“He stands in front of the mirror with a net, hoping to catch something.”

I decided to test out my driving skills again today – I decided I would go check out Bolton Abbey and the surrounding areas so I could take advantage of the nice weather and go for a good (and I hoped scenic) walk. I’ve not been feeling well these past few weeks so I was a little bit nervous venturing out on my first day of really feeling better, but I thought to myself that there was no contractual obligation to complete the whole walk I had planned, I could turn back at any time if I started feeling weak again.

Of course I didn’t really want to turn back.

I set off at noon and the drive was much shorter than that to the Yorkshire coast, yet managed to be 100 times more stressful. The roads were narrow, and busy, and there were a million cyclists out and about to try and overtake, or worse, cyclists on the other side of the road causing traffic that side to verge into my lane. There were also many pedestrians and bikers… basically everyone was out in all forms today. That, with the narrow roads, and my unfamiliarity of the route, meant I was soon talking back to my sat nav and muttering under my breath at various hazards…stress relief ;) In the end, the sat nav took me to a random farm so I had to turn around and find my own way for the last couple of meters which was also stressful, then I had to pay £10 (!!) entry, only for there to be no parking anyway, so I had to squeeze myself into the tiniest space ever and after recently crashing during parking, I was so nervous, and there were so many people around, passing around and behind my car making it so so difficult. It was horrible. But I felt pretty proud once I eventually got myself into the parking space, without crashing, and got the engine off.

I changed into my walking boots and slathered myself in sun cream then set off. From the car park, I wanted to head to the Valley of Desolation, then from there head onwards to the Barden Moor and finally, ascend Simons Seat. I started off well, the route was sign posted initially and busy. Eventually, as the signs petered out and the walk became less pedestrian, I missed the turning to the Valley of Desolation and had to circle back to get to it. It was worth it though, as the valley was beautiful. Despite its name, it’s actually a lush forest, and there were two waterfalls, one really quite impressive one. It was also blissfully cool and quiet in the forest. (Outside of the forest, I was melting. And probably burning despite the sun cream.) I took a million pictures and then completed my circle and set off again towards the moors. Unfortunately, I started to get tired, even though there was barely any ascent. I made it out of the forest and onto the moors and then the walk started to very slowly, very painfully, start to ascend and I could feel myself struggling. I felt so tired.

I stopped, then pushed on, then stopped again, had something to eat, then pushed on again. But eventually I had to admit I could go no further – I still needed energy to get back, and then to drive, and I just couldn’t keep pushing myself on like that. I was so annoyed. I was close enough to Simons Seat for it to be frustrating, but far enough that it wasn’t just a case of pushing forwards for a short while more. It would have been a long, painful slog to complete my journey.

I reluctantly turned back, and then my mood lifted when I stumbled upon a big group of Grouse. My only other encounter with Grouse, I thought I had gotten a video of them flying, only to find I had not pressed record. So then I lingered, taking many pictures and videos. Unfortunately I couldn’t get them flying, but I was still amazed at how close they were, and how photogenic they were being. I was holding back and being as still as I could, but they didn’t seem afraid at all. I was amazed by them, and their incredibly funny bird ‘song.’ They are fascinating creatures. I laughed at the way they would sit amongst the heather with just their heads visible. It really felt great – to have turned back from what I wanted, to find something possibly even better. I observed them for ages, following them down the road as they migrated from the heather into the bracken. Then I lost them. But after carrying on for a while I found another one. Finally, I carried on further down where I would encounter one more.

I walked back the way I had come, which wasn’t too boring, as I got to go past the waterfalls again. This time, I tried to climb to the top of the big waterfall and I got pretty close. It was quite exhilarating, if not a little scary! I got some interesting pictures though.

I made it back to the car park just as the ice cream parlour was closing, and therefore wasn’t accepting any more customers :( Then I drove home, which was still stressful, although the amount of cyclists and pedestrians had thankfully decreased. It was a good walk, I think. I am super disappointed I didn’t get to complete the whole walk, but on the plus side I did get to see the Valley of Desolation, I got to see the Grouse (which I probably wouldn’t have if I didn’t turn back when I did!), and I did walk a good 4.5 miles which is not bad when still, probably, a little sick.

I did realise though that I paid £10 and didn’t even use it to go see the Abbey itself! I’ll have to do so next time… I’m definitely going to have to go back and make it to Simons Seat then too.

“He puts himself in the box and there’s nothing in the box but him, him and maybe hope.”

Various images from/of Filey Bay. Dog not my own.

The weather was absolutely stunning over the weekend, so I decided to go to the beach. I was ridiculously excited to go, even got up super early, although the clocks changing made me a little disoriented and I didn’t end up heading off until ridiculously late. This would become important.

I got the train to Scarborough, which was long and uneventful, and then I got the bus to Filey which was also pretty dull. I really just wanted to be there already. I was filled with anticipation every time I saw that strip of blue sparkling on the horizon. Once at Filey, I headed down to the beach. I took off my shoes and socks and waded into the water. Then I started walking southwards, following the coastline. And I walked, and walked, and walked, until my feet were numb from the cold water and tingling from the sand. I gathered rocks and observed whatever else I could find, took pictures and generally went slowly, enjoying the sunshine, the stunning scenery and the waves rushing over my feet.
I have been so sad lately. Well, not sad. But rather unhappy. There are a lot of stressful things going on right now and I’m not coping and becoming increasingly frustrated with myself for not coping. I wanted to escape from it for a bit, and maybe I did for a while, but then I discovered that I was on the wrong path for where I wanted to end up, and maybe something broke inside me. It was too late to do anything except accept that I had failed. And so, I ended up sat on a quiet beach at dusk, feeling even more sad. I had wanted to escape my feelings of uselessness, instead I had given myself another chance to berate myself- why can’t you do something as simple as read a map right. why can’t you do something so simple as be on time. you should have left earlier. you should have gone a different way. you should have gone faster. I felt so useless. I feel so useless.

I got the bus back to Scarborough, and then I got the train home.

On the positive – I went to the beach, the weather was beautiful, I gathered some nice rocks for my aquarium (just a few small ones!) and I didn’t spend too much money on this trip.

On the negative – my mood didn’t improve. This little black cloud followed me there. Won’t go away. I’m determined to be positive, no matter what, but positivity can only get you so far when everything you try, all the things you do to break that low mood cycle, don’t do it, won’t do it. It wasn’t meant to be like this at all.

“The sun also rises on those who fail to call.”

ScarboroughCliff pathCliffs and sea

{Four more images under the cut}

Monday, 29th August 2016 – I decided to make the most of the bank holiday and go on a little trip. I’d actually been planning a local walk, but one search led to another and when I stumbled upon a route along the North Yorkshire coast I knew I had to go there. I love the sea! And the weather looked like it was going to be ok. I was supposed to leave early and make a day of it, but I didn’t feel well when I woke up. I wasn’t planning on going, but in the end I got fed up with my moping and decided to just go and do whatever I could manage. By the time I’d made the decision it was already 11am.

I was going to Scarborough. I was going to walk along the coast in the direction of Finey, and see where I’d end up. Then pray that public transport would pull through and get me back to Scarborough so I could get the train home. There very little planning involved today. I wanted to be a little spontaneous, a little adventuress, and ok, maybe a little reckless too.

I got into Scarborough at around 1.30pm after a hideous, crowded and noisy train ride. There had been a kid sitting next to me who was whining the entire time, as well as kicking the seat, kicking me, and sprawling out across the dividing line of our seats. I don’t know which one of us was more relieved to reach Scarborough. I walked from the train station to the beach. Which was, of course, packed. Everyone, their entire family and their pets were out. Of course I wouldn’t be the only one wanting to go to the seaside on a beautiful bank holiday. Still. I was nervous now about how much I would enjoy this. The walk took me along the south sands and then there was a steep climb up into the cliffs. I…hadn’t been planning on going uphill. Another plus for this walk had been it seemed fairly flat. Thankfully once up on the cliffs it was fairly flat. I followed the edge of the cliff towards Clayton sands. It was hot as anything- I’d been prepared for a chilly but clear day, and was overheating in too thick leggings and double layered t shirt. It was a perfect day for a walk by the sea though. The sea was jewel blue, the sky bright and clear, the cliffs lush and green and the wildflowers were blooming. The walk got a little different once I was nearing Clayton sands as I had to go inland and then ended up in a forest for a small while. On a muddy, slippy path. Still, it soon opened up and there was Clayton sands. I stopped for an ice lolly and food. Then carried on. The walk so far had been reasonably quiet, but still there had been enough people out. As I drew away from Clayton sands there was no one. Just the sun, sea and me. It was perfect.

Soon there were holiday cottages to my right. And before I knew it I had made it the whole way to Finey. I hadn’t expected to last the whole way. I was going to give up at Clayton sands, but it had seemed such a shame to give up halfway, and actually checking bus and train timetables revealed I still had a ways to go before the last train. So I’d pushed on. And made it. I scrambled down from the cliffs onto Finey brigg. Then took off my boots and followed the beach back to civilisation. I had perhaps been overkeen to take my shoes off when I did as the way started extremely rocky and slippy. Thankfully I eventually reached soft, yellow sand. I ran into the sea and played a little in the surf, letting the water rush towards me and wash around my ankles. It was late (around 6pm) and the beach was blessedly quiet, and the light was low…it was so beautiful. I felt so happy. I wanted to stay, eat something, watch the sun set there as I played in the water, but…

Of course time was ticking so I reluctantly headed in land. I had ages to wait for the bus to Scarborough, then I had a wait for the train home. So I went to the south sands and got some cheap chips, ate them looking at the beach, all lit up by then.

Then I slogged home by train, exhausted, a little bored, sand in my shoes irritating me. But it was worth it. It was a lovely day, and it was good to get out, and I just love the sea so much and am happy I managed to get myself to it at least this once before the summer ends. Tomorrow, back to work and the usual routine. Which if I think about it now I am not looking forward to of course. But I spent a whole day not thinking of any of that, not even thinking about my anxiety , or even feeling anxious. It was wonderful.

Happy Dog

“This complicated, maze-like reality will soon be behind me and I will survive, yes I’m going forward”

The Tarn The TarnView of Ilkley

{Eight more pictures under the cut}

A miserable spring has suddenly switched to a bright, hot summer in the UK. I decided to venture out for a walk on Sunday – I figured that since I am now living in Yorkshire, I should make a start on exploring it. I decided to head to the Ilkley Moor, as I had heard it was very pretty and not too tough for a novice (and thus, someone so out of practice as I.)

I was a little nervous about a sudden turn in the weather (I mean, with the way things have been it’s not unreasonable to expect sudden snow) and nervous because it would be only my second solo walk. My first, I got lost, and I slipped and fell and gave myself a dodgy hip that still seizes up to this day. Thankfully, I would have GPS for this walk. I had planned out my route on the map. I packed my bag with items for sudden weather changes, lots of food, minor first aid items and change to buy something icy later. Then I set out.

I had one bus to take. I was not optimistic when this bus took fifty minutes to turn up. In the classic anxiety mind frame this was a sign, that something bad happening I’m always afraid of was going to come true.

I texted my sister. Be positive, she told me, with not, nor two or even three exclamation marks- but a good five. Stern and confident. OK, I said. It’s gorgeous out here. How’s that for positivity?

Honestly, the Yorkshire countryside, of the tiny amount I’ve seen, is really too pretty.

After a long and tedious bus ride I finally reached Ilkley. I meandered around seeking toilets. Found none. Faced the inevitable and started on my walk. Almost immediately I got lost. Nearly. I caught it quickly, thanks to the moving dot on my digital map, and got on the right path. My first milestone was The Tarn and I reached it easily enough after my initial slip. The route was mostly flat. The tarn did not look as big as it did on the map but the wild flowers and birds made up for its size. I settled down for a light lunch, not wanting to linger too long or eat everything at once, then set out again. The next part of the route was a steep, hot climb. The sun was strong and it had been a while since I’ve pushed my body in that way, my muscles burned with the sudden, unexpected activity. Behind me Ilkley was stretched out in its valley, more hills in the distance, and around me was sparse, dry moor interspersed with great rock formations. I climbed more. And more. Heart racing. Chest tight. I can’t do this I thought. I want to go back. I really want to pee. Then, a shining light. A small cafe- and toilets. I stopped off, checked my map then clambered on. The small rest had felt good but could do nothing in the face of months of inactivity. The path evened out and I could only feel relieved for a moment because then there was a big hill to climb ahead, jagged stone steps to heave myself up, to stop on, feeling awkward and in the way of everyone else who looked so relaxed…my racing heart may not have been purely the exertion, but also a certain anxiety, a keen self consciousness and embarrassment. I slogged on, and couldn’t help grin when I reached the top.

There’s a cheesy metaphor for life here, I thought. Once you are in the thick of it, it’s just as difficult to turn back as it is to go forward, and everything exciting and rewarding lies ahead, so you may as well brave it. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and instead of thinking look how much more to go think look how far I’ve come. It’s such a great feeling to make it. So much better of the regret of never finding out what you could have had, what could have been if only…

I sat down to admire the views, snack more and send a panicky text to my sister. Then I carried on. I must not have been paying much attention, too relieved at reaching my destination, that I took the wrong turn and ended up walking more of the moor than I intended. I can’t complain- the moor was stunning, the sun bright and warm, a cool breeze blowing, birds singing and a grouse, there in the distance, making its own distinct chatter. I wandered on, enjoying the flat, springy ground, the fresh air, the peace. And I got back to my path. My walk had turned more figure of eight than circular, and I missed having someone else to read the map for me, but my little moving dot reassured me everything would be OK.

I felt a bit embarrassed for being glued to my phone whilst walking. What must others think. I know serious walkers do not like GPS (the look on this one guys face at my uni walking club when I suggested it) and I know we all judge others for being stuck to their phones. I needed my dot though, more than I needed to worry about their scrutiny.

I walked on, and for a while it was good, but then it got boggy and I stepped off the path briefly to avoid a particularly wet, quick sand looking section only to find myself slogging through waist high grass, dry and sharp, thick enough to hide the soft ground so I couldn’t tell with every step how I’d be landing. I had gotten myself got lost. I was going in vaguely the right direction but I was off the path and it was hard going, not to mention I was conscious of what I could be disturbing with my big, clumsy steps. I was fairly certain grouse nest in shorter grasses, but not certain enough. Even though there were no signs, it’s the respectful thing to do to stay on the path when the grouse are nesting. I wasn’t sure if they were nesting, but you can see how my panic was growing, can’t you? And it’s funny, there were so many people around until I needed them as a path marker, something to go to.

Thankfully I escaped the long grass to a flatter, less wild section of moor and could slog up that back to the path, following my dot faithfully. And of course it would be upwards back to the path. I was feeling grumpy and tired again. I sat down to munch and rest, then carried on, keeping hold of my phone in my hand, so the dot was right there. What did I do before the smartphone? Got lost. Wandered around, almost in tears from frustration and helplessness, and struggled. That’s why I love the smartphone. And envy those who can live without them. Now I have GPS, you won’t take it away from me.

I do hope that one day, I won’t have to be led around by my dot quite so much. I wonder what it’s like to have a sense of direction and if it can be fostered, or if I’m just doomed to a dot lead life. ;)

Safely back on the path my mood lightened again. I was still too tired, too unfit for the twists and turns of the day, but had new determination to make it to the end.

I did make it. Going downhill was, of course, awkward and rough on the ankles, but far less tiring. I found an ice cream van, bought an ice lolly, sat down on a bench and texted my sister -“I made it! Second solo walk, success!”

I felt so proud of myself. I felt effing elated. Adrenalin coursing through me, it felt like I could go back and run up that hill. Of course, I didn’t. I just went back to town and got the bus home.

I watched the scenery outside the window and thought about where to go next.

“The more you pretend to be strong, I see your weakness. The more you bare your fangs, I see your pain”

woodlandtree cut into a castlewoodlandold wall1426111990876

{Five more pictures under the cut}

I went home over the weekend. I seem to be going home a lot lately. I don’t know why. My excuse this time was it was my sister’s birthday, mother’s day and I had a dentist appointment which I couldn’t avoid because I’m on wisdom teeth watch right now. Also my father was home for once, which meant I could spend a bit of time with him. I went home on Friday and my father picked me up from the station. I spent the evening quietly talking to my parents, and then doing some work. The next day my father took myself, my sister and her boyfriend for a walk/climb up Shutlingsloe. This is a walk we’ve done as a family many, many times. In every weather but sunshine. It seemed like it would be a good day on Saturday so we were optimistic that for once we wouldn’t be battling the elements – well, my father was keen to tease me about ice and wind anyway but I was optimistic. We set off late in the afternoon. The walk started with a steep climb on a narrow country road, entering gloomy forest and carrying on steadily upwards. The path is lovely – the pines are thick and tall all around and the ground is coated in fallen pine needles – it’s complete fairytale woodland. The smell of fresh pine is delicious too. The walk isn’t too challenging either. At one point the walk opened up and the path turned to wooden boards and I just burst into a run, for no reason other than I could. I’m fatter now and not anaemic, and I can run if I want to. I can run and then hike up a steep woodland path right after. It felt pretty great. My heart was racing and I felt slightly out of breath, but I wasn’t in pain or feeling faint. It felt amazing to be this capable. I just grinned at my dad and said “I can run!” and I’m sure he thought I was a little crazy. Nevermind. Every time I think I hate my body I will try to remind myself of how great that feeling was.

The walk eventually opened up onto grassy fields, the woodland becoming sparser. The views were amazing from our height. I have recently discovered that I can take panoramas on my phone and I was like a child with a new toy on Saturday, stopping at every viewpoint to play with it. I think I got some good ones. I think my family was annoyed with me lagging behind to take them. I think it is fiddly and time consuming to get the photos to align in high winds, and it’s awkward when half way through your panorama people end up coming behind you and you end up looking as if you are trying to photograph them.

As we got higher and more exposed it became colder and windier. So far it had been a pleasant day and I had been regretting not wearing a t-shirt. Well, I had to layer up then. We eventually came to the bottom of Shutlingsloe. I was a little nervous – I don’t like the climb up Shutlingsloe. It’s steep and exposed. I have experienced hill walking in such high winds that you literally couldn’t stand up. I was very nervous. I started off OK but near the top I ended up standing still, too scared to carry on. My sister had to hold my hand and guide me the rest of the way. It was nice on top of Shutlingsloe though, as it always is, with pleasant views of the countryside. It was crazy windy though, which was pretty typical too and I don’t know why I expected it may be different. We tried to take pictures of ourselves by the white pillar- signifying the top -and I’m sure there was a lot of stray hairs and squinting. I’m glad to have photos though. I currently have a photo of my dad and myself on Shutlingsloe in my windowsill from several years ago. I’m too skinny, and my smile is forced. I think it would be interesting to compare the two. I want to see how I’ve changed.

Of course, once up we had to go down. This was also a bit nerve-wracking, and I had my dad hold my hand this time. By the time I got down though I was fine. I was feeling pretty energetic, up for running all the way back, all flailing limbs like Phoebe in that FRIENDS episode, but I paced myself properly and let myself enjoy strolling back. It was getting late, cold and a little gloomy. But it was still pleasant, and it was great going downwards. We took a different way back so we could visit our (my father and I’s) favourite view point – the second to last picture shows the view from up there. It’s always quiet and there are some nicely placed benches to sit for a while and just soak in the scenery and fresh air. Which we did. Then we got back to the car and went home. I made supper for everyone, then retreated to my room to chill out, too tired to work.

Nothing much happened on Sunday. Just spent it at home with my cat and my dad mostly, although in the evening I spent time with my sister and her boyfriend. A little awkward, but I tried to be nice and enjoy myself and not let anyone know that actually, I wasn’t feeling very comfortable with it. My sister is very grown up now. I am still struggling to adjust.

On Monday my dad drove me back to Uni after a morning dentist appointment, and this was awkward as my room hadn’t been cleaned and the medication my parents don’t know I’m on and the chocolate I’m not supposed to be eating were all on full display. I felt very embarrassed, awkward and yet I’m hopeful that I atleast managed to hide away all the medicine packets before my Dad saw. My dad sat with me and helped me with some work then dropped me off at uni for my Japanese. I wish I could have spent longer with him – perhaps gone out with a meal with him, like we used to. I missed my dad when he was away, as he has been for a great majority of this year, and I wanted to spend time with him. Japanese isn’t going so well either. I skipped last week’s lesson because I just couldn’t be bothered, and I could hardly concentrate on Monday. My heart is no longer in it. I’m just so tired at the moment, that it is hard to really care about anything.

Nonetheless I made Tuesday and Wednesday OK days too. I went back to work on Tuesday and everyone was so nice, they didn’t tell me off for my sudden time off at all and they were all interested in what I had been up to and congratulated me on my new job. I was thisclose to quitting and I’m glad I forced myself to go back. It has been a really good thing for me volunteering. Anyway, I managed to wake up today and attend my 9am lecture, and spent some time in the library doing work. So it’s not too bad. I’m still struggling, but I am making positive steps to improvement, I guess.

I want to go back home and laze about with my cat, to be honest, though.