To believe Yorkshire, I think you have to see it. No, I don't mean jumping on a train to Leeds for a boozy afternoon... I mean actually explore it. Find the road less traveled and follow it, no matter where you end up. It may be just be the way my mind works, the mind of a creative, but no matter how many times I drive across Yorkshire, whether that's the North Yorkshire Moors, the East Coast or otherwise, I find myself in awe of my surroundings. Driving between Staithes and the villages of Thornton Le Dale and Hutton-le-Hole I found myself pulling over, hazards on, to hop out and capture the scenery unfolding ahead of me. Growing up I never even considered the beauty surrounding me on my travels, my one and only interest was usually on arriving at the destination. As you get older, you start to realise that often the journey is more important than the destination and that the journey isn't a single linear path. It has bends, it has breaks and none of that makes you a lesser person. You can always change the path you're on, you just need strength and willing.
It's often claimed that North Yorkshire contains some of the most breathtaking routes anywhere in the UK, and who am I to argue? If you haven't had the chance to follow the road from Staithes to Whitby, go get in your motor vehicle right now and do it. You need to go to work? Tough! It's worth a sick day. You'll understand, when you hit the drop in to Sandsend, exactly what I mean.
I referenced my struggles in my previous blog post Adventures of a wandering mind, but this week has been a tough one. After a couple of years giving up countless hours of my life to a community project that was founded as a website, yesterday I took the difficult decision to close it to allow me the time to focus on myself and protect what remains of my mental health. Oh and I guess I've now got more time to put my own feelings and thoughts down, rather than blogging for other people. That's the good thing about the internet, what exists today is very simply removed tomorrow. Unless you're a celebrity with poor device security... Good luck cleaning that mess up! 😏 With the click of a mouse I had the power to take down a large website, and around 7 websites powered by the platform. This is why we're always told as developers to test our actions thoroughly on a staging environment, and not straight on a production environment. Poof, the website has gone and with it, your job. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. 👋
Relentless criticism, unfounded claims and more that I don't care to mention brought the curtain down on something that still had a lot of potential, and had helped many people find what they were looking for where I live. It had even raised a few thousand pounds for local charities and good causes. Anybody that has read Adventures of a wandering mind already knows that I'd made the decision to put more focus on to myself this year, and that already meant dialling back my community involvement. Not because I don't enjoy it, and get a warm gooey feeling when helping others, no, simply because putting yourself in the spotlight really brings out the worst in a small section of society and as someone driven by heart and not head - I find that hard to take and comprehend.
If there is one positive to come out of the situation, you are given the ability to quickly identify those who you can count on as true friends. When you pour your heart out to your social media buddies because you're truly at your lowest ebb, those that really care quickly come to the fore. You also find out who isn't interested in your troubles, they're just interested in the drama. People really love drama, regardless of the human impact and no matter how hard they try to hide it, they stand out like a shit in a fruit bowl.
Animals are amazing aren't they? They provide an immediate hit of dopamine when in contact with them, or even within visual distance of them. I love animals. I still remember spending so much of my time when I was young watching Steve Irwin, and soaking in his passion for the animals he cared for. When the news broke he'd been killed in a diving accident, I was devastated. How cruel, but also ironic that a man who devoted his life to the protection of animals was taken off the planet by an animal he just wanted to protect. I've always had a strong interest in wildlife photography, but it just isn't my forte. I once photographed a highland cow on a trip to Hawes with my wife, and fell in love with the animal there and then. Not because my photograph was great, no it was honestly a bit shit. I remember it vividly, two of them alone in a field, but they just wouldn't look up from their food-laden field towards the weird man with a camera. I captured it anyway, and I still loved the photo because it had a bloody highland cow in it. Since that day I've scoured Yorkshire on days out just to see if I could happen across another damn highland cow. Well, it only took 5/6 years to come across some but it happened today and man what a boost. I spent a good 10 minutes standing with my camera pointing over a wall at these majestic beasts, and despite the clear obstructions of fences and metal posts - I still love the photos. Today felt like the world was trying to right a wrong, or at least point out that things can be good and can be enjoyable. Okay, the weather was crap, but part of me loves a dark moody scene, which is exactly what I got so it was fine. Helloooo cinematic editing vibes.
I don't really believe in a higher power, I'd consider myself an agnostic if anything, open to the concept but would take some convincing. As somebody that spends a lot of time in churches photographing Christenings, Baptisms, Weddings etc, I've grown a healthy respect for religion and often enjoy listening to the service. Sometimes the earth has a way of trying to tell you things are ok - whether it's the cat (pretty sure it was a lynx, either that or it needed to go on a diet) that doesn't know me, or know that I'm friendly, that spent 5 minutes rubbing its self around my legs and even my face when setting up for sunrise over Staithes, or even the little red breasted Robin that bounced out of a hedgerow right in front of me on my way back to my car. Normal life events to some, but I like to tell myself it's a sign, and I'm not going to question it. Sometimes these signs are right in front of you, you just have to open your eyes.
Curiosity about life in all its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.
- Leo Burnett