Thursday, October 27, 2011


Sheep of course everywhere on the moors
Back in Essex, after a comfortable drive back, the last couple of days have been taken up with washing,etc.
The cottage is in the hands of the plasterers now, chimney mended and hopefully the roof will not display any other problems, though there is mutterings about rotten wood under the guttering!
It was cold in Whitby and gale force winds for a couple of days but the cottage was warm, if somewhat unfurnished and bare of carpets, but carpets and a sofa will arrive soon, and the beds have already arrived.
My son-in-law D has beautifully painted all the old stripped paint surfaces, and done a thousand and one jobs in the process.

holcrum Hole
We came over the moors from York to Whitby, and they are bleak if the sun isn't out, a palette of browns and greys, with blackened surfaces where the heather has been deliberately burnt back.  Passing the Hole of Holcrum, a great bowl of greenery, caused not by a meteorite from outer space but the steady drip of water, drop by drop over the millenia.
Whitby is as crowded as ever, fish and chip shops abound, it's like a northern Southend but of course much prettier.  We do the usual rounds with the children, tea and chocolate cake at Sherlocks, a very Victorian teashop, with books everywhere and LS and I go to the Magpie Restaurant, not for fish and chips but they do a great range of other fish like squid, turbot and halibut.  The restaurant is so popular that people queue for hours to get in, and it has a deserved reputation.  The 'proper' way to eat fish and chips is with mushy peas, white buttered bread and a pot of tea and most people seemed to be eating this when we were there.
The sofa was, at last, found in Middlesborough, which is about 35 miles from Whitby, and you have to drive through Teesside, etc. We also took the coastal road, that took us past Skinninggrove, a small village set by the sea, now having a somewhat derelict air as the steel industry that employed so many people has gone. Each year they have a great bonfire display, a couple of years ago it was a Viking ship burnt, last year I think it was a dragon.
But to Middlesborough, an enormous shopping complex/mall, the first person we see there is 'Jesus' from Whitby standing by a hot dog stall, and D says he has probably walked all the way.  A strange thin man, who does indeed look like Jesus, thin face, long hair and beard, probably Italian he mutters unintelligibly to himself, but is well looked after in Whitby, showering at the sports centre, and collecting his daily allowance of money from the bank, where he lives I do not know.
The problem with shopping with three other people, is that everyone has an opinion on what they like, and I cannot choose too well, but Laura Ashley had a sale on, so we eventually find one at half price which seemed to suit everyone.

A view down Brunswick road, just off Flowergate

Brunswick Road with its three churches clustered together

Whitby at night

Going down the valley to Beck Hole,

Yorkshire farm house up on the moors

Skinninggrove -Teesside


The girls


  1. I've only been to Whitby once before, Thelma, about 10 years ago and on a bank holiday. It was a nightmare, as you might imagine! It does look pretty though, and after your description of the Magpie and its amazing food I am making plans to go back forthwith!

  2. I'm not a fan of fish and chips although my husband likes to order then occasionally. I had to read the wikipedia reference for mushy peas--sounded a bit gruesome although there was a nice photo of "a British meal of fish and chips" etc.
    Your cottage sounds like a inviting place to be---warm and freshly new within. I can imagine the rooms with a "camping out" sense of impermanence re the furnishings.
    And yes---shopping for a major thing such as a sofa can become bewildering---too many choices presented. In terms of such, my long-legged husband will choose a chair or sofa which fits him and I am left sitting on the edge in order for my feet to touch the floor! One which might fit my height leaves him with knees jacked up about his ears.
    I especially like your photo of the Yorkshire farmstead--I'd be far more at home there than in the environ of a shopping mall!

  3. Hi to you both, its Ben isn't it Genius Loci?. The Magpie is very famous, and serve a variety of freshly caught fish, so it doesn't have to be fish & chips. Yes the town gets pretty full and it is difficult to park, we found a back street car park for £4 for 24 hours which suited us. Mostly I think the people come from the big Northern cities, the neighbours both sides come from Leeds..
    Reading your blog, thought you might like this of the volcanic eruption in Iceland..

    Hi MM, mushy peas also look terrible and are rather tasteless, but my dover sole in brown butter was delicious. Trouble with the cottage is its small, so everything has to be to scale, bit like my miniature work. Phone call this morning says that it has been reduced to a mess again, as they have scrapped all the old plaster off the stair walls, and the builder has just given me the figure for his work ;(. It should be ready for Xmas when we go up though...

  4. There’s a fishmonger’s on Sandgate GL where you can get the best of the local seafood at very reasonable prices; they’ll even open up their oysters (85p each) for you on the spot and, along with a few of those followed by a pint of Guinness at the Duke of York down the lane and overlooking the harbour, is well worth the visit ;-) The Magpie Cafe is a few minutes’ away on the other side of the harbour and fully deserves its reputation as the best seafood restaurant in town. Thelma had Dover Sole and I had deep fried squid – only complaint is that the portions are really big so, next time, I’m going for just a main with no trimmings (except a separate side salad). Oysters there are cultivated by the monks on Lindisfarne – they’re small (the oysters that is not the monks) but are very flavoursome (come in on ice and cost £1.60 each).