The Post au naturale
A great deal, and five longreads for an escapist Sunday
Dear readers — did we do it? We’re reaching out to you from the past, only two days in the past mind, but from a time when England’s fate was not yet sealed. Regardless of what went down on Saturday night, what better way to celebrate or commiserate England’s glorious victory or heartbreaking defeat to France, than with an extra Sunday edition of The Post. Can you drown sorrows in prose? Would you raise a glass to a longread? We hope so.
This newsletter is inspired by North Country: An anthology of landscape and nature, a new collection of the North’s best nature writing. A feature from Post contributor Dani Cole is included in the book, as well as writing by the likes of Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Simon Armitage and Lemn Sissay. Dani’s piece steals the show of course, but the others give it their best shot too.
There’s also two beautiful poems from Liverpool-based writers; Paul Farley with Great Black-Backed Gull and Jennifer Lee Tsai’s Mersey River, which nods to a Sino-Liverpudlian past: “Listen, I want to hear you speak to me, I do not want the city, to forget you, or the other Chinese sailors, of Chinatown”.
We’re sending a free copy of North Country (worth £14.99) and a personal Christmas card from the team to anyone who either buys an annual gift subscription or buys an annual membership by Thursday (December 15th).
If you’re buying a gift sub, your friend will get a year of high-quality journalism and you will get something too: a copy of this lovely book in time (postal strikes allowing) for Christmas, along with a card from the team. You can schedule your gift sub to be emailed to the recipient on Christmas Day. Just click here.
If you’re a new member buying an annual sub, you will get the book and a card welcoming you to our community. Click here to join now. You’ll be supporting the future of independent journalism on Merseyside.
In celebration of the book, and of the glorious landscapes that surround Merseyside, we’ve gathered our five very best nature reads. This is The Post au naturale. As climate change, pollution and the likes put our natural spaces under threat, writing that engages with and seeks to protect and celebrate these spaces becomes more important. But we wouldn’t be able to do this kind of work without the support of our subscribers. If you aren’t already a member but would like to support the future of independent journalism in Merseyside, do consider signing up today.
From Liverpool Bay, a flock of mysterious sea birds disappears into the night
Alex Lees is the David Attenborough of Liverpool Bay. Kitted out in an anorak and bird-related baseball cap, he sets up his audio equipment to record birds in flight, a skill he’s honed to such precision that he can recognise the scramble of audio lines on his computer screen as individual bird calls. When the “mysterious sea ducks” finally appear in the sky above the water “they sound like delicate little laments, soft and sad cries in the dark.” It’s a magical moment.
The threat to Knowsley’s ancient woodland
“First things first, I’m not a nimby,” Josh Styles says on the phone. As a senior botanist and consultant for Atkins, a design and engineering consultancy, Styles is focused on one question: how do we accommodate development without destroying natural environments? This piece (in the second half of the edition) from Mollie last year about the threat to a beautiful, ancient woodland in Knowsley zones in on the complications that come with that question. “It's not like any other woodland that we can ever replicate,” Josh says. “They really are irreplaceable habitats that take hundreds, if not thousands of years to replicate.”
The watcher of Hilbre Island
No one loves islands quite as much as Chris Williams loves islands. Chris has been a member of the Hilbre Bird Observatory on Hilbre island, off the coast of West Kirby, since his dad carried him there when he was a few months old. In this piece, Jack Dulhanty goes to meet him, and finds one of the most beautiful and tranquil places in the county. It boasts “dragonflies that just look like flying candy canes and butterflies with frescoed wings” as well as dozens of “North Atlantic seals who look like slippery, grey bald men with eyes as black as cherries.” But more than all of that, it’s a place where Chris is able to be at peace, and find a connection with his father.
Rising from the dead at the Wirral’s boat graveyard
What does it take to revive a piece of history? In this piece, Harry visits Wirral’s boat graveyard, where wrecks upon wrecks sit “slumped like corpses in the bog, hulls exposed like rib cages, with scraps of rope clinging to them like rotten flesh”. But amid the rot and decay, a husband/wife team are little by little bringing Sarinda — a little vessel once known as Harbour Defence Motor Launch 1392, which played a crucial role in the Normandy landings of 1944 — back from the dead. It’ll probably take another seven years or so of painstaking repair and maintenance work until she’s ready, but one day Sarinda will sail again.
The lungs of the city
“The sun sits piggy-backed on the shoulders of tall trees and joggers barrel past en masse. A parent stops his young child from picking up a cigarette butt,” begins this piece in which Jack meets the unsung heroes of Croxteth Country Park: litter-pickers-cum-leaf-sweepers-cum-all-out-action-people Chris and Tony of the Croxteth Park Volunteer Group. It’s worth reflecting on how lucky we are to have so many of the best parks in the north west here in Liverpool. But someone has to keep them in shape.