I am in Seaham, County Durham, for the first time in 14 years. It is peculiar. I feel like I'm in 1991.
To explain more fully. In 1988 my parents bought a little two-up, two-down miner's cottage in Seaham, at that time, one of the most depressed areas of the UK. My dad has links to the area; he and his mother were evacuated here during the war and she remained good friends with people around here all her life. She used to enjoy coming up for visits to her old friends. I spent pretty much every summer here between the ages of 13 and 19, and then stopped coming. (Got too old to want to spend summers with my parents, really...)
But now my parents want me to clear out the relics of my childhood that are still here. It is very very odd to be here. The house is full of old furniture from my parents' house, sofas from my grandma's house, my old schoolwork, books I read as a child... there's a Proustian madeleine everywhere I turn, essentially.
Anyway, more of this tomorrow. On the way up, my mum and I stopped first at Boundary Mills discount clothing outlet which was marvellously full of old ladies looking for polyester mother-of-the-bride trouser-suits and also some awesome hats:
For dinner, we went to what is apparently the best vegetarian restaurant in the UK, The Waiting Room in Stockton-on-Tees. It is very quirky, with an incredibly peaceful atmosphere, old schoolroom furniture, and cute waitresses with good hats:
Also, the food was pretty nice.
Now, I have driven about 300 miles today, and had my senses assailed by objects from my past. I think it's time for bed. As a final word: last Tuesday I went to hear the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Proms. If you haven't listened to the concert yet, do it before it vanishes from the website, cos it was lovely.