A Step Back in Time: My First Guest Blogger – Peter Taylor

My last post was a collection of some of my favourite photos which I took on a recent visit to Ainsdale Beach, which is in Merseyside, close to Southport in the Northwest UK.

In that post I mentioned that Ainsdale was one of the places my Dad, Peter Taylor, most liked to visit when he was a child growing up in Manchester and today I am delighted to have him here with me reminiscing about those days.


Peter Taylor – “I’ve always been interested in herpetology and the attraction of Ainsdale is that it is the home of Britain’s rarest toad, the natterjack, and rarest lizard, the sand lizard, both of which have a specialised habitat requirement – sand dunes.


Ainsdale Dunes


As a child, our annual holidays would be at Gronant, a small coastal village in Flintshire, North Wales. Gronant had, in those days, extensive sand dunes (which I believe now no longer exist) where natterjack toads and sand lizards thrived.  Gronant was a train journey of several hours from Manchester, whereas with Ainsdale, during the long summer days, I could cycle there and back in a day, with several hours to spare in which I could play around and so was able to visit with ease.


Ainsdale had, and still has, extensive sand dunes which are now protected but weren’t in my early days, and there was a healthy population of natterjacks and sand lizards.


This way to the natterjacks!

This way to the natterjacks!


I used to catch natterjacks and take them home to Manchester, a practise that is now thankfully illegal!


There were natterjack tadpoles in this pond

Natterjacks are the most vocal of the British amphibia and some people complain about their nocturnal mating calls!


The red squirrels didn’t interest me all that much, mainly because in those days they were still relatively common and not considered threatened. The red squirrels now exist in the wooded area to the south of the reserve near Formby.


Formby Squirrel Reserve

There were no motor ways in those days and far less traffic than is the case now. For most of the way I would cycle along the East Lancs Road which had a cycle lane making it pretty safe and I always went with a friend.”


Throwback Thursday: I Remember …

A few weeks back I read this post written by Anna at The Wandering Introvert and it got me thinking; this would not only be a good writing exercise but also an excellent prompt for a Throwback Thursday post.

Anna’s method goes like this:

“Set a timer for some amount of time, and, without stopping, compose a series of sentences that begin with the phrase “I remember.” If you get stuck, just write the prompt over and over again until something else comes out.”

I set my clock for 10 minutes, then added a few more for touching up and uploading pictures.

I remember one time when I burned my hand on hot coals while playing outside by the wood boiler – I tried to hide the blister from Mum because she’d told me not to go there, but somehow she found out. I remember being relieved (and surprised) because she didn’t get cross and instead gave me a hug and placed a soft kiss on my hand.

I also remember Mum being very cross with me for cutting my doll’s hair.


Sophie the doll, after her hair cut

I remember going with Dad to look for tadpoles in the stream at the end of our garden. Dad kept a thermometer there in the water, I can’t remember why he wanted to record the temperature but I do remember the water was always very cold! I remember that he had to make a cage for the thermometer out of bamboo sticks to keep the otters from destroying it. I remember that we often saw otters there. I remember years later watching a film called Ring of Bright Water, which was about an otter.  Thinking about that story still brings tears to my eyes.

I remember my first day at school. I wasn’t really afraid until I saw that Mum was crying and trying not to let me see and then I became scared. I remember one day doing something really bad in class – I think I deliberately coloured outside the lines and made a mess of my drawing – and had to sit in the corner with my back to the other children. I remember the shame I felt and I remember worrying that the teacher would tell my parents. She didn’t tell them, but I did. I think they pretended to be cross.

I remember watching films every Friday night at the open-air cinema (we called it the bi-scope). There were short breaks each time the reel had to be changed and a longer one at half-time, when we would buy a coke and a packet of crisps for 10 cents. Before they paved the area, us kids used to sit on the sand at the front while our parents sat in plastic ribbed seats behind us.  I remember some nights, if it was an age-restricted film, I would sleep in that little hole at the very back of my parents’ VW Beetle with Owen, our Welsh Border Collie, to keep me company. I remember one night he stole a cheese and onion crisp out of my hand – it was the biggest crisp I had ever seen.

I remember the first dog I ever owned. Sometimes, after bathing her, I would dye her white coat with food dye. Her name was Fifi. I remember the sound of screeching tyres on the road in front of our house and how devastated I was when I learned that she had been knocked down by a passing car and that I would never see her again.

Fifi in pink

Fifi in pink

Siblings – From Boys to Men




Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Kahil Gibran – On Children

Of course you're faster than me. You have a bike!





For more photos of siblings visit Nancy Merrill Photography