The Beach (Part 4)

There’s some questionable public art around nowadays but these wrought iron seaside postcards on Redcar’s seafront make me smile. They’re fun and colourful, nostalgic yet optimistic, tell stories of the town and just seem right for the setting. Here then is the whole set, from North to South, bandstand to lifeboat station. Yes, that is a penguin in front of the steel works. No, I don’t know either.

Sunday Morning

Arriving in town it was raining, the rush hour traffic was deafening, there were road works everywhere and heavily armed police mixed with the rushing commuters on the station concourse. One thing the French do a bit differently, even maybe better than us though, along with knowing how to run a railway and finding creative things to do with garden invertebrates, and something which makes Paris more than just Leeds with croissants is that they still have a proper Sunday. The twelve million inhabitants of the metropolitan area may outnumber the population of several EU member states and certainly that of the top half of the British isles between my house and the Pentland Firth but apart from those folks jogging around the Jardin du Luxembourg or whizzing silently on bikes along the city’s wide empty boulevards early on the seventh day the place is pretty much deserted. To wander around the thinly peopled fells of my neighbourhood on the day of rest is a beautiful thing but to have one of Europe’s largest cities to yourself is quite special and for that, when it comes to all that other stuff that the place throws at you for the other six days, well, all is forgiven.

Whitby (Part 2)

Whitby, which lies in Yorkshire’s far east and is the last stop on The Moor Road before people start speaking German, has been along quite a few historical avenues that turned out not to be going anywhere in the long term. First they embraced monasticism in a big way but folks turned out to be not so interested in a life of contemplation and solitude when they found out they couldn’t tweet everyone every five minutes about how awesomely contemplatenous and solituditive they were being right now, and the haircuts didn’t really sell it much either. Then they threw everything in to whaling but the bottom fell out of that when people got too fat to wear corsets any more, and also they ran out of whales. For a time the big thing in Whitby was discovering Australia but ultimately there’s only so many times you can do that and anyway the risk of bringing back another Rolf Harris was just too great so the whole discovering new continents gig kind of faded out after a while too.

This history of picking ultimately unfashionable causes is a bit of a concern as the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire bike race will come through here in a few months’ time on the first of its three stages. Some of us are very excited about this race. The visit to Yorkshire of the Tour de France last summer was a very special couple of days indeed but the race this May promises to be really something because it’ll last three days, it’s brand new, it’s all ours’ and if it works out it’ll happen again next year. There is one trend in popular culture however which really got started properly in Whitby at the back end of the century before last, about the same time as cycling was starting to catch on in fact, which has since gone from strength to strength and, although they wouldn’t drink anything so gross as a cyclist’s energy gel, the combination of fear and misunderstanding yet strange fascination and even attraction the modern vampire seems to engender in the public at large is not a million miles away from the ambivalent reaction people riding bikes sometimes have to deal with. Hopefully therefore this can be taken as a good omen for this spring’s event, for Yorkshire’s mooted Road Worlds bid, and for bike fans in general and although the Tour de Yorkshire is being brought here by a French company I’m sure there the health and safety issues around bringing garlic to Whitby are all well in hand.