Having secured a ticket for Everton's Europa Cup tie against MFK Ruzomberok I decided to make a day of it by combining football with butterflies, so an afternoon at Ainsdale and Formby dunes preceded the main event.
Sister #2 kindly joined me for the walk around the dunes and by luck we just avoided the last heavy shower of the day. It was my first visit to this spot since my uni days of conservation volunteering. I'd done various stints of marram transplanting, chestnut paling fence building, natterjack toad scrape enhancing and even one incident of forest fire fighting in my early 20s. Earlier than that we'd both been orienteering here - dunes are tough, but these ones are gentle compared to the infamous Merthyr Mawr.
I had my eyes open for Dark Green Fritillaries, and we were lucky to spot a couple. Along with scores of Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood, there were plenty of Common Blue (including this possible aberration) and Six-spot Burnet, a good number of Peacocks and a few Painted Ladies, one or two Large White, Small White and Small Copper and a single Grayling and a nice Fox Moth caterpillar.
After a good walk around I hopped back on the train into Liverpool and checked in to the relative luxury of the Adelphi before heading back out to Goodison Park.
Despite being a lifelong Everton supporter this was only my fifth visit - I've recounted some earlier memories of a few visits with my Dad in a previous blip. Goodison is now seen as a somewhat old-fashioned stadium, both in situation, tucked in between terraced streets, and in design and comfort. Still, it wears its history well, not least with the giants of the past (main picture) that currently adorn the exterior of the stands.
After a couple of failed attempts to build a new stadium it seems likely that the current proposal for a waterfront development at Bramley Moor Dock will come to pass during the next few years, so after 125 years and counting we need to make the most of the "Old Lady" while we have her.
Tonight's match was notable for a number of reasons: it was Everton's first competitive match during July that anyone could remember, it was Wayne Rooney's first competitive match since re-signing a few weeks ago and there were various other new starters.
As it happened, the event didn't quite match the expectation. Everton's pre-season rustiness showed, but a deflected goal from Leighton Baines in the second half was enough to win this first leg of the tie, with the second leg to come in Slovakia next week.
And if you're curious about Dave Hickson...
Butterfly Journal 2017
29. 27/07/17 Dark Green Fritillary, Ainsdale NNR.