For the past few years, during the October Break, we’ve rented a cottage for a week in Yorkshire. Not only is the countryside beautiful, but it’s a few hours drive closer to my father, so it’s an opportunity for him to see the grandchildren and for us to catch up.
Previously we’ve tended to be based in and around the Yorkshire Dales, but this time we decided to go coastal and stayed in a converted auction house in Whitby.
For many people the only association they have with the town is it features in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, and the ruined abbey up on the hill definitely has a suitably atmospheric look to it. Needless to say there’s a certain amount of cashing in on the attendant tourism, and I don’t think I’ve seen so many shops in one town where you can buy Gothic clothing and paraphernalia.
Even more than Victorian corsets and plastic fangs, however, are the plethora of fish and chip shops. I didn’t count them all, but you could happily spend a fortnight tucking into cod and chips every evening without visiting the same place twice. And nearly all of them claim to have won some award or another for being the best in the country.
I have to say, though, I was particularly impressed that a few of them would even supply fish coated in gluten-free batter, if requested. This was particularly useful as Meg was diagnosed with coeliac disease a few weeks back, and it’s not always easy to convince her why she can’t have certain food items any more.
One other thing that struck me about Whitby was the distinct lack of chain stores. Other than a Co-op supermarket, nearly every shop, café and restaurant there was a small independent business. And that is so rare these days.
I’ve pretty much fallen in love with the place and have finally overcome my own prejudice based on the rather misguided reason that I was often irritated by a lad at school whose surname was Whitby.