Thursday, 15 March 2018

Emily Bronte wrecked my marriage

“Our marriage was fine until you read Wuthering Heights”, he said in his accusatory tone, accosting me in the hallway.  I looked round in bemusement as though rallying support, but it was just the two of us.

In that moment I didn’t know whether to burst out laughing or argue.  Instead I froze to the spot and waited for him to go on and explain his thought process on what seemed initially a preposterous claim.

But he didn’t explain; rather, his opening gambit was over, and his glare told me he was waiting for me to explain myself.

On the surface his comment seemed outrageous and his tone of blame caused feelings of defence of Emily rise within me.   Our relationship wasn’t fine at all so the first part of his claim was outright wrong.

Still, there was no denying that something had shifted since I read her book again.  After all, ‘making a shift’ had been my purpose in this, my third read through of Emily Bronte’s great novel.  Maybe this noticeable shift was what he had perceived?

A deep and productive conversation on the topic was out of the question, since he wasn't interested in reading books at all, let alone Emily’s masterpiece.  Where could I even begin explaining the 337 pages I’d just consumed again?

After my miscarriage I felt sad and flat.  I didn’t know what to hope for, because I’d lost myself.  I had an emptiness about me and I wanted to feel… something.  Anything.

A thought blowing past on the breeze suggested I read Wuthering Heights.  Just as I’d received a clear message to read the book the first time, aged 20, a similar thing happened again age 34.  It came at a time I needed to go inward and find myself, both as an act of remembering who I was and to find a new me to help propel me forward in the next phase of life.

My recollections from earlier readings of Wuthering Heights had been its raw power and real emotional energy: the very things I was lacking.  The first time I read it I took up running (through wild fields) and put the book down in outrage for 2 weeks when Cathy died.  My visceral responses to its messages told me Emily held the key to me feeling something real again.

The persistent yet vague feeling I had about wanting to leave my husband was an ever-present nagging ache, a fateful knowing that it ought to happen despite daily attempts to ‘make it work’.  That was a scary place to be with 2 little ones and feeling very low on self-confidence.

Could Emily help me get my mojo back?

Come to the dark side

There’s an obvious struggle in the book to warm to any character.  Emily challenges the reader constantly with characters that are cold, selfish, competitive and downright tiring.  She helped me to remember that we all have a dark side or shadow self.

We all have characteristics we’d rather hide, so we can pretend they don’t exist and project a more palatable external version of ourselves.  Emily’s characters didn’t hide much: they were real versions of themselves.

I needed real and raw.  The word ‘passion’ is frustratingly overused and banded around during the most innocuous of circumstances, but in Emily’s characters passion was evident by the bucket-load.  Emily reminded me I wasn’t afraid of passion, but I was sorely missing it.

That constant mask-wearing we both did was soul destroying and had me asking who was he and who was I?

And what could I possibly make of myself and my life if I didn’t know the answers to these questions?

Can love ever be unconditional?

Another pertinent question Wuthering Heights brought up for me was this: despite our unpleasant characteristics, are we all worth loving anyway, or are there conditions attached to the love we’re able to receive?

Throughout this relationship I felt I was only worth loving if I conformed to a set of characteristics that were dictated to me.  Yet these very characteristics shifted constantly.

The insanity of it was seeking approval in order to become something I never wanted to become anyway.  This was not a one-way street.  Did I love him unconditionally?  No, I didn’t.  I’d been trying to repair with a sticking plaster something that had cracks deep as a gorge.  I felt the sting of his criticism, name-calling, freedom-snatching and ‘my way or the high way’ attitudes on a constant basis.  I didn’t love that for sure, plus over time the chasm between us had eroded whatever concept of self-love I’d ever possessed.

I always desperately wanted to be good enough.  Emily reminded me that I might already be that.

Of course, things were set to deteriorate further when I started being more me.  Emily also reminded me that when dynamics shift in relationships, such as when one person changes and the other doesn’t, things get tough.  Just look at Cathy and Heathcliff’s final living scenes together! (ch. 15).

Emily goes to great lengths to create Heathcliff as utterly unlovable, before demonstrating that Cathy loves him wholeheartedly and eternally regardless of his characteristics and he reciprocates that love because they are soul-bound.  They cannot help it, nor do they want to help it.

But was it unconditional?  Can there ever be such a thing?  My reading of it was that Cathy was so sure they had unconditional love she went ahead and married someone else, but Heathcliff wasn’t too pleased about this (quelle surprise).

Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but Cathy seemed to die of grief and self-starvation first and foremost – her actual death during childbirth is a separate issue as she’s already delirious and ever so poorly prior to childbirth.  Does she start starving herself when it turns out that Heathcliff’s love wasn’t unconditional after all?  The message she seems to be sending to herself is that “death is better than living without love”.  But please, don't get hung up on this.  Love is available in many forms for us all, always.

Returning to the question - can love ever be truly unconditional between fallible human beings?  I guess the answer is no.

Eternal love

Yet do not lose hope!  There’s still the never-ending part to cling onto!

By this point in the blog, I’m almost referring to you as Reader.  I said almost.

Yes, the never-ending part of it all.  The “we’re not quite done with each other yet thank you very much” part.  Wait a minute, do some people call this romantic?  This is where it gets super interesting: contemplating the dichotomy of being a separate person yet ‘as one’ with another.  The notion of personal freedom and the possibility of eternal love for another coexisting.  There is separation and yet no separation between each one of us.  We will gravitate towards our soul mates, regardless of bodily life or death.

In matters of the soul, we are eternally bound to those we love, for love never dies thus the soul never dies.  Anything other than love is a lie and we’ll journey on through eternity with those to whom we are bound.  Got it!  The Hallelujah moment arrived.

Emily had taken me so far above the realms of whatever vibe I currently coexisted with, I almost entered another plane just from reading her book this time.  Cold and dark I think not.  More like supreme!

Some people might speak of love that never dies and some people might hope for it.  Not many people go ahead and write a book that is as literal an explanation of never-ending love, as Emily did.  Making a mockery of the notion “‘til death do us part”, she goes to murky and literal lengths to explore the adventures of the soul after it departs the earthly body.

Heathcliff actively wants to be haunted by Cathy, as evidence of continuation of their connection.  They are certainly not 'done with' each other, not by a long way.

Anyone who passes this off as a mere ‘Gothic theme’ or obsession with death is missing Emily’s point entirely.  She absolutely means what she writes.  You can make up a story as putrid and visceral as you like and still, love is all that matters.

Emily gave me back to myself

With her full throttle themes of love and death, she took me to the outer bounds of my being and reminded me with full force that my marriage was nowhere near cutting it.  Not even faintly close.  It had the harshness, the coldness, the starkness, the competitiveness and the selfishness.  But at the risk of sounding like the Black Eyed Peas, it left me asking, ‘where is the love?'

The only thing haunting me was the absence of feeling my own soul fully.  Do we all want connection to something greater than ourselves?  Do we all want connection with purpose and meaning, in whatever form that takes for us?

I’m not setting up Cathy and Heathcliff as my role models, far from it, but there was no denying their characters possessed an energy that felt real.  My relationship at that time did not bring with it the kind of never-ending soul connection that I wanted to continue a moment longer, and it was certainly never unconditional.

Whatever our souls were made of, it was definitely not the same thing.

So I set out on a mission to find me, and I would - however long it was going to take.

In case you’re wondering, none of these musings passed my lips, for if they had, you know where they would have fallen.
Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Making peace with Scarborough

Wall mural on Blands Cliff, Scarborough

For most people, Scarborough is a great place, full of nostalgic holiday time joy, a traditional British seaside getaway.  It’s a popular day out for many, with a report indicating it’s the 2nd most visited place in Britain, outside London.  Jam packed with history and natural beauty, there’s no denying it’s got a lot to offer.

I’ve made no secret, however, of spending the first 38 years of my life with a strong dislike for the place.  For me, it’s been a very long process of coming around to Scarborough.

In this blog post I’m going to set out why I didn’t like Scarborough, to set the record straight with myself as much as with anyone else.  Over the past few years I’ve had people look down their noses at me whilst offering nuggets of advice such as “life’s what you make it”, “be grateful for what you’ve got” or just downright telling me I was plain wrong.

Thanks for the advice folks, but feelings are never wrong.  Unexplained, unconscious, or perhaps not yet worked through, yes, but never wrong.  Feelings are our internal guidance system and we all run on our own time schedules.  So, let’s delve into it.

What have you got against Scarborough?

It started when I was very young.  Every year we’d come to Scarborough on the Sunday school trip and every single year something went wrong.  Analysing it now, the reasons seem ridiculously trivial, but I guess they built up and compounded in my young mind:

One time, playing in a ball pool on the beach, a boy attacked me by smashing plastic ball repeatedly in my face.  Worse still, my Dad told him off (prolonged and loud) in front of everyone.  The embarrassment was acute.

Another year we went for a donkey ride and my crazy donkey broke away from the pack and belted off toward the sea lightning fast.  None of us had any idea donkeys could move at this speed!  Cue more embarrassment as the owners couldn’t get him to return at all.  He was just trotting into the sea with me on his back.  Honestly, I’d never seen this behaviour before or since.  It seemed to me that the entire population was on Scarborough beach that day doubled over laughing at the spectacle.

Then there was the time all the children decided to try and cover each other in seaweed.  Most people escaped, but somehow I was the kid who got absolutely soaked and slimed head to foot. You know when you’re miserable on the inside but trying so very hard to laugh on the outside?  That.  It was a very seaweedy wet bus ride home.

Perhaps most years we visited during a sea fret or with ridiculous optimism about the weather, because we were always grossly under-dressed.  90% of the time we were either complaining, shivering or queueing for the loos to get warm under the hand dryers.  It was just rubbish.

To cap it off, my Godparents moved to Scarborough to start a new life, promptly fell out and got a divorce.  I never saw my Godmother again.

Luckily for me I can count childhood experiences like this on one hand.  They all just happened to take place in Scarborough.

No other seaside made me grumpy like Scarborough did.  I was a very cheerful kid who reserved a suspicious unease for Scarborough.

The answer of course was to never speak about it and never go back there again.

Simple, right?

Well no, because the place possesses some kind of invisible magnet that keeps pulling me back from the inside.

Scarborough’s magnet not only had strong forces, it also had conspirators dragging me back.  One day in 2001, my then boyfriend suggested we take a midweek day off work and go to the seaside together.

Lovely!  Until he suggested Scarborough.  Immediately I tensed and I told him I wasn’t keen on the place and trotted out stories (groan) of wayward donkeys and ball pools.

He wasn’t buying my nonsense for a second and very sensibly suggested the best way to prove that Scarborough was wonderful was to simply go back there again and 'write a new story', so to speak.

Interesting theory.  I like to think I have an open mind and a healthy dose of common sense about me, so I said okay, let’s give this a go.  Armed with extra jumpers and a mind to avoid donkey rides, seaweed and ball pools, off we went.  We had a super day out.  Mid-afternoon the place became eerily quiet, but we told ourselves this was probably normal for a random out of season Tuesday in September.

It wasn’t until we got home that evening that we heard the terrible news about the horrific 9/11 attacks that had happened that day.

We’d been standing there on the beach in South Bay obliviously playing ping pong whilst the terrorist atrocities had taken place.  This blog isn’t the place to discuss 9/11; suffice to say the shock of the day’s events did nothing to alleviate my notion that Scarborough was cursed and there was only me realising it.

Fast forward to May 2010

My baby girl was 3 months old – on one hand I was basking in the glowy haze of having this perfect baby who slept well, fed well and was attached to me with the strongest glue imaginable.  On the other hand, my husband was having a very difficult and miserable time, whether it was at work or personally I couldn’t be sure as communication was confusing which made it a mystery as to what was going on.  All I knew was, it wasn’t good and none of it made sense.  He was clearly suffering and despite me trying to help, nothing was working.

One day he came home with a solution.  More like a bombshell.  Relocation.  He’d seen a job he’d love to apply for and it was in…


For fuck’s sake.  My heart sank.

I remember him saying this on the doorstep and my belly flipped.  I had a vision right there and then, like a weird and terrible foregone conclusion.  I actually felt as though my life flashed before me.

Not Scarborough!  Anywhere but Scarborough!  I knew with ever such a deep sense of certainty that the 3 months of protesting I was about to do would be fruitless.  I KNEW that he’d apply and get the job, that we’d move there against my wishes.  And we did.

That's not to say that there weren't many times I tried to rationalise my reaction and to actively attempt to look forward to it and see it as an adventure.  But deep down my heart wasn't for shifting.  I really, really didn't want this.

The Move: We're all off to sunny Scarborough

On the day we moved, a lorry jack-knifed on the A64 and set on fire.  Not the best of omens.  Oh that car journey!  Long, hot and tetchy, with my Mum in the passenger seat and the 2 kids screaming blue murder in the back.  I kept thinking what the hell is even happening here?  We arrived so late that my mother in law thought I'd changed my mind and gone back home.  Truly, I'd considered it.

I hadn’t foreseen that coming to Scarborough would mean that within a few short years we'd separate altogether and divorce, as my godparents had done.  I didn’t foresee that he’d quickly remarry and subsequently leave Scarborough but doggedly refuse to allow the children to move schools thus keeping me stuck here (we even went to court about this but the court ruled that being stuck in Scarborough was in fact ok).  Effectively, I somehow got dumped or dropped off here.

I'm writing a separate post on the implications of relocation, especially an unwanted one.

Hello, Anxiety, my old friend

All of these reasons conspired to make me feel panicky and anxious.  I called the health visitor to chat it through because sometimes I felt as though I was going to pass out.  I was put on beta blockers for anxiety and she suggested I try talking to him.

Well I nearly ran out of breath trying that one and I may as well have been Shirley Valentine talking to the wall.  I look back now with the benefit of hindsight and it’s pretty obvious that rather than medication, I needed to be listened to and have my wishes respected.  He always tried to make it look like my problem the fact that I needed medication at that time.

I was in a hole and just doing what I could to survive.  It’s really hard to admit to being bullied within a marriage (you chose him, didn't you?), even harder to admit that the solution could never solely lie in my own hands and might never actually be solved.

You think if you keep trying, one day it will be resolved.  But not if resolution is not on the other person's radar it won't.  Trying to fight back with reason when you’re in someone else’s war is a pointless and draining way to exist, but that’s exactly what I did for such a long time.  There are still recurrences of emotional abuse even now.

Loss of control led to over-control

I went into overdrive of micro managing every aspect of the very small things I could control: I'd have the children's meals planned out for weeks ahead and have every tiny detail of their daily activities planned to the minute.  Despite this, I did find enjoyment in their younger days, and I did manage to make some new mummy friends.  It was hard to lose my anxiety and resentment, though, and there was a constant worry at the back of my mind about whether I would ever find meaningful work again.

I felt so bad about not being able to make myself understood and heard.  It wasn’t through lack of self-awareness, or a lack of communication on my part.  I even teach communication skills for what it's worth!  I had to go through counselling to realise that there were abusive patterns present in the communication cycles.

The chaos, upheaval, confusion and tussling has been very difficult.

Making peace with Scarborough

It wasn’t just one day that things shifted.  There were many slow shifts over time, mainly owing to the wonderful people I’ve met in the past few years who've helped to heal me; people who seem to pop into my life at precisely the right moment with exactly the right uplifting wisdom.

Things improved immensely during 2016 and then one day in 2017 I altered my perspective on Scarborough altogether.  It had taken the penny a very long time to drop, but no worries – we’re all on our own schedules.  I had one thought that changed everything:

What if I was MEANT to come to Scarborough all along?

You may have heard of the phrase by Carl Jung “what you resist not only persists, but will grow in size”.

All the resistance, the resentment, the arguing, the protesting.  I let it go.

I couldn’t be sure who or what was in control of the other end of the Scarborough magnet, but I did wonder what would happen if I stopped with all the resistance and replaced it with completely new, positive thoughts and tried to see what Scarborough could offer me and what I could offer it.

So I said to the universe, “Okay Scarborough, you’ve got my attention: I’m here and I’m listening.  Now what adventures are we going on?”

It was then that I found a place of peace, beauty, wonder and a set of stories richer than I could have ever imagined.
Friday, 9 March 2018

Recovering from abuse – Top 10 recovery list

I’m going through a recurrence of abuse at the moment and it occurred to me the most useful thing I could offer is a post about how you can recover more quickly.  Things that make you better, faster, so that you may have as speedy a recovery through this episode as possible.

A reminder of what you're trying to overcome (i.e. some of the emotional symptoms of abuse) are: feeling low, shocked, frequent crying, shaking, feelings of powerless, worthlessness, anxiety, anger, hyper-vigilance, confusion, low self-esteem, feeling trapped, possibly suicidal thoughts.

Physical symptoms of abuse can be wide and varied.  My common symptoms are: shaking, loss of memory, loss of spatial awareness, heavy limbs, aching neck and arms, inability to sleep, tingling in the head and face, hyperventilating and unable to think clearly.

It’s so useful to have a list of go-to recovery methods. I’d encourage anyone without a recovery list to make one.  You’ll know what works best for you.  Here are a few of mine that I’ll be doing over the next few days:

Top 10 Recovery List

1. Breathing – in for 4, out for 8. Adjust according to your own breathing patterns.  Even if you only manage 2 minutes, it’ll be better than nothing.

2. Tara Lee’s earth yoga sequence.  I chose this because of her non-patronising soothing voice and because this ‘earth’ routine is very grounding, as you’d expect.  It gets you out of your head and into your body, which can combat the heavy limb problem as well as stop recurring unhelpful thoughts going round your mind.  It’s very gentle and is very good for steadying the breath.  You can view it here.

3. Put no pressure on yourself. You may not feel like smiling, socialising, or really doing anything.  It’s ok, because you just don’t have to. Recovering from abuse is serious and takes time – so take it.

4. Walking. Pounding the streets and hills has been my number 1 go-to method of working through issues of abuse over the past few years.  Here’s another tip – look up.  By tilting your head upwards, even slightly (and you won’t feel like it) you give yourself the signal to metaphorically ‘look up’ too.  Be as close to nature as possible – the vibrations given off by the natural environment is good for your own energy field.  Stand near a tree or body of water (or hug the tree, or get in the water!)

5. Go no alcohol or at least cut down and be mindful.  I like a drink when things are good, but when they’re not, alcohol gets cut for me – it can cause worsening of symptoms like insomnia and impaired decision making.  Alcohol is super tempting because you so badly want to mask your symptoms – but guess what, when you come round from your stupor the problems will still be there, only your brain won’t be as capable of solving them and you’ll be piling more stress on your body at a time when it’s already glum.

6. What foods work for you?  You may either stop eating properly or otherwise comfort eat but neither are recommended!  My digestion is going off on one already after this week.  It’s time to do all the sensible things like eating light, having plenty of fresh fruit and veg and drinking lots of water.  Be as sensible as possible and treat your body with the kindness it deserves!

7. Counselling – if you haven’t already sought counselling for abuse then I’d really encourage you to do so.  There is no shame in seeking help, in fact it’s necessary.  Abuse strips something from you that wasn’t the other person’s to take.  It needs putting back.  Or if you think you’re recovered but still have recurring issues and symptoms then chatting it through with someone who truly understands your case will be invaluable.  I had 4 rounds of counselling which stopped 2 years ago but I still remember the advice and help I received.  If your needs are more urgent then please contact the Samaritans or an Independent Domestic Abuse Support worker in your area (IDAS Yorkshire).  There's also the The National Domestic Abuse directory UK

8. Reading others’ blogs.  Knowledge is power and reminding yourself that you are part of someone else’s vicious cycle and not to blame is essential.  There are countless groups you can join on Facebook, and there is no obligation to reveal info about yourself.  There is help and support for whatever stage you’re at.  Sometimes just reading through the quotes and images posted can be a great reminder that you’re not alone.

9. Self-care.  I’ve met and spoken with a lot of victims of abuse and one thing always strikes me: some aspect of self-care will disappear when you’re going through abuse.  One of mine is that cleaning and tidying in the house goes out the window – the house suddenly represents the shambles in my head, like an outward reflection of the mess I’m in.  The washing up will pile up, the bed won’t be made.  Some people forget to or choose not to eat, shower, exercise, suddenly stop wearing makeup, etc.  Whatever aspect of self-care you lose at these times, just acknowledge it and see whether there are steps you can take to put those back there.

10. Indulgence.  Those feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness that accompany abuse needs to be reversed – and I promise you can control this in small ways with simple everyday activities.  The last thing in the world you’ll feel like doing is treating yourself in a way that makes you feel good when you’ve had a reminder of your low self-esteem.  But this is precisely the time you need to partake in some activity that makes you feel good whether it’s listening to music, watching your favourite film, reading your favourite book, or simply having a bath.  I find it’s a bad time to start anything new, so go to something you already know works for you.  I tend to go to music.  Try music that reminds you of a time or situation that is happy, supportive or fun is perfect.  I tend to listen to music that my grandparents listened to as it reminds me that I had a very lucky and wonderful childhood before adult life brought with it far more crap than I’d ever imagined.

I deliberately didn't mention physical touch as it may or may not be appropriate for some depending on what the abuse triggers, but if you're able to accept hugs then this is another good way to get back into your body and out of your head.  If you’re going through any situation involving abuse I am truly sorry for you and wish you a speedy recovery.  Please treat yourself kindly.  I’m preparing for a weekend of yoga, washing up and subjecting the children to plenty of Elvis and Tom Jones 😊

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

There is hope. There is always hope.

Standing in the hallway the words were pouring out of me: “All of the trying I do, all of the effort, just to be normal and live an ordinary life.  All the games we play, all the looking after, the conversations we have, the stories we make up together, the things we do, the love I give, all the fun we have, everything I do, it’s all for nothing!

What is the point in any of it anymore?

I’m going out! I can’t be here like this!”

Luckily my Mum spotted the car keys in my hand and took them off me.  “Just walk when you’re like this”, she said.  My little boy caught what I’d been saying and came to hug me before I set off.
I was pounding the streets yet again, sobbing, wondering when these feelings of worthlessness would stop.  I try tirelessly not to be in this place anymore.

It didn’t take long for my feet to take me back up the hill to Anne.  I was still crying out loud when I got there and I went over it all again for her benefit.  It’s the same old story, Anne, playing on repeat.  Back where we started – same old, same old.

As I sat by her grave, watching the waves crash up against the Spa in the distance I just about caught my breath and stopped crying.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if Anne had some words of wisdom for me now?  I’ll think back to Bridget Jones’ diary, when Shazza says “What would Madonna do?” except in my head it goes “What would Anne do?”

She’s helped me so much already.  Could she help me now?  What is there to be done over and above what I’m doing?  What more could I do?  What more could I give?  How can I try better?  What can I think now to get me out of this state, the very state I don’t ever want to be in again?

Oh, what am I like?  I’m sitting alone by grave on a cold March evening.  Get a grip and go home, Rachel.

All that came was steadier breathing and once it did, I thought I’d better get back to the house.  I’d not seen my Mum for 2 weeks and there she was getting tea ready and looking after the children.  It ought to be me doing that.  I ought to be there.  I ought to be making everything normal.  Nothing was normal because our old enemy had returned.

With a heavy heart, I stood up to leave and make my way back down the hill.  There are days it’s hard to find inspiration, wisdom or anything at all to latch onto.  I’ve come so far this past year to make those days fewer, but here it was again.  Anyway, at least I was a bit calmer now.  Time to go and get on with life.  Put a brave face on for tea.

I was about to leave and turned round one last time to say goodbye to Anne.  “Thanks for listening anyway”, I said and tried a faint smile.  And in reply, I heard the following words quite clearly as though someone spoke directly within my mind:

“There is hope.  There is always hope.”

In that moment I could not have been any less hopeful.  My exact feeling could be described as the absolute absence of hope.  Yet here they were, the most perfect words.  The ones I needed most of all.
When I recover I’ll look back and think of this in amazement.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A Hidden Illness - the pain of endometriosis

March is endometriosis awareness month.  I write with the 1 in 10 women in mind, who suffer with endo, whether they are experiencing pain with no clue as to what is wrong, awaiting diagnosis, awaiting treatment, in recovery or are experiencing recurring pain.  We’re in this together.

The first time I passed out with the pain was in January 2013.  I’d fallen down with my head very close to a step which frightened me.  As I came round, I felt the peaceful slow lull that comes with unconsciousness, mixed with excruciating pain and a terrible tiredness.

I knew it was ‘women’s problems’ and the pain was accompanied by very heavy bleeding.  I’d had horrific period pain since 2012 but it was unclear as to whether I was passing out because of blood loss or pain, or the combination of the two.

The next time I passed out I was living as a single parent.  It was early morning, prior to breakfast, and I fell off the toilet in horrific pain.  At the time the children were only 5 and 4.  My son acted out my passing out episode over and over, so I knew exactly what happened that morning.  Somehow I’d managed to fall out of the bathroom entirely, then bang my head on the shoe rack in the hall.

I woke up because my daughter was trying to put my glasses back on my face, but this was tricky for a 4-year-old and so she was tenderly prodding my eye ball with the arm of my glasses.  It was an effective yet dangerous method of bringing someone round.

Thing is, whenever I was lying on the floor in a pool of blood, I was also in such a bad state that it was impossible for me to get to the doctor that same day.  At the time I didn’t know anyone well enough to both see me in that condition or to take me to the doctor.  My friends were non-driving mums from playgroup and frankly I was worried and embarrassed about the whole thing.  At first, I couldn’t understand why I was unable to cope with period pain.  I felt that something more was wrong.  The truth is, the pain was so bad I’d rather have given birth three times in a row than had a period, and so I reported it as such to the doctor.  That’s a pretty big clue that something was not right.

But by the time I’d get myself to the doctor a couple of days later, I’d recovered enough to look normal.  It makes me so very angry to look back and wonder why, when I reported such incidents verbally to various GPs after the event, was I not taken more seriously, more quickly?

Was it their poor listening skills?  Was it their lack of knowledge around the possibilities of it being endometriosis rather than something else (it is complex to diagnose for sure).

I was asked a number of times whether I’d taken ibuprofen to help.


I was agog.  I mean, I was sitting there telling the GP I’d rather give birth than have a period and he’s asking whether it entered my brain to take Ibuprofen?  Give me strength!  Women have gas and air, epidurals and pethidine to cope with labour and I was completely seriously likening the level of pain.

So yes, I was taking Ibuprofen along with paracetamol and it was having very little effect.  Ibuprofen wouldn’t touch this kind of pain.  Why did my descriptions fall on deaf ears?  I’d been having periods since I was 13 so that was a lot of years of knowing what normal periods were like.  And these really weren’t normal.

Did they think I was exaggerating?

Or was the problem a general lack of empathy?

I was using female language with male GPs – how did they know what childbirth and periods were like?  I kept trying to work out why no one was doing anything to help me sooner.

What’s the Root Cause?

I teach Business and one of the rules is, you have to treat the root cause of the issue.  Same with physical health, surely?  You have to tackle the root cause of the issue otherwise you’re fixing the wrong thing which causes other problems.  Well that’s exactly what happened here.

Treating heavy blood flow was missing the point.  I was prescribed the contraceptive pill time and time again to reduce the blood flow.

This was a really bad idea because endometriosis grows itself with the presence of excess oestrogen – and what contains oestrogen?  Yes, the contraceptive pill.  The body’s ineffective removal of oestrogen via the liver is one reason why endometriosis progressively gets worse.  Using the pill was not only ineffective, it was actively hastening the illness.

Endo can be extremely complex to diagnose, as it can grow on other organs - in the abdomen there are many organs all vying for space in a small space and abdominal pain could be caused by a variety of issues, for example the catch-all, IBS.

So the passing out continued

On one hand I was worried for my general health as I had a persistent feeling that there was something more sinister going on.  On the other, I was worried about my physical safety and the emotional wellbeing of my children whilst they helped me to cope.  At 5 foot 10 I have quite a way to fall when hitting the deck.  I was permanently worried about banging my head or about failing to deal with regular things in life as there were many times I couldn’t even move because of the pain.

It helped enormously when my boyfriend saw me turn blue one day in agony.  He said he’d never seen anything so frightening.  That was until we went on a trip to Barcelona and I woke in the night screaming in pain before my eyes rolled backwards into my head.  Try fixing that with Nurofen and a receptionist who doesn’t speak a word of English!

He was hugely concerned that I’d not been listened to sooner and encouraged me to go back to the doctor and keep explaining.  It was empowering for me to have another adult witness this first hand.  

Still there was no joy with the GP.

It broke my heart to watch the children having to help

My son was tall enough to reach the medicine box (you know, the thing you keep high enough to be out of reach of children), so he was appointed chief in charge of painkillers.  As if this was ok.  They were both capable of bringing me a drink, a snack and painkillers if I was on the floor too ill to move.

It was absolutely not fair on them.

That’s the biggest reason why I’m so very angry at not being listened to, believed or understood.  I lived permanently in fear of passing out again and of injuring myself.  The children knew how to dial 999 and I had them primed with our address to give to the ambulance operator.  Thank goodness it never came to that.

I became groggy, struggled to concentrate and had to call in sick on a few occasions where I should have been training.  Everything started to look very grim for me.  I'd forgotten what living a normal pain-free life was like.

Then the inevitable happened

My worst nightmare about passing out and banging my head came true, and it was both horrific and a blessing in disguise.

Home alone, one morning I passed out on the loo (again) and went face first onto the bathroom floor.  Not that I knew about any of this until much later, as I lost a large chunk of time from my life on the bathroom floor that day.

When I awoke I had no idea where I was, who I was, what day it was or anything.  It’s safe to say I was concussed.

I had some very strange visions that morning: I think coming out of unconsciousness prompted a series of bizarre flashing sights as though a film was playing on tremendous fast forward in my mind.  I felt like I flew through four thousand years of history right up to the present day while I was lying on the bathroom floor.  I felt different, like I’d actually been somewhere else.  I wish I knew how long I'd been unconscious.

It took me a very, very long time to work out what was going on and where I was.  My eyes eventually opened and in the distance I could see something white.  It looked a bit like a sink.
Another few minutes drifting in and out of consciousness.

Sink… sink… bathroom?  Am I in the bathroom?  This took a loooong time to process.
It’s impossible to tell you how long I spent in that state and how long it would be until I realised I was lying in a pool of blood.  I hauled myself over to the sink and used it to pull up to standing.  As I stood up, woozy and completely out of it, I focused with horror on my reflection in the bathroom mirror.

Bloody and bruised, it dawned on me that I must have passed out and really gone down with some force.

All that is seen

The wonderful thing about having a cut and bruised face was being able to turn up at the GP surgery and say, “Now look at me, I passed out and here’s the result right on my face.”

Seeing is believing, they say.

I saw a female GP that day – she was very understanding, greatly concerned and lovely.  She asked whether this had ever happened before and whether I’d been to see a doctor about it.

Oh yes, I replied, it’s been going on for years.

Her face was a picture as she scrolled through my notes and verified I had indeed reported this very same issue on numerous occasions, minus the evidential face.  No solution, no scan, just lots of pills.  She looked shocked and perplexed that this hadn’t been investigated sooner.  She put me on much stronger painkillers (Naproxen and Co-codamol) to try and avoid this in future and explained when I should use each drug.  She took care to take many detailed notes from me.

I have no way of telling whether it was her inherent care as a doctor, her listening skills or the fact that she was female that made her take action that day that led to a scan, an appointment with a specialist and eventually, despite extremely lengthy NHS waiting times, to surgery.

I’m kinda taking a wild guess it was the big fat shiny cuts and bruises glaring out of my face that really nailed it that day.

It did feel to me that for so many people, the only kind of believing is one that involves seeing, and I felt deep and personal sadness for the rejection of all that is unseen in this world and the damage that human beings do to each other in the process of being so doggedly stuck in our black and white ways.

Waiting for the operation

It still took a very long time to have a scan, to find endometrioma, to have another scan, to see two specialists and to eventually be recommended for surgery.  My symptoms worsened daily.

I was taking so many strong painkillers multiple times per day and remained permanently worried about whether I’d be able to get up on a morning.  The tiredness was horrendous.  Would I be able to drive to school, I’d wonder.  Often with a hot water bottle, Lucozade and a tonne of pills down me, yes.  By this point I had friends on standby in case the pain was too bad, and I was becoming better at asking for help and explaining myself to others.

All the painkillers were not good for my tummy and the fact that I had an undiagnosed disease probably wasn’t doing much for my immune system either.  It was a very debilitating way to live life and anyone with endo can sadly expect to have the same prospect recur in future too, which is a tough place to be emotionally.

The operation outcome: what was unseen?

I remember coming round from the operation, asking repeatedly what time it was and what day it was.  I was perplexed and shaky.

The hospital notes made for interesting reading.  My ovary had multiple endometrioma cysts which had stuck themselves round the back of my womb.  My tubes weren’t in the right place and my womb was locked and frozen also in the wrong place (how and where goodness only knows).  Oh, and my bowel was stuck to my womb.  No wonder I’d been passing out.

Feeling validated

Listening to the surgeon and reading the notes, finally, after years of this same carry on, I felt validated, seen and heard.  The surgeon wanted to clarify with me repeatedly that I had been telling the truth when I said I’d not taken any painkillers that morning.  And I confirmed it repeatedly.  He looked at me funny and said he didn’t know how I’d coped with the pain.

What, the same pain that could be cured by Ibuprofen, I wondered?

I was too tired to tell him I’d been deep breathing, praying and carrying crystals in my pocket.
After 3 weeks of having a mental fog, unbelievable tiredness and very painful wind in my shoulder (apparently common after such an operation), I was recovered.

I felt 5 years younger and like I had some vitality again.  At last I had some get up and go!

I’ve enjoyed many months of being back to normal which has been truly amazing.  Just to be well again is an incredible feeling, even though I know that sometimes I have this nagging little pain and I know it’s the small echo of my endo trying to come back, but this time I’m armed with information and determination.  I’m in a very different place now.

I did feel a massive amount of anger at having not been listened to nor understood sooner and I’m pleased to see that endo has since been receiving more attention in the news so that more people (including doctors) are aware of the signs and symptoms.

Learning to trust my instincts

That feeling of validation I got produced a new, incredibly positive wave of feeling within me.  I had received the confirmation I needed that I wasn’t going crazy, I wasn’t imagining my pain.  No, I didn’t imagine any of it.  I coped and adapted, that’s what I did, just like the 1 in 10 women suffering from the illness right now.

I reported my symptoms and pain with accuracy – and it turned out to be that I was right about my hunches.  So many women are in the same position.   Average diagnosis takes 7 years.  That wait time is wholly unacceptable.

The experience gave me something new that I sorely needed: to be able to trust myself, to trust my instincts outside of external validation.  My intuition and trust in myself grew stronger by the day as a result of this whole experience.

I sincerely wish that all the brave women suffering from endo can get the diagnosis and treatment they need as swiftly as possible and I wish that they will be believed as they battle through the pain.
I thank each and every one of them for supporting each other online – sharing experiences of others going through the same is invaluable when it’s so hard to make people believe the extent of what’s happening inside your body and the effect it has on your whole life and well-being.

Keep on sharing, keep on supporting and keep on telling your truth.  I wish you all the speediest diagnosis and recovery times possible.

For more information about endometriosis, see  I'd also recommend joining a Facebook group for women with endo in your region or country (simply for purposes of discussing specific surgeons and waiting list times). If you found this blog post useful do feel free to share it. Feel free to comment if you've had a similar experience or know of anyone who has.
Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Scarborough renovated Public Market - shopping that supports local businesses (a vegetable haul)

The large, historic public market in Scarborough was renovated and re-opened last year.  It’s a fabulous renovation and a great place to hang out.  There's a gallery of independent shops upstairs and traditional markets downstairs.

On the lower ground floor you'll find the market vaults (that's another post for another day).

On the ground floor are 2 large fruit and veg stalls as well as a butcher’s and a baker’s and... wait, what?  There’s no candlestick maker?  Gap in the market – quick, tell the local business enterprise.

Located between St Helen's Square and Leading Post Lane at the top of St Sepulcre Street in the Old Town, the side street above as you can see is on Market Way.

The grand entrance can be seen here - it's rather a large and imposing building.

I’ll do another post another time on all the little independent shops and market vaults but for now this is a small vegetable haul.  I’ve had various attempts at going vegan over the past year as it makes me feel healthier and in reduced amounts of pain, however, I have no idea what I’m doing nutritionally and as a gluten intolerant with a long-term health condition I’m aware that I also need to be careful about dramatically cutting out food groups.  This post is exclusively veggie, however, that’s not to say you can’t buy eggs, dairy and meat in the market – you can.

Price wise I found the veggies are similarly priced to standard good value supermarkets like Tesco, however, many items have flat prices such as £1.20 for the large butternut squash.  In most shops you’ll pay £1.50 for squash and not be able to find any butternut squash nearly as big as the ones available at the market.

Being able to hand pick your own vegetables from a really large selection does make a difference.  Their mushrooms are enormous.  Since mushrooms are my daughter’s favourite food (for real) she likes to spend a long time hand-selecting the ones that are just right.

Certainly if you’re a fan of the online shop you’ll know that getting your fruit and veg selected by someone else is not always a good thing, but in my daughter’s case she’s pretty serious about her mushroom selection so we’re in safe hands.  Same with my son's love of sprouts.  Again, slightly weird but I'm not complaining about their love of veg!

I paid £6 for a very large butternut squash, a large aubergine, a large cauliflower, 3 large red onions and 4 massive mushrooms. Plus, there was not a scrap of packaging in sight unless you count the paper bag for the mushrooms which is easy to recycle.

To cap it off, there’s that opportunity for a good chat with the very friendly stall holder.

This little lot will make 3 meals when added to store cupboard essentials like rice, lentils and pasta: cauliflower curry, aubergine risotto and roasted butternut squash pasta.  The onions and mushrooms can provide bases for these dishes or be added to omelettes and other lunches.

Cheap as chips - only cheaper and far healthier.

A round up of the benefits of local market shopping:

Zero packaging 
Fresh air and exercise in carrying the bags home
Supporting local growers (some items)
Supporting local independent traders
Keeping the local economy going
Zero carbon footprint
Saving money 

PS have you seen this divine fennel? Never let me hear you say that Scarborough is not exotic!

I'd really recommend giving Scarborough Public Market a go, whether you're a local or visiting for the day or on holiday.  There are sometimes events on like the wartime themed weekends where you can hear singers and purchase themed items from local independent creatives.  I'll post more another time about the super little independent shops upstairs in the gallery which are really good for gifts and for personalised items.

5 Benefits of Aloe Vera Gel after 2 weeks

*Please do not take medical advice from me as I am (a) not medically trained and (b) pretty rubbish at the whole act of looking after myself.  I am simply reporting the effects of taking aloe vera gel for the past 2 weeks.  Disclaimer over.

For 3 months I’m sharing an office with the lovely, ambitious and talented Jenna Warhurst, a local businesswoman who has done the Scarborough boomerang thing i.e. gone away, had a career abroad and in London before the Scarborough magnet pulled her back here.  It’s a common phenomenon.

Jenna runs a Forever Living business.  We share many things in common and sadly gluten intolerance is one of them.  Whilst Jenna does suffer from coeliac disease, I’ve chosen not to be tested.  I know the effects gluten has on me, so I avoid it.

I’m admittedly very poor at looking after my own health so it was great to chat things through with Jenna – she knows so much but also is living proof that the products she sells, work, because she has experienced the benefits first hand.

She’s gorgeous, super healthy and great at empathic listening, so I was more than prepared to take her advice.

She explained to me that when you suffer with intolerances, your body is not very good at absorbing nutrients.  Cue a weak immune system, crappy thinning hair, brittle nails, etc.  Tick all the boxes.  I’m also super sensitive to medication, my own hormones, everything, so natural plant based products appeal to me.

Forever Living’s products are based on their number 1 seller – aloe vera gel.  This high-grade product is best consumed in gel form, which you see here in a fat yellow bottle.  All you need to do is drink 100ml of the stuff every morning.  It’s not even slightly appetising but I don’t find it disgusting either.

As it’s anti-inflammatory, this is also good for other conditions – step up endometriosis, a long-term disease I also suffer with.  From my surgery last year I know that my bowel had become attached to my womb (yikes!) and the surgeon said my bowel was struggling.  My poor guts!

Aloe vera is known to clear out your intestines: there are numerous accounts of how it helps with IBS and improves digestion as it’s jam packed with vitamins, minerals and amino acids.  Your gut health is important for all over health as the gut is your second brain (link to BBC news report).

I figured it couldn’t hurt to give this a go, and now that I’ve been drinking the gel for 2 weeks every morning first thing, here's a short account of what I’ve found:

Improved mental clarity.  Perhaps I went round in a fog for years, but my mental clarity definitely had a surge once I started avoiding gluten and then again after I had my endo operation last year, however, in just 2 weeks, the aloe vera gel seems to have given my brain yet another boost.  No extra certificates, folks, but there’s a perceptible va va voom of firing on cylinders in the brain department. Great!

General increase in energy.  Some people report sleeping better.  As a lifelong insomniac I was hoping for a bit of extra kip, but if anything, I’ve been awake more in the night.  Could this be attributed to the extra mental clarity?  Despite this extra night time waking, I’ve been more alert during the day.  If I can’t have more sleep then the second best thing has to be not suffering with the effects.

A faster getting up time.  The time between thinking “I really can’t be arsed to get out of bed” to actually physically getting out of bed has been whittled down from 15 minutes to 15 seconds.  This is quite an improvement inside a fortnight.

Clearer Speech. Both children commented that my speech is clearer first thing - I normally wake up with slurred low speech which I put down to excessive tiredness.  Yep, making myself sound like a right barrel of laughs to live with.  Apparently now I sound more like my normal self, quicker. Yay.

Toilet habits.  Honestly, I needed the loo a bit more.  Nothing horrific here, just more movement.  If you suffer with constipation, which thankfully I don’t, I think you’d probably see some benefits.

I'm definitely going to continue with it and I've already ordered a couple more products based on trials such as their face moisturiser which is really reasonably priced as well as very light.

I’ll share more feedback on any further improvements if there are any in future!

In the meantime if you’d like to contact Jenna about her products, or if you’re thinking of setting up a lifestyle business where you can sell these products to others, Jenna can be contacted:

Instagram @Jenna_Warhurst

Monday, 19 February 2018

Social Media as a force for good

I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for all the brave people helping each other overcome trauma through the use of social media.  There’s a whole bunch of women helping and supporting each other on Twitter under anonymous accounts. Maybe they, like me, refuse to let abuse define them, or perhaps it’s unsafe for them to share openly.

Yesterday one woman who I thought would never leave her abuser, finally did it.  Seeing how many people jumped up and gave her emotional support makes me burst with happiness that the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements exist.

I applaud the bravery of survivors who are able to tell their stories.  For those seeking support, reading stories that make them feel a little less alone in a terrifying situation could be the reason why they feel able to make a change that kickstarts a process of healing, recovery and a fresh start, no matter how long that takes.

Knowing that there is an online community of people who’ve got your back when so many others still don’t understand, is such an incredibly positive effect of the power of social media as a force for good in the world.
Sunday, 18 February 2018

Speaking out about Abuse - so says Lunar Mermaid

Sometimes it’s easier when someone else says it for you.  This is a transcript of a caption written by an extraordinarily brave and awesome woman called Tiffany who I follow on Instagram.  She was kind enough to allow me to reproduce her words on my blog.

Her profile is @TheLunarMermaid 

As I haven’t yet found a way to say all of this in my own way or better, I’m going to let Tiffany speak on behalf of the many survivors of sexual abuse.  Here she goes:

“My account is no longer private.  I am no longer anonymous.  I am choosing the share my story with whomever wishes to read it. I want to connect on a deeper level.

I want to help that one person who thinks there is no chance of freedom from their aching soul and broken heart.

I have gone back and forth from private to public because I was afraid “certain individuals” would judge me or be critical.

Then I thought to myself, who the hell are “they” and who the hell am I caring what “they” think?
My whole life I’ve been hiding behind all kinds of masks afraid to show the real me.  All of me.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  That’s not what life is about.  I wanted everything to seem pretty.  That’s not what life is.  The truth is, my life hasn’t always been pretty.

It’s messy, bumpy and ugly but I find the beauty in it. I have cracks and breaks and that’s ok. That’s how the light shines through. Everything is a lesson. A chance to learn and grow.  To be a better version of myself than I was yesterday.

You will experience darkness in your life, but you don’t have to stay in it.  Trust me!  I wallowed in it for years!

She goes on to list all the things she has been through. There are steps you can take toward freedom and one of those steps is to stop keeping secrets.

She goes on to say that the childhood sexual abuse she suffered and keeping silent about it kept her in a place where she was in a cycle of alcohol abuse and suicide attempts.

I found a sense of relief when I told.  I took my power back. I started living.

She says she’s currently in counselling for the aftermath and that she suffers from PTSD and bipolar.  

I’m ready to talk and talk, get it all out and hopefully give the sick and suffering person the same hope.  Thanks for listening.

I applaud Tiffany's bravery in telling her story and I thank her for allowing me to use her words to convey what I also feel.  The more people join together in being unafraid to share the truth, the more likely we are to be heard.

Anton’s Restaurant Bar Scarborough: Bethel Mission Chapel

For those who enjoy a bit of history with their dinner.

Anton’s café bar grill is located at 20 Sandside, Scarborough, in Bethel Mission Chapel, on the seafront opposite the harbour.  This small and beautiful old chapel is now home to an upmarket café bar grill called Anton’s, named after its Menorcan owner-chef, Anton Diaz.  Open all times of the day and night with a menu to please everyone, it has quite a story to tell.

Bethel Mission, a history

Up until 1800, this building had been used as a court.  At the turn of the 18th century, a scathing poem by Johnny Gilpin suggested that the sherry and port held in the cellars underneath the building were used by the judges to prop up their legal decisions:

“So magistrates and bottles, being thus together joined, Sir,
They seem to keep the proverb up, that justice should be blind, Sir”

Soon after, the courts were moved to another building on Quay Street (just behind Sandside) and the building was bought by the Tindall’s, a Quaker family.  Scarborough had a relatively large population of Quakers at this time. 

It became a Bethel chapel, ‘Bethel’ meaning ‘House of God’ and was used for Tuesday and Saturday evening services for all religious bodies, primarily for sailors and fishermen.  During the 19th century, Scarborough saw a boom in tourism with attendance at chapel being part of the holiday experience.

Later in the 19th century (1874) Bethel Mission became a Wesleyan chapel, and the cellars had a rest from alcohol, being used instead as a grocer’s warehouse.  The chapel only closed in 1987 and was later converted to become a café.

Sources of information: Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre and Scarborough News.

Anton’s now

The owners, Anton and Nikki Diaz, converted the beautiful chapel building in 2012 from its condition as a café into the swish establishment it is today by making quite a few alterations inside such as the addition of a gorgeous bar area and arguably the best mood lighting you’ll see in Scarborough.  They were mindful to preserve many of its original features such as windows and the stripped back stone and brick to the exterior.  The front of the building is largely glass, providing wonderful vistas over the harbour and over towards South Cliff.

It’s difficult to pin point in a titular sense exactly what the place is now: is it a café, bar, grill or restaurant?

Well actually it’s all of these things as it plays to both tourists and locals, all times of the day and night, all times of the year.  If you’re stopping by for an ice cream and Italian coffee during the day time, it’s a café.  If you’re a fan of steak it’s a grill and if you’d like to sit at the sophisticated bar and sip cocktails, it’s a bar.

As Scarborough establishments go, it’s probably the most swish and swanky that you’ll get in the area and it’s a welcome break from chips, fried onions, hot dogs, waffles and candy floss.


The menu is reassuringly simple (don’t you hate pages to read?) and the bar is ridiculously well stocked - see pic and that's just the wine.  Starters and sharing platters include Spanish platter of Jamon, Chorizo, Olives, rocket, garlic mayo and bread, soup, and a great selection of special quality fish based dishes such as scallops, deep friend whitebait and homemade fishcakes.

There’s a good selection of incredible pizzas and just 2 pasta dishes – one vegetarian cannelloni and the other, lasagne.  if these are done well then who needs a massive selection?

These classic dishes are amazing as you’d expect from a Mediterranean chef.

From the grill, the steaks and chicken are done to perfection with meat locally supplied by Stepney Hill Farm, only a mile away.  At the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, portion sizes are ‘just right’.  There’s a kids’ menu at a very reasonable £5.75.

The full menu can be found at

Food intolerances and allergies 

All waiting staff and chefs are highly trained and well versed on accommodating food intolerances and allergies, which is reassuring to know.  As chips are cooked in the same oil as other items such as the battered onion rings (which look divine, she says longingly) any fried items are unavailable to those of us with gluten intolerance.

Better safe than sorry - my chips were substituted for some excellent delicately herbed new potatoes.

Where to sit

For a very small restaurant there are a number of different experiences to be had, based on where you choose to sit, which makes return visits all the more likely.

Al fresco

There’s a small Al Fresco dining area right outside and which in wintertime is usually populated with walkers, smokers, dog owners and the kind of people who wear shorts in December.  If you can get a spot during the summer months, however, this is a perfect place to people-watch whilst sipping a delicious espresso or crisp white wine.  Roll on summer.

Bar area

Sitting at the bar on funky modern stools adds a touch of class and dare I say a city-feel, whether you’re having an ice cream by day or perusing the cocktail menu by night.

Downstairs seating

The front of the building is a huge area of glass.  This is very attractive architecturally and provides ample opportunity for gazing out to sea (actually the harbour) and for people watching.  Sitting in the window by day or night is a super experience for snacks and drinks.

Olives and red wine, anyone?

As you enter through the huge glass door, there’s an entire seating area to the left wall with the bar on your right.  

This area is perfect for dining as there’s plenty to see and watch.  The décor is beautiful, although the downstairs area is naturally busier than dining upstairs.  As a nosey parker I love this as I like being in busier spots but can understand the need for a quieter experience at times (in which case book upstairs).

There’s a particular table for two right underneath the stairwell.  At first sight this looks like a funny area to sit, however, it’s incredibly popular with regulars being right next to the bar, cosy, secluded and great for having a chat with the very friendly staff.

Mezzanine level

Something about the mezzanine looks as though it’s ‘hanging’ or floating mid-air. On closer inspection it is reassuringly held up by beams, however, this floor is not wall to wall.  The chapel windows have been preserved at the sides of the mezzanine floor which is devoted exclusively to dining.  Tables are constantly being rearranged to accommodate parties of all sizes.  On the turn of the staircase, you pass the kitchen and get a sneaky preview of what Anton, Mick and the other chefs are cooking for you.


I’m a huge fan of mood lighting: it can make or break the atmosphere of any restaurant or bar.
The amount of times I’ve seen beautiful restaurants wrecked with youth hostel style bright strip lighting is criminal.

Business-wise it makes no sense to scrimp or miss a trick with lighting, as the right mood lighting means you can get away with adding £5-7 to each dish.

Anton’s lighting offers a feel-good sensory, visual vibe that elevates the experience into a memory to be relished and one that will linger longer.

If there was an award for the best-lit restaurant in Scarborough (and why isn't there?), Anton's would get my vote.  The combination of dark brown wood, white, glass and subtle red lights hints at perfection for those seeking a classy experience.

No closing time

Yes, the "no official closing time" is for real.  They'll stay open, within reason, as long as people want to come and drink and chat.  This feels reminiscent of a continental experience.  With staff as friendly as this bunch along with great food, atmosphere and history, it's no wonder people are inclined to linger.

For parties, special occasions, romantic meals or for a sophisticated nightcap after a meal elsewhere, you’d struggle to beat Anton’s for atmosphere and great food.  

With an intriguing history, beautiful architecture, stunning modernisation mood lighting that's just right, it comes highly recommended!