“How do you fancy getting stuck in quicksand Stephanie?”
“Will I die?”
“No. I will even hold your hand the whole way through if you want.”
I’d done numerous stories on how the Morecambe Bay sands can suck you in within seconds, never to spit you out again. So this was not a conversation with the Coastguard that I wanted to have.
When you are a journalist however, you soon realise that you have to put yourself in these silly situations for the greater good.
“Stephanie, there is a really dangerous stretch of road that I would like you to do an article on. Can you drive out there and have a look?” – was another one where I questioned my career choice and my sanity.
In two years as a reporter I can also recall wading through knee deep water in Kendal as rain soaked my new haircut, and curling my toes to keep the five-sizes-too-big wellies that I’d borrowed from a colleague on my feet.
I swam what felt like laps of Windermere, as our perfectionist photographer tried to snap that ‘the light is just right over there’ shot. ‘Over there’ seemed like the length of an Olympic swimming pool. Five times over. But I loved it really.
And it was not until I realised I was leaving that I thought about all the experiences I have had - more than some would have in a whole career.
I’ve flown a gyrocopter. Climbed Honister’s Via Ferrata. Learned to train sheepdogs. Spent an afternoon on an electric bike.
And as food writer, I’ve eaten so much that I believe gym membership should come free with the job.
I’ve met some lovely, humbling people.
But I’ve also realised that people are so quick to judge the profession.
It is not easy knocking on the door of a family who has just lost a member. It’s certainly not something that drives me, but part of the job. Inquests are never a highlight of the working day either.
There is a misconception that these tasks are completed by heartless reporters who don't have any sensitivity about them whatsoever.
What people fail to realise is that it is not all smiles. In my job I have laughed for hours but I have also sobbed at my desk.
When you read something heartbreaking and upsetting, it would have hit me that way too, and it is not easy to leave those feelings at your desk at 5.30pm.
What does make it worthwhile are those select few who do contact you to say they loved what you wrote. The thank you cards that arrive.
So, as I embark on a new venture, I would like to say that journalists ARE wonderful people. They study hard to get the job and then work long and hard for little pennies. They help people raise money for campaigns, they launch campaigns themselves to help the community, they can assist in the catching of criminals.
Please cut them some slack. And always remember to say thank you when it is warranted.
I can promise you it is greatly appreciated.