Seaside Towns Out of Season Day Fourteen: The End of the Road (Trip)

Well, that’s it. Against all odds, I took myself out of my comfort zone, faced my fears and I did it.

It’s been quite a fortnight

Fourteen days, fourteen nights……..
Five Airbnbs, one Travelodge, four family homes
Fifty cups of coffee
Half a dozen sandwiches
Four Cuppa Soups
One cooked breakfast
Three fish and chips
One veggie curry
Thirty postcards distributed
Seventeen postcards received back
Sixteen pledge postcards sent
Five trips down memory lane
Endless hours of chatting
Fourteen blog posts
1500 Miles covered
£150 worth of incidentals
£200 worth of petrol
£180 worth of accommodation
3707 camera images
123 phone images
100 people spoken to
And at least three new friends


A few things I’ve learnt along the way….

Buying a large bag of popcorn and leaving it open on the passenger seat is not a good idea if you have to go round corners – not unless you’re happy to pick popcorn off everything you’ve thrown in the footwell for the past five days

You can’t eat sweetcorn with a biro* (well, you can, but it takes a long time)
Once opened, vacuum packed hard boiled eggs stink the room out *
A family sized pot of yogurt from PoundStretchers is not a bargain if you eat the whole lot in one go. With a plastic knife. Especially if you then feel sick for the next twelve hours **
There is a direct correlation between my mood and the level of the petrol gauge
Your Satnav is your best friend – don’t fall out with it.

And lucky jewellery really does keep you safe.

Travelling back today by a familiar route, has given me one last chance of thinking time. I’ve travelled miles and spent hours mulling things over in my head as the radio and satnav fought it out in the background.  I’ve battled rain, hailstones, wind and blinding sun.

I’ve pondered on subjects from the meaning of life to whether I could make it to the next service station toilets. In the privacy of my car I’ve laughed and I’ve cried; I’ve panicked and stayed calm; I’ve berated myself and built myself up again.

I’ve been spurred on by support from family, friends and strangers who have heard my tale.

Above all, it’s been an experience I’ll never forget, and one that has given me more, much, much more than I ever expected.

Service Station in the Sun

Thanks to every single one of you who made pledges; suggested ideas; encouraged me to start this journey and cheered me on when it was underway.

I couldn’t have done it without you.


*discovered at Yarmouth Airbnb

**discovered at Scarborough Airbnb

Seaside Towns Out of Season Day Fourteen: The End of the Road (Trip)

Seaside Towns Out of Season Day Twelve: Travels with My Aunt

When I sorted out my original itinerary, way back in the depths of winter, Brighton was my final stop. So yesterday afternoon, as I left the Brighton seafront and set off for Worthing and my aunt’s house, I mentally packed away my cameras and prepared to unwind.  Little did I know what Sandra had planned for me.

Dave’s 50 Year Old Painting
Sandra’s House

As an artist, herself, my aunt is involved in several local creative groups. It just so happened that the monthly Artists’ Breakfast was to take place the following day, so we were up and out this morning as the seagulls screeched and whirled above us.


Held in a local cafe, the Artists’ Breakfast consisted of a diverse group of interesting lively, colourful individuals.  I immediately felt at home.  For a couple of hours we drunk coffee and swapped stories, business cards and websites.  When we left I felt I’d made several new friends, and having distributed the road trip postcards for them to return meant I would hopefully hear from them again.

The sun was shining and the cold wind had dropped. It was the perfect Spring day to stroll by the sea and walk the length of the pier, and no visit would be complete without a picture or two. The cameras had been taken out of hibernation and were once more slung around my neck. I was ready for action.


With only an hour or so before I planned to leave we wandered into the tiny shops, tucked in the arches. They were like Aladdin’s caves, crammed full of handmade goods.  We chatted with one owner who made the most fantastic light fittings, then moved next door to a lovely man who sewed scarves and hats and all manner of fabulous outfits out of recycled materials.  He told us he’d been making clothes since he was seven. I left them both with postcards, and we headed back for lunch.

Light Art by Jessica Gill
Light Art by Jessica Gill
Sandra’s New Scarf
The Vintage Emporium

As I packed up the car and hugged Sandra I thought how lovely it was that I’d been able to make this trip, and spend some time with a fabulous aunt I’d not seen for a few years.  We’d chatted and laughed and cried and hugged and agreed we’d had the most fantastic few hours.

I started the car and thought about a conversation I’d had with Sandra fifty years ago.  Undecided about teacher training or art college I’d asked her advice.  She’d been to Leicester College of Art a few years previously.

‘Go there,’ she advised, you’ll love it.’

I went, I loved it – and I met the future husband.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Seaside Towns Out of Season Day Twelve: Travels with My Aunt


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Vivid.”


I love people who look a bit different, and this dad, pushing his daughter on the swings, was  in no way conventional.  What you can’t see is the huge earring through his left ear:  I can tell you it was pretty impressive. However, it was the vividly tattooed legs that made me swing my camera round, especially when seen in the same frame as his daughter’s legs, untouched by needles or ink, their only adornment being little pink socks and white sandals. It was the pure contrast I loved.


Freshly Dried

Just before my granddaughter was born, I found some lovely clothes in a local charity shop, washed, dried and folded them, photographed them – and put the pictures on Facebook.  It turned out that a good friend of my daughter’s had reluctantly donated the clothes to the shop, feeling sad as her daughters had outgrown them. She was thrilled they would be worn again by a new baby in our family.  I love a happy ending.



Freshly Dried

Life on Reidy Street – A Sonny Delight and Millie Moo Day

Today was a day of repetitions. From Millie.  And Sonny.  And Millie.  And Sonny.  And Millie….you get the picture.  It started at breakfast, when Grandma had a piece of melon, and went something like this:

Sonny: What’s that?  Grandma: Melon.  Millie: What’s that?  Grandma: Melon.  Sonny: what’s that? Grandma: Melon.  Millie: What’s that?  Grandma: Melon.  Sonny: What’s that?  Grandma: Banana.  Long pause.  Millie and Sonny stare at the melon. Sonny: No not banana, grandma, it’s a melon.  Millie (nodding emphatically and looking at Grandma as if she’s mad): Yes, it’s a melon, grandma.

(to add to the sense of farce there is also a bit of a Carry On moment when Grandma accuses Granddad of pinching a piece of her melon whilst she was occupied with scooping egg out of shells, and Granddad replies indignantly, “I never touched your melon!”DSC_6474DSC_6481DSC_6488DSC_6485DSC_6494

There’s stamping pictures, wild trampolining on the Sooper Dooper sun bed, followed by elevenses and when things all get too much just before lunch, Grandma suggests a lie down on the sofa, with herself in the middle – dummies allowed (sleep hoped for, especially for Grandma, who can do it dummyless).  They lie down, Granddad covers them with a blanket and skuttles back to his computer, and Grandma starts a story which contains Sonny, Millie, Squeaky Mouse and fireworks (all by request).  Sonny and Millie are mesmerised, sucking on their dummies like cartoon babies – but sleep (for them) is not forthcoming, despite Grandma’s voice growing ever more faint, like an old tape recording where the speech gets slower and slower and more and more distorted. In desperation Grandma suggests they all take turns to tell the next part of the story.  This goes down remarkably well and turns into something that sounds as though all storytellers are high on LSD – a fish called Ratty, mice wearing socks and fireworks that eat sweeties….

Off on a tram after lunch.  Having been beside herself with excitement, Millie decides she really doesn’t like trams after all as we reach the tram stop. She screams as we bundle her through the door and only calms down when Grandma tells her, excitedly, that its like being on a roundabout (what??!).  For the rest of the journey Millie repeats at regular intervals (to the puzzlement of Sonny and all surrounding passengers), “Like a roundabout, Grandma,”  This, along with, “We like trams, Grandma,” and “Stopping again,” at each of the 15 stops. Sonny, meanwhile, spends the whole journey pulling his hat over his face and shouting, “Where’s Sonny?!”  As they get off the tram at the Solaris an elderly woman smiles at them and tells Grandma and Granddad how well behaved they’ve been.  Sonny turns and growls loudly at her (“like a lion, Grandma.”) and they are bundled off just as they had been bundled on earlier.DSC03986 DSC03988 DSC03992 DSC03981

The exhibition is a big hit with Sonny and Millie, who find the toys, shift chairs and chase each other up and down the corridors and round the pillars, grabbing business cards and scattering them like confetti.  A drink and a biscuit and its time to reverse the whole process.  Grandma has a meeting in town so Granddad is in charge of the two monkeys the rest of the way home.  The last thing Grandma hears, as the tram door closes, is “Like a roundabout, Granddad,” quickly followed by, “Where’s Sonny?” She taps on the window as the tram sets off.  Two little red cheeked faces grin out, blowing kisses, and Granddad has that look that says, “Beam me up Scottie…’

It was all worth it in the end.  After telling Granddad she’s a bit hungry, followed by a bit dizzy, Millie gives a big sigh and says, “Having fun granddad….happy day.”





Life on Reidy Street – A Sonny Delight and Millie Moo Day

Scenarios of Daily Lies

Another little poem I wrote after being inspired by the poetry evening.

‘It’s lovely.’
Her friend tugs at the stretchy fabric
Glances shyly in the mirror
Turns and squints over her shoulder at the tightly encased behind
‘Suits you…..’ follows her back to the fitting room
Too tight, too short
And the colour drains her
“It’s lovely.”

‘Great to see you.’
Face half in darkness, smile like weak tea
The door opens wider, slow and reluctant
Traces an arc on the hall carpet
She glides past, eyes down
Trailing wafts of that old musky perfume
A wasted evening beckons
“Great to see you.’

‘Ah no trouble.’
He sighs imperceptibly
Diversion at the first junction
Series of red lights
Bottleneck by the roundabout
Grandma fumbling in her bag for things long gone
Ninety minutes of his life never to be repaid
“No trouble.”

‘Yes, it was good.’
She rolls over
Recalling the trembling fingers as the bra snapped undone
The hesitant wet kisses
A slight whiff of sweat as his shirt was removed
His face, red and contorted
Never drinking again
‘It was good.’
‘I love you’
I want you
‘I love you.’


Scenarios of Daily Lies