Day two of our long weekend on the Yorkshire coast dawned bright and chilly. From our hotel room on the second floor we had a fantastic view of Scarborough castle.
We decided that after breakfast we would go to Whitby, a few miles up the coast. The temperature barely rose above 1°C all the way there and there was a thin mist hanging over the fields, creating magical views of the countryside.
Whitby turned out to be a magical place, everything that Scarborough wasn’t. It was fairly quiet when we arrived but it was soon bustling with visitors.
The mist lifted, the sun came out, and we strolled around the town and along the promenade, taking in the sights and the sea air.
There was some interesting sights to be seen. Lots of people with dogs, plenty of birds and – people in fancy dress. There seemed to be some kind of theme going on, a nineteenth century theme perhaps, almost Dracula meets Charles Dickens, meets Heath Robinson, meets Pirates of Penzance, meets American Civil War. We couldn’t quite figure it out but there didn’t seem to be a particular event anywhere, just lots of people wandering around in costume, quite nonchalantly, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
I could understand the Dracula connection, Whitby being the place where the story was conceived. But the other stuff – the false hands, flying goggles, buckled boots and undertaker’s hats – I had no idea what that was all about. And the costumes were not cheap fancy dress shop rubbish either, they were quality outfits, well fitting and well made.
It was all very good natured. Nobody was taking that much notice, as if this happens all the time in Whitby. I was cautious of taking photos but sneaked a few as people passed by.
However, I couldn’t resist asking this chap if I could take his picture. I have no idea how his get-up fitted into the scheme of things, but he looked pretty cool I thought. Dracula meets biker/pirate perhaps? Or it could have been his usual Sunday best for an afternoon stroll with his little dog!
We had a bite to eat in a small coffee shop in a side street – a toasted brie and cranberry sandwich for Nick and two slices of Yorkshire tea loaf with Wensleydale cheese for me. The custom of eating cheese with fruit cake in Yorkshire is something I had forgotten about but I can highly recommend it.
After lunch we emerged from the coffee shop to continue with our walk and almost immediately came across a fabulous sight – no, not the harbour, the boats or the lighthouse above, but a couple with not just one but three standard poodles. All black and all male. My heart missed a beat.
We had a good long chat with the owners and it was lovely to ruffle the curly heads and be leaned on again – by the dogs not the owners, of course! Afterwards Nick and I had a long talk about the possibility of having another dog ourselves. We had wondered about getting a different breed this time but we’ll have to see. For me, having shared my life with a succession of standard poodles almost continuously for more than thirty years, I simply can’t imagine having anything else.
We liked Whitby. Nick had been there several times before but I had only been once, many years ago, and I can’t remember a thing about it. It’s hard to say exactly why it’s so much better than Scarborough. It’s smaller and more compact and there was no bad behaviour, no bad language to be heard, less litter and the shops, cafés and other attractions were somehow less tacky.
We left around mid afternoon so that we could get back to Scarborough in daylight, maybe have a walk around the other side of the bay, give it a second chance and hopefully spot somewhere to eat without having to drive the car.
We avoided the crowded Scarborough sea front this time and ventured elsewhere, but even the Grand Hotel was a disappointment. Definitely not grand any more, the structure still imposing but the interior scruffy and uninviting. There were no white tablecloths and sparkling wineglasses in the restaurant, and the menu was more holiday camp than fine dining.
Scarborough is in fact a strange place. The beach is beautiful and there are nice parks, but all the other seaside attractions seem very downmarket, half price this and bargain that, which in my experience they rarely are, they’re just cheap. We had the distinct impression that the town of Scarborough had definitely seen better days.
Yet there are still large swathes of nice looking, neat and well kept hotels and guest houses. So where do all the people who stay in these nice places go when they’re there? We found a Turkish restaurant that was within walking distance in a nice area and we had a lovely meal there, although we were the only customers.
On the Monday morning we had another chance to see the magnificent view from our hotel room before we set off back to Derbyshire. We travelled via two old market towns, Pickering where we explored the secondhand and antique shops, and Malton, where we had an excellent pub lunch.
We had had a grand weekend in Yorkshire. It turns out that all the fancy dress was because there had been a “steampunk” event in Whitby the night before. Whatever that is!