If you’ve just landed on this page expecting advice on your 417 visa requirements you’re going to be sadly disappointed, because as readers of my blog will soon come to realise I have the attention span of a gnat and am very rarely able to stay on topic for more than a few sentences OR provide anything remotely helpful or useful. But if you want to stick around a while for some hysterically historical photos of my good self accompanied by a seaside jaunt into the “Great British Day Out” of my memory banks, then on your head be it. Today’s word, ‘emigration’, is merely to get me chatting, a departure point of discourse if you will.
So – I’m always being asked why we emigrated to Queensland, and rather than go into some sensible and long winded explanation (and let’s face it, no one wants to be bored to tears about that on a blog), I’ll basically just boil it down to what you’d expect, (with a whole big section about something else entirely in the middle), so for the final time I’ll state the bleeding obvious.
When I was a kid THIS is what was considered a great British day out;
Frankly I think the sandals in this photo are a superfluous detail; clearly I was never going to be able to negotiate this particular stretch of ‘beach’ in anything other than a pair of sturdy Dr Clarks. I still find this image tragic, astonishing and downright redonkulous in equal measures, (that last one is not a proper word; Nanna Prawn is not authorising the use of any old made up gibberish in say, the first CV you send out to a prospective employer when you leave school ). And WHY was I eating my sandwich like that? Pretentious little shit.
People who don’t live in the UK think we over-use anecdotal clichés but there are some honestly genuine factors to be considered when encountering “The Great, British Day Out”. It might be British, but there is only very rarely anything great about it. People who still live there will tell you that’s just rubbish……because they still have to live there. At the first glimpse of any weekend/public holiday sunlight (I’m not even going to bother to stretch that to ‘sun-shine’ because they’re more rare than a Yorkshire man who opens his wallet more than once a fortnight) a nation of families kick their kids out of bed or drag them away from the t.v for the miserable experience of a trip to the Coast. Cue predictable traffic jam nightmares that ensure you’ll spend at least half of your ‘day out’ trapped in an automobile with the engine running, a full bladder, soul destroying rounds of Eye Spy (in the days before DVD players in the back of head rests of all things), and in my case, no food or reading materials because I suffered from chronic car sickness (you’re supposed to keep your eye on the horizon and not look down…..pffttt utter nonsense). I believe my all time record was not being able to make it out of my own street without vomiting.
Clearly I was never a fan of the ‘Day Out’. It really does, almost always, either rain in various strengths, volumes and directions, or ‘cloud over’, which is much the same thing; low visibility but drier. This is a highly dangerous time on British beaches for pale and uninteresting children like I was because apparently in esteemed suburban myth folklore that’s when you actually have a tendency to burn more, “when it’s overcast”. Anatomical bollocks. It’s when you’re going to have a tendency to feel even more frigging nithered than usual in a northern coastal gale, and want to cover up every inch of exposed goose-bumped flesh. And that, incidentally boys and girls, is a bit of wordage probably passed down from some Nordic invaders: ‘nithered’ – to be cold in the extreme. Which might explain why the Vikings kept frigging around so much to keep warm.
Some kids are really hard core and can stay in the North Sea surf (or is that scum?) even in these inhumane conditions. Maybe their parents lathered them in lard like channel swimmers, who knows? I preferred towels and an oversized jumper donated by a willing adult at these points in the day. I don’t know whether there has ever been such a thing as ‘the wind break’ on beaches in Australia or America? I feel deep down that this could only ever have been an act of British stupidity; they are stakes of wood with deckchair fabric in-between that basically break, fall over/apart or away in windy conditions, that’s all you need to know really. The only thing worth going to the seaside for in the North of England was, and probably still is, fish and chips in newspaper and/or an ice cream. The ice-cream still arrives in a cone not the newspaper as far as I’m aware, just in case you were confused by my syntax there. Although come to think of it there were a lot of ice-cream-dropping-out-of-cone-onto-pavement rescue missions in my past which could very well have involved the newspaper at some point.
I actually paid good money a few years ago to have one of those ‘hot rock’ massages with pebbles of about the same gauge as the ones at Flamborough. It went like this; I laid in a darkened room listening to whales playing pan pipes, (or Peruvians making whale noises, I forget which one it is) with a warm flannelette towel barely covering the ample spillage that was me, and balancing on what felt like an ironing board, and feeling a bit sick because the scented oils were just a little too overpowering, and I’d positioned myself just slightly too far forward on the ironing board, and the combination of the bed pan shaped opening and it’s pressure on my gullet, was activating my gag reflex. I clearly remember a 17 year old streak of vindictiveness, all newly qualified ‘beautician-cum-manicurist-cum-masseuse-cum-big-fat-gypsy-wedding girl’ whispering seductively in my ear before I began to lose the feeling in my lower back, and quite possibly the will to live, that she was ‘just going to step out of the room’ and literally moments later I heard her screeching through the paper thin walls to her partner in crime next door how she’d managed to arrange the stones on the back of her latest client into the shape of a large knob and balls. All this whilst she hastily prepared in her intervening “stepping out of professionalism moment” what I can only imagine would have been her mid afternoon cuppa-soup (“tres healthy darling, water + 3 gazillion chemicals, artificial colours and flavourings and 3 teeny snippets of carrot peel which like, so count towards your ‘five a day’ servings of veg”). It’s no wonder she was so, so, slim, but it still does not account for why she was so, so, very orange coloured – and a bitch. I lay there wondering whether what I’d paid for was self improvement or ritual humiliation, and it makes the previous photograph of me at Flamborough Head look positively glamorous, which you would have thought would have been humanly impossible even if I did clearly think I was in St Tropez at the time it was taken.
I note sandals were even required IN the water.
I’m not entirely sure which of the landings I’m on in that first photo; I think North Landing had the lifeboat and something that passed for sand, and the added frisson of the occasional rotting seal so this one must be the equally unattractive South Landing. Either way, neither of them could have ever stretched their descriptive prowess far enough to include the word beach in their titles. They are more like a geological phenomena for men with protractors, ordinance survey maps, wooly jumpers and even woolier hair to ponder over. One is the scene of rescue landings one was the scene of smugglers landings. And can I just state for the record, I never ever found a much promised fossilised anemone here, or any Jet at Whitby, after 35 years of religiously scanning the beaches of the Yorkshire coast line because my junior school headmaster promised me these beaches were littered with them. To be fair he was positively ancient and was probably thinking back to his early childhood before all those toffs from the Victorian era cleared away anything worth looking at and studying off the face of the planet to store in their very own private collections for the rest of eternity.
Trying to dig through to Australia
If my friend ‘Mad Pat’ or my family ever read this post they’ll kill me because a.) They all love Flamborough Head and b.) They know I’m over exaggerating……as per usual. Although, to try and provide some balance to this piece I did try to find you something that would show you a different side to the place, and I kid you not, this truly crappy website is really the first one that came up on Google Search: Flamborough Head It makes an extravagant claim about ‘comical puffins’; there is never anything comical about yet another large sea bird shitting everywhere on the Yorkshire Coast. Never mind, happy days. Of course it wasn’t all bad, but the combination of long, dreary, (allegedly summer) days, and being the only child of a single parent, did occasionally take their toll and sometimes I really just couldn’t be bothered to ‘go on and run around and play like the other kids do’. I just wanted to be curled up somewhere warm reading a book or writing a story and lovingly crafting a recycled Kellogg’s cornflakes box to use as a cover (I’d put money on my Mother still having that one in the loft somewhere).
Plus, I have always been significantly much happier when the sun shines, when I can ignore the absurdities of life and run amok in a state of bliss; see exhibit a) – some may say I was clearly deranged from an early age, but if you do have to suffer the shame of 1970’s fashion you might as well swing your pants in public and with gusto. I’ve noticed recently that I still adopt a similar pose in moments of extreme happiness ‘a’la The Hills Are Alive/Julie Andrews-style-ee’.
Whilst Bridlington was admittedly a slight improvement on a ‘day out’ do not ever let anyone convince you it is some sort of ‘jewel in the crown of the East Yorkshire coastline’ – it is not. Cue the infamous monkey photo –
Just look at my face, I actually thought this was cool, and not cruel, and so did about 1000 other kids every day on the promenade. Though, on reflection, the poor thing was probably a lot warmer in clothes than just fur on the North Coast (the monkey not me), though perhaps not as happy as he’d have been if he’d just been left alone in the rainforests of South America where I believe the weather is quite a bit warmer and he may even have had a day out to some better beaches. A kindred spirit perhaps. He wasn’t quite as entertaining as Marcel from Friends but at least he didn’t bite me. And don’t think I am not acutely aware that I’m also sporting yet another disastrous hair style in this one; I just didn’t want to draw any further attention to it.
The other thing you need to know about ‘Brid’ is that it is chock full of amusement arcades, and frankly I never found that amusing at all. Well maybe once, when I won one hundred pennies on a one armed bandit with a one pence piece I found on the promenade (which at least taught me from an early age that if you see a penny you really should pick it up). Have you ever tried to carry one hundred pennies in a very thin plastic bag, when you are still quite young and your arms are not very well equipped to do anything yet, let alone perform the Securicor equivalent of a fully grown Brinks Mat guard? I’d planned all the way home to buy that most hallowed of items, a full tub of penny goodies from the sweet shop so that everyone at school would want to be my friend but was instead made to deposit 90 pence worth of it (under extreme duress I might add) into my junior savings account because my Mother had lived through the war years and seemed to think that I too should grow up knowing what it was like to be rationed. There was a particular type of withering look on a cashiers face when you tried to hand over less than a pounds worth of change in a tatty plastic bag that you’d been refusing to part with for three months in 1977. I forget what I did with the remaining ten pence, probably bought ten penny goodies instead; I was a kid after all and only ever had two dreams in life; to live somewhere that had better beaches, and to be a writer.
I actually appear a little less anaemic than usual in this photo; I must have had an unusually high amount of exposure to over cast conditions during that particular summer. Nice to see the sandals were holding up though. So where was a scruffy urchin such as myself fated to land up eventually? From an early age Aus-tray-lee-ah called me, not least because my favourite Uncle moved to Perth when I was three but because it was my epitome of a warmer country with white sandy beaches that didn’t have pebbles bigger than your own head. Like this one:
Lake Mckenzie, (Also known as the Crystal Lake, and my “I’ve just arrived in paradise moment” 2006)
So, to sum up, I am completely shallow and selfish and made my family emigrate 11,000 km away from the only home they’d ever known because I wanted to spend the rest of my life on better beaches in the sun. It’s that simple. Was that the answer you were looking for?
P.S Thanks for stopping by today, I’m having a blast with this blogging lark and I hope you are too. Hoping to figure out a bit more of the widgets and so forth to get my site all fancy nancy and what not. I’ve noticed that a lot of people blog on certain themes but I’m not that organised or professional, my posts will be random, something I want to share, something that’s made me laugh etc, or just something pithy and cranky because I just happen to be in that sort of a mood. I’ll have some posts soon on what life is like out here for a Yorkshire-exile, and whether my friends and family have disowned me yet, my continuing failure with growing my own vegetables, maybe some adventures with Domino The Wonder Dog, and some stuff about our travels around Australia. Nothing that’s going to change your life or anything, but hopefully something to make you laugh and make your own life seem much , much more successful in comparison. Toodle Pip.