Monday, April 12, 2010


Whitby is one of those extraordinary places, that attracts people like bees to a honey pot. Picturesque is the first word to spring to mind, lively and full of people the air hums with a certain vibrancy.
Leave the city of York , cross the flat York vale, past Dalby forest and then the North Yorkshire moors. The bleak brown of the vast stretches of heather, is hardly relieved by that monstrosity of the 'listening eye' at Fylingsdale, but of course this wilderness of heather and rock is also very spectacular. Stop at Holcrum Hole and peer into its depths of green fields, it looks as if a giant meteorite has fallen, but the hole has been created by the steady drip of water over the centuries. After Holcrum Hole you descend steeply into that magical world of 'Postman Pat' land, dales, becks, scattered stones, tiny creamy-brown Yorkshire cottages clinging to the hillside, and then Whitby and the sea greets you, with the great ruined abbey sitting on the headland.

Whitby is the play town of the north-east, fish and chip shops galore, expensive restaurants as well, tatty tourist shops in the narrow almost medieval streets. These streets will be packed with people, children, dogs, pushchairs and wheelchairs, a van may push its way to unload but cars are a no-no.

Up on the headland is the ruined abbey, this time we did'nt go up the 199 steps with the children, having to carry the little one would have been too much. There is the famous Caedmon modern stone cross at the top, but you have to pay to go into the grounds, the stone stone of the abbey is a buttery brown colour, I have never understood why it was built on top of the cliff in full view of the sea and raiding Vikings, but of course the abbey is famous for St.Hilda and the banishing of 'snakes'; the legend goes that she turned them to stone, the snakes were of course rock ammonites! Though historically it is the Synod of Whitby that goes down in the history books and the dating of Easter.

The one thing that fascinates my partner about Whitby, is of course the fish shop, which truly does have the 'fruits of the sea' on its slabs, and also the freshest fish, there is one more fish shop outside the fish sheds, but their fish is not turned over regularly every day. The fish shop draws him like a magnet, various small 'snail like creatures' (cockles, whelks, mussels, scallops of course so I am informed) dressed and undressed crabs, great lobsters, and beautifully 'kippered' kippers reside amongst the white fish, the children of course pull their noses up at all this bounty from the sea.

The grandchildren treats consist of icecreams of course, but also chocolate cake, which the little one can consume in vast quantities. The last day we went to the Sherlock cafe, which is 'olde style', plastered in Victorian bits and pieces and books lying on the shelves everywhere, but a great treat for everyone. I had been there before a couple of years ago, and taken a photo of a 'vampirish goth' sedately eating her cake in the corner..

Soup plates of chocolate cake with fudge sauce and icecream was the order of the day for the children, Lillie demanding that every last bit on her plate was spooned into her mouth. It keeps them quiet but to me is the most decadent of puddings/cakes on this planet.

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