A different kind of life...

Back in July I fled the stifling London heat and made my way (as so often) back up to North Yorkshire for some much needed breathing space and milder temperatures. I wasn't wrong. Whilst the days were sunny, they peaked at a very bearable 25C and the nights were pleasantly cool making them perfect for a good rest. I don't ever really want to wish summer away, but at the same time I don't think I could have been any happier with the lower temperatures. It's not the temperatures per se that really got to me, but the oppressive feel of the big city that just seems to close in on me when it's roasting hot...

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Anyway, I had escaped (which obviously sounds a lot more dramatic than it was, though a traffic jam on the A1 is not something to be sneered at!) the big smog and I had a plan. Well, sort of. I wanted to take my camera and explore life on the coast and maybe snap some of the people there. Since I'm usually very much drawn to the moors, I wanted to give myself a different view of North Yorkshire and the weather was obviously conductive to spending time near the sea (though I also love a good, blustery autumn day by the coast, but that's for another day). And Staithes seemed like a great place to do that since it has the wonderful mix of tourism and an active fishing industry. 

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I started the day with a cup of tea at one of the local caf├ęs and the idea of just soaking up some of the sunshine and seaside atmosphere for a while. After I had I settled down though, I simply started to observe. I wanted to observe the people walking past, the ones making their way to the beach, the couples, families and the people with hats. There's something about people wearing hats in a completely matter-of-fact and unpretentious manner that somehow always gets my attention and I can't help but try and take a picture. 

I stood still for a while and looked over the beach. I watched dogs running around, children playing, people sunning themselves and having fun. Being on my own meant I could just linger and be a bystander without worrying about anybody else getting bored whilst I waited it out for the (in my opinion) perfect shot. Or at least for the hats to be lined up...

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Beaches and hats aside, one of the main reasons I headed to that part of Yorkshire was the fishing. Not that I actually did any. No, it was the more the boats, the landing of fish and shellfish, the fishermen and all the work involved I was interested in. As a foodie, I like to see more of the backstory of the food. I believe that food photography is not restricted to having a plate of food and some ingredients in an image, but should encompass the preparation and sometimes unsightly aftermath (yeah, the pile of washing up waiting in the sink) as well as the source. I mean, in a way we obviously all know where our food comes from (in a general sense anyway, I'm not necessarily talking exact geographical location), but I believe it to be a nice reminder to really see it live and and just find out a little more about it all. 

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I was lucky enough to get chatting to one of the fishermen and to find out not just more about the lobsters and the fact that they're actually being sold to places like France and Spain, but also about his background. And it's during that chat that it emerged that Richard used to have a high-flying career within a completely different industry. A job that included everything from travelling the world to flash cars. And then, 5 years ago, he chucked it all in, moved to Staithes and became a fisherman. That's the short version anyway. His own words were that he's never been happier and wouldn't go back to the corporate world for all the money in the world. He's turned his back on all the outward signs of wealth and success to be successfully happy fishing for cod, plaice, lobster and crabs. There's obviously no doubt that it's a tough job (he did say so himself) even on a sunny day, but it's a lifestyle that brings you back to basics, to nature, and that really makes you realise how much we waste on superfluous things, status symbols and sometimes even relationships with other people that aren't in any way contributing to our wellbeing... 

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And then I went back to where I started what I love doing: I observed. I watched as the lobsters and crabs were landed, the boat was scrubbed and the plaice sorted. Whilst it might have appeared easy, there's no doubt this is one of the harder jobs and not one I'd be cut out for. But I am grateful for the food these men provide throughout the year and for all the hard work they put in so that we get our dose of omega-3 and beautiful shellfish dishes. 

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