It’s 6.30pm, I’m in my pyjamas, flat out on a bed in a Yarmouth Travelodge, lazily posting nougat and cherries into my mouth. Scattered on the bed around me are a laptop, two cameras, a notebook, a jacket, a pair of socks and a pencil case. I’m just glad the husband’s not here to tell me off for being so messy.
Today has been a busy day and it’s not over yet. There are cups of tea to make and blogs to write.
The satnav is on now on borrowed time. After an early start, a pretty painless drive along the North Circular, and seamlessly onto the M11, the satnav decided to play silly beggars. According to the screen Smartie and I spent five minutes aimlessly tootling across a wasteland like some disorientated beetle, whilst a disembodied female voice repeatedly told us to ‘return to the hilighted route.’ Eventually, without actually doing a thing we were back on track.
That wouldn’t have been so bad if there hadn’t been a second incident later this afternoon Confidently, I set the satnav to take me to the Travelodge. Defiantly, the Satnav directed me along a road and into dead end by a railway line and a lot of dumped mattresses. After several attempts, all with the same result, I set up directions on my phone. Which is when the fun began. Sally Satnav and Phil Phone were taking me in totally different directions. Following my nose rather than directions Phil and Sally finally got their act together and synchronised. Which is how I ended up on the bed in my pyjamas.
First stop on arrival in Yarmouth was to the Seachange Offices where I met Darren, who was as relieved as I was when I admitted I wasn’t too sure what we were meeting about. What had started as a casual conversation about meeting a friend of a friend had somehow turned into an informal meeting with a member of the Seachange Team.
Despite the lack of plan we had a good chat where I learned about the Seachange project, and Darren learned that I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing apart from packing the car, setting up the satnav and heading for seaside towns with cameras . The rest is pretty hazy, although I’m confident it will all come together in the end. It’s the way I tend to work: vague plan; a few details – then get stuck in and see what happens. In the words of a lovely couple I know, I’m the original ‘Wing it Wendy’. I call it being flexible.
Not only has today been tiring, it’s also been surprisingly emotional. As I left London this morning my mum said wistfully, ‘I wish I was coming with you,’ This wasn’t just a throw away comment. Yarmouth holds a special place in mum’s heart. It’s where her mum (my grandma) grew up, worked and met my granddad. She was a shop girl in the old Arnold’s Department Store (sadly now gone) and granddad was a cheeky chappie from London, who had come to mend the roof. I don’t know the details of the meeting but I do know they married and moved to London, where they subsequently had three children. Grandma often returned to Yarmouth with the children to visit her mother and two spinster sisters in the grocers shop where they lived and worked. My mum has very happy memories of those times. Days on the beach with a picnic and the promise of an ice cream if they were good.
I was determined to check out the site of the old grocers shop, which I also remember visiting as a child. I knew it wasn’t a shop any longer but I was shocked to see the house it had become. As I reached the junction where the shop originally stood, I had to phone my mum to ascertain which of the four corners housed the original Green’s Grocery Store. I was more moved than I’d expected to be as mum described the road, the building and the alley way next door which they used as a short cut. I took some quick phone pictures, ignoring the strange looks I was receiving, and sent them to mum.
I’d already walked into town to find a postbox, and had stumbled upon the original market and an ancient department store, with a suitably old fashioned cafe where I ordered tea, quizzed the assistant and sat and wrote the postcards to send to my £10 Kickstarter donors.
As I spoke to mum on the phone she remembered more and more details – the Rows, another tiny alleyway with a toy shop, the market, a church where she thinks her parents married.
I felt quite emotional as I wandered back to the seafront. Yarmouth was not how I remembered it but it did still have several majestic buildings, albeit past their best, and frequently converted into something pink and plasticky. It was cold and wet and I really wasn’t surprised that I had the prom to myself.
There was a faded glory about the town, but it was a quality I absolutely loved.
but for now……my bed is calling.