At the beginning of 2017, as one of my new year's intentions, I said to myself that I wanted to write more. A few more blogs, maybe documenting the change in the seasons in photos and words, and just enjoy it again as I used to when I was younger. I used to love writing song lyrics and tried my hand at a few nature poems when I was in primary school. Mum still has a poem I wrote about a curlew. It's a little faded now as I think it was pinned to the cork board in the old kitchen for a while. Somewhere along the way, I lost all confidence in expressing myself in this way. But when I went on my Scottish road trip last year, I took time out each day to reflect on how I was feeling and what I'd seen. Suzi had bought me a beautiful journal with crisp magnolia pages. I packed a fountain pen too. I don't want to come over all fancy, but I find scribbling in biro sends my handwriting into a spin. Being left-handed, writing with a fountain pen comes with its own challenges, but that's outweighed by my love of the smell of the fresh ink, and the sound of the nib gliding over the paper. After a day on the road, and after I'd eaten dinner and checked into my Air BnB, it became a nightly ritual. I'd always unpack my journal first, and place it on the bedside table. Reading lamp on, I'd relive the past day as those fresh memories were committed to the paper.
When I came back, I wrote a series of blogs about the trip. I was glad to have my journal as a reference point. Last summer, Ernest Journal, a magazine dedicated to slow adventures and craftsmanship (and one of mine & Suzi's favourites), asked me to write a piece about my North Coast 500 travels with accompanying photos. In autumn, I relived the trip again as I wrote an abridged version of my days travelling around the very northern tip of Scotland. This edition of Ernest Journal is out now if you did want to follow my trip. If you're in Hebden Bridge, they're available at both Heart Gallery and Snug. I'm in good company as there are other articles about photographic duo the Kearton brothers, bread making in space, and mapping Antarctic women.
The North Coast 500 trip was an absolutely amazing experience for me. I witnessed the most beautiful landscapes and nature and it gave me the confidence I needed to get back on track with my mental health. If you're interested in doing the route and would like to know more, I'm always up for a chat about it over a cup of tea.