“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.

uri_mh1487720008757uri_mh1487720102263I’m looking through some of the photos I took over the weekend; the sun was shining and it was warm, so I headed out for a walk at a local green space. I’d last been there when it was snowing and it wasn’t too different, still a winter landscape, but the warmth and brightness and stillness of the day made up for the bleak surroundings. Eventually, I even found a patch of snowdrops. Spring is finally approaching. It was wonderful to get some air, and get some movement, burn off some of my restlessness from anxiety. I listened to an audio book and the birds singing and felt a calm I desperately needed.

(Sadly my camera battery died so I only had my cellphone to take pictures but well, that’s not a deal breaker in these times is it, it just means a sad lack of zoom.)

After my walk I went to the city center to what else, shop. I got my brows done and ate out for supper as a treat, a comfort outing but not excessively (I was pretty good about staying away from browsing so I didn’t end up buying lots of stuff I didn’t need just to cheer myself up!) The next day I went out to shop again – I got more fish!! I bought ten new white cloud mountain minnows and two cherry shrimp. I’m quite taken aback by how many fish there are, it’s a little overwhelming, and I am fascinated by the shrimps…They are a little creepy looking but maybe also cute. I’m not 100% sure about how to care for them but they seem to be doing ok anyway. And thankfully none of my fish (read: my boisterous danios) have eaten them. Yet? I hope not yet, they were surprisingly expensive.

Tonight I had my dreaded Japanese test. I can take small comfort in the fact that I don’t think actually studying would have helped that much? In the sense that I massively struggle with remembering kanji, and the test was pretty much a kanji test. I’m trying to be annoyed, but mostly I feel resigned. After writing yesterday’s post I have come to an acceptance, I’ve not given up yet, but I’m accepting that I’m not in the right headspace for this now, and it’s ok not to do well the first time. Failure is not the end of the world, it’s just a bit embarrassing, and a lesson to be learnt.

I can’t believe it’s only Tuesday . I’m eager for the weekend when I get to see the last of the Opera North fairytales – Cinderella!

uri_mh1487720063442

“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.