I started my blog in November 2017 based on my journalling experience and a natural curiosity. The blog title Smiling Coasts was based on my experiences of travel to The Gambia which is often referred to as The Smiling Coast of Africa. Those smiles seemed to hide a vulnerability related to life lived in a third world country. This same vulnerability seemed to exist in further travels to English seaside towns at a time of ‘economic decline’ and I sensed this vulnerability was a reflection of my own especially following the death of my mother in 2015. The blog’s subtitle vulnerability seemed a perfect choice.
My parents were Irish hailing from Co. Donegal on the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland border. The village where my mother lived until she was 30 years is seperated by a river with one side in each country. I always classed Ireland as my second home and The Gambia as my third but since mum’s death this seems to have changed. My sense of identity seems to change on my Gambian visits and the last four month visit when asked by locals ‘are you English?’ my answers ranged from yes, yes but my parents were Irish and reverted to yes I am English. Locals often ask how many times you have visited and base your identity as Gambian on the number of visits. I used to reply ‘I will never be a Gambian’ based on my country of birth. Towards the end of my last visit I used to answer ‘yes I am a Gambian’. These factors seemed to influence my change of blog subtitle.
My blog is evolving and hope you can find your way around it (says alot about me perhaps)