Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Scarborough With A Hint Of Bridlington.

We had a weekend away this week, travelling to Bridlington on Friday for two nights. We stayed at a nice enough B&B which was just a bit let down by the shower unit in our room. This was plumbed straight into the water supply. This meant that there were separate hot and cold taps and the room was at the end of a long corridor so no matter where or how you set the taps, the water falling on you alternated every few seconds between freezing cold and scalding hot... Ah well, it was cheap and cheerful - if you don't count the owner's Dad who answered the door at night by saying "I hope you haven't woken our granddaughter up!!!"

I had a camera free day on Friday which is when we took advantage of some bright sunny weather in Bridlington. I had the sketch pad with me but I didn't get round to doing anything with it all weekend - Brid was crowded and seating by the harbour was at a premium and there were hundreds of people trying to eat fish and chips before the somewhat aggressive seagulls got them first. Not everyone succeeded... I didn't fancy spending an hour sketching only for a blob of unmentionable to obscure the page, so I apologetically offer this effort from 1994.

If you want to eat fish and chips then Bridlington is your place. There is probably one fish and chip shop for every seagull. This is actually necessary as the amount of repeat trade they get must be incredible from people who have had (helpful hint on seagull fave method coming) a seagull fly down over their shoulder and land in the tray of fish and chips, snatching a beakful and taking off with the probable spilling of the rest of the tray for other seagulls to fight over.

We found an Italian restaurant called Leoz. Highly recommended! I had the chicken stroganoff and it was delicious.

On Saturday we decided to leave the car and take a bus to Scarborough. Between the two bus stations of Bridlington and Scarborough it is 17.1 miles. This should take around 30 minutes or less, but the bus does not exactly go straight there. The timetable suggested an hour and 25 minutes, but it took quite a bit longer than that in the event. We missed out on the front seats going, but managed to get them coming back. Some of the roads it turned aside onto to reach holiday camps were better than a ride on the roller coaster!

When we reached Scarborough the first building of note that I saw as we walked down from the bus station was this theatre. The original Stephen Joseph Theatre was Britain's first theatre in the round and was built on the first floor of the public library. It moved to a former boys' high school and subsequently in 1988 following the closure of the Odeon Cinema it moved here, opening in 1996.

We walked downhill past the theatre and along a shopping street, cutting off down a side road and finding ourselves near the Grand Hotel. There was a funicular railway going down the cliff to the beach but we opted to take the strenuous route - this being much less strenuous going down than coming up - where we did take the funicular!

So we set off down these steps, admiring the litter and the way that, at the bottom, the handrail stopped being black and instead was seagull-poo coloured to the encrusted state that the end of the railing had corroded altogether and had dropped off.

Scarborough has a South Bay and a North Bay. To someone who lives on the west coast like me, directions on the east coast always seem the wrong way round. Between the two bays is a huge but ruinous 12th century castle high on its hill which was once a hillfort from the Iron Age, a Roman signal point and the home of Norse invaders. A busy spot. In fact all of Scarborough seems a busy spot. There was hardly room on the beach for all the families, couples, and sunbathers to swing a bucket and spade. People lean on each side of a windbreak, at least half of them having underpaid for the privilege.

Amusement arcades line the other side of the road, facing the beach and harbour. They look like Blackpool of yesterday - modern fronts on the ground floor of old buildings. Yet sadly, the amusements are the modern boring collection of cranes and two pence piece pushers with the occasional video shoot-out or racing game. Where did all those pinballs go, which I so loved as a boy and which required skill of reflexes and knowledge of the laws of physics rather than mastery of a remembered past sequence?

The harbour holds a collection of boats from working fishing boats to day trip or half-hour trips round the bays. A marina serves those rich folks who like to boast they "have a boat at the seaside" but rarely can be bothered to move them.

It all makes for a very picturesque scene. In fact multitudes of scenes of water, old buildings, modern amusements, the inevitable fish and chips, and families relaxing.

There are so many architectural styles within a short stretch of road that it is hard to make sense of it. Odd little bits strike you as either pleasing or incongruous. Some manage both at the same time.

On the whole I quite liked it. There were plenty of benches to sit on without having to pay to hire a deck chair - though they were well over-subscribed and finding an empty one was usually the precursor to turning away again as some other foot-weary person or group dived upon the few inches of bare wooden slats.

In the harbour, a single formidable chunk of membrane and tentacles was pulsating and moving slowly round in circles, its progress impeded by the strength of the incoming tide matching its ability to swim against it. It may have been somewhat mollified by the steady and continuing chorus of exclamations and excited shouts of "Oh! Look!" that it caused.

We bought a drink at a cafe and sat on the harbour wall whilst we cooled off and rested our feet. Well... rested our feet anyway. There was no shade on the harbour wall and I was turning a splendid shade of bright red on this, our second day in the sun.

Just after the harbour is this delightful Coastguards' Hut. Do a search and you will find lots of photos of it but finding any textual references will take longer than I cared to spend. Very strange - you'd have thought someone would have thought it worthwhile to say something about it...

Crammed into the smallish space between the harbour and Coast Guard Station is a small funfair with a handful of rides mainly aimed at children.

We retraced our steps until we reached the flight of steps and then we stepped smartly on until we reached the funicular railway - known as the Central Tramway Company. The car was full, I wasn't able to get to the window to take a photo of the other car coming down towards us. There's something about funiculars that always appeals to me. The theory is that the weight of the descending car matches as near as possible the weight of the ascending car and therefore the power needed to operate is not as great as might be required for a single lift.

We had lunch and a quick look round the shops (not my idea...) and then caught the bus back to Bridlington. This time we managed to get the front seat upstairs and it was a fun ride back via all the side roads and holiday parks until we arrived back at Bridlington bus station.

We got back to find a collection of classic cars parked near the harbour, their owners sitting by them, listening to a karaoke set-up. Unfortunately as we got there we were "treated" to a man and woman singing Those Were The Days as a duet. It certainly wasn't how I remembered those days... We decided on an ice cream and the young girl serving laughed out loud when I asked for two cones and two pairs of ear plugs. We sat on the harbour wall for a while until a seagull, sated with a surfeit of fish and chips decided to splatter all over Miss Franny's hand... "Ooh, that's lucky!" I said, a second before the backhander...

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