We’d left Donnington park glad to be on solid ground and happy to be on the move, we pulled into the first service station in the M1 north, had warm cheese pasties and two bowls of hot tomato soup, both of us smiling at one another, glad to say we’d done it and very glad to be on our way, conditions their had certainly taken their toll. We were £50 quid short of the pitch fee, perhaps wrong place for what we had to offer perhaps wrong conditions. But considering all that we’d done ok
Scarborough had been on my mind for the last few days, Orsi trusted me. I’d thought fresh air, somewhere to curl up, clean up and warm up. It was such a beautiful drive across North Yorkshire, dazzling greenery, farms, woods, the rise and fall of country roads, Pearl feeling solid and just good to be on the move
Scarborough hadn’t changed much since I was last there, a surprising 20 years earlier. After the mud, laundry was the priority. Eventually found a launderette ‘Ramshill Cleaners’ on the corner of Royal avenue and the Filey road out of town. The friendly girl made us coffee we’d arrived late afternoon so there wasn’t enough time to dry everything, so later we hung the stuff up in the back of Pearl who resembled what I imagined an old Chinese laundry to look like, Orsi went for a swim in the baths and I went down to a great seaside café-bar in the south bay to try and catch up.
Scarborough was shrouded in mist which obscured all the recognizable landmarks Orsi had no idea where we were, but we both loved the mood of the place, authentic, mysterious and ancient, the whole town seemed to be stilled.
The lady at the Launderette had recommended the chipy next door and to cut a long story short, sour and miserable staff, open sign on the door, last minute rush, not wanting to fry more chips, stroppy young guy behind the counter was giving 10-15 chips per portion to customers. I pulled him playfully, it escalated into a full-blown row. Silly over a few chips right, but then again £12.50, what would you have done?
We parked down to the sea front under the glowing empty amusement arcade and smoothed our feathers down. reminding ourselves we’d so looked forward to being there. Just a little way along through the thick damp mist the glow of the Globe pub overlooking the harbor drew us like heavy moths, the ocean still and glassy. The sea front was stone dead and silent. As we chatted to an old couple in the bar, my hands had switched on, they buzz, I knew they needed some healing, I motioned to Orsi, my eyes to my hands, but we kept quiet, sometimes it seems a little odd to offer, later as we walked back to Pearl, we saw them walking back to their house and I wished we had done.
Next morning sat in the Yellow Wave café in the south bay looking along the seafront towards the now visible ruins of the castle up on the cliffs, both of us quiet and content, trying to get some work done, Scarborough has some sort of magic.
Later in the harbor I was washing the mud of the 3 chairs I had liberated from the Download festival, they came up quite well, the captain in charge of the Mini Pirate Galleon tied up just there, disembarked and nodded approvingly towards me.
“People are lazy and wasteful these days aren’t they” he said. I had to agree. There had been what had looked like a stunted forest of chairs left stuck there in the mud the morning we’d left Download, I’d told him.
“Nothing wrong with them” I said
A few minutes later, walking along the sea front I’d been batted right in the face by a seagulls wing and my sandwich snatched right out of my hand. It was stunning, after the initial shock, all I could do was laugh at the audacity of it. I thought about the lady i‘d done a ‘fear of birds’ session a few weeks earlier, that could have been a disaster with someone else.
It was then I realized my Granddad’s rosary beads I carry, that he’d carried through WWII, had lost its crucifix. I was really saddened. We looked back over where we’d walked that morning. We’d just given up when Orsi said ‘one last try where you washed the chairs’ The Pirate ship had just come in as she’d walked down the stone jetty. The Captain saw her looking for something, recognized her from earlier and she told him what had happened, he smiled reached in his pocket and there it was. He’d seen it lying there on the ramp down by his boat. I went back to shake his hand, everyone came out feeling good. Perseverance does pay off and everything does have meaning it seems.
After another B&Q stop on the way out of town it was Whitby ahoy. The drive there was just wonderful, a lovely day, windows down, the sun popping in and out and the two of us wowing all the way along the road and through the beautiful and obviously loved villages. I have always loved this area of England, that love has not waned.
We called into the ruined Whitby Abbey on the way in. I told Orsi the story of Dracula and the Russian ship carrying him ‘the Demeter’ which ran aground on Tate Hill sands at the feet of the cliffs where the ruins of the Abby still stand, the dead skipper lashed to the wheel, all the crew missing except the helper who took the Counts coffin along with the 50 boxes of Transylvania soil up the 199 steps where Dracula had run that first night in the guise of a black hound into the ruins of the Abby, Bela Lugosi was Hungarian too, could be said home turf I suggested, it didn’t go down too well.
The Abby was closed so, as is my way, I jumped over the wall and wadded through the waist high grass, the place to myself and my imagination, towards the ruins while Orsi sensibly walked around the perimeter wall, about half an hour later, I jumped down into the coach park in front of a bus load of children and hurried away, I know they saw me, yeah I felt guilty, sort of, I can’t help it. Whitby down below was calling us.
After the traditional drive through, I parked Pearl up on the top of the cliffs above the pavilion, we were already in love with the place and couldn’t wait to get back into the towns winding narrow streets. Past the whalebone jaw, the statue of Captain Cook, the harbor below, the abbey and St Mary’s church across the harbour, the tide receding. The history of a time period of British history quickly working its way under our skin. The epicenter of early global exploration, genuine hero’s and brave men had walked these streets. We stumbled into a traditional English folk session in a packed pub called the Elisinor on Flowergate. We got the eyeball as we walked in. It could have been the leather jackets that gave us away. Maybe they good reason to be suspicious of strangers dressed in black appearing in the doorways, but it turned out ok.
A group of older locals keeping traditions alive we’re gathered closely and cozily together to sing, there were the all together songs, where the whole pub seemed to spontaneously burst into song, there’d be a pause for a sip of ale, then different people around the pub would just begin singing solo, mournfully and longingly about life at sea and the loss of love. It felt absolutely right.
We stayed a while but our curiosity was stronger and pulled us like the ebbing tide away and out into the darkening narrow streets. We walked on down through the town and the across and around harbour. The seagulls taking me back to feelings from my youth, in Blackpool. I know their sound so well, old friends, cozy and secure. It was a fairly warm night, so later back at Pearl we sat on her step watching the far away torches of the oil rigs out on the north sea and the nearer flourscent markers of the crab and lobster pots bobbing gently on the darkening sea. Orsi was still pretty ill her voice a cross between a whisper and a croak
That night the oceans damp fingers had crept in around Pearls rubber seals we both woke shivering and aching. We washed across the road in the bare cold bones and echoing public loos, I washed feeling really bad about Orsi, I wondered who else would go through this with me. I had to give her credit, she could be doing so many other things, I watched her shivering back at the van up on top of the cliffs.
We decided to go and have some coffee in a warm place. There are some remarkable coffee shops in Whitby too, like I imagined they used to be like when coffee was a luxury and had a certain mystique to it, where people had smoked and told tales sipping rough raw brews of the dark stuff back in times gone by on cold days like today.
I’d and wanted to finish an article, it had taken a few hours to get it right, Orsi had gone for a walk. I met her later at the van, I’d been about 3 hours in all, she was really pissed off with me and I was irritated that she couldn’t find something to do whilst I finished. It weighed heavily on us both.
We visited Captain Cooks museum which was pretty remarkable, imagining the frame of mind, or trying too of the people here back then, the courage, and the compulsion to search out unknown parts of the world. It’s a great place and I too wished we’d had more time but what to do, I was feeling very torn and anxious, Orsi was out in the deep blue. We got Kippers which were rather amazing and I allowed my diet to take a detour just this once, our bodies soaked up the oils, we smelled of kippers for the next 24 hours.
Then over towards Knayton across the North Yorkshire moors the mist had retreated from the coast and seemed to be laying up there on the moors awaiting us and maybe a still moment to creep back down into the coastal towns and harbours after we’d passed. It sure is a mystical and beautiful part of the world. We drove on in silence
Along the way I’d pulled over and we put all our packs of cards on the rocking table of the high seas of emotion, feelings and fears rose up from the deep, things were said. There was very nearly a U Turn back to London, but thankfully something higher whispered in our ears and made it through the thick fog of heated feelings. I started Pearl up and drove on. Oblivious of the beauty we shot through until I found the Willowman Festival just off the A16 in the valley between Moors and Dales. As we rolled into the festival grounds our moods shifted and lifted into the faint pale sunshine and the anticipation of doing the work we set out to do.