Tag Archives: sand

Formby Beach

I am backdating this to the day we saw we came to this beautiful place but writing this late (maybe late, who knows how late) in lockdown (25 May). I long for a beach, air, space, emptiness, woods, trains, travels, pubs, new things.

A cold, windy day of great dark clouds and blue sky, we hoped to find the beach empty. The older I get, the emptier I like my beaches. Formby was surprisingly full of people along much of the beach itself, but for the most part spread across the long horizon’s sweeps like Lowry figures. But in the glorious dunes there were few people, and the bright sun and deep shadow showed the beauty of low wind carved hills.

Across wet hard-packed beach the wind swept wide rivers of dry sand, swiftly racing undulations of changing currents and rivulets that stung against my shins.

We saw many dogs with joy quivering in every bound and wet shake.

People did fill the woods, one of the last places that red squirrels can still be seen. We did not see red squirrels, only a notice that we might encounter them dead or dying among the pines of squirrel pox. Devastating on many levels.

Nor did we comb the waters edge as the tide ebbed out for the prehistoric footsteps, not knowing that was the only place they could be seen. I’m still a little heartbroken about that. Walking to Formby from the train we missed the informational boards positioned for the passengers of cars, but even for them it wasn’t all that clear.

I loved that this was also a productive landscape, a world of small holding (or so it was once) and asparagus beds — ah, asparagus! How I love asparagus. There is a plaque for the Aindow family, a rare local name. The plaque tells us:

William Aindow… with his brothers Ellis and Douglas and sister Joan, he leveled new fields next to Victoria Wood. The Aindows also grew asparagus on part of Pine Tree farm and a long pointed strip of land next to Jubilee Wood called tongue sharp piece! It was here they had their sheds ad a couple of caravans where they stayed during the main asparagus season.

Horses were used on the Aindows’ farm into the 1990s. The narrow drills suited horse cultivation and the horse would move between the ridges without damage to the roots of the asparagus plant. When the ridges were formed by tractor cultivation, they tended to be wider. It wasn’t always easy to plough or harrow with a tractor o the sand because of the risk of getting stuck, especially when the sand was dry.

The ridges of their fields can be seen here:

A splendid walk, if cold and the wind, well the wind was really something.


Every now and then I remember that I live in a city beside the ocean…I love the ocean, but to reach a piece of it that is wild and beautiful and untouched by people requires a very long drive from the heart of Chinatown.  I especially love an empty beach at night when you are surrounded by waves and darkness and the world stretches out in front of you forever.

Janice and I went to the beach yesterday, and though both of us prefer beaches with no one on them, we somehow ended up in Santa Monica on a hot Sunday afternoon.  First stop was the surf liquour for snacks!

Some juice, salt and vinegar chips, cheese puffs, and chocolate chip cookies later, we headed west to where the land ends and the sea begins…and met not only the ocean, but an astonishing overwhelming number of sunburned people.  It was a bit frightening in fact

There’s the pier off in the distance…And the people go on for miles packed thick under multicolored umbrellas…I suppose it is a uniquely LA scene, but I do think once was enough for me!  Still, nothing like swimming in the ocean, and I finished most of the crossword, hung out with Janice and friends, and did some quality people watching.  First, everyone next to us was Russian, that was somewhat astonishing.  I almost got the courage up to ask them what a five letter word for soviet cooperative might be, but in the end my courage failed me.  Second, were these two lovely ladies…

Yes, indeed it’s true they are wearing matching bikinis, straw cowboy hats (cleverly trimmed with leopard skin print to perfectly accesorize), haircuts AND haircolor, and though I did not photograph them from the front (not wanting to be rude you understand), I do believe they had very large and matching silicone breasts.  I might miss ridiculous shit like this when I leave.