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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, January 01, 2007
    Going places in 2007

    The first thing I did in 2007 was to complete the jigsaw I'd started on Christmas Day, of an OS map of Liverpool with my house at the centre (thanks Linda). Interesting reflecting on how I approached the task, not being a jigsaw person usually, but definitely a map person:

    1. I started with the River Mersey: mainly as the swathe of gorgeous clear blue which the OS generously use to indicate our old grey waterway made the jigsaw pieces on the Mersey the easiest to identify in a box full of urban-industrial details;

    2. Next, I took the motorways: blue again, and so familiar in their shape (M57 arching anticlockwise around the city edges, M62 approaching cautiously from the east, prompting Epiphanies, stopping short in the Broad Green suburbs);

    3. Then it was place names, identifiable features which guided me. Not always ones I know well but ones which have for whatever reason stuck in my mind - Southdene, Woolfall Heath, Windy Arbor, Waddicar: places I've never been but somehow know where they are.

    4. I was struck by my ignorance of some road numbers and routes: and the leisurely pursuit of doing this jigsaw has educated me about, for instance, the way the A506 links ancient Walton Church with overspill Tower Hill, and the way that the A580 East Lancs splits somewhere near here, one branch ending at Goodison Park and the other at the hilltop T-junction joining Breck Road with Everton Brow where there are wondrous views of the city centre below.

    5. I was also struck by how the places I know best were among the last pieces I completed: perhaps because the city centre is reduced to a complex mulch of roads on this particular map, and suburban Crosby bears no obvious identifying marks. Or perhaps because I was saving the best till last.

    2007 may be the year when I take one jigsaw piece at a time and let each one guide me on an exploration of that particular area. I just discovered the great potential in this by selecting, at random, this piece, which turns out to be a fascinating bit of Aintree featuring the old Vernons Pools complex, sections of the Trans-Pennine Trail and the Liverpool-Ormskirk railway line, the shopping park where I guess today hundreds of people will be hunting for bargain beds, part of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and part of Aintree Racecourse which the canal crosses. Above the canal there's a housing estate with a church in it, and the road the church is on is Altway, where I had my first-ever job interview 29 years ago.

    So a journey in this map piece will involve nosing around the old Vernons site to see what's going on there now, exploratory wanderings around the boundaries where commercial site and canalside meet, a personal pilgrimage down Altway (which I've never been back to since 1978) and of course, attempts to discover what the Canal Turn looks like out of season and from excluded zones.

    There are 255 pieces in this jigsaw. As you can tell, I'll be really going places in 2007.