Tuesday, 12 April 2016

still following the coast path...

I have been bit lacking in motivation for the last few months. Combination of major changes at work and some re-evaluation of personal relationships have left me feeling drained and with no time or energy for anything else. It feels though I have lost sight of the 'little things' that were my original motivation for starting this blog - my way of hanging on to reality and appreciating what I have. I do know that I should be very grateful - I have a home, a job and a family that I love. But I struggle hugely with a sense of overwhelming loneliness at times, a feeling that hasn't got easier - at least not yet. I am very glad my sons are so independent and getting on with their lives but it has served to highlight that I need to find a way of either changing or accepting my current status quo. As a confirmed introvert I am beginning to realise this is trickier than it might seem... Introversion does not equate to antisocial and I crave and need the company of people. But increasingly, I realise there are people that exhaust you by their very energy and effervescence - fab company in short bursts but lousy listeners and full of advice and life tips that suit their personalities and not mine. I find I want to curl up in a darkened room after time with some of these very well meaning friends. And then there are others in whose company I could be unendingly - those who know when to talk, when to listen and when to sit or walk in companionable silence. The people who 'just know' when I'm ok or not - sometimes even via a text. Who can make the world ok by the gentlest touch or a hug... The trouble is, the closest of these friends have jobs that are taking them hundreds of miles away. And I can't quite work out how I'm going to manage the void...

In the interests of self preservation and to try to kick myself into action I decided to pick up my coastal wanderings last weekend, on the first properly warm, bright day this year - or at least the first I'd had time to go for a walk. I took myself up to Blakeney and walked along the North Norfolk Coast Path to Wells.

Beginning at Blakeney point the path feels a long way from the sea as you walk past the boats out of the water for the winter...


...beside the mud flats, drained of water at low tide...


The sea is a way out there somewhere, across a wide stretch of sea marshes...


There was a definite 'proper' Spring feel to the air, as I walked along in a T-shirt for the first time this year, enjoying the warmth on my skin and the heady scent of gorse, splashing vivid patches of yellow beside the path... 

The sea runs inland here in long winding rivulets through the salt marsh, with the odd boat looking as though abandoned...


Couldn't help thinking you'd be brave to think this was a sturdy place to moor at high tide and step across to the shore...


Just in the distance there you can see the thin blue line of the sea on the horizon...


...and in the foreground, real signs of new life and new growth everywhere...


I've always thought there was something rather beautiful about the fat buds on bare tree branches - such sense of imminent transformation. I just know if I come back here in a few short weeks this tree will be clothed in fresh green and much of the view through its branches obscured...


Approaching Wells, a flotilla of boats , some just lifted off the sands again as the tide begins to come in, but with barely a ripple disturbing the watery images...


I had every intention of a quick bite to eat before the return walk but somehow my enthusiasm deserted me once I'd sat for a coffee and the Coasthopper bus saw me back to Blakeney in a quarter of the time.

I have plenty to be thankful for and need to remind myself of that regularly. And what are a few miles between friends...

S x

  

Friday, 11 December 2015

Insomnia and coastal walks...

Sleep and I have never been great friends and just now we have really fallen out. 3-4 hours sleep counts as a good night and on a bad night...well lets just say sometimes the early dawn sees me still clockwatching. 

A couple of weeks ago, in the interests of continuing my trip around the coast and not wasting the weekend feeling grumpy after not sleeping, I got up and headed to the North Norfolk coast as the sun was rising. The skies were stunning as I was driving and still tinged with pink when I arrived at the stretch of shingly beach between Weybourne and Salthouse.


It was pretty cold, with the threat of a downpour very present, heavy black clouds over the sea...


...but there is something very striking about this coastline, even when it looks a little bleak, with its expanse of skies and sense of solitude, just a lone fisherman at the shoreside...


By the time I got to the nature reserve at Salthouse my hands were frozen and I was struggling to stand still, never mind take photos across the marshes...


I'm not sure if it was my mood or the atmosphere, but I found this beach a little depressing. 


It feels like a vast stretch of shingle which, that day, was being pounded relentlessly by the grey waves. The beach itself was strewn with starfish and even a few small fish and although they were splashes of colour and intricate patterns, felt a bit like the debris from some natural ill-event... 




I don't know how well you can see them here, but I don't think I have ever seen so many starfish - every few steps was another and another...


Even this boat looked abandoned on the shore...


By this time it was pouring and I gave up gracefully to retreat to the heat of the car.


I will try to complete the beach list but its definitely not going to happen before the end of the year. Perhaps by Spring, when life looks set to throw a few more challenges my way and I will really need to  motivate myself to find a new way forward. I am currently torn between willing the winter on and desperately trying to hold on to the 'now' so that I don't have to face my feelings which I just know are going to be as stormy as these clouds come April time. Life is so complicated.

And in the meantime, there is Christmas to manage. I have less than 2 weeks to get festive - superhuman effort required, but will get there...

S x

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Autumn walks...

I think this is the time of year for misty days, muted colours and cool breezes. There is a dampness in the air and, although the first few days of November have been unusually mild, my walks this week have been typical of that. 

Last Sunday I walked with a friend through the woods at Fairhaven Gardens. There were some slightly random things dotted about from a hallowe'en event the night before (spot the mummy hanging from the tree?!) but in spite of that it was beautiful and slightly ethereal in the mist...



Lovely autumn colours and low light...


Hazy reflections on the broad...


If it hadn't been so damp, I think there would have been a satisfying crunch underfoot...



Funny how you can live so close to somewhere most of your life and never know it's there. These are huge trees that dwarfed us...



Then this Sunday I walked with another friend along the coast from Walberswick to Dunwich. There was a stiff breeze off the sea but the light and the sound of the waves was just restorative.


I don't relish the slide towards winter and short grey days but there is undoubtedly something special about this season as much as any other.

S x



Sunday, 1 November 2015

escape to the top of the world...

Of course not the 'top of the world' at all really, but as near as I can manage. Things have been particularly challenging of late and its fair to say I have felt at a pretty low ebb. I think I'm beginning to understand what 'burn out' means. Not a place I ever thought I'd get to. My support systems seem to be slowly falling apart and I don't know quite how to put things back together.

In a moment of minor madness last week I decided to run away to the hills. Just for a couple of days. Scafell Hotel in Rosthwaite was my place of sanctuary and I walked to exhaustion...

The advantage of a degree of constant insomnia is that you can get more into the day (silver linings!) so I left Norwich at 6.30am, parked the car at 12.30pm and was walking up into the hills by 1pm.


It has to be said that the weather was about as bleak as my mood but I've walked in the Lakes in heavier rain so, undeterred, I set off up the steep path through the woods which takes you up onto the fell above Watendlath.


The advantage of the wet weather was that all the streams and waterfalls were cascading along, surrounding me with that soothing sound of moving water...


This was a bit of a trip down memory lane; I've walked this path a number of times before - kind of a 'laying the ghosts to rest' thing. This fallen down tree half way up jolted me a bit - I have a picture somewhere of three little boys sitting on here eating Kendal mint cake with their Dad...


The top of the fell may not be particularly high but, even in gloomy light, it is breathtakingly beautiful up here...


Dock Tarn has been the site of a number of picnics in the past - apparently its a good spot for wild swimming but I don't think I'd fancy it much. This time it was seriously wet underfoot and I had to go a bit off course to avoid being up to my knees in marshy mud. But so peaceful...


And just as I turned towards Watendlath the sun was trying to peep through with patches of brightly lit heather on the other side of the valley. In fact, there was a faint rainbow across this view but it just faded as I took the picture...


Over the top of the hill looking towards Watendlath Tarn...


And as I looked back the sun suddenly broke through the clouds just momentarily. Oh...and that small stream? That'd be the path I'd just waded down!


By the time I got down to Watendlath there was even a teeny bit of blue sky...



The only disappointing bit of this walk was that I'd promised myself a cup of tea at the cafe by the tarn...only to find, no cafe!!! Maybe too much to ask for late October but I was a bit frozen at this point and hot tea would've been lovely!

Had to make do with a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire back at the hotel instead...


On the second day I set off early again with a plan to walk all day, conscious that dusk was going to be an hour earlier with the clocks having gone back. From the opposite side of the valley, you can head up through old mine workings onto High Spy, then follow the ridge down across Maiden Moor, Catbells and towards Derwentwater. 


The pictures don't do justice to the range of early autumn colour - the trees were so lovely I had an almost immediate change of plan and veered left after crossing the ford (more stepping stones than forded path!)...


...to head along the riverbank towards Longthwaite and Seatoller...



...then heading up and back on myself through Johnny Wood...



At risk of sounding completely antisocial, there is something quite moving about having all this natural beauty to yourself for a while. I didn't see a soul, no voices, no music, just the rustle of leaves, a gentle breeze, the odd bird and the babble of water somewhere below...


I did get a little 'misplaced' though - having not taken the obvious path up direct from the village I couldn't quite work out where it went and ended up going a bit 'off piste' and wading through this bracken!


Oh of course! That's the path!!



This was a pretty steep climb with the odd spot of rain again...


but when you get up there you have fabulous views across Borrowdale and Derwentwater...


It was a bit cold, which hampered my picture taking, but by the time I'd walked back along the contours through Grange and past Castle Crag it was almost dark and I just caught the tea shop in Rosthwaite for tea and cake in the fading light...



I don't know that I have dealt with all my demons but it was a temporary bit of escapism. What's not to love about this stunning landscape?