The 199 Steps

Whitby is a scenic harbour town on the east coast of Yorkshire; the harbour piers face north so it has an east and west cliff, both of which are worth clambering up. You don’t have to climb the cliff face, you can arrive at the west cliff hotels or the east cliff abbey ruins by coach, bus or car, but it is more interesting to tread the many paths and steps that wind upwards. Count Dracula took such a route up the east cliff after his ship was blown off course in the north sea. Disguised as a black dog he ran up the 199 steps to the church of St. Mary and the ruins of St. Hilda’s Abbey, thus creating a tourist attraction for the fitter holiday maker.

6

Author Bram Stoker is not the only famous person to have lived here, son of Yorkshire, Captain James Cook attended school in Whitby and was born in a nearby village.

P1040327

This was not our first visit to Whitby, but it was our first attempt at airbnb. We chose a cottage in town according to good reviews; as first timers we had to register with some personal info and after being accepted received reams of instructions on where to park the car and how to get in the door. I know from people who use airbnb, when working away from home, that some places are literally a room in someone’s house, someone often glad of the company. We were not to be greeted by a real human. However, we managed the key box without any trouble and were delighted to find ourselves in a cosy three storey home. The bathroom was on the middle floor and the bedroom at the top, the two flights of winding narrow stairs were more like mountain climbing and getting our luggage up was more of a struggle than reaching Everest base camp.

P1040305

Exploring on foot is the best way to enjoy Whitby, the swing bridge is a quick way to get from one side of town to the other and if you like fish there is no shortage of fish restaurants to choose for your dinner; many have claims such as best fish and chips in town, best east side fish restaurant, best harbour view fish and chips… Though we were self catering we didn’t actually cook any dinners on our four nights there – a fact that made it easy to keep the pristine kitchen clean.

18

On the first evening, after a meal, we popped into a quaint harbourside pub that looked full of character and was full of characters. Anyone popping in later on would have thought they were in a scene from Fisherman’s Friends, happening upon some local folk singing, but none of the people we met were locals. Two Australians were delighted to meet someone who had lived in Perth (me) and the lady from Edinburgh to discover Cyberspouse was Scottish. It turned out the Aussies were originally ten pound Pommies who went out on the very first jumbo jet to Australia in the early seventies. Their friend, who looked like a local fisherman, spent half a year in Perth and the other half in Whitby. The highlight for me was when the two chaps started singing and had great voices.

P1040345

The next day we easily walked up the 199 steps, but were soon soaked in the rain, photos of the abbey would have to wait. The abbey was ruined by Henry V111, but St. Mary’s church is fascinating with all the pews in boxes; respectable families had their own boxes, strangers were kept separate and the rabble squashed into the more uncomfortable boxes. There is also a lovely building which now houses a youth hostel with its restaurant open to the public; in the rain this was too busy, but we visited on the next two days.

11

Other highlights of our stay were climbing up the 81 steps of the harbour lighthouse and the long walk to Sandsend along the coast before the tide came in. Showers were followed by sunshine as we reached the lovely village with cottages either side of the little river.

17

On the last evening, a stroll down the pier found us gathered with a few others round a man who was taking his five Saint Bernard dogs for a stroll, he said he had seventeen rescue collies at home which his wife exercised. Apparently the key to his happy dog household was that he was the leader of the pack. I would have loved to have seen his house!

P1040546

The next morning we packed up, tidied up and followed the unlocking procedure in reverse.  Later on we received a thanks e-mail from the owner; but to see his review of us, we had to review his cottage first. We gave it 5 stars and he gave us 5 stars; we’re officially airbnbers – though I’m never sure how to write it. And the host we never met? Well it’s obvious he must have been a vampire.

Read more about last week’s trip and my other travels this year at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-four-travel-diary

You can find out more about Whitby and the Yorkshire coast here.

http://www.whitby.co.uk/

 

 

Advertisements

Silly Saturday on Strike

Silly Saturday is on strike; #Climatestrike was yesterday, but as that was a Friday… you get the picture, in fact pictures are all you are getting; because of the strike no words will be written, except these ones you are reading.

Eclectic Selection of Silly Sights

28

DSCN1828

DSCN2101

68791231_433297913944461_2770310200056348672_n

36940738_2172002706162841_6989539359858884608_n

5

33500818_2101460066550439_5825106909107060736_o

14

42464994_2295089690520808_1144213162061463552_o

P1060170

sunshine-blogger

Sunny Salisbury

1

A day out is even more enjoyable if everyone is having a day out and everybody was out in Salisbury on Sunny Saturday. Our day started at the free Park and Ride; the drive north from Bournemouth is slow but pleasantly rural. The walk from the bus stop to our brunch destination took us through the busy market in the square. Then towards River Walk where we bumped straight into a cheerful ‘Salisbury for Europe’ march by our fellow Remainers. Every town and county seems to have a ‘For Europe’ group, I’m thinking of collecting all the blue badges.

4.jpg

After brunch we strolled to the cathedral, time was limited because we were going to a matinee at the theatre, but the cathedral is timeless. We jostled with tourists and locals through the narrow arch to the swards of green that surround Salisbury Cathedral. Cathedral greens and closes are usually delightful, with all the interesting old buildings and houses that have clustered round the great cathedrals over the centuries. On a sunny day, flowers blooming in window boxes and gardens, to live in such places seems perfect, though perhaps not with all the modern tourists.

8

We paused at a red telephone box, peering in to see if it was still active or turned into a safe place for a defibrillator; we had hardly had a chance to see if it still took coins when an irate voice said ‘Excuse me’ in an accent that suggested she was not local. We were standing in the way of a lady trying to take an iconic photo of her husband with a red telephone box in the background. That was the only grumpy note we heard all day, for the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral on a sunny day are a happy place to be. People of all ages, language students, tourists and families; running, picnicking, painting, taking photographs, playing badminton. Even if you are on a whistle stop tour you can still treasure a few moments looking up at the spire soaring into the blue sky.

https://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/

20

The cloisters were also packed, I wonder what monks strolling along quietly contemplating would have made of modern visitors. There was a free grab a canvas event; children and adults busy painting on two sides while opposite, people sat with their refreshments.

30.jpg

While in the cloisters you can pop into the restaurant and shop with glass roofs to gaze up at the cathedral.  There are also recently improved free toilets. Just wandering around is enjoyable. If you do get a chance to visit there is a voluntary donation to look around inside the cathedral. Surrounding the cathedral are museums, a lovely National Trust House and the home of the late Edward Heath, one of Britain’s Prime Ministers.

13.jpg

Our first visit to the Salisbury Playhouse was to see Alan Ayckbourn’s first successful play, Relatively Speaking, which we had seen a long time ago. It’s a comedy so the audience were in a good mood and it was hilarious. The theatre is a pleasant light place which we hope to visit again.

https://www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk/whats-on/main-house/relatively-speaking/

What is your favourite day out and does the weather make a difference to your enjoyment?

25

Salisbury features in Three Ages of Man, a stand alone novel from my Brief Encounters trilogy.

 

Silly Saturday – The Past Unblogged

It’s a tragedy, so many years wasted, so many years of our lives unblogged and the more decades you have put in on this planet, the greater the loss. Interesting events could have been shared legibly with the world instead of scribbled on an aerogramme to a few family and friends.

For those who haven’t been to a post office museum, an aerogramme bore little resemblance to Instagram, but in its own humble way was very convenient. A foldable gummed piece of blue paper bought from the post office; the idea being to write in large neat script at the top, then realise you had plenty yet to say and pack the words in tighter. By the time you turned over to the fourth and last panel you were reduced to illegible scribble with hardly room to sign your name. Then stick it down and post in a letter box. Perhaps there are attics full of these flimsy blue papers, full of family history across the seas…

P1100327

On holiday people could send picture post cards and still can, but they would not be in the picture… how many miles of travel unrecorded on Facebook, Instagram and blogs? Travellers had to wait till they got back to their hotel or tent to try and write to their loved ones, more likely no one would know where they had been until they had returned and who would believe they had been at the top of that mountain or canoed round those tropical islands without proof?

If you could go back in time and blog about your life which times would you reveal? A worse thought; if your parents had been blessed with the internet would they have been writing funny blogs about your nappy disasters at the swimming pool changing room or your tantrum in the supermarket…

liebster-award

Silly Saturday – Stretching Summer

Don’t worry what the weatherman says.

Astronomical autumn is defined by the Earth’s axis and orbit around the Sun, autumn equinox. This year autumn begins on the 23rd September 2019 and ends on the 22nd December 2019.

59360587_2646522172044223_2329298740445184000_o

Meteorological seasons consist of splitting the seasons into four periods made up of three months each. By the meteorological calendar the first day of autumn is always the 1st September ending on the 30th November.

This information is issued by the Met Office who call themselves that as they can’t remember how to spell meatioralogecal. In some parts of the world autumn is called fall to save remembering how to spell awtum.

So it’s still astronomical summer in the northern hemisphere, even if all the children have gone back to school and the leaves are falling off the trees.

67403441_469288463904461_5185381172569440256_n

You can stretch summer further by waiting till the clocks go back… In 2019 British Summer Time will come to an end on October 27th. Easy to remember as that is the date of my first born’s birthday.

So enjoy some more summer.

DSCN4704

DSCN0516

3

DSCN2231

DSCN0438

Enjoy 24 stories that take you through the year.

 

sunshine-blogger

Visication

A visication is when you go to visit friends or relations and have a free holiday, often somewhere you have not visited before and perhaps with unique accommodation. They might be showing you around with wining and dining, or you may be baby, dog and house sitting. It is always interesting if they have just moved home; a new location for writing ideas.

Team AK are living at a house on an organic farm. The cottage came with sitting tenants when the family bought the farm in the 1940s and apparently didn’t leave ( die?) until the end of the century; by which time there was still no gas, electricity or running water. Perhaps life with their wood stove and well water suited them. In 2000 the house was renovated and modernised, but still has loads of charm and real wooden doors. You can walk round the house; literally round and round. Every time we went through a door we were not sure which room we would find ourselves in. The stairs were shallow, deep and steep, luckily with banisters either side.

They don’t have to go far to post a letter as there is a royal mail letter box built into the wall of the house. A few yards from their front door is a farm shop like no other perhaps. No humans, just a coin operated organic whole milk dispensing machine and a help yourself cabinet with butter and free range eggs.

69174833_2861246683905103_4026481636127277056_o

There are quaint traditions associated with Visications. We are always invited on a bank holiday weekend and always get stuck in traffic. I pass the time by putting pictures of the scenery on Instagram and updating those at our destination with pictures of Eddie Stobart lorries or slow moving farm tractors.     I always forget something; this time my prescription sun glasses on the brightest sunniest August bank holiday weekend ever.

68959574_403416460533417_7054972190181031936_n

Our first morning was enlivened when, after several months of waiting, the landlord sent the chap to replace the back door before any of us were up. Half of us stayed at home in limbo thinking he would be finished at any moment and we could go out, he wasn’t, but at least we had a secure door ready for…

Sunday’s departure of Team AK to go camping in Wales, leaving the house and all the equipment to do with their business in our safe hands? They weren’t going glamping, but they did have a blow up tent and a cool box… and a fridge…

68992795_510789399686468_7007681013954379776_n

We enjoyed two outings to the nearby River Severn.  On Sunday afternoon we went to Bridgnorth with the aim of finding the Severn Valley Steam Railway. As we found ourselves in the lower town we crossed the bridge over the river and had a ride in the country’s steepest cliff lift. We discovered a lovely church on the hill designed by Thomas Telford. Another unexpected ‘attraction’ was the music festival; several locations, all playing what appeared to be the same music VERY LOUDLY. Pity the poor people who lived nearby. Looking it up on line it seems we missed the poetry and arts, perhaps they were on Wed-Friday and Monday.

http://www.visitbridgnorth.co.uk/

69412870_2861130377250067_8537022162576343040_o

Bank Holiday Monday found us visiting Ironbridge two years after our last visit; since then the bridge has had a major rescue and restoration and is now painted in the original red brown. If you get the chance this is a great place to visit, you can walk along the river and visit all sorts of industrial museums. The river banks crowded with trees are a far cry from the fiery furnaces of the industrial revolution.

69124367_939553849729236_7369923812738990080_n

Talking to a photographer we discovered we had missed the coracle racing. Having a cup of tea at the Youth Hostel by the Coalbrook China museum we chatted to a New Zealand chap hostelling round Europe and visiting his son in Denmark for the son’s fiftieth birthday. You’re never too old to do youth hostelling. We talked to the lady booking people in, hostels provide all sorts of different accommodation and the supper club sounded fun, everyone sits down together at 7pm so you have company. Maybe we’ll try that when the relatives are tired of us visiting them.

69300158_2411648552493450_1090518631978106880_n

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/iron-bridge/history/

69368200_2396208553792591_3520779636801798144_n

What are your favourite visications?

sunshine-blogger

 

Staycation

sunshine-blogger

 To some a Staycation means not going abroad for their holiday, for others it means staying at home in the garden. With our bathroom being ripped out and hopefully replaced, we took the bus into town with our wheelie cases.

28423837_1994523800577400_5819792682395197918_o

Friday evening we arrived in torrential rain, Saturday and Sunday saw heat waves and on our last night we watched the lightning from our balcony.

For writers and photographers, finding interesting places to stay is vital. We had five nights at an Art Deco hotel which I’m sure has seen better days, but makes a good Premiere Inn. We had a front balcony, only on the second floor, but still fun to look out at everything going on. Westover Road has also seen better days; now an interesting mix with art galleries, posh jewellers and pub at the other end, the lovely Pavilion across the road from abandoned Odeon cinemas and a YMCA hostel next to the hotel. Opposite us, coaches delivered endless day trippers.

1

After breakfast on the first morning we went up to the ninth floor and found a writer and photographer’s delight, the rear view; a riot of fire escapes with a little old house surrounded by layers of building developments. A walk up the road took us to the official opening of a newly pedestrianised area, Darth Vader and friends turned up collecting money for charity.

5

Down at the pier and the main beach, which you always see in newspaper pictures of seaside hot spots, was busy, busy, busy; beach parties with tables laden with food and very loud sound systems. A walk to the end of the pier brought a bit of peace and a good view of the zip wire which takes you back to the beach.

67234316_702039496925064_8614802783356321792_n

What did I learn from pretending to be a visitor? The homeless group that always seems to be there when I go to Bournemouth and get off the bus, IS always there; a double bed arrangement which stretches halfway across the pavement with several occupants near to our busy hotel. Of course they are not the only homeless; in a town full of happy holiday makers and lively young language students they are the spectre at the feast and Darth Vader isn’t the only one ignoring them. In the gardens there are buskers and a young man doing fire juggling with a sign ‘Homeless but Trying’. At the shops there are Big Issue sellers. I bought a Big Issue.

DSCN2101

The Royal Bath Hotel nearby is a great place to stroll into. Sit and cool off inside the huge fascinating lounge or enjoy the sun in the gardens. You could stay all day, people watching, plug in your lap top etc. without anyone noticing.  This hotel has also seen better days, as we discovered when we went there for dinner one evening to try the ‘special three course meal’ – no wonder it was so reasonable; we needn’t have worried about being smartly dressed, there were some very strange guests.

67802808_1921618381274043_2615444781853048832_n

On our last day we went abroad on a cruise; bus to Poole Quay for a boat trip to the start of the Jurassic coast at Old Harry Rock and then to Swanage on The Isle of Purbeck, an hour’s trip. We disembarked at the restored Victorian Pier for five hours ashore. A short walk takes you through the pleasant seaside town to the station where you can see steam trains, take a ride to Corfe Castle or have a snack in the railway carriage cafe. A walk out to Peveril Point and we could stand on the cliffs and look back to Bournemouth.

DSCN2231

For more Staycation pictures visit my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-two-coastal-views

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-five-beach-writer-s-blog/

Have you been on a Staycation?

 

Liebster Award (Retro)

Friday Flash Fiction – Reaching The Moon

For a moment he couldn’t remember where he was, not unusual as he was increasingly losing touch with reality. The long June days and sudden spell of sunshine had made the short nights warm and dry and he had been sleeping better. If an alcohol and drug induced coma could be called sleep.

Churchyard, graveyard, still above the ground; that’s where he was, for weeks, or months perhaps. He turned his head with difficulty, had the other two already gone? It wasn’t always easy to tell. His dreams were hard to recall, staring up at the full moon in the clear sky, that could be real, but there was a little girl who loved the moon. He read her favourite moon stories; bears who couldn’t sleep looking up at the moon, daughters who asked their daddies to give them the moon. Jono hadn’t given her the moon, or much at all. His daughter, that’s right, he had a daughter once. Moon stories was all he could remember; when did he leave or was it they who left? Such a long time ago.

Christmas, he gave her a moon book. Christmas was for children. Christmas was for shelter, how many. One year they found his sister, the last person he wanted to see, he left before she could come and fetch him, left before he had even had his feet seen to. After that he just made up his name and now he didn’t even recall what his real name was.

Jono did not even recall what his daughter’s name had been. Grown up now, did she go to the moon, had anyone been back to the moon since that first time on his tenth birthday? A ladder to the moon, he told the little girl daughter he would find the longest ladder in the world and they would climb to the moon, not tell anybody, be back by morning.

People, so many people going in the church, but not Jono, he never went in there in case they wanted to help him. Most people ignored him, but do-gooders wouldn’t leave you alone. He struggled to stand, good thing about gravestones, they helped you up… one day they would push him down.

Jono found his feet taking him up the stone steps, with the people, excitement, chatter, something was happening; happening to the church, to the people going in or to him. Mostly he looked at the ground, but today something made him look up and there it was, the Moon, hanging there motionless, hanging above them all. How could it be inside the church instead of up in the sky?

At last he had fetched his daughter the Moon, but how could he show her? There she was, a little girl, but there was another child and another, how could he tell which one was his. Looking up made him dizzy, he sat in a pew and drifted into a moon dream.

29

‘A moon in the church?’ said Chris.

‘Yes, I saw it on Facebook, we must go and look, some kind of art installation, but it’s accurate, NASA and all that scientific stuff. I used to love the moon when I was little, that’s the only thing I can remember about my father, reading to me at bedtime. He said if he couldn’t find a ladder long enough to reach the moon I would have to wait till I was grown up and become an astronaut.’

Chris laughed. ‘My mother thought we would be living on the moon in the Twenty First Century.’

28

The church was humming, everyone looking up; a real moon suspended above the nave, huge, still and silent except for the Apollo voices and moon music. She was surprised how affected she was and hoped Chris wouldn’t rush her. They took pictures, posted them on Instagram and Facebook.

Chris was ready to go, they were meeting friends for lunch, she paused halfway down the aisle, whispered to him.

‘That old tramp, do you think he’s alright, he looks like he might be dead.’

‘Come on, we’ll be late for the others, he’s probably out of his head on drugs. Always a few homeless sleeping in the churchyard. One of their street team can sort him out.

 

Inspired by Museum Of The Moon

https://my-moon.org/about/

Read more about my visit to the moon here.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-five-beach-writer-s-blog/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beachwriter’s Blog

sunshine-blogger

There is plenty to enjoy living by the sea, even if you never set a toe in the water. But there is so much to do involving seawater that it’s a shame if you don’t dip your toes or whole body in.

You need nothing if you have a naturist beach nearby or you can go to the other extreme and encase you body in a wet suit and acquire lots of equipment.

Paddling is the first introduction for most of us to the ocean and waves, warm and soothing at low tide on a sunny day, cold and daring at high tide on a windy day.

12

But swimming is the ultimate, leaving the land to which you are bound, seeing the coast from a different view point. On a hot day with the sun sparkling on the ripples it is bliss, on colder days it’s invigorating with the initial shock turning to a burning glow. I have never worn a wet suit, assuming it would take away the feeling of freedom and more importantly I don’t think I could manage to pull one on, let alone peel it off again.

62454867_343942479619096_406051946240147456_n

A beach hut doesn’t involve water and many enjoy sitting outside their huts with the kettle boiling enjoying the view and watching the world go by. On a hot summer weekend the whole world does go past your beach hut if you are on the promenade, so a snooze in peace is unlikely. But for the swimmer a beach hut is a great luxury, even if it’s only a six foot wooden box – six foot square, not the six foot long other kind of wooden box. You don’t have to lug your towels, folding chairs, buckets and spades and wind breaks down to the beach each time and you have somewhere to get changed.

60856199_2673344862695287_7869529226246881280_o

Renting our little square of concrete from the council (we own the hut ) is not cheap, but probably cheaper than the many sea sports which involve getting all the gear. From paddle boarding on a calm day to owning your own sailing boat there are many ways to be on the ocean. For some, their boat is a part of family life just as a dog is for other families. I am a touch envious of people who can sail over and drop anchor just off Studland Beach, a lovely stretch of natural coast unspoiled by groynes or promenades, it also includes the nudist beach. The rest of us face a slow bus trip or drive across the conurbation of Bournemouth and Poole and a £4.50 trip on the chain ferry ( £1 for pedestrians and bikes ). But a boat owner told me the trouble with owning a boat is, you feel compelled to go out in it if the weather is good, so you never get to do other things on a sunny day.

DSCN1280

If you are adventurous you can go surfing – big board, kite surfing – little board or wind surfing. All of them involve falling in the sea a lot and being watched by other people and photographers. These sports also involve lugging around equipment and spending ages getting ready and deciding if the wind or waves are right.

9

So I shall stick to swimming; after the days of torrential rain and changeable weather, I finally had my first swim of the year on Saturday. Sea temperature 16 degrees. It was lovely, but there is one piece of equipment I would like; a waterproof camera for a real sea view.

DSCN3315

Visit my website for more coastal views.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-two-coastal-views/

Some of the stories in Times and Tides are set at the seaside.