I am well aware that some wonderful creatures can spill out their words and feelings in continuous streams. Sadly not me, I think I’m too introverted, the words stick in my throat and when I eventually write them down, I immediately want to tear it up, burn it or rub it all out. Maybe I think too much, it feels very private – I hide my poetry journals. However, I did think it would be really lovely to create journal posts on my website; holidays, trips and observations, sharing images with a narrative, to help you understand my stories. After completing a 365 project in 2016, I really miss the writing element of storytelling and how well they sit with photographs.
I moved from the Northumberland Coast just as I turned into adulthood, swapping a beautiful desolate, wild coast and my childhood for the mountains and lakes on the west side of England. It was a huge emotional and profound shift for me, events unfolded very quickly and I don't think I processed the change very well. I didn’t realise until much later that it was my ‘Sliding Doors’ moment. I stepped through the wardrobe, only instead of finding myself in Narnia, I entered a lush green, Eden and a different life.
Over the years I visited home; family celebrations and final goodbyes. Always fleeting, but a couple of years ago my brother and I decided to spend some time visiting our seaside hometown. We walked for miles through the sand dunes. I’d spent my formative years tearing through the sharp marram grass, earning tiny scars on my ankles. We visited our Grandparents graves, our childhood home by the beach. We ate hot, salty chips on the promenade.
But most importantly we had a deep conversation about ‘home’, the people we had loved and how we felt about leaving this place and returning. As we drove back to the Lakeland fells I was very upset, sobbing in the car. I was upset because I thought it would have all stayed the same, my romantic view of my past, frozen in time. But of course everything looked and felt different, people had moved on, relatives had relocated to the city. I think I may have been a little naive and perhaps a little hopeful.
So now when I visit this rugged coast ‘home’ it is more of a conceptual feeling, of a life once lived. And when I sit still in the tall marram grass, I can still imagine that goofy ten year old, clutching her Observer’s book of seashells. I can travel back to a more simple time, a time of running on the beach, watching sea fret move in (oh I miss that, sea fret is one of the most beautiful things on earth). Evenings spent in the Mermaid Café with friends (a 50’s style diner on the beach, complete with a beloved juke box and booths – how lucky were we?). The smell of briny air, sun cream oil, the cry of the gulls, the taste of cheap cider and first kisses.
The Mermaid Café was bulldozed years ago and is now a boring car park, cue Joni Mitchell soundtrack Big Yellow Taxi. ‘They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot’.
All photographs were shot on my Hasselblad 500c/m using Kodak Ektar - February 2018