Join me on Vero.
[Crossposted from Livejournal with some text alterations and whatnot]
All I want to do is escape to the seaside at the moment. Don’t know why.
I looked at Google maps today and worked out that it would take me 46 hours to walk the 141 miles from work to Cromer although I’m not sure entirely how much of that walk would be practical. Moreover, as Google Maps says it would take me just shy of 6 hours to walk home the 19.3 miles along the A361 and Jurassic Way, I don’t think I’ll be walking to Cromer in any hurry.
I could catch a plane for £180 return for a three hour flight to Norwich from Birmingham or catch a combination of buses and trains on a 6 hour journey via Central London for an unknown cost or I could drive 150 miles for 3 and half hours and ramp up the mileage on my leased car. Either way that would be costly.
Of course, once there, what would I do?
Well first off I’d have fish and chips at Mary Janes. It would be a large cod-like fish with a bread roll (buttered) and a pot of tea. Even though fish, chips and bread roll is quite filling for me these days, I’d probably have room for an ice cream. So after my meal I’d meander down Garden Street towards the Esplanade in search of ice cream.
While I’d prefer to eat a sundae seated indoors, ice cream parlours in Cromer (or at least my knowledge of such) are lacking so I’d settle for a cone, scoopy rather than whippy, with a Flake™ , nut topping and green or red syrup. I could then take it down to the sea front to sit and eat while the world passes me by. Elderly gentlemen on their bikes will greet ladies promenading, children will laugh and play in the distance in a non-irritating fashion and somewhere on the pier, a brass band will play “Tiddly Om-Pom-Pom”. Seagulls would swoop and dive, eating discarded chips and fighting over cigarette butts and the sea would lap the shore rhythmically but calm.
Ice cream eaten, I’d walk along the pier to the bar at its end, taking in the smells of freshly cooked doughnuts and candy floss along the way. I’d pass young dads teaching their eager to learn young lads how to fish or catch crabs using a crab ladder from the pier. The sounds from distant penny arcades and fair ground rides mixed with the clopping of shoes against pier boards.
Reaching the bar, I’d have a pint of whatever local ale was on offer and sit near the window to read and watch the distant wind turbines. Newspapers these days are trite and full of misinformation so instead I’d have a book with me. Probably something by Scott Meyer, Mark Billingham or James S. A. Corey. Or maybe a British seaside travelogue akin to Attention All Shipping or Pier Review. It would be relaxing, unrushed and no pressure.
An hour or so later I’d be sufficiently relaxed enough to move on and I’ve not really thought about where I’d stay. Ideally I’d have a flat above a shop in the town centre, or maybe access to a little cottage down one of the back streets on the outskirts of the town. Failing that extravagance, I’d settle for a room in a B&B.
The B&B would be run by a couple in their late sixties. A typical guest house with a bar and a dining room for breakfasts, that strange fusty smell one might also experience in old caravans in the communal areas. The room itself cosy with pictures by local artists hung on the walls, tea making facilities and a table and chair in a bay window to facilitate writing. The view would be of the street below stretching down towards the coast, a tease of blue sea taunting from the distance and the occasional squawk from a seagull to remind me I’m by the sea.
Relieved of my belongings and refreshed by a shower, a return to the town in search of an evening meal would be on the cards. Something light though as the weight of fish and chips for lunch would be lingering. I imagine light refreshment in the form of a high tea of crab sandwiches, tea and cake would be most fitting but as such dining is not fashionable these days, I’d probably have to settle for something more substantial.
Again, my geography and knowledge of Cromer’s nightlife is lacking. Places to eat of an evening may be diverse but they may also be limited. The safest bet would be to head to a chain pub for a steak or something, alternatively British towns nearly always guarantee a Chinese or Indian restaurant nearby. Either way I wouldn’t really starve. If I wasn’t staying in a B&B, I might even consider a take away pizza or perhaps just something basic like home cooked bacon sandwich with sausage and chips. The chips covered in salt served from a cellar with a white plastic top, and vinegar from a fluted bottle with a glass stopper.
Post evening meal, retiring to a room where there is a TV would be in order. Crap evening TV, classic Doctor Who, Juliet Bravo or a British film full of tense drama from the golden age of British movie making. Something like Ipcress File. Feet up on the sofa, cosy and reflective of the days adventures.
Next morning, following either a hearty B&B cooked breakfast or a substantial home compiled bowl of cereal and cup of tea, thoughts would turn to the journey back. But who really wants to go home? Nobody writes about going home with as much passion as going away. What would I need to sustain this existence of fish and chips, beer and evening strolls? Even on the most basic subsistence the costs would add up and the life of a vagrant is not one anyone in their right mind would choose to follow.
So what would be needed is a two prong plan of attack. A job that pays enough and a house to live in. What jobs in Cromer? Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 would suggest a career in reiki, my former careers advisor Mr Brophy probably doesn’t have any literature on the careers on offer in coastal towns of Norfolk. I could write, but every Tom, Dick and Harry is a fucking Jeffery Archer these days. Similarly with everyone channelling the spirit of Lord Snowdon and taking photos, photographer is also off the cards and nobody really makes money from Youtube except Google.
Shop work is tiring, poorly paid and retail is on its last legs anyway. Farm work and labouring is joyless. And with industry on its knees in the UK, there are no factories anymore. Teaching is for mugs so office work, although mundane, is the only option really left for me yet once again, nothing really worthwhile. Ideally, I’d hope for just a few days a week, four long days with Friday off perhaps. If I could paint, maybe I could sell watercolours on the pier. If I could entertain, perhaps I could ride up and down the prom doing magic tricks and being rude to tourists. Beyond that, apart from inheriting from a long lost relative, winning the lottery or finding the proceeds from a heist, the only realistic way to sustain a life like that is through regular work, especially as there are no high street banks to rob anymore.
In real life, realisation would hit and I would probably end up gloomy returning to my job and home. I’d also have to consider Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 who would also be joining me on this escape to the seaside. But this is a fantasy. A fantasy where I run away with my wife, away from work and the ties of occupational commitment. A fantasy of a better life with three kitties, a wife and where a daily diet of fish and chips and ice cream wouldn’t end in a tragic death by heart attack or diabetes. So I can fantasise about any job or occupation. Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 would probably want to run a book shop, opening every day except weekends, while making a tidy profit from not having any people come in to bother her with stupid questions like “Is this a bookshop?” or “Do you have that book, I think it’s got a green cover?”
Me? My fantasy job would be rural Post Office clerk in a village stores, or maybe a specialist pizza restaurant, opening evenings only with dining by sitting rather than “random off the street when you’re quite ready Mr Chef” dining. Two sittings. Fancy pizzas. Expensive because they’re worth it. I would come in for a couple of hours a night, make the pizzas then go home, leaving the other staff to wash up and marshal the diners. Of course I’d get someone in to make the pizzas at weekends because only mugs work weekends. And, because I owned the place, I could choose when I worked and take 90% of the profits to sustain my lifestyle.
So there I’d be. Living in a seaside town with my lovely wife and kitties, making pizzas, existing on a diet of crab sandwiches, fish and chips and ice cream. Drinking beer at the end of a pier, watching the world go by and a television that’s somehow stuck on broadcasts of early 1980s Saturday evening TV. Living in a flat above a shop or in a cosy little cottage. Having escaped from the East Midlands in a lease car containing nothing but my gym kit and a dash cam.
[Cross posted from Livejournal with some editing and adjustments to text]
Ever so the romantic, to celebrate our third wedding anniversary, I took my dear wife to the East Coast the other weekend. The British seaside has a magnetic appeal no matter what time of year you visit. Bleak, grey sands lapped by a cold grey sea set against the crumbling facade of decaying Victoriana.
However, while the golden heyday of the British Seaside is still in living memory and some areas having received European regeneration money, the decay of neglect has been spreading deeper because of cash strapped council cuts. It is sad, like the passing or deterioration of an old friend, the end of a cultural pillar, but still there is a fondness for the seaside. Indeed, while some places like Scarborough, Brighton and Blackpool still remain popular, others like Bridlington, Cleethorpes, Margate and Weston-Super-Mare show the cracks and devastation of a lack of investment. I’ve visited most of the British coast now I’m in adulthood, enjoying all that the little towns and villages have to offer while observing with an educated eye, the places once popular with the masses, the places once money making engines, now clinging on with Damoclean effort.
Of course it’s not just the big towns that appeal to me, the smaller lesser known towns that started to form their own resorts only for them to falter with the arrival of mass international transport also appeal. As it is, I’ve always wanted to visit the Humber Coast, so with places still left to visit running out and the cost of getting to the Isle of Wight more expensive than staying two nights there, I thought a trip to the Bridlington area was in order.
Our journey began with a trip to Hornsea. Despite the cold, it was quite busy for a half-term and the promenade was quite busy. Even the fish and chip restaurant we stopped at for lunch appeared to have been busy with grandparents treating their visiting grandchildren to a half-term treat.
Hornsea is a nice quiet little town. Some of the once proud guest houses have been converted into old peoples homes but there are also lots of lovely houses there and well maintained public areas too. I was further overjoyed to see a Cooplands still functioning in the town too, indeed, I was able to convince the wife to treat me to a post-lunch Yorkshire delicacy, a Curd Tart, from there.
After lunch and a walk around Hornsea, we scooted up the coast towards Bridlington. Bridlington is kind of like a mini-Scarborough. It consists of two bays, North and South separated by the old port with an even older town slightly out of the main centre. The north side of the harbour town towards the Pavillion peters out into amusement arcades and fairgrounds, most of which, being out of season, were closed. Meanwhile, the southside, toward the former spa, beholds guesthouses (former and existing), fish and chip shops and the main residential areas.
There had been some regeneration of the south side. Lots of glass and concrete with shared spaces for vehicles and pedestrians. I couldn’t help thinking that whoever on the council agreed to the “Glass and Concrete” mix obviously hadn’t thought of vandals and the longevity of such materials. I can’t see this lasting as long as the structures they replaced.
The next day, we headed up the coast to Filey. Filey is a lot smaller than Bridlington but more grand. Georgian terraces atop the steep terraced cliff gardens leading down to the promenade where hotels, both newly refurbished and in the process of refurbishment, indicate a prospective gentrification of the area. Again, the front seems to have received a large sum of European grant money and no doubt a great deal of the residents that live there were so thankful for this they voted to leave the EU.
Still, that money brought lovely gardens and statues.
Further into the excursion, we headed south again, this time for Flamborough Head for lunch. Such a beautiful place.
We stopped briefly at Sewerby Hall for a post lunch exploration where there were exhibitions on Amy Johnson and Bridlington’s past. One part of the Bridlington exhibition allowed visitors to add their own postcard to the display.
We then headed further south again, past Hornsea towards Withernsea and Spurn Head. Withernsea is a lot more run down than Hornsea and it looks like it is getting the last of the European regeneration money as work still appeared to be going on. A once grand pier head is all that remains of Withernsea pier and this stands proud like an erection at a nudist camp. There was an amusement arcade, sadly closed for the winter season, and a lighthouse in the town centre which made for distinctive landmarks.
Hoardings decorated with old pictures of the area hid municipal works from the general public and showed what Withernsea once looked like. If Bridlington was a budget Scarborough, Withernsea was once a kind of budget Bridlington. However, it looks like a stray Hull bound bomb during World War II took out a fair bit of the grand livery and the town never really recovered.
Finally we ended our day trip at Spurn Head by driving through the Quatermass II like gas interchange at Easington. “Police” cars disguised as security guards buzzed our little car as it travelled along the PUBLIC highway through the interchange. No doubt high powered antenna and listening devices were pointed at us hoping to determine whether we were a threat to the public and several sinister government databases were also searched to ensure we were not ne’er-do-wells. But the reward was a lovely sunset at Spurn though sadly not to right to the end as that involved a three mile walk and we needed to be back in Bridlington for dinner.
New Year, new post. Not that I get much post these days. The very few sparse items that Postie posts through the letter box end up being either a bill or an appointment reminder. It seems that social media, computers and the social cancer that is Facebook have reduced the need for communication with distant peers to a series of likes and half-arsed comments. Gone are the days of writing a letter, sticking it in a postbox and waiting eagerly for a reply.
The time has come. The moment has arrived. 13 years later someone on Facebook has decided that Gnomepants was offensive and needed to be changed. Of course, I could have kept the name had I been the keeper of “official documents” bearing the said name, but I’m not, so I simply won’t use it. No loss to me.
Since then I have been trying to find a replacement realm in which to lurk and read facile updates from people to whom I used to talk to face-to-face on regular occasions before the advent of social media and we all became anti-social. As a result I’ve managed to get back onto lots of old social platforms most of which, recently, seem to have had a population boom of millennials all not using Facebook. Sadly I don’t know many people in real life who use anything other than Facebook to launder the minute details of their lives and all the social media sites that are potential threats to Facebook’s dominance don’t allow the importing of friends list details from Facebook, thus ensuring Facebook’s dominance. But no matter.
I have rediscovered my Tumblr account, my Apple radio station (Listen in Apple Music) and that I’ve actually had a Reddit account for donkey’s years (https://www.reddit.com/user/stegzy) and even a Digg (stegzy) and del.ici.ous! (also stegzy) account wow! I’m so retro. As I’m also “in with the kids” you can find me on Flickr (stegzy.gnomepants), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/stegzygnomepants/) and Snapchat too.
Of course I’m still on the mainstream Social networks like (Twitter [@stegzy] and Google+ (also as stegzy) and also Ello and Diaspora (also as stegzy). Of course there is also Livejournal and WordPress (where I still post occasionally) and Blogger (http://stegzy.blogspot.com) which mostly features adds from Pocket and Feedly. I’m on video platforms like Vimeo and Youtube as stegzy too.
Hopefully using IFTTT will aggregate all my various social feeds to Tumblr and occasionally allow it to post to the Stegzy Gnomepants Facebook page (which Facebook have allowed me to keep for now). Alternatively, locate me on http://www.muckybadger.co.uk or http://www.stegzy.co.uk.
So there really is no excuse to not being able to contact me. Just don’t try doing it through Facebook, as I won’t answer.
Florida women take on culture and stuff.
Walks with a Westie in a beautiful county
Going undercover to investigate the Lynchian Mysteries.
Emotions as messy as my hair.