2011-02-09

North Yorkshire Notes

Pjal's Saga

Unless you count the summer Thursday evenings athwart, as last year, North Yorkshire. No postcards though. Not on tops of small and not all that steep really hills from which you see Billingham's eternal flame singeing the border of land and sky. Where only the hornèd sheep gaze at you for a meagre while before deciding to amble away rather than engage you in battle to the death, protecting their offspring from the mighty warrior Thorvald Sheepslayer after he had quaffed the mead of …

The Cove that Dare not Speak its Name

And there was Kettleness. A hamlet clinging gingerly to the bottom edge of Runswick Bay, sun stretching its 54°N midsummer setting across the water. Although Kettleness itself was quite disappointing, attributively speaking. There wasn't a hint of kettle anywhere. In fact a stronger feeling of kettlelessness I'm pressed to remember encountering. But it made up for its nominal deception in other ways. Its steep gull-laden cliffs, its weird seleniscapes, its grey, quondam quarries. Thus it finds itself lost, bemused, bewitched by heather, bereft of the work which once took place — yes, 'took place', for it cannot have had the same genius loci after such labour, such manly hewing, such plunging into and cracking of cliffcheeks …

The Architects of Leisure

A ruined, indeed stonily broken, castle rests desert near a similarly relict church. This is at the farthest edge of Faceby, a tiny tun with affluent lifestylers in architect designed houses. Where you find a house built entirely of the kind of bespoke brickery a mortal would employ in modest quantities to build a decorative fireplace. Surely be this place inhabited by gods? Their flashing hair and fiery eyes, their horses and coursing hares. Not for them the Ford Fiesta, lest lose they face in foxless Facebeh. Can there truly be, on this earth, another place so well appointed? So spare, yet rich, so 'there',  …

Dining Out of Context

But don't turn up in Whitby at eight thirty with the idea of going to the friendly fish & chip restaurant called, rather wittily, the Magpie — a bird known for its resolute lack of interest in fish. This place shuts down at half past six. Instead must you roam the back streets in search of a yet open cookery to get your haddock and chips by nine o'clock, a takeout to be dined upon aseat a wooden streetbench. Which, it must be said, works quite well. The chips (or chairps, as the locals tend to refer to them) are vinegared, the whole hotly asalt and battered, the fish flesh firm and whitely steaming …

By the Sea, by the Sea

Saltburn!? Madge and I didn't spend long there that day. Not like the last time, no it wasn't. Not like the time we walked for a bit along the wooden pier. Eeeh no. Didn't climb back up off beach up cliff. Water lift? No. Never been on that. Never tried it, if you see what I mean (nudge). Always shut. Nothing interesting ever stays open very late in England does it? And they wonder why them foreigners don't take their hols here? You have to laugh though. You really do. Like it's as if they couldn't get anyone to do it. I mean, I went to Paris once. Abroad. Yes. The french place. Always something going on there. All hours. Really surprised I was. You could've knocked me down with feather. I remember saying to her, yes Madge went as well, I told her, "Edepol! Ad pedem scalarum nostrum ibo." when I saw it all. I did. Yes. Still, Saltburn's such a nice …

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