The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Land of the Chip Shops and Plastic Pointy Teeth

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.


hope said...

Glad you're enjoying your time and that Meg can too! :)

Mimi and Tilly said...

I've never been to Whitby but recently saw a tv programme about it, and it sounded beautiful. I may have to take a look. (I'm glad you like my new blog design, so far, all the feedback has been very positive!)

Pat said...

I hope dealing with coeliac disease is much easier these days - big hug to Meg.
I remember the hilliness of Whitby and the black jet (well it would be black wouldn't it?) MTL bought me some but it seems to have disappeared.

Aoife.Troxel said...

Looks like a nice place. I was in the catholic Galway cathedral this past weekend and noticed they have a special section where people with coeliac disease can receive gluten-free hosts. I never considered that being Catholic and having coeliac disease could clash, so I guess it's nice that they provide that service.

Falak said...

A place where you can tuck in to fish and chips every day! The black and white photo in a way evokes the 'Dracula'feel.

Hope you're having a great time!

Anonymous said...

gee and I thought I was the only one in the world who could hold that kind of attitude about something...based on name association. Whitby sounds a splendid place...even with the tourists...I'm rather used to in Virginia we had tourists pretty much all year round. I know Meg is happy she can have her fish and chips and enjoy them too.

mapstew said...

Most of the old Italian chippies have gone from our place, though there are still on or two good ones, for when I need a treat! (I'm trying to get fit (again!) so the chips are being avoided at the moment.

Looks like ye had a good break.

And as for Aoiofe's gluten free host, I can't believe it's not Jesus! :¬)

Vicky said...

You say Whitby I think of Heartbeat the TV show LOL
I hope to be over there in 2013 and Whitby is on my list to visit, especially now as love some good fish and chips :)

Falak said...

A place where you can eat fish and chips every single day!

The black and white picture adds to the whole Dracula charm of the place. I can see myself imagining it while reading the book.

Hope you're having a great time!

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

All my sympathies for Meg!

Because I cannot eat fried food [makes me ill], I've learnt how to grill fish until it's crisp so it feels / tastes 'fried'. And there's no maybe this can work for Meg too.

I love the idea of a place with no chain stores.

Network Blinds Ltd said...

I'm lucky enough to live close enough to Whitby for the occassional day trip. Nearby Robin Hood's Bay is also worth a visit - but I'm of an age where the the walk back up the hill is too much of a challenge, and we rely on the landrover now.

Anonymous said...

Cool photo! The picture reminds me of old films from the UK I've seen.

I can relate to Meg's difficulties adjusting to a new diet. When I found I was lactose intolerant that took some time.

Mary Witzl said...

I've always wanted to visit Whitby. I'm sure my ancestors were aiming for something like that when they changed 'Witzl' to 'Whitsell'.

The idea of eating fish and chips every single night for two whole weeks makes me a little weak in the knees. I'd be the size of Texas if I lived in Whitby. But I give a big thumbs up to the chippy willing to whip up gluten free batter.

Kim Ayres said...

Hope - we had a great time thanks, and Meg did enjoy her fish :)

Emma - well worth a visit, although I would suggest you avoid it in the height of summer. Even in October it was still quite busy, and I expect it would be heaving in July and August

Pat - there do seem to be at least half a dozen shops selling Whitby Jet there

Aoife - but surely transubtantiation into the body of christ, means the gluten would no longer be a problem, only vegetarianism would?

Theanne and Baron - I think that kind of baseless prejudice is probably extremely common :)

Mapstew - there's a chippy up the road from us that is truly appalling. It tastes like they only change their oil once every 5 years. Fortunately there's a better one down the road. Love your last line :)

Vicky - I think there are "Heartbeat" tours you can go on not far from Whitby

Falak - the colour version of the photo was dull because the light was starting to go and it was raining. much more atmospheric in black and white :)

Guyana-Gyal - I do enjoy grilled fish and baked fish, but chip shops only do deep fried :)

NB - of course parking the landrover can prove to be something of a problem in Whitby...

Allen - my father discovered he as lactose intolerant too. He said it crops up in far more things than you'd ever guess.

Mary - I was going to say we only had fish and chips twice while we were there, but then I remembered Maggie and I went out for a meal on our own one evening, and I had fish then too :)

Unknown said...

How fun to get away at such an enchanting place.

Kim Ayres said...

You'd love it there, Carole :)

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