A love letter to Scarborough (and a bit of Filey on the side)

People say all kinds of stuff when they’re pregnant, I think mainly to stop themselves going under about the fact that life is about to completely upend itself. I have friends who when pregnant said they would still do a number of things; exercise, speak in a normal voice, go to festivals, read books that weren’t about not being able to find your dog/cat/giraffe, go to the Trafford Centre, wash, wear proper bras (OK I’ve digressed into my own aims there). But then slowly but surely the infants take over and we’re all exclaiming in a voice five pitches higher than our own, that it’s definitely not my giraffe, whilst texting a friend that of course we won’t be going to the pub that night. Or for about ten more years.  Well we said we wouldn’t be giving up our holidays, and whilst we acknowledged that our holidays would probably be quite different, there was no way in hell we were spending the five years that we weren’t bound by school holidays not going anywhere.

With these thoughts ringing in my ears, I somewhat reluctantly set off on our second family holiday to Filey. I have to be honest, I couldn’t be arsed going. Chris had made the uncharacteristically financially reckless move to fund a week’s trip. He had a week’s leave, and he was going to make the most of it. Personally, I was still a little bit too aware of how difficult our last holiday was without the proximity of all my local cafes, the park, and I’ll admit it, child friendly mates to break up the long days looking after a newborn. I’d got to the point where if I was going to be getting up three times a night and couldn’t get drunk, I’d kind of rather do that in my own house, with all my things, and lots of mum pals around the corner to join me on the park when it invariably got too much the next day. This behaviour was deemed miserable, ungrateful and incredibly negative.

So with that in mind, I’ll get all the moaning out of the way before I go on to wax lyrical about what a beautiful place the North Yorkshire coast is. Firstly – how bloody expensive is going away in the school holidays? We spent more for a week in a caravan in August than we spent for two weeks in one in June. The site was non-comparable, we were by the main road running through the site, and they didn’t empty the recycling for the whole time we were there – presumably because they were far too busy dealing with the many families that descend to the coast at summer.

However, I sorted my face out and reminded myself that Chris didn’t have the benefit of being able to walk round the park all week like I did, and I should enjoy our break rather than whine about being tired all week. I’d not been to Filey since I was about 7, when we rented a cottage in the nearby village of Hunmanby. My memories of that trip are of horse riding, learning to swim, and drawing a picture of Filey Brigg for show and tell when we got back to school in September. The Brigg and the walks in the country park that surrounds it are really pretty and accessible for all. We had a slightly hairy walk out to the end of the Brigg one day which made me somewhat uneasy due to the pounding wind. As scenic as Filey is, I do think a week spent just there would have been a bit limiting – even with our reduced ability to get out for long. The promenade is great for a little stroll with the pram, and there are a couple of pleasant little ice cream stands and places to get chips, and to be honest I’d have liked it just fine…had we not been to Scarborough. And this is when my negative, miserable behaviour shifted.

Because I bloody love Scarborough. It’s got everything. I’d have gone every single day of the holiday if only I’d have not felt a bit tight on Filey. The minute we drove in to the North Beach and saw all the amusement arcades and chippys set back into the hill, I knew I was going to love it. I’ve always appreciated the naff British seaside town. Possibly from a childhood of summers in Mablethorpe, or perhaps I’ve got low standards, or perhaps I’m just incredibly patriotic in that I don’t think you can beat eating chips whilst looking out to sea, whilst a 2p machine dings in the arcades behind you.  Scarborough has everything I’d expect from a seaside town, perfectly balancing the tacky and slightly naff, with retro cool, art-deco, beautiful British history…and of course fantastic chips.

The coastal Scarborough is split into North and South beaches, flanked and divided by the castle above them. A couple of miles of coastal parking join the two, and we parked midway on all of our visits to do great flat pram walks in both directions. Loosely put, go to the North beach for donkeys, boat trips, slot machines and a lot of noise, South beach for views up to the castle and an ice cream in quieter surroundings. Both sides were well worth a visit. We found a quirky chippy up a little side street off North beach, but any number of them can be found on the front. We were disappointed that we’d already eaten when we spotted a ‘famous’ chippy that had been ranked best in the area on a TV programme like ‘The Trip’, or similar.

Scarborough is exactly the kind of place that I envisaged visiting when I was planning a family, probably because it reminds me so much of how we spent our summers growing up. I didn’t go abroad until I was around high school age, and before that all we knew were caravans, fishing nets, whole days spent reading Famous Five books, wearing jumpers on the beach, Mr Whippy, dodgems, and most importantly, a big family spending time together having fun. As an adult I now know how precious that time off work must have been for our parents and other relatives…and as a parent I know how bloody hard it must have been looking after me, my sister and my three cousins. I’m sure they spent many a night drinking themselves stupid after we’d all finally gone to bed, (responsibly of course).

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Scarborough’s South beach

Just driving through Scarborough reminded me of playing bingo with my Grandad when I was too young and timid to shout if I’d got a full house, of getting lost and my Grandma running down the beach to find me, of doing headstands outside the caravan, and of being treated to ‘grown-up’ meals out at Dave’s Diner, of which I’m sure Scarborough will have an equivalent. I’m sure there will have been many cries of “I hate you” and many, many sugar crashes, but I really don’t remember them.

Whilst we were still incredibly limited on this trip; with a baby who was too young for suncream, sitting up and eating using a method that didn’t involve me stripping off, when Tom is old enough to enjoy himself, Scarborough is exactly where we’ll be coming. As well as being able to make him wear fancy dress until he is old enough to argue with, one of the things I’m looking forward to the most about Tom growing up is being able to sit with him on a slightly cold beach with some ham butties and a can of pop, building a sandcastle. I’m sure we’ll take him far and wide when time and money permit, but he will always know the value of a good old fashioned British seaside holiday. And as nowhere does a pint and a packet of bacon fries better than a Yorkshire pub, Scarborough, we’ll see you next year.

For Grandad Ray…who loved a pint and the seaside more than anyone xx

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