Happy Lancashire Day! I am so proud to be a Lancashire Lass and the opportunity to spend time travelling around our beautiful, diverse county with the mobile libraries has been a real gift this year.
It wasn’t always this way and growing up in Ormskirk I was always desperate to be more Scouse and less Woollyback. My parents are both from Liverpool and moved to Ormskirk before I was born and whenever I visited family in Liverpool I felt a longing to belong to the city. I grew up surrounded by the family stories, humour and character of Liverpool but lived in a place where my family had only recent history, a place that felt a bit of a no-man’s land – not Liverpool but not what I imagined the real Lancashire ought to be either.
I left and moved to Newcastle and then it made sense (funny how that happens). I became proud of my roots, and since returning to live in Lancashire I have realised that it is that diversity of landscape, culture, heritage and stories that makes the county so special. We are all Lancashire.
With the mobile libraries I have visited the vast, open coast, the hills and mills of Rossendale, the terraced streets of Preston, the flat farmland of West Lancashire, the picturesque villages of North Lancashire and, finally, closest to my home in Blackburn, the communities in and around Langho.
I’m going to try not to do the whole gushy thing about my final library day. By now you know how I feel about the mobile library service, the librarians and the communities they serve. Clive, who I had the pleasure of spending my final day out and about with, is no different in his passion, knowledge and commitment to the job and it was a real pleasure to spend time in his company (OK, maybe a bit gushy). He also sent me some great photos, some of which are included in this blog.
Clive and his van are based at the Whalley Depot and he had arranged for me to meet some of the people who keep the Lancashire fleet on the move. It was fascinating to see behind the scenes and to get just a hint of the amount of work it takes to maintain the many vehicles that I know I, and a lot of other people, just take for granted. Of course, I wanted to have a go at driving a gritter lorry, but managed to stop myself from asking, confident that the answer would be ‘no’ and that the mere fact of asking might put me on some kind of ‘not to be trusted near large vehicles’ watch-list.
I had the pleasure of a Two-Clive Meet-Up as well! Clive (on the left) had worked on this route until recently and still uses the library, popping in to catch up, see old friends and change his books, now that Clive (on the right) is on the van.
I know Clive (on the right) was a little disappointed not to be able to show me one of his really picturesque routes, but I was secretly thrilled to be able to see my friend Sheila and her two grandsons on this particular route. Sheila is a wonderful woman who I met through her work with Blackburn’s Children and Family Centres and it’s lovely to see her passing on her love of learning, books and stories to her grandchildren. The boys were really excited to be in the library and happily helped one of the other borrowers to carry her books home.
I am sad to have said goodbye to the mobile libraries (and I still have Clive’s illustration to do), but I’m excited to move on to the next phase of the project where I will be drawing together themes and images for the finished illustrations and deciding what to make as the final product.
Oh, and for those who have missed the ‘bus bladder’ updates, I eventually learned to take any opportunity offered to visit a loo, was brave and asked friendly borrowers if I could use their facilities and remembered not to drink anything other than sips of water. I will never know if I could have achieved the (possibly mythical) Bus Bladder!
#wearelancashire #wherelifefeelsgood #lancashireday