Friday evening between 6-8 I was at the Frodsham Literary Festival at a Meet the Authors event before there was to be a talk by poet Roger McGough at 9pm. There were 25of us authors with their books on display. Besides my friend Mills & Boon author, Annie Burrows, who lives near Warrington and myself, I knew only about five of the other authors, such as Margaret Murray who writes crime and I think lives in Manchester, but there were children's writers, poets, saga and thriller writers, the author at the next table had come all the way from Ulverston, birthplace of comedian and actor, Stan Laurel, in the Lake District, I wish I could remember her name but it's gone. Next to her was a woman who was a volunteer for VSO who had written of her experiences working in Africa. I found this interesting because I'm a supporter of VSO.
Actually getting to the event was a chore because although my husband and I had both visited the Frodsham area as children, we had not been there since and I had it fixed in my head that it was on the Wirral but it is in Cheshire and lies close to Runcorn, the other side of a narrow stretch of the Mersey from Widnes, and as a lot of you will know they are joined by the Runcorn Bridge. Fortunately, we discovered that there were road works going on in the area because a new bridge is being built presumably to ease the congestion there, so we decided to have a day out a few days before the festival and take a different route to the town of Frodsham which involved travelling through the Liverpool-Wallasey tunnel and the M53, crossing onto the M56 just before Chester which would take us to Junction 12 Frodsham and Runcorn.
Our memories of Frodsham were of - in my case, picking blackberries with my mam, sister and brother on the hill, for John, he remembered doing a run up the hill. The town is easy to get around and parking was no trouble. It has some ancient buildings with thatched roofs and a number of shops of the kind you see in small market towns, but there was a Morrison's and a W.H.Smith's. We went into the latter because John wanted to buy a copy of the Highway Code and I was delighted to find some 1000 piece jigsaws priced 2 for £20 with the kind of pictures I liked as doing jigsaws is something I enjoy doing when not writing, swimming or walking or reading. Then we found a fish and chip shop and bought some chips.
We did not remain in the area to eat them as John had suggested going to Thurstason on the Wirral before we'd left Liverpool as it was ages since we had been there. As children we had been wont to visit there via the ferry to Birkenhead and then bus.
So off we set with the chips wrapped up tightly to keep them warm. We never did reach Thurstason because the journey across to the Wirral took longer than we reckoned on as Thurstason was not mentioned on the motorway boards, so we came off at Heswall and headed in the direction of West Kirkby and Hoylake. We decided to stop in West Kirby and parked on the front where there was a marina with several windsails skimming along the water, so we sat on a bench eating our chips and tuna sandwiches, watching them and looking beyond to the land on the other side of what John told me was the river Dee. We could also see right across the sands to Hilbre island at some point when we walking along the front. A place to which John and I had walked while the tide was out when much younger.
An experience I put in one of my M&B historical novels, REBEL LADY, CONVENIENT WIFE, a story which is set partly in France.
Maybe it was because I could see Hilbre island that I was half-convinced that the water was not the Dee but the Irish Sea but the next day when I checked out the map, I realised that West Kirkby is just round the coast at the mouth of the river Dee and that's why we could see both Wales across the Dee and the Irish Sea as well. As for Thurstason that was further inland along a minor road and we must have passed it just after Heswall.
Heswall hospital was the place I was moved to from Myrtle street hospital in Liverpool after fracturing my skull and spine after falling ten feet from a wall at school when I was fourteen. I can't remember a thing about falling or how I came to climb the wall but I do remember being taken through the Mersey tunnel in an ambulance to the orthopaediac ward at Heswall hospital where I had to lie on my back for six weeks. An experience I've used in a saga.
While sitting at the front in West Kirkby, I thought how we could have saved ourselves a long journey if that was all we were going to do, by heading homewards and travelling just a couple of miles to the marina at Waterloo and then to the front near the coastguard station at Hall Road on our side of the Mersey and the Irish sea. From the latter can be seen the Wirral coast and the Welsh mountains and we can sometimes also see Blackpool tower in the distant northwards.