Sunday, 29 September 2013

Seaham - County Durham

A mild case of writer's block

A bit of an unusual way to start a blog post, particularly if it's about a lovely little town next to the sea (hence Seaham I guess). I'd planned to write about Seaham ever since I got back from it Friday a fortnight ago ('twas the start to my little travelling weekend). But, for some reason, words failed me and no matter how hard I tried, there were no melodious sentences coming together nor could I streamline on with what I had already written (trying to relate a quote from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to my description of Seaham was a lot more difficult than I'd imagined).I decided then that I'd take a couple of days off from it and get back to it eventually.

Arrival in Seaham
Perhaps it's because of a (or several) good night's sleep, or because the gloomy, dark and mysterious weather today reflects the atmosphere on the day I'd visited Seaham, but I woke up feeling really inspired. Maybe, I thought, it's time for a change of tactics - rather than describing simply the view, perhaps it's time to base my view of Seaham on my feelings. And that, my dear readers, is how this blog post will (hopefully/ maybe/ should be/ fingers-crossed-nothing-bad-happens!) roll.

The one-way passage to paradise

Great Expectations

They're totally normal - they help us prepare for the unexpected (obvious but yes, that's what they do). The schema I'd developed through my visits to other seaside towns in England (think Whitby, Brighton, Saltburn etc.) had me (I'd thought) well-prepared for whatever Seaham had to offer. Perhaps it was the quirky sign that I'd seen at the train station, or because the route I'd taken to the town's centre was a hidden passageway sheltered by the strong arms of trees that pushed the apex to meet the sky (an absolute visual feast that I gorged on immediately), that slowly, I got the feeling that expecting the usual (e.g. amusements, cliff lift etc.) was unnecessary and in fact, would divert me from enjoying Seaham to its ultimate potential. I abandoned my assumptions and prior thoughts about what to expected, and began my adventure.

One of the many quirky sculptures at Seaham
The feeling I’d use to describe my first impression of Seaham’s high street is homely. It was comforting to see the signs of familiar shops like Asda, Gregg’s, The Salvation Army etc. – its similarity to home made it easy for me to fit in. At the same time, the amount of independent retailers set off sparks of happiness inside me (I am definitely all for independent shops). The combination of types of shops was perhaps the most satisfying feeling in the most subtle way, something of which definitely had me starting to resume my bubbly and happy-self.

Seaham's own little art gallery - revamped from an old public toilet
But the satisfying feeling didn’t end there – oh no. If you arrive at the end of the high street and take a left from the art gallery (which itself was another satisfying find – not only because of the quality and uniqueness of the art displayed inside, but because of the genius behind the construction of the gallery itself – who would have guessed that such a colorful and beautiful place had been transformed out of an old and unused public toilet?), you’ll be standing in the middle of a long road stretching faraway into the distance, in the direction of (I think) Sunderland. At the same time, the sea and beach themselves quietly behind the road, waiting patiently for those to venture towards them. But if I were you, I’d delay this gratification and spend time exploring what lies ahead of you beside the road itself.

Wicked temptations - sweets from Tutti Frutti, The Sweet Shop

The Lamp Room cafe @ 20 North Terrace, Seaham
Whether you’re looking for interesting architecture, buildings oozing with history, a spot of tea, or simply a little bit more time to reunite yourself with a bit of materialistic luxury, everything was laid out neatly for the family, couple or lone traveler (i.e. myself – in a good way of course!) to utilize, all in one perfectly formed line (technically road). Who’d had thought that this little town by the sea would actually share similar features to what I’d witnessed and thoroughly enjoyed at Yarm?

The different shades of the rainbow - products from the shop, Leaf Bark and Berries

Humbles - another cute cafe at Seaham
The edible rainbow - sweets from Tutti Frutti, The Sweet Shop

The Black Truffle

If you do end up in Seaham for lunch, I suggest going to The Black Truffle – their scones are absolutely irresistible (luckily I don’t actually live in Seaham – otherwise I would undoubtedly gain quite a few pounds!) and they also have a small boutique selling designer-styled clothing with a touch of vintage, hidden behind the tables and chairs forming their cute café.

The Black Truffle - an eclectic clothing boutique and cafe; a girl's ultimate getaway

I absolutely loved the retro-ey (I don’t care if this isn’t a word!) feel of their café’s design, and was really surprised to find out that the place had been revamped out of an old phsyio’s clinic (when see a shower standing proudly in an unusually big bathroom, you know you just have to find out the story behind the place – or maybe I’m just a very nosey person in general ß probably the case).

Examples of the quirky design of The Black Truffle cafe

Perfect solitude

The lone traveller
I'm often recognized as quite a talkative person...hmmm...probably an understatement of how much of a chatterbox I really am. The point is, the gift of the gab can't flourish without contact with others. I'm comfortable with chatting to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. But sometimes, I like to spend some time being alone - seeing others that I know during that period would kind of tick me off (so stay back!!). It's not like I find solace in loneliness, but simply tranquility in solitude. Its a way for me to remind myself that not matter how many time life puts you off living, you can always do things to make yourself happy. And, THAT is perhaps the best and most satisfying feeling anyone could EVER feel in life.

Normally, my perfect solitude would be walking through a huge forest or at least somewhere with a lot of trees - it gives me time to imagine and think. In Seaham, I was left with the beach. I was a bit reluctant at first seeing as the weather was a bit rough. I soon fell in love with the ambiance there - waves crashing onto the rocky surface that formed the basis of the beach, gray clouds lingering just above keeping us hidden from the sun whilst visually contrasting with the multicolored rocks, pebbles and stones (excuse my lack of knowledge in geological terms), the sounds of dogs barking to their owners sounding more like a faint echo as I moved further down the coastline... All of these things might be less preferred to most - people often envision beaches with golden, soft sand, ice-cream trucks, colorful deckchairs etc. But for some reason, I absolutely LOVED it - Seaham offered a chance for me to be alone (and to go rock shopping - I seriously went home with a bag of rocks, no joke) without being near the hustle and bustle of daily life, and crowds of people.

Rocks - hours of fun produced by mother nature
To be charming results from, in my opinion, two key ingredients - 1) genes and 2) someone to fall for it, someone out of everyone else to notice it. Seaham may not necessarily be the ideal beach in everyone's mind, but I challenge you to give it just a little bit of time. For it's said that the patient one is often rewarded with great treasures. And THAT is undoubtedly applicable to this little town by the sea - you'll be longing to go back for many times more once you're, quite simply, charmed by Seaham.

Seaham's beach - the place for personal rejuvenation and thinking

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