It’s just turned Sunday here in the UK. I’m sat nursing a bruised foot, shin and fingers. That’s what happens when you walk into a metal road sign, drop a heavy box on your foot and then try to fix a large hole in the fence with a Thor like hammer. Try is the optimal word. As the light failed the fence was still is still with hole. Lots of bruises with so little end products.
So I need calming. Time to look at family holiday photos. Only one place will do tonight. Switzerland. Yes definitely time to walk in the Alps and forget about the bruises.
A trip down memory lane. We were looking for somewhere different to visit. Had to be quiet. Had to be different. A couple of hours later we had arrived at the coast.
To the South Gare at Redcar on the north east English coast. The memories flooded back. I was born in Redcar, my childhood was spent here. I didn’t leave until I was 18. Not been back since, until now.
Redcar is surrounded. The North Sea on one side, chemical and steel works in the other direction. The South Gare is a couple of miles north of the town. It’s the southern breakwater of the River Tees. It’s one of those places where industry and nature have fused together. As a kid this was a magical place. I would walk here along the beach from the town most weekends. My old Dad would drive us here. So many memories.
Dad somehow getting me inside the lighthouse and convincing the keeper to let me sound the foghorn. Wow that was seriously loud.
Watching the anglers stand precariously on the edge of the sea walls as waves crashed in.
When Dad was too ill to walk too far, he would drive here and sit in the car watching the ships come and go.
Braving the storms to see the waves crash over the top of the lighthouse.
Coming here in the late 70s to see the blast furnace built. It was Europes second largest one. It looked like something from a Dr Who episode. Almost unreal.
Watching the steam escape from the rocks and surrounding ground when the blast furnace was in operation. Like a man made volcanic steam vent.
Taking Benji, our mad Beagel onto the beach at Redcar for a walk. Letting him off the lead and he bolted down the beach. Two miles later I finally caught up with him next to the lighthouse. Having a much needed constitutional….
Bunking off school to come here to watch massive new oil rigs getting transported out to the oil fields.
Seeing weather battered fishermen go into the little green huts always wondering what on earth was inside the wooden structures.
Searching for winkles on the rocks at low tied.
So many memories. I rapidly bored the pants off Hawklad retelling these and many more tales. Much was the same but some changes. Where did that wind farm come from.
But there is a sadness. The area is looking so run down. The Steel Works closed down with all its jobs. My father worked here. Many of my school friends got jobs here. All gone. So the Furnace is a ghost shell to a bygone era. It’s been a part of the local landscape for decades. It became part of how the town looked. It was the heartbeat of the town. And now it’s been decided that it is to be knocked down. Work has started. Those in charge say its disappearance will be a symbol of hope. Replaced with newer, better things. If only that was true. There won’t be any money. The people round here don’t matter to those in charge. I’m not the only one who feels that way. So it’s demolition is not universally welcome. Yes some see it as an eyesore. But others see the furnace as part of the towns heritage. A visible reminder of nearly 200 years of iron and steel production in this area. Steel which was used around the world including in the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So it’s destruction is seen by many here as cultural and economic vandalism. Akin to many uncomfortable truths. Get rid of the image then you can forget about the problem without addressing it. Just like how we move the homeless on from outside the Theatre or the exclusive Restaurant. Once moved you can conveniently forget about the poverty again, all for the price of a coffee and a pat on the back. The person is still homeless just this time out of sight.
So on this Sunday afternoon, one gnarly muppet took one too many photos. As many as I could featuring the blast furnace. Because when we come here again, it will be gone and the landscape here will have changed forever.
If your going to be a tree this is not a bad place to take root. Not a bad view at all.
Hawklad’s Granny thought so as well. One hundred paces away lies our garden and in a few weeks her ashes will get scattered there. In a quiet corner overlooking that view. It’s taken a while, a pandemic happened.
My mind goes back a few years. After my partner died, her mum would come out to see us every Sunday. She would always look out over that view. One Morning she quietly said
‘You don’t mind if my ashes are scattered in that corner.’
Of course not.
‘You are planning to weed it…..’
So my project over the next few weeks is to weed that garden corner. Clear the nettles on the other side of the fence. Clear that VIEW.
Feels like a landscape from say Wuthering Heights, or Jane Eyre, or Nicholas Nickleby, or the Secret Garden. All novels set in Yorkshire. Move 40 miles and it could be the opening to Bram Stokers Dracula.
Yes Yorkshire clearly can do Moody and Menacing. Maybe that’s why they filmed Garfield 2 just a few miles from here. 😂😂😂😂
For over a year our world constricted. It was a small bungalow, a garden, and a big sky. Very hemmed in. But now Hawklad is trying to take his first steps back into the wider world again. This means a few walks around the village and along the country lanes. Just a few steps and the views change. That makes such a difference. The world just feels like it’s got a whole lot bigger.
How often do you overlook what is so close to you.
Today we ventured out into the mist and the rain. No car needed. A walk from the house. In just over an hour we were back home.
Son was convinced to go as it counts as a new place. That’s number 9 of the 12 new places he set himself for 2019. A place so close to home yet this was sons first trip here.
A time machine could take us back to early in the century. We had just moved into the house. Within a few days with a map in hand the new couple in the village set off to explore. Twenty minutes later we walked hand in hand through this very landscape. What a wonderful place. Splendid isolation – must come here often. My partner never went again. Now I’ve been twice.
It was an odd feeling. Not sadness. More puzzlement. Why did we not come here more often. A place the villagers label The Hag. Maybe it’s because it’s a bog fest. Maybe it’s because the local farmers come game shooting here sometimes. Maybe it’s because it’s just too close to home.
The place has an eerie feel. Beautiful yet very moody. Although that new couple in the village only came here once. I’m sure this place holds some hidden memories. For that reason it’s going to be put on my running routes list. Let’s see what memory gifts it yields in 2020.