“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.

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”

Today I decided I was going to take a day trip to the Yorkshire Coast again. The difference this time was- I was going to drive it. I set off very early in the morning, grabbed a Starbucks, and then headed across to the coast. I had just a single high-speed road to take before a set of narrow, twisty country roads so it wasn’t beyond my abilities – that, and the roads were very quiet early on a Sunday morning. It was just very long.

Gannets
My trip started with a visit to the RSPB Bempton Cliffs. Context: The RSPB is the Royal Society of Birds. The Bempton Cliffs are a long stretch of sheer cliffs part of the Yorkshire coast which serve as a key nesting site for thousands of sea birds, many of them rare (especially in these parts) such as Puffins and Gannets. I have been wanting to go there for the longest time, because I want to see puffins (because who wouldn’t want to see Puffins.) Although the drive did get stressful on the approach to the cliffs, because of aforementioned twisty country roads, I got there OK and even managed to park OK. It was just past 10 when I had arrived, so the drive was just over an hour and a half. Bearable, especially with my excitement about the puffins to motivate me!

At the entrance to the nature reserve a very nice man from the RSPB talked me through my visit and what I could expect to see and he provided a helpful handout – for free no less – with detailed illustrations of the birds to help identify them.
I entered the reserve and began my walk along the cliffs, stopping at all the viewpoints to look for puffins. There were thousands of birds coating every available surface of the cliffs, sitting on the water and flying around the cliffs. (They were incredibly noisy too.) There were a lot of people there too, and I felt quite inadequate compared to the sheer number of them carrying all manners of binoculars, tripods, telescopes and DLSRs with what looked like a meter of lenses attached to them. A lot of people there were clearly Very Serious about birdwatching, and were planning to spend a long time at it. (I even spotted a man asleep, and snoring, on a bench and I imagined him spending his morning at a viewpoint, taking a noon nap before carrying on.) I felt a little sad when they could spot puffins and no matter how much I scanned with my camera on full zoom I just couldn’t. Looking for tiny little puffins among all those thousands of birds was a very strange, frustrating game of ‘Where’s Wally?’, with the picture far away and constantly shifting.

PUFFINS!!!
But, I did manage to see some puffins. Maybe not as many as I wanted/expected? But I was so close to the ones I did see which was absolutely amazing. I definitely agree with the RSPB information that they are slightly comical in looks, but I also found them incredibly cute. I could also see Gannets, Kittiwakes, Herring Gulls, Guillemots and Razorbills. (Basically all the birds listed on the sheet bar two!) I saw the very young, very fluffy babies of the gannets and kittiwakes, nestled in under a parent (Interestingly, and luckily, when I look over my photos I can zoom in and spot things I never picked up with my own eyes – an extra puffin, more babies. It’s pretty cool and I can see why most people were carrying about such heavy equipment – their photos must be incredible.) It was absolutely amazing and it would have been worth the drive just for that, but my day would get better.

My sister is in holiday in Scarborough with some girlfriends at the moment. So I asked her if I could crash their holiday for the day so I could see her- and she said yes :) I drove into Scarborough from the Bempton Cliffs, getting a little lost trying to find the car park I had chosen thanks to my GPS going wonky, but again just about managing it. I met my sister and her friends at a small, out of the way restaurant where we had food like hot sandwiches, burgers, chips, salad and nachos for lunch. It was all freshly made, very simple but flavorful and reasonably priced. 10/10. After a filling lunch we made our way to the beach, where we set ourselves up for the rest of the afternoon. I waded into the water with my sister for a bit, but then we both just lay down and chilled in the sun. Although the day had started out a bit grey, and I had started out wrapped up at the cliffs, it turned into a gloriously bright and sunny day and I was hot even after shedding all my extra layers.

It was really relaxing, lazing about in the sun with my sister and her friends, talking about nothing in particular and soaking in the warmth.

We then went into one of the arcades and wasted only a small amount of money playing the 2 pence a go games, then we did some quick souvenir shopping and headed back to the car. The walk back to the car was unfortunately uphill most of the way and I don’t think anyone was impressed with my choice of parking. :/

Although this was my first time taking passengers, thankfully the nerves about that didn’t get me too much and I drove everyone back safely to their accommodation. I pretty much dropped them off then set off back home. The drive back was way more tiring and I had to stop for some caffeine – even though it was late and I knew it would affect my sleep, I was getting worried for myself and my concentration. After getting a shot of caffeine in me I was OK for the rest of the drive. Thankfully the roads remained quiet and I got home in good time. I am interested to see how I will sleep tonight, if I will manage to wake up tomorrow morning, and how driving will be tomorrow… I’ve had a great day though and I’m feeling pretty proud for all the “driving firsts” I ticked off today, successfully.

“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