Still, it was nice to see the old girl, and we had a good laugh and some chips, so what more could you want? Jennie lives in Parbold, which is on the map, but on a grey line so it doesn't count. I keep telling myself that anyway, though the temptation is always there. Parbold is a very sweet little village, with a train station and a canal and a great little deli-cum-cafe - go if you get the chance.
We went into Ormskirk on the Sunday morning for lunch. I have said before how this was where I studied, at (then) Edge Hill College, now a University, and so we had a poke around the campus before we wandered into town. It's amazing how much it has changed in ten years. The whole campus has doubled in size, with the sports pitches now built on. Buildings with Thunderbirds detailing and acronym names have sprouted out of the earth, while the bulldozers were busy demolishing the classroom where I had Writing Fiction seminars. The strangest part for me was when we wandered into the Venue, the college bar. The dance area smelt exactly the same, a sort of musky scent, no doubt the product of years of sweat and spilt lager, but so evocative. It flashed me back in an instant. The LRC (Learning Resource Centre, or Lurk) was still there too. When I lived on campus I used to spend my mornings waiting for the LRC to open, so that I could go in and play on the internet on the shared computers. That's how wild my student days were.
Ormskirk hasn't changed much, though it's been tarted up a bit. There's a big compass in the centre of the town, showing that Liverpool is to the south, Preston's to the north, Wigan's to the east and Southport's too the west, which has the unfortunate effect of reminding you of all the interesting places you could be instead of Ormskirk. It also has a Waterstone's now, which it never did in my day (thankfully; I had enough student debt as it was), but strangely none of the shops were open. Sunday trading doesn't seem to have caught on here.
I hadn't planned on collecting Ormskirk on this trip, because, as I said before, I wanted to make it a special journey. But I was there, and Jennie could be my photographer, removing the need for another nostril shot, so I did it anyway. She did say that I would have to come back, and I fully intend to; there are two more stations on this branch, so when I get them, I'll revisit Ormskirk for that full bathe in nostalgia.
It doesn't have a sign outside however. I think there may be a post up on the main road, but we got to the station through the "bus rail interchange" (i.e. an alleyway from the bus station down to the railway station) so there was nothing. I'll have a look on the return. In the meantime, here's me with a platform sign:
And for an added bonus, Ormskirk has an ALF. For the first time, we've gone orange, which is an interesting choice. By "interesting" I mean "unfortunate". Still, it's more than most stations could muster, so bless it for the effort.
The Northern Line was broken for track maintenance works, so I had a rail replacement bus from Kirkdale into town. The bus passed Sandhills on its way, so I craned my neck to see if there was any advance in the works; from what I could see, it still looks like a bomb site...
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