On the first day, over 3000 visitors ascended to the top of the tower to see the view – quite a daring feat at the time I imagine!
Due to poor maintenance and corrosion however, the entire steel structure was replaced between 1921 – 1924, heralding in a new maintenance regime which has since kept the tower in great condition for the millions of people who have since visited and for the attractions it holds.
The structure takes seven years to paint and other maintenance like the inspection of lifts (elevators), electric cables and bulbs is also carried on at regular intervals or when specifically needed for example, the illumination celebrations.
The tower has had visits from several VIP’s over the years, the most important was by the very much loved Princess Diana who renamed the tower complex, “Tower World” in 1992.
The original Tower Ballroom was opened in 1894 as “The Tower Pavillion” but was expanded and re-named in 1899. The first Wurlitzer organ was installed in 1929 but Reginald Dixon (known as “Mr Blackpool”) who played the organ in the tower from 1930 – 1970, designed one better suited to the acoustics of the ballroom and this was installed in 1935.
Disaster struck in 1956 when a fire destroyed the dance floor and the restaurant beneath the ballroom, it was replaced immediately and most of the original craftsmen came out of retirement to ensure a perfect job. The dance floor is sprung and constructed from over 30,000 blocks of oak, walnut and mahogany laid in a parquet (geometric) design. A beautiful thing.
In 2013, Roy and Hayley danced in the tower ballroom during a touching episode of Coronation Street and this is just one instance when a tv series or film has used the ballroom to film in.
The Tower Circus has never missed a summer season since it first opened in 1894 however, there hasn’t been any animals performing in the circus since 1990, something I’m very relieved about. There are spectacular acrobatic, magic and comedy acts which provide superb entertainment for the whole family and when I’ve seen them, the high wire and trapeze have always managed to create plenty of excitement.
One of the newest additions to the tower attractions is the Blackpool Tower Eye. Previously known as the “Tower Top”, an inspirational plan to construct a glass floor and glass walled walkway was completed in 2011. The feeling one gets as one steps out of the lift and onto the glass floor has been described as “walking on air”, I think my stomach would have something to say about that though!
Another new attraction is the Tower Dungeon which has live exhibits with professional actors, portraying events in history like the Pendle Witches, the Plague (the Black Death), Ned King (Lancashire’s infamous highwayman) and others. The dungeon themes are acted out in a wonderful comedy-horror style and are both superbly entertaining and educational.
The new Jungle Jim’s Towering Adventureland replaced the original Jungle Jim’s and is themed on an Aztec lost city with swinging, sliding and climbing adventures for the older children and a smaller softer area for the toddlers.
The tower usually receives between 600,000 and 700,000 visitors per year and plays a very important role in the towns annual £1 billion plus tourism industry.