Crosby: Another (Retro) Place

Antony Gormley's Another Place at Crosby Beach
Antony Gormley's Another Place at Crosby Beach

Although our little town of Glossop does offer some retro and vintage delights in the form of charity shops, Salliemoonbeam sweet shop and the Globe (best vegetarian pub in Britain!), we do like to venture further and wider into the North West on a regular basis.  Last Saturday, our destination of choice was the coastline between Crosby and Southport.  The night before, we discussed where to go and the decision was made. Excitement was high as we’d not been since the Holtster’s birthday in February. Southport  is like a treasure trove of charity shops… my hopes were high for finding some goodies. I specifically said to Aidan on both Friday night and Saturday morning that I would love to find another Italian donkey.

The view of Bootle and Liverpool at Crosby beach
The view of Bootle and Liverpool at Crosby beach

The landscape at Crosby beach is fairly unusual.  There is a greying bleakness to it, especially on a wind and rainswept October Saturday, that creates the backdrop to Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ installation in a perfect yet slightly chilling way.  The beach is long, wide and flat.  Sand dunes protect the rear, separating the sea from an ice-cream coloured selection of enormous, Georgian seaside villas. In the distance, a windfarm, the cityscape of Liverpool and the industrial boxiness of Bootle.  The perfect place then for Gormley’s iron men.

Pipes on the beach... not sure what they were for!
Pipes on the beach... not sure what they were for!

We must have spent at least an hour and a half on the beach; me taking pictures and Aidan making shapes in the sand… The installation itself is monumental. As you gaze across the beach, it gets more and more difficult to discern between iron and real men walking along.  Especially as people have started to deface the men in different ways.  Alongside the natural erosion of the sea, many of the men now display hats, walking sticks and random graffiti tags.  Although I deplore this, I have an inkling that this is probably what Gormley intended: for each identical man to become slowly individual.

An American Indian Mining version?
An American Indian Mining version?

I also discovered the panoramic function on my new camera.  Cue many attempts to use it:

New logo for the blog?
New logo for the blog?
Aidan on the beach
Aidan on the beach

Now, this is supposed to be a blog about all things vintage and retro…

Did I forget to mention that Crosby has the best charity shops in the North West?

Aidan had made a map of all the charity shops between Crosby and Southport.  The result is the biggest haul of vintage goods found in a long time!  The charity shops in Crosby were particularly amazing!  Crammed, cheap and cheerful; manned by little old dears who presumably were tickled by two young’uns buying up the tat from yesteryear. 

Vintage Fred Perry racket
Vintage Fred Perry racket

This was in a CAFOD charity shop in Crosby. I had no need of a vintage Fred Perry racket (more of a squash player), but it was good enough for a photo.  In this shop alone we bought: two retro owl print pictures, 5 retro glass jars for the kitchen, a Danish wooden tray with two orange plastic tubs, a gorgeous purple glass bowl and I can’t even remember what else!

Vintage Shop in Crosby
Vintage Shop in Crosby

Always a sign a place is on the up (in my opinion) – the vintage clothing shop!  This was a beautifully merchandised place; it all looked the right side of sumptuously-faded glamour. Oddly, the girl serving looked like a complete scally, not quite fitting with the shop itself… We ventured inside just as the heavens opened and a mighty deluge of rain swept through the town. It gave me time enough to try on a gorgeous ’50s dress: red cotton with white ‘paint’ spatters on it. Unfortunately, it didn’t suit my distinctly non-1950s shape.

From Crosby, we continued on through Formby and onto Southport. Now here I confess, I forgot to take the camera with me into the town.  Southport is a lovely seaside town. It’s like the posh version of Blackpool: complete with an old pier that has been restored and contains a retro arcade at the end that only takes old pennies. My grandparents still go there for a week every year for their holidays.  We had a whistlestop trip around the charity shops on the main boulevard, as the time was getting on by this point.

Remember how I said not once, but twice that I wanted to find an Italian donkey?  Well, Aidan found me not one, but two Italian donkeys in Southport! We (well, I) were pleased with the first one, but to find a second…!  I’d nearly convinced myself I was psychic yesterday with this! 

The final haul!
The final haul!

At the end of a long and very enjoyable day, the final task was to unwrap and deprice everything at home.  What a collection of vintage junk! I’m very happy with everything I got and can’t wait to introduce the new donkeys to the world at large.

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