The Cumbrian coastal town of Grange-over-Sands has long been one of my favourite Sunday afternoon destinations, its pretty promenade running alongside the salt marsh. It is beautifully kept by green-fingered volunteers and is just a nice place to unwind and walk and sit for a while at the end of a busy week, or to recharge for the next.
Between April and September, on the last Sunday of every month the prom hosts an artisan market. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few special objects for my home and gifts for friends, all hand-made and some unique. I promised a friend I would take her with me when I next visited, another reason to take advantage of a gorgeous Sunday. Her guide dog, Jim Bob, seemed to approve of his walk in the sea air and the compliments of stall holders and customers.
Inevitably, we made a few purchases and admired the efforts of the dedicated locals who tend the floral displays.
It was a wonderful bonus to discover a jazz trio has set up near the cafe, so we indulged in coffee and paninis and a musical interlude. Jim Bob enjoyed some treats and water.
We walked on, seeing in the flora the heralding of colder and darker times to come. The still resplendent foliage showed off its autumn colours.
Laden with our newly acquired treasures of house-plants, ceramics, glass decorations and candles, we strolled back to meet the homebound train, relishing the sea grasses as the wind moved through them, announcing the return of the tide.
Grange-over-Sands, or just ‘Grange’ as it’s known locally, was always part and parcel of family holidays in the south Lake District in the 1970s and 80s. My memories include an expansive golden beach – popular for kite flying and long walks – and an art-deco lido, always full of happy swimmers, and rather impressive. The town is small and pretty and has an air of gentility.
Moving forward three decades there is little sign of the once sandy beach, now transformed into salt marsh with wild marine grasses criss-crossed by briny rivulets.
Out beyond the Lune estuary the Irish sea meets the horizon. It’s the end of April but the day which started with sunshine now threatens a downpour as the grey sky becomes heavy with dark clouds. No matter, this is the north of England where weather can change in a moment and we carry on regardless.
Once off the train at the pretty, Victorian Grange station, a short walk under the subway leads to the beach and straight onto the promenade. It is lovely and well-kept, clearly very popular, especially with dog walkers, and has a nice little vintage-style café and children’s play area at the south end. Under such dark skies these photos don’t show just how lovely it is – in my opinion one of the nicest promenades in England.
On the last Sunday of every month from April until November, the promenade plays host to ‘Prom Art’, an open-air arts and crafts market where dozens of independent artisans set up their stalls, show off their talents and display their work for sale. Today was the first Prom Art event of 2018 and I decided to enjoy a coastal stroll and perhaps treat myself too.
There was a wide selection of art and craft work to look at from paintings, photographs, hand-made jewellery, textiles, ceramics, wood and metal work and hand made cards and toys. Everything on sale has been made by the artisans themselves and some, including one lady seated at a spinning wheel and another crafting something on her sewing machine, demonstrated their talents to fascinated browsers.
I love to choose items for my home which have a story, and to have met the artist and talked with them about their work – particularly the piece I am taking home with me – is quite special. One of my treats to myself today was a print of ‘The Walk’ by textile artist Liliane Taylor. Liliane, originally a fashion designer, told me that the original textile work is exhibited at the Atkinson Gallery in Southport; I shall have to call in to see it.
I am very partial to wind chimes and already have several around my house and garden. My second treat to myself was a marvellous chime made from cutlery. I have seen some of similar design, but this one grabbed my attention as the vintage spoons had been skilfully beaten and polished. No two spoons are the same and they look like beautiful old tarnished silver. No gleaming chrome for me! I chatted with the artist, David Bubb, about how he sources and crafts his creations. He and his wife, Sue, trade as Lovebubb and also work with wood and fabrics.
The black clouds above finally burst and heavy April showers poured down on the the pop-up studio tents as artists secured their exhibits, some darting into the shelter of their cars. It was also my cue, not a moment too soon, to put my purse back into my bag and move away from further temptation.
Bursts of sunshine made occasional appearances through the dense storm clouds, reflecting on the surface of the water and revealing the fells of south Lake District National Park in the distance.
The 1930s lido, where I had spent many hours of fun as a child, has fallen into dilapidation and is fenced off. I managed to take some photographs which still give an indication of what a vibrant and exciting place it once was. It has now been given ‘listed’ status as the only remaining art-deco lido in the north of England. It would be amazing to see it open again in all its glory at some point in the future, but for several years now its fate has been contested locally.
On the other side of the rail track, station-front side, is Grange ornamental garden which had drawn in a few visitors despite the wet benches and the imminent threat of further downpours.
Across the road and a little further on from the ornamental garden is the lovely community orchard. If the weather had permitted I would have spent some time exploring the budding fruit trees.
A few heavy drops hit the pavement and then the deluge followed. I decided to head back to the shelter of the station to wait for my train.