Sunday, 23 August 2015

Faded Britain

My boyfriend and I love going on trips, so moving to Norwich has given us the opportunity to explore a brand new corner of Britain. Although we've been here for two months, bad weather, visiting family and bee stings (thankfully not a bad one) have prevented us from getting in the car and taking a drive to one of the several places I have on my East Anglia bucket list.

Today we managed to get to Great Yarmouth. You've all heard of or visited those faded seaside towns from when, to the British, a holiday meant staying in a caravan park in a touristey seaside town and whiling away a few days eating fish and chips, ice cream and candy floss, making sand castles and throwing 2 pence pieces into slot machines. Sadly for these resorts, many Brits can now afford holidays that require a plane ride, so the money just isn't going into them the way they used to. The peeling paint and buildings in disrepair leave me feeling very nostalgic, not just because it's sad to see them going downhill, but because these places take me back to a brightly coloured childhood.

For my parents' generation, these resorts were still holiday destinations. By the time I came along, they were more day trip material with my grandparents. It was probably a trip down memory lane for them too. New Brighton just across from Liverpool was the main one, with trips to the fair and chips with salt and vinegar, and further afield was Blackpool, Southport and Rhyl in North Wales. These day trips were some of the highlights of my youngest years, before we moved to Spain. These towns are the epitome, in my mind, of true Britishness.

By my teens, I began to notice the decline of these places. Some of them are lucky enough to be rescued or have found money from other sources. Others are not so lucky. There is evidence of this in patched up architecture, missing signs and paint in desperate need of a touch up. But the best thing about these places is that they just keep on going. Donkey rides on the beach, ice cream vans, the arcades luring you in with their distorted music and constant clink of coins...

But it was a good day. The sun was out to begin with (before, in true British style, the sky clouded over), my hair was blown into a bird's nest and my skin whipped into goosepimples, and the best thing? We stopped for proper chippie chips on the sea front. And because I'm Northern, I had to have gravy.

It wasn't how I usually like to spend my Sundays, but it was a refreshing break from the norm. I missed my parents, I missed my grandparents and I missed childhood, but in that perfect, bittersweet way. Those good old British seaside towns might fade, but my memories won't. I hope they keep going a little longer.

Happy Sunday :)

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Shine Like The Sun

You know how it is: you're excited to start a new job, you have the initial exhaustion and nerves and learning, and then the newness wears off and you're faced with routine. And then it's a different type of exhaustion, it's that frustration of never having the time or energy for doing things you want to get done. Suddenly the only thing you seem to have any energy for in the evenings is vegging out on the sofa watching telly that you don't even enjoy.

That's how it's been for me these past three weeks. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to have a job, but being thrown back into full time work combined with tax issues, a spot of homesickness and having to run my own home have taken it out of me. And so, last Thursday, I had gotten myself into a real grump. Fortunately, I had someone there to listen and give hugs, and d'you know what? Getting it off my chest was exactly what I needed to do. I suddenly felt much lighter, and I told myself I had to stop being miserable and start being happy. So, that evening, after Chinese takeaway (comfort food does wonders), I sat down with my journal which, as mentioned a few posts back, I've been keeping especially to remind me of good times I've had. I set to work catching up on it, but not before glancing back at what I wrote during my last few weeks in Hamburg. And it took me back to a promise I made to myself, which had since been pushed to the back of my mind with all my moving and reluctance to leave Germany. I felt so surrounded by lovely people who thought highly of me, and I realised I wanted to be that person they saw me as, inside as well as out.  Not the nervous little mouse paranoid that I was a nuisance, an annoyance, and that nobody liked me, but instead the smiley, cheerful girl that the people in Germany had come to know me as. And one comment stuck out in particular: one of the most loving and selfless ladies I've ever met told me I shined like the sun, and to keep shining. And so I made my promise, I told myself I would feel like that person they described.

So, on Thursday, I told myself to stop being grumpy for no real reason (and honestly, there was no real reason, just a few little things that I was allowing to get to me) and that from now on I will remind myself to stay cheerful and grateful, and to keep repeating positive mantras. I'm in a new chapter of my life and I have lots of things to appreciate, and just because I don't have much time on my hands to do things I enjoy (reading, writing, being creative, for example) doesn't mean I can't make time. Life is good, it's high time I shine inside as well as out.