I have been on a diet for about three months now. I’ve had quite a bit of success too. I don’t weigh myself but I count the belt holes I have tightened. So far I have gone from the longest hole on my belt to the eighth one in. Don’t worry, if I’m really careful I won’t waste away! There is still a long way to go. It is indeed fortunate that I have left myself such a considerable margin for self-improvement at the beginning. I’m not proud of the state I have allowed myself to ‘acheive’ over recent years, so I have taken to cycling and running every day. The other thing my doctor and I thought would also be a good idea was to knock boozing on the head completely. There is no need for concern, as far as I know there is nothing medically wrong with me but I have been really ‘caning’ real ale and white wine of late. Well, I’m not the ‘Liverpool Organic Brewing Co’ Principal Trumpet for nothing. Apart from slowing down my diet, costing an arm and a leg and being a stupid idea anyway, I was doing myself no favours carrying on like that. Afterall, as my mother would say, “…It’s not big and it’s not clever!” I asked Doctor O’Brien about the best way of cutting my alcohol intake. He replied, “…Don’t drink.” As I implied earlier, I have no idea what my weight was when I started.
Normally, any discussion regarding parks, running and bike rides would also be found in the Scooby section as he would always be in attendance, running alongside me. This ‘glaring’ omission is because Scooby has just had his cruciate ligaments reattached to his back, left knee. A similar fate befell Paul Gascoigne, the famous footballer, if you remember. Scooby has been out of action for three months and will remain so for at least one more month. He is only allowed out of the house on the lead for short toilet walks before being returned immediately to the house. He only goes in the field outside my front door. Poor Scooby!
I went for my two mile run this morning and was both surprised and delighted to find I had set a new personal best over the last three months. I suppose several factors must be taken into consideration here. Firstly, as a former runner, I was so embarrassed about my initial times. I was so slow, I would have to say that I was doing more of a shuffle than a run. Little old ladies had to move to my left or right to overtake me! I felt like I wanted to put a bag over my head in shame. Secondly and thirdly, I suppose one gets faster both the fitter one gets and the lighter one becomes. However, I have perservered, going every day, mainly around Toxteth Cemetry. Toxteth Cemetry is one of my favourite places in Liverpool. It is situated on Smithdown Rd next to Asda. It is both beautiful and fascinating at the same time. It is a large space of land with something to interest everyone. Being old the graveyard is sectioned up into different categories. There is a Jewish area, an orphans segment and an area for firemen who have died in service, to name but a few. To my shame a looked round recently to find Scooby ‘weeing’ on ‘Harry Potter’s grave. One of the best memorials has an epitaph to Welsh musician Harry Evans, who founded the famous Liverpool Choral Union.
I adore looking at the older graves, as I really like good old fashioned names, such as Ezra Scraggs. There is a nice looking old church, some huge conker trees (which no-one but Scooby and I seem to know about). I recently took a bag full of Scouse conkers down to London with me to take on some ‘Cockney’ conkers, selected from Hyde Park. Sadly we were roundly thrashed; not dissimilar to Liverpool v. Chelsea these days. Mind you, we shall see about that this season! It doesn’t overly affect me, however, being a Preston North End Fan. It is hard to be disappointed when Preston always cease to amaze.
I suppose I am digressing somewhat here. Having completed my run and refuelled with scant nutrition, I decided to go for a bike ride. The weather was gorgeous. I set off for Philharmonic Hall to collect the first trumpet part to Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. We are performing this in the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral soon after the summer break. The symphony of a thousand has a huge orchestra, including a lot of extra brass in an onstage brass band, a separate body, entirely, to the already huge RLPO orchestral brass section. I have never played the Eighth. I have played all the others many times. This has always surprised me, as I was a freelance player in London for about fifteen years and a piece with so many extra brass would normally have required my services at some time or other. So, I have to learn the piece from scratch, which is about to take the shine off the majority of my summer holiday!
Having got the said part, and taken a bunch of Sweet Peas from the ‘Urban Farm’ to Ye Cracke pub (now before you start, Ye Cracke, The Belvedere and The Caledonia pubs traditionally share my Sweet Peas on consequtive days), I thought I would go and have a cycle through the many parks and some of the sights that surround my abode in Wavertree. My house is so near to some of the nation’s finest parks. I would not have time see them all, but I planned a particular route to take in quite a few. Being by the Phil to begin with, I thought I would start in the heart of Liverpool University by cycling to Abercrombie Square for a look.
The first park is a curiosity. It is seemingly unadopted and known only as public open space. It is an attractive space and provides me with my daily route into Philharmonic Hall. It contains a strange looking Victorian air vent, providing ventilation for one of the many curious tunnels beneath this area of Liverpool.
Next I ‘bombed’ around Toxteth Cemetry. I realise I have have been ’round here already today, but I did write that it is one of my favourite places. It is a shame that the turnstile entrance at the far end is too small for a bicycle, otherwise this would have provided a handy short cut right to my next destination, Sefton Park.
Sefton Park is one of the best examples of those magnificent Victorian parks to be admired all over the country. It has a circumference of approximately 2.3 miles and the content is simply breathtaking.
It has recently undergone a multi million pound facelift which has seen the fountains restored, the boating like drained and renewed, the band stand restored, and the complete refurbishment of the famous Palm House.
We passed the beautiful Sefton Cricket Club next. I have lazed away many a summer outside the clubhouse, surrounded by elm trees, watching the cricket, with a pint of ‘trad’ in hand. Still, no more eh. The trad that is!
Almost adjacent to the cricket club and Sefton Park lies Greenbank Park. This not as huge as the majority of the local parks, but I find it’s intimate nature very peacful. It is has dense trees, a wonderful pond, also recently upgraded, a large children’s play area, but the jewel in the crown must be the Victorian herb garden. This has recently been completely overhauled and restocked.
Greenbank Park is, in turn, almost adjacent to Wavertree Park. Wavertree Park is a vast open space, completely different in character to the parks already visited. It is known locally as ‘The Mystery.’ The reason for this is the original benefactor, who gave the money for it’s construction, wanted to remain anonymous. It has the stunning Bluecoat School at one end. The new Picton Baths at another corner. It also houses an athletics stadium and indoor and outdoor tennis courts. It is mainly laid to grass with trees lining the pathways and perimeter with undulating hills and landscape to leave the visitor with no shortage of interest.
I live just by The Mystery, so the next stop was to go home and see what Scooby had been up to in my absence. He must be waiting by the door, desperate to be let out by now.