My recent visit to Scarborough in North Yorkshire introduced me to some magnificent seaviews and grandiose and interesting buildings on hilltops.
There is Scarborough Castle, more about that next time, an atmospheric medieval ruin with a dramatic past involving a number of England’s most notorious monarchs.
On another hill, there’s the Grand Hotel, one of the World’s first super hotels, built in 1867, with 365 bedrooms, 52 chimneys, 12 floors and 4 towers. The numbers were meant to symbolise time with the days, weeks, months and seasons of the year. No one could tell me what they have got 7 of – maybe it was too rude for my ears. This too, like the castle, has seen better days. Once a luxury hotel, it is now what is called euphemistically a “budget hotel” and, at their prices and that view, who needs luxury or even comfort and what’s wrong with fried food.
With all those clifftops, the real luxury in Scarborough these days is the Cliff Lift which is really a cliff railway built in 1875 and the first of its kind in Britain. The luxury is in avoiding all those steps.
I’m determined to use those two words, Cliff Lift, in a poem one day. Maybe I should write one about Scarborough. In the South Cliff area if you want to get down to the seaside, then the Cliff Lift is the most entertaining way of getting there.
If Scarborough’s ruins are Medieval and its hotels, Victorian, then the beaches are pure 1950s. Here, on a hot sunny day like the ones I experienced on my visit, you can have all the fun you want with beach balls, donkey rides, sandcastles and deckchairs. Just don’t encourage the seagulls who have got quite professional at stealing food from human hands and, on some occasions, mouths.
Scarborough is also a fishing port with a small fleet of fishing boats and, apparently, a lot of fish in the sea. So much so that you can fish off the quay side and, like some of the local children, you don’t have a rod, you can just dangle a bucket on a string for crabs.
The side of all those boats made me itch to get on the water so I made my way to the little harbour with its handsome lighthouse.
catch the good ship Coronia, a venerable vessel that was one of the fleet of fishing boats that helped the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II.
I was in Scarborough visiting my close relative Henry Bell – he came on board the Coronia too.
We made a fine pair of sailors – well, we thought so anyway.
In Scarborough, especially after going out to sea, there really is only one thing to do and that is go for a fish meal. I ate well in Scarborough and nowhere better than the Golden Grid down by the harbour. Freshly-caught fish with a touch of imagination and a good view too. As they say in Yorkshire, that were grand.