01.05.2009 - 04.05.2009 16 °C
As I write, it is my very last night in the UK, the end of the second phase of my trip, which has gone far too quickly for comfort.
When I left Birmingham at the beginning of May, I was a little torn about what I would do: in theory I was supposed to go to Galway, but there were places I wanted to see again and the cost of living in Ireland is a little frightening, even by comparison with the cost of living in England. So I put that aspect of the jaunt off for a little, and headed back to Whitby. It took me all day, but that was mainly because I had a three hour wait between trains in York – I might have made the earlier train which left about five minutes after I arrived, had I known about it or not had to struggle through the station with all my gear and take the time to stable my bike in York railway station. So, I found a quiet spot in the pub in the station, there was no way I was going to carry my bags about, and did some ale-powered work. Then it was up through Middlesburgh and across to Whitby.
Just seeing the place
again confirmed that it is my kind of place. Although the trudge up the 199 steps to the hostel
is not my kind of thing, by the time I had spent a long weekend there, I was really reluctant to leave. The hostel felt like home, helped by the really quite wonderful views from my room
Last time I was here, I found a good cafe but this time round, I found Beckett’s and once I did, the other place didn’t get a look in. I was in every day once I found it. Beckett’s is a cosy and very welcoming place which not only does good coffee, but has great cakes and has two walls devoted to books for sale. Breaking my rules about buying more stuff to carry, I bought two. One, I was reading the back cover and thought, hmmm that sounds a lot like Men Behaving Badly, who is copying whom? Then I saw it was actually David Nye’s Men Behaving Badly. Turned out to be pretty lame, as it happens, so I left it in the hostel book exchange.
On what was Bank Holiday Monday over here, I had a horrible attack of indecision: their cakes were good, their teacakes were good, how the hell was I to decide? I didn’t – I went for both. Somehow this same state of indecision found me paralysed outside another cafe on the way back to the hostel and in much the same state of mind, had to go in and indulge in more teacakes. My extensive research has revealed that the baker in Whitby makes a particularly yeasty and very addictive and fine form of teacake.
Another great find in Whitby was the Board Inn. I’d been for a really good meal of fish and chips and wasn’t quite ready to climb the 199 steps so thought a pint was in order. This led to me going back for another every night I was in Whitby. Watching the sun go down had a peculiar fascination
Captain Cook is on the horizon – here he is a bit closer
On the way through to Whitby, I’d noticed a wee town that looked kind of cool, Grosmont, then I found out that a steam train
was running from Whitby to a festival of steam at Grosmont. It was something I had to do.
Now, when you travel on the 17:55 to Lichfield Trent Valley, or even the 14:02 Virgin Pendolino to Euston, people tend not to be out waving, but put yourself in a steam hauled train and everyone wants to wave at you. A LOT of people seem to be interested in just seeing a steam train arrive
Mind you, some were quite spectacular
I wonder if people can work out what the special story is about this train
The Tornado is the first steam engine made in the UK in something like 50 years, and was commissioned in 2009, just a couple of months ago. Grosmont is not the biggest of towns,
and trains seem to be a big part of its life – I think there were three shops selling railway souvenirs. Going back, I decided to travel first class
Back at the station in Whitby, there was sword dancing
I've managed to knock off the second volume of the Forsyte Saga over the past couple of weeks, which I found to be quite strange because the Forsytes are decidedly thin on the ground. Yes, Soames Forsyte is there as a central figure, and his daughter is to the fore, but the rest drop into the background. Instead, the Mont family, into which Fleur married come in for a lot of attention. So, I came to like Soames in this volume, and was sad when he took the ferry in quite a dramatic way. Fleur is horrible, completely spoilt - her only saving grace is that she knows it. One of the more interesting features of the novel is that it sets up oppositions between the old ways and the new, including the modern use of language. Some of the phrases have stuck, but a lot were just a fad and long gone, to the point I hardly knew what was being said at times.