Friday, November 25, 2011

Cherry Tree Cottage, day four

We were off to Whitby. This is east of us, on the coast. Whitby is a kind of double edged town; half boys' own adventure through Captain James Cook, and half dark crazy through Bram Stoker and Dracula. Whitby seems to have not anxiety about Cook, he has a large statue looking out to sea, and there is a museum; the harbour is called Endeavour. I think Australians are more leary about Cook and what he represents. Whitby feels nothing. They sent him away as a favourite son and he did not disappoint. He brought them home a new nation. And a dumping ground. Bram Stoker doesn't have a statue. He lurks, instead, in the Royal Hotel, a small brass plaque that tells us it was here that he wrote Dracula. He did this while staying in the hotel, looking out at both the wide sea that launched Cook, and the dark cliff top with St Mary's , the ruin of the Abbey and an extensive graveyard.
Stoker is preoccupied with the darkness arriving. Dracula comes into England via Whitby on the ship Demeter. He was in disguise. No one knew until his ugliness was released into the community. Look out! Things are lurking. Cook went out on the Endeavour to sow the good seeds of European (or indeed British) civilisation, christainity and enterprise. It was all white sails of enlightenment. But we know that Cook was at least equally as dark as Dracula. What he bought was more than one version of evil too. And Dracula was knowing in his evil. Cook was ignorant. I wonder if it ever occured to him. Even as the spear pierced him in Hawaii at the end of his life.
Enough of that.
Whitby, to the puffy jacket family of 2011, is a cold, cold place. Thank god for puffy jackets, the wind does not penetrate even a little. Paris was not of the puffy jacket on this day. He was not cold - so he said. The wind off the water said something else to me.
We parked and wandered off to the old town and the 199 steps of St Marys and the Abbey. The old town is all cobbled streets and crooked buildings and tea rooms and so on. There were lots of dogs and pigeons and cats. The cats watched the pigeons. The dogs watched the cats. The kids watched the dogs. This is what we call a ecosystem.
Up the 199 steps to the churches. Both were closed (only weekends in winter my friends) but we could walk around them. The graveyard was creepily anonymous. All the stones had somehow had their names sheared off by the salty wind and were left stippled and blank. Only some clues remained - here a 'Mary Swales' and there a 'Also three children who died in infancy'. And all the way around, the wind howled and hit out and we shrank inside our coats.
There is a third entity that haunts Whitby. This is Cholmley - an architect that build most of the most landmarky buildings - the light house on the pier and the mansion that sits beside the ruin of the Abbey. We couldn't get in there either. Some people on horses rode around us (actually, one was on a horse and the other was in a pony trap). It was too cold. We returned to the old town and the protection of the tiny streets.
Zelda found her perfect shop; a kind of gothic temple to clothing and accessories. We all wandered the shop for some time - and everyone found something to admire. Zelda even found a dress that she might have been prepared to wear. It was all very exciting. The name of the shop was Venus Trading if anyone is interested ...
We ate at the Whitby Tea Rooms. Very geentel. But not very warm. The fabled warmth of English and European houses does not extend to the stern and grim north of England. They are of sterner stuff than we.
This is also the home of fudge and 'rock' - a kind of lollipop substance. We fudged it up at Justins - all kinds of flavours. We liked Dracula's Dream which was chcoolate with a raspberry middle.
A walk to the harbour. Up to the Royal Hotel. Passed a seagull that was flamigo dancing (really ... stomping around on one spot. We watched for some time. Either flamigo dancing or had just buried some treasure and was stamping the burial site).
After the concerns we experienced in Haworth with clamping tires and whatnot, we were quick to return to the car. I wanted to head off to Scarborough. So we did. I thought we would visit Anne Bronte.
Scarborough, when we arrived, was in the last moments of daylight. It is an old fashioned bathing town, with lots of rides and slot machines and gambling. It also has the most incredible hotels on the foreshore (which we didn't quite see in detail) and gardens that range up the side of the hill. It was 'bracing' and I can see why there was a tradition of taking the air here. There was lots of air to take. I took a lot.
We didn't see Anne. Don't know where she is. I'm sad about that.
And then back to Cherry Tree for our final night. We were all pretty shagged. I'm reading my eyes out on Bronte back list. Paris has begun Jane Eyre. He is doing it for school, but got quite engaged with the story at Haworth.

1 comment:

  1. Love reading what you're up to. Have you been to Rievaulx Terrace (near Helmsley)? God, there are just too many gorgeous things to see. Fab stuff.