Tuesday, 22 March 2016

What is it about Whitby?

I’m not keen on tourist traps. I never have been. 

But there is something so endearing about Whitby, the fishing town in North Yorkshire (well East Yorkshire really) that trades healthily on its Bram Stoker/Dracula roots and the somewhat famous Mermaid fish and chip restaurant.

The Mermaid has long-since been equalled, if not now in some instances eclipsed by other fish and chip establishments in the town serving equally good fish and chips, although the town’s fish and chip legacy very much still remains somewhat with the Mermaid.

There is now a plethora of cosy tea rooms, as well as shops selling the wonderful tat so often missing from our regular high streets – funny fruit bowls, freaky flowerpots and silly signs to hang on the bathroom door suggesting wild and wacky ways of warning people that your eldest son is in there flatulently on his mobile Facebook. And all reasonably-priced to boot. And there’s also the Captain Cook Maritime Museum.

Perhaps it’s the fact that all visitors seem to throw their inhibitions away, remove their miserable city demeanours and become uber-friendly towards one another. Or perhaps it’s that every shop and cafĂ© has a “Dogs Welcome Here” sign. Or that the hair braiders and wooden plant-pot sellers in the town hall arches have never changed in over two decades. Or is it the tiring hundred steps up to the old Abbey where a plasticated ice-cream from a van will cost the same price as a home-made one from one of the town’s shops and the sudden arrival of a standard double-decker bus causes a ripple of surprise amongst those who have struggled to negotiate the hundred steps to the top of the hill overlooking the town?

As one who is a lifelong supporter of the lifeboats, it always gladdens my heart to see not one, but two very up-to-date technological marvels in the harbour, primed and ready to be manned by the wonderful volunteers of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The brave people manning these boats are forever ready, at the drop of a hat, to add to the roll of over 140,000 lives saved since the foundation of the RNLI back in 1824. OK, many of those 140,000 saved will be total idiots who, through often quite stupid antics not only threaten their own lives but also the lives of the volunteer men and women of Whitby who dash to their aid.