Out There column

Lancaster Canal.
Lancaster Canal.

Memories both good and bad can come flooding back on visiting old haunts, as Morrissey, laments in the Smiths’ song ‘Back to the Old House’.

I’ve visited a few of my old stomping grounds in recent days, but on the whole the experiences I’ve had have been positive.

On Saturday I had to take my car to the garage and went back to one I used to frequent when I lived by the canal in the centre of Lancaster.

It was great to see Ant and ‘Scouser’ who have run Gillespie’s Garage on Alfred Street for many years.

Through small miracles and a lot of skill they managed to keep my old bangers on the road.

Ant was in excellent form and said plans to demolish the garage and redevelop the site had not yet come to fruition.

He said he wasn’t against plans to create a canal-side bar/restaurant on the site of the garage as it would help to regenerate the area.

However, if and when the redevelopment takes place, he hoped they’d be able to find new premises.

I said it would be good if more units were built for small businesses in the centre of the city.

Ant added that redevelopment would be welcome as the canal had become rather neglected and was awash with litter.

When I lived on the canal near Dry Dock – just a stone’s throw from Gillespie’s – the neighbours used to get together to have a ‘litter-pick’ along the canal.

We were always astounded by how much rubbish we collected.

On a happier note, Ant gave me a ribbing for going caravanning, saying it was for “softies” and it was “too posh” for him.

He preferred going off in his transit van with the family and “roughing it”.

Nothing wrong with that, but nowadays a toilet in the caravan is a must for me. Maybe I really am too “soft”!

Ant added that he loves nothing more than sitting out at night in his garden in a village near Morecambe and lighting up a fire in his chiminea.

He spoke with such enthusiasm that I went home that evening and had a fire at the bottom of our garden.

He’s right, of course, the simple pleasure in life are always the best.