The water is flat and shimmering, stretching across the estuary from the promenade where I stand to the pale Welsh hills. Out of the corner of my eye, I see tiny figures out to sea. Is it a mirage in the heat haze, or are they really walking on water? Looking in the other direction I see small sailing boats lazily tacking along. This was 50 years ago, when I lived on the Wirral, but is the same today, I observe, as we visit on a nostalgic trip.
West Kirby promenade on the Wirral has a large boating lake for dinghies, with a low wall round it. At high tide, the water laps over, or just below the wall, and people love to walk round – giving the optical illusion of walking on water!
We walk along the long promenade, listening to the splashing of water when boats pass, and the cry of seagulls, so evocative of the seaside. Parked cars, children eating ice cream, family groups and determined hikers , pushchairs and kiddy bikes, nothing has changed!
There are lots of side streets at right angles to the promenade and we turn down one. Parallel to the promenade is a shopping street, full of old fashioned charm – wrought iron and glass canopies fronting individual shops. Very much as it was 50 years ago!
One addition is a very modern looking cafe, Slinkies, with tables outside on the pavement, to sit and watch the world go by over an excellent coffee. The internal walls are painted with lively murals depicting French urban life. We stop for coffee and read a newspaper.
On down the street, and another new sight, a wall with a colourful mural depicting the Wirral – golf, a monument, yachts black and white buildings. It is very eye catching and fun to guess what the depictions show, if you know the area.
Full circle, and we are back on the promenade. At this end there is sand. It looks and smells like the proper seaside, salty and slightly rotten, where a few intrepid children build sand castles Out in the estuary you can see Hilbre Island, which you can walk to at low tide, if you are fit. A board shows the safe way across the sand to avoid dangerous gullies that fill up stealthily as the tide comes in. 50 years ago I would have been tempted to cross, but not today – back to the car to continue our nostalgic trip.