Seaside Towns Out of Season, Day Five: A Little Trip Around My Head

In the interests of continuity, day five, a non travelling day, still deserves a short mention.

Today has been a catch up day; printing out orders, catching up with emails and texts, planning the second half of my journey, debating whether to venture out (after a wrangle with my PFC (physical fitness conscience) I decided I’ll get enough fresh air and exercise once I set off again on Thursday), throwing washing in the machine and repacking my case.

In between jobs, I got to thinking about how this long-planned trip had coincided with a big dip in my mental health.

At the risk of repeating myself (when has that ever stopped me, before??) I need to lay a little background for those who missed my Facebook post about ten days ago.  In a nutshell, I’ve suffered from depression for the last thirty five years.  After the first few years, which included severe post natal depression, a stay in hospital and several visits to a lovely psychiatrist, I did manage to stabilise, with the endless support of family and friends – and some little red pills.

Over the years, like most people, I’ve faced numerous stressful situations which, again with love, help and support, I’ve coped with.  The pills balance the serotonin levels in my brain.  They are not ‘happy’ pills, they are ‘normality’ pills, and in the last few weeks I’ve realised, despite what I thought,  I still need them.  It really is that simple.

Having pondered long and hard about posting a long, personal, confessional status on Facebook, I was amazed and hugely touched by the responses and messages, both public and private, that I received in the following days.  They confirmed my belief that we do need to pay regard to mental illness.  We do need to be open and unashamed if we’ve suffered, as so many have.  And it’s good to be honest about what has worked for each of us.  Not everybody needs anti-depressants, and not everybody needs counselling.  I’m waiting for counselling but I’m also aware that that alone is not the full solution for me.  At the age of sixty four, I’ve had enough time to get to know my body and mind, and if I’ve learned one thing in the last couple of weeks it’s that I need to trust my instincts.

Despite being a pretty sociable person, I enjoy my own company and never really mind being alone, so the last few days have given me a great opportunity to really think about things without interruption.  I’ve said before that I’m a great believer in everything happening for a reason – call it fate – and this project coinciding with such low feelings is just such an occasion.  I knew when I planned this trip that I was taking myself out of my comfort zone, I just didn’t realise quite how far I would be pushing myself through some very dark places.

Now, I’m happy to say, the fog is clearing, my mood is beginning to stabilise, and I’m feeling joy again.  My family and friends have told me they’re proud of me, and for once I’m going to admit I’m proud of myself.  I set off last Friday, feeling vulnerable and shaky, and arrived home yesterday, strong and optimistic.

 

One more rest day tomorrow, then I’m off again, for part two of this exciting adventure, which has turned out to be not just a road trip but also a winding journey around my head.

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And this is just one of the ways I recharge my batteries
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Seaside Towns Out of Season, Day Five: A Little Trip Around My Head

Seaside Towns Out of Season, Day Four: Recharging the Batteries

I don’t know whether it was the shock of the alarm jolting me out of a deep sleep at the ungodly hour of 6.30am or the fact that I was behind the wheel and, like a zombie, setting the Satnav only thirty minutes later, but this morning was the first in two weeks that I suddenly realised, after I’d been driving for an hour that I ACTUALLY FELT OK. The rain might be battering the windscreen but inside the car all was calm.

Today was not so much about capturing images, more about getting home and recharging batteries – cameras, phone, laptop and, most importantly, my own.

How the trip from Scarborough took me five hours I’ll never know. Admittedly I did take a last minute swerve into Sainsbury’s when the lumbering truck of hay bales I’d been following for the past few miles showed no signs of turning off on the farm track I’d pinned my hopes on. This was a wise move, as not only was I rewarded with a bowl of the most delicious porridge and mug of freshly brewed coffee, but by the time I’d finished (and resisted the urge to have a quick wander down the clothes aisles) the hay truck had trundled off and the worst of the works traffic had dissipated.

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A quick glance at Google Maps tonight confirms the fact that I’ve completed the most circuitous route possible across country from east to west, and despite my speedometer showing 70mph most of the way, my elementary maths tells me that travelling 157 miles in 5 hours gives me an average speed of approximately 31mph…..

 

Thank goodness for Chris Evans, Ken Bruce and the drama of the Oscars last night.

Having finally landed in Blackpool my afternoon was filled with unpacking, uploading images, and persuading the lovely man at Airbnb that I was due a refund for the missed booking. Happily he agreed.

I’m feeling a bit precious about the images I’ve shot so far. I always find it SO difficult to cull, conjuring up reasons why I might need that picture of yet another seagull on yet another beach in yet another sunset

However, I shall be revealing some of my favourite images in due course. Just keep watching this space.

In the meantime I’m planning two days of rest and relaxation before embarking on Road Trip Part Two.

Seaside Towns Out of Season, Day Four: Recharging the Batteries

Seaside Towns Out of Season, Day Three: Taking its Toll

Day three got off to a good start.  I woke up feeling better, my room mate hadn’t disturbed me, the breakfast was good (even the sausages that I’d said I didn’t want) and it wasn’t raining.

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My quiet room mate..😄

I picked up the car from outside Whitley Bay Comrades Club, where the balloons were still flying from the night before, set up the satnav and let my little Smartie take me on my way….

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The only problem with a satnav is when it gives you a choice of routes, and you’ve no way of checking which is the best.  I went for the quickest, and didn’t realise till I was well on my way that it involved the dreaded Tyne Tunnel Toll yet again.  This time I would be prepared.

At the first red light I unzipped my purse and peered in. Two £2 coins, a few coppers, a 20p and a 10p, not the £1.70 I was hoping for. Not to be daunted, I swung into the next garage, bought just enough petrol to get me the right change from a £20 note, extracted the £1.70 and put it in the coin holder by the steering wheel. Smugly, I drove towards the toll booth and threw in the coins. £1.50 registered. ’20p’ flashed up on the screen. I glanced in the mirror at the growing queue behind me and scrabbled desperately in the coin holder for the missing 20p. It wasn’t there. I knew I’d thrown the correct money into the scoop. A car hooted behind me. Angrily, I grabbed a £2 coin from my purse and threw it in. The barrier lifted and little Smartie edged forward. Tyne Tunnel 1: Jill nil.

I thought Whitby would be small and compact and easily accessible. It wasn’t. It took me three circuits of the town, two bridge crossings and four tours of packed car parks before I finally found a space and headed off with the trusty cameras.

Much as I loved Whitby’s quaintness it wasn’t really what I’d been expecting – yes, it was picturesque, yes, it had some interesting little shops (which I sailed past with only a quick glance – today was all about pictures, not purchases) and yes, it had boats and seagulls and crammed together houses. Maybe it was all the tourists that put me off.

Despite the filling breakfast, I knew I had to sample fish and chips in Whitby. It was an entertaining meal as the couple behind me were obviously in the early stages of a relationship. I lived through his divorce with him, his sadness and anger at the loss of his dogs (his ex wanted them even though she NEVER walked them, and then he went to pick the kids up one day and the dogs were gone. The ex had got rid of them. Cue long, significant pause) Meanwhile, it was obvious to me that the woman just wasn’t interested. In him or his divorce. She was making comments that subtly sided with the ex. Unfortunately he didn’t realise and ploughed on. I left before she’d given him a decision on whether she would join him on holiday. My guess is no.

 

 

Back to the car and three more tours of the car park in an effort to get out, finally following a large sign which stated unequivocally, NO EXIT THIS WAY. There was.

Next stop Scarborough, where I was anxious to check that my pre booked Airbnb was still available after messages from me had gone unanswered. Following the Satnav I found myself in an area that I can only describe as ‘dossy’. It was a square of grand houses that had seen far, far better days. Every front garden was full of rubbish – broken tables, chairs, bottles, cans, fag ends – and amidst the rubbish were pairs of scruffy looking men, smoking and looking menacing. My heart sank, and I actually felt quite intimidated. I thought about some of the less salubrious areas of Blackpool and decided I could cope with my own familiar run down areas, but not these in a strange town.

Being the sort of person who never lets anyone down I decided I’d just have to grit my teeth and stay the one night I’d booked. Stepping over broken glass, I approached the front door with trepidation. There was no doorbell or knocker, only a keypad whose code I wasn’t privy to. Feeling eyes boring into my back I knocked. There was no answer. I walked back to the car, sent a message cancelling my booking, and desperately searched for another room. Which is how I ended up feeling like I’d stepped back into Reidy Street when I arrived at my hastily booked room to find half eaten spaghetti hoops on the table, four naked children running around the house, their dad watching footie and mum apologising for the chaos. It’s a shared bathroom, there’s no lock on the door, and I need to be out by 7 in the morning as that’s when they go to work. I don’t care, it’s clean, warm and safe.

I’m now laid on the bed, surrounded by empty yogurt pots, cuppa soup packets, laptop, phone and cameras. I’m shattered from an afternoon being shown around Scarborough by a lovely couple who volunteered through my Kickstarter campaign.

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The McFlurry that kept me going……I must be feeling better

 

Tomorrow I’m homeward bound where I’m going to upload images, prepare for Road Trip part two and sleep. For a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seaside Towns Out of Season, Day Three: Taking its Toll

Seaside Towns Out of Season – Day Two: Mickleton to Whitley Bay

After my day of TLC and a bit of a shaky start, I set off for my first proper seaside stop, Whitley Bay.  Driving through a depressingly drizzly rain I turned a bend in the road and saw the most fabulous rainbow, which I decided was a good omen. A brief stop, a quick phone pic and then I was on my way again.

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Navigating roadworks, diversions and increasingly agitated requests from my satnav to turn back at every roundabout, I eventually arrived at my destination, somehow via the Tyne Tunnel, which twisted and turned and charged me £1.70 for the privilege.

First stop was a rather dated looking café, that I drove past twice by accident, and was eventually so overcome by thirst and the need for a comfort break that I parked the car and went in.  Fate was once more playing a part.  This was an unintentionally seventies style café, with characters to match.  From a list of seventeen (yes, really!) types of scone I chose a white chocolate and cranberry (after trying for the treacle and prune – there had been a run on them – honestly, no pun intended; and a mango and date – I know) As I waited the twenty minutes for my (rather flat) scone to arrive I was approached by a man on another table.  He was very anxious to know what I was doing in Whitley Bay, and proceeded to quiz me on photography, cameras, ’60s and ’70s pop music (his knowledge was exceptional), where I’d come from, and whether I’d ever photographed the queen (‘No’ Would I like to? ‘Yes.’) or any other famous people.  I managed to dredge up Paul Nicholas, Michael Ball and Lesley Garrett.  That seemed to keep him happy.

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By this time, everybody in the café had joined in.  It was like something out of a seventies sitcom.  I made a tour of the tables and distributed some of the SAE Blackpool postcards I’d had printed, explaining that I’d like people to return them to me.  These were really lovely co-operative people, who all nodded enthusiastically and put the cards away in their pockets and bags.  It will be interesting to see how many are returned.  Only Peter (the music expert) declined a card, telling me apologetically that although he could read, he’d never been able to write.  He shook my hand and wished me well.

Off I went to the seafront (see a few phone pics below) You’ll have to wait till I upload the camera images to see what I got up to there…..

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Seaside Towns Out of Season – Day Two: Mickleton to Whitley Bay

Seaside Towns Out of Season – Day One ‘I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way.’

 

Day One – I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way….

I wore my lucky necklace and…..

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……and my lucky ‘eat, sleep, click repeat’ bracelet

Setting off on a long planned road trip when you’re not feeling in the best of mental health and have spent the previous week hauling yourself out of bed and plastering on a smile sounds like a recipe for disaster.

However, I was determined to stick to my plans, and with the support of family, friends and dozens of Facebook acquaintances (a description  which doesn’t actually do any of them justice) I set off on the allotted day, with their encouraging words ringing in my ears.

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Day One was actually planned to break me in gently – an overnight stop in the middle of nowhere, with my brother and sister in law and a lot of TLC.  After the devastation of Storm Doris the previous day, I woke up to calm, sunshine and blue skies.  My mood was lighter and I was ready to go.

As I came towards my destination, I had to stop the car and take a couple of quick phone pictures.  The views were peaceful and soothing.

I got the TLC I’d gone for, good company, good food and a comfy bed.  Tomorrow would be another day – and the proper start to my road trip adventure.

 

 

 

Seaside Towns Out of Season – Day One ‘I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way.’