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Saturday, 3 July 2021

Tour of North Yorkshire and Northumberland - day 2


Having woken up to the sound of bird song and some rather noisy crows at just after four in the morning, I thought it best to let Neil have a lie in. I like an hour or two anyway in the morning, to have breakfast and some coffee in peace, and to write my blog.

We eventually got moving a little later than planned, but there was a story behind part of that.

Our meal the evening before was delivered to the van, all plated up. It looked beautiful. The only thing we provided was knives and forks. After dinner, we had a phone call with an old friend of mine from where I used to work. We haven’t spoken for ages, so had a lot to chat about. By the time we finished talking, Liggy needed a walk and we wanted to have a drink in the pub, so we were trying to be quick. Neil returned the plates to the kitchen, but without thinking, he also returned our cutlery. We have a fairly new set of knives and forks – nice heavy ones, that help with my tremor, and only 4 of each item. So he had unwittingly donated half of our knives and forks to the pub.

It was only when we were packing up to leave, and I always wrap the cutlery in a tea towel to stop it rattling in transit, that we realised what we’d done. So Neil had to go over and try to explain to now different staff, that we’d really like our knives and forks back. The problem was, they had hundreds of cutlery stashes in three different locations, so it was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Well, bless ‘em, they found them eventually, and we were able to move on to our next visit.


I was in two minds as to whether to go to Scarborough on this holiday. I mean, technically, it’s home and I don’t think of it as somewhere I go as a tourist. However, the beach is Liggy’s favourite place, so I included a day to take her to her happy place.

As it happens, we ended up also meeting my aunty, uncle and baby cousin (once removed) and we all enjoyed an hour or so playing on the beach. The tide was right out so Liggy could run back and forth to the sea with Neil and practise recalling to me, which is a game she loves.

After lunch, we did one of our favourite short walks around the north bay and Northstead Manor Gardens, before Neil took Liggy for a final run on the beach.

Photo of Scarborough's north bay from Scalby Mills to the Sands. The tide is right out, exposing all the rocks.

Whitby Abbey

I think I said yesterday, it is funny how you can live close to somewhere for years but never go there. Well Whitby is one of those places. However, I once read, somewhere in the depths of Scarborough Borough Council parking web pages, that a coach park ticket purchased at any of the car parks in the borough, is transferable to any other coach park. Well we had an all day ticket for parking Zerubbabel at the Sea Life Centre and I thought I’d quickly Google coach parks in Whitby. And I discovered Abbey Headland.

We didn’t have a plan but we followed Google’s directions to the coach park, hoping that such a route wouldn’t have any sudden low bridges or anything. When we arrived, we discovered that the Abbey is an English Heritage site, which we happen to be members of. Neil did a quick scoping visit to the entrance staff to check accessibility and availability of tickets. You have to prebook online, but they said to just check because they were sure there were tickets available. So we did.

This is where membership really works for us. We wouldn’t have paid to visit for only an hour but it was a perfect place to fill some time on our way to our stopover. The views were stunning in all directions! The Abbey itself is beautiful too! We had to wonder (in an awe and wonder sense) how they got all the stones to such a remote and high up place, all those years ago in Anglo-Saxon times. For somebody who hated history at school, I now find the history of our country very interesting and am fascinated by these ancient ruins.

Photo of Whitby Abbey against a very cloudy sky, giving a moody atmosphere.


From Whitby, we continued driving north and easily found our next BritStop pub. When we arrived, it seemed very busy. The car park isn’t huge and was full of cars and the little slip road of the main road into the pub also had cars parked along it. I had a moment of panic that this had been a bad choice. However, the owner was outside and told us where to park Zerubbabel. Neil did a great job of reversing the entire length of the very busy car park to our spot at the top. Then we popped into the pub to order dinner. Again, it was pretty busy, so we arranged dinner to take out to the motorhome.

Neil decided on behalf of both of us that a standard Sunday roast was the size to go for. When it arrived, we nearly died! It would have fed an entire village! Small would have been easily sufficient. Having said that, we gave it a fair crack and it was delicious. We had to sit for a while and let it go down before doing anything else. Meanwhile, we watched the comings and goings in the car park. The pub stops doing food at six in the evening, and after that, the crowds dispersed pretty quickly and left us as the only vehicle in what now looked like a quite big car park.

The pub was also empty now, so we went for a drink and chatted to the staff for a bit. It must have been pay day, as they were all discussing their tax deductions, which was an interesting conversation to eaves-drop, as they clearly hadn’t got the faintest idea about the UK tax system. Neil stepped in to educate them, whilst the youngest member of staff came over to fuss Liggy. I have to say, they did a really nice hot chocolate, but Neil was hoping for one of the special beers, which was not available last night. Shame!

When we arrived, it was cloudy and overcast and the backdrop of the North Yorkshire Moors looked dark and foreboding, though still as beautiful as ever. By the time we came out of the pub to go to bed, the sun was out and it was the perfect evening. So out came the camera!

Photo of our motorhome at the edge of the car park with beautiful rolling hills behind.

In spite of being next to a main road (though the car park is behind the pub) we had an extremely peaceful night’s sleep. This stop could best be described as off-grid. We had no electricity and virtually no phone signal… certainly no WiFi. So I’m writing this in Word and will copy and paste it over to Blogger later.

Off grid

I sometimes get the impression that motorhomers are quite black and white. Some always do campsites and have full facilities which allow you to pretty much do anything. Others always go off grid and almost take pride in their self-sufficiency. We are more shades of grey. Bit of this, bit of that… This holiday is more off grid than camping on sites, but we now have a couple of nights booked to deal with the essentials.

So what does off grid look like?

Well, we arrived with a full(ish) tank of water and reasonably empty waste water tank. We had filled the gas tanks so that we would be able to cook and heat water. We know we can’t empty the toilet for a few nights, so we’re being careful about the amount we flush and we’re largely binning toilet paper (like they do in Cyprus).

Instead of boiling a kettle and using the coffee pod machine, which both need to be plugged in, we have to boil a pan of water on the gas hob. We have a Bodum and plenty of fresh coffee though, so my morning plan is still very similar. We had planned to try to use public toilets as much as possible but neither of our first two BritStops had accessible ones so I have to use our own. Reality is, I go a lot. Bladder control after cauda equina syndrome is non-existent, and I’m not going to spend my holiday getting stressed about that, so we have brought a spare cassette for the toilet (the bit where the wees and poos live) and if we have to, we’ll just swap them over and deal with it on a campsite.

This morning, we should be able to fill up with fresh water though on our way out. The pub has a tap with a long hose. I’m not really keen on using someone else’s hose but needs must. We know that our next stop has zero facilities, so we need to be as prepared as possible.

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