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Bram Stoker’s Whitby

As you know I’m currently listening to Dracula courtesy of Craftlit, so when the opportunity to visit Whitby came up last weekend, I was only too happy to take it.  I love Whitby anyway, it’s a pretty place with excellent fish and chips and some good pubs but the chance to walk the Dracula Trail and take the route that Mina and Lucy would have walked each day was just too tempting for a geek like me.  This blog post is mainly for the benefit of my Craftlit friends on Ravelry who do not live in England so won’t have the pleasure of visiting Whitby and seeing these sights for themselves.  I hope you all enjoy the Mina and Lucy experience!

We arrived on the Sunday lunchtime and it was very misty so my first photos were not very exciting I’m afraid.  Lots of white stuff with some shadowy blobs in the distance!   A walk around, a look in the gift shops and couple of pints of Theakston’s Old Peculier in the Duke of York pub and then it was back to the hotel for dinner.  We were staying in The Royal Hotel which is at the top of West Cliff by the Whalebone Arch.  The original Whalebone arch was erected in 1853 so I’m rather surprised it doesn’t get a mention in the book as the girls lodgings were very close to it.  This replacement was donated by Alaska in 2003 with a previous one donated by Norway in 1963 (what the hell do they keep doing to them?!)

Whitby fog

Whalebone Arch

As we set out in the dark, for an evening visiting the local hostelries, I couldn’t help but think of Mina, on that fateful night when discovering Lucy missing from their room, running through the deserted streets, over the bridge and up the 199 steps to the churchyard to rescue her friend.  Craftlit people, you will totally understand but for those of you who don’t, yes I do know it’s not real but  if you can’t use your imagination, there is little point in listening to a story and I really found myself imagining myself as Mina, running frantically all the way round from the West Cliff to get to Lucy up there on the East Cliff.  We had a most enjoyable evening in a few local pubs and then slept well with no nightmares or sleepwalking!

And so to Monday which was a little brighter.  After breakfast, we set out to find the Bram Stoker Memorial seat to start our walk.  We couldn’t find it and I’ve since discovered that we were looking in completely the wrong place!  However, from photos I’ve seen online, we didn’t miss much.  It is just a very ordinary bench but with a plaque saying that the view from there was what inspired Stoker to include Whitby in his book.  I did spot East Crescent which was originally called The Crescent and is where Mina and Lucy were lodging during their time in Whitby.  I couldn’t quite fit it all in, there were I think nine houses in total.

The Crescent

The first view we have is the one Mina had when searching for the sleepwalking Lucy.  Across from the West Cliff over to the churchyard and Abbey.   This is also the top of the steps that the girls would have walked down each day to go over to the East side.

From West Cliff to East Cliff

From West Cliff to East Cliff

Of course there wouldn’t have been a Patrick (who doesn’t normally look like a chipmunk, he’s pulling a strange face!) or a litter bin and benches in Mina’s day!

Down the steps and along past the Fishmarket to the Swing Bridge.

Then down Church Street toward the 199 steps up to the churchyard.  Before tackling the steps though, we went onto Tate Hill Pier and Tate Sands which unsurprisingly is the little beach area next to the pier!  This is where the Russian schooner Demeter, with Dracula on board, crashes into the pier in a storm having been driven through the entrance to the harbour.

Whitby Harbour Entrance

Stoker based this storyline on a real-life incident involving the Russian schooner Demetius which had floundered off the coast of Whitby in 1885.  In the Dracula story, all the crew are missing and the captain is dead having tied himself to the wheel, when the ship crashes a huge black dog leaps from the bow and bounds up the steps to the churchyard.  Dracula had arrived in England!

Tate Hill Pier and sands

The pier is the concrete structure at the bottom of the picture, just sticking out from beyond the second rooftop from the left and Tate sands lies to the right of it as you look at this picture.

Having looked around to make sure there were no large black dogs around, we took to the 199 steps.  That’s quite a long way up that our Mina ran you know! Here is the view from the very top of the steps.

Top of the steps

Once at the top of the steps and when I could breathe again, we headed off to the churchyard.  There are several seats all around and for good reason, the views are stunning and I can really see why this spot was a particular favourite for our heroine and her friend.

View from the churchyard seats

Enjoying the view (and the breather!)

We didn’t go into the church and unfortunately the Abbey site was closed because it is out of season so we couldn’t get up close and personal with the ruins which was a disappointment.  I took a few pictures of both though.

St Mary's Church, Whitby

St Mary's Church, Whitby

Whitby Abbey

And of course, I was wearing my Wilhelmina Shawl and so had to have some modelled photos taken in the favourite spot of the heroine who inspired the pattern.  Please excuse the second photo…I appear to be in mid-blink!

The Wilhelmina shawl

The Wilhelmina Shawl

After all that walking about I thought Patrick deserved a drink so we went back down to the Duke of York, situated at the bottom of the steps, for a well earned Old Peculier.  The site of the Duke of York has had an alehouse on it since the Doomsday book, I think it’s probably because the monks  needed a pint or two to help them up those steps!

We had a lovely weekend and Patrick was wonderfully patient with my current Dracula obsession, never once complaining about all the walking around and random photos.

For those of you who are not Craftlit people, I really cannot recommend this reading enough.  Heather has found some wonderful readers and each character has their own voice.  If you are not a crafty person and don’t want to listen to the knitting chat, Heather now has another site called Just the Books which, as it says is just the books with no craft talk beforehand.  Go on, listen to it, I dare you!

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Bring me sunshine

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Went for a walk along Hessle foreshore yesterday. The weather was beautiful. Here is a picture of the magnificent Humber Bridge in the brilliant sunshine.

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Last weekend, Patrick and I went to Hipperholme in Halifax.  Why would anyone do that you ask?  Well it was specifically to visit The Cock O’ The North pub which is the tap of the Halifax Steam Brewing Company.  We had had the place recommended to us by a couple of guys in our local pub The Wellington Inn (which doesn’t appear to have it’s own website any longer).

So, The Cock o’ the North then.  At first glance from the outside, we wouldn’t have ventured in here.  It is built of portakabins and doesn’t look like the greatest place to spend a Friday night.  I am so, so glad we had the recommendation though (thanks to Blakey and Paul) because inside, it was like a temple for real ale fans.  The long polished granite bar (which the bar staff kept scrupulously clean all night) has a beautiful backdrop of two huge fish tanks.  I only had my phone to take pictures  but please follow the link above and have a look at their own picture gallery to see what I mean (although the fish tanks did have fish in them when we were there).  Plenty of table and chair seating around the room and nice comfy wooden bar seats so we could contemplate our next beer choice and watch the fish at the same time.  Ten real ale pumps spanned the bar, all boasting brews by Halifax Steam Brewing.  We decided to work our way along, both of us sampling a different drink each time so to give us maximum tasting treats!  We did get to the end and start on our way back down again actually ;-).  My particular favourite was The Dark Side, an absolutely scrumptious dark beer tasting of chocolate and coffee.  The Cock O’ the North beer was also very lovely with caramel notes.  The two that seem to be their regulars, are Aussie Kiss, a very pale and hoppy brew and at something like 3.8% a real session beer and Uncle Jon a dark but mild flavoured beer which at 4.3% is also very drinkable!  The other beers I believe rotate as and when.  I do tend to prefer dark beers but having said that, the paler, blonder ones on offer were also very nice.  There wasn’t one beer on offer that I would say that I wouldn’t drink again.  Quite an achievement with ten different ones! 

The manager/owner (didn’t quite work out which) was a lovely guy who spent a bit of time chatting to us and when he found out where we were from and our local, was delighted to be able to tell us that he knew of the Wellington guys from their previous visits and was full of praise for our fair city of Hull as well.  All in all The Cock O’ the North is a highly recommended visit for all you real ale fans out there, heck there is even a camp site out the back if you are mad enough!

We had a good weekend all round really.  We had arrived on the Friday afternoon to stay in the Premier Inn at Halifax.  What a lovely location it was in, right on the canal side and the rooms had their own outside front door, kind of like American motels that you see on TV sometimes, but nicer.  The only drawback was that although it was only 3 or 4 miles away from Hipperholme, the taxis both ways cost just shy of a tenner!  So a bit of false economy with the cheap place to stay really but as it was so nice, we’ll forget that little annoyance.  This picture was taken just outside our front door.  

Canalside Premier Inn

Canalside Premier Inn

On the Saturday, after a hearty breakfast/lunch at the Wetherspoons I had spotted in Halifax town centre the previous night on our way to Hipperholme in the taxi, we decided we would drive home the scenic route rather than the rather dull M62.  I wanted to go to Haworth for a wander up the High Street, I haven’t been for some years and Patrick had never been before.  The weather was so beautiful, one of those gorgeous Autumn days that are sunny and calm, yet really quite chilly.  This is my favourite time of year and weather, as I may have mentioned before, I’m not a sun worshipper in the least.  We enjoyed a meander up and down the High Street, walked through the church yard and I popped into the church hall to have a look at the local craft fair, I was a little sad that I had eaten such a large breakfast because there were some seriously delicious looking homemade cakes.  I was temped to buy a piece for later but it would have ended up all squashed before I got home knowing me.  We then stopped for a cuppa in one of the many tearooms along this delightful, cobbled (and very steep) street and I couldn’t help noticing that there was a poster in the window for their Knit and Knatter group, how very fab to have a knitting group in such a lovely location.  I decided I want to live in Haworth, just so I can go to the Knit and Knatter.
Haworth High Street

Haworth High Street

 I’m sorry my photo of the High Street is so rubbish! I’m sure you can find a much prettier and brighter one on the web if you are so inclined.  Note to self; remember to take the camera with you when you go away!
 
After a pleasant couple of hours in Haworth, we set off for home, deciding to take the A59 route over the top and through York.  It is a much longer drive but Patrick agreed, better than the boring old motorway.
 
We stopped for a break in Knaresborough to stretch our legs, visited the beer shop there for a little supply of Belgian bottled beers and had a walk around the castle.  I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know there was a castle at Knaresborough but sure enough, there is and with stunning views to boot. 
View from Knaresborough Castle

View from Knaresborough Castle

I am quite pleased with this phone photo.  The stunning viaduct over the River Nidd as photographed with my little HTC phone from the walls of Knaresborough Castle.  We had a little wander around Knaresborough town centre and I now decided that I want to live in Knaresborough as it is so pretty :-).  It was turning a bit nippy by now and we were flagging a bit after our day of sightseeing so we started off for home, having thoroughly enjoyed our West/North Yorkshire weekend break.

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Never too late.

To let the world know that you are still around that is.  I’ve been procrastinating on this blog for weeks now, it gets kind of where you have missed so much that you don’t know how to get started again.  I mean, do I attempt to back-track and  tell of the events that have taken place chronologically?  I think not, it would come out like a list rather than a tale. Or do I jump right in and start from now?  I suppose so, after all that’s how it started in the beginning, I didn’t attempt to go back over my whole life to get it down on record or anything!  You just have to start where you are at I suppose.

I am not a good blogger, I don’t plan what to write, I just start writing and see what comes. Don’t get me wrong, I do read it through and make changes, it’s not completely ad-libbed but when I start, more often than not I don’t know where it will take me.

So, I’m going to jump in and start from now, if I track back and tell you about my summer, then all well and good.  Summer haha…try to cast your mind back, summer fell on one day in June this year I think 😉

Right now, we’re in the midst of selecting Universities with my youngest son, who will be applying this autumn to go next year.  He wants to study Maths and is looking at Nottingham, Lancaster, Leeds and York in the main.  Of course mum gets the fun job of driving him to open days but I believe it is important to make the right choice based on your feelings when you visit a place and not just from reading marketing blurb in a prospectus so I’m not complaining about it. 

On the needles ATM is a hat that I am test-knitting for the wonderful Knitting Kninja.  It’s a nice watch cap with just enough pattern detail to forestall the boredom usually involved in knitting hats for men (Why do they always want dark colours and stocking stitch or ribbing?)  It’s called Horatio because  it has a nautical look to it, I had a hand in naming it so I’m feeling quite proprietry about it :-D.   I’m using the Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran in Navy that I have left over from my FLS and I’m please with it so far.  Also OTN, I’m knitting baby things 🙂   I have a lovely work colleague who after many years of trying, is pregnant and expecting triplets!!  I’m knitting three identical layettes from a Sirdar pattern book but I won’t be posting pictures on here, that would spoil the surprise.

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Non-Knitting News

A few weeks ago Patrick and I decided to go on the Real Ale Trail in West Yorkshire again, we did this last summer and enjoyed it immensely.  Patrick’s two friends had expressed an interest in going with us ‘the next time’ so we tried to arrange it around them.  In the event, neither of them could commit to a date so we went ahead on our own, on Good Friday.  We stayed at the same hotel as the last time, The Cambridge Lodge, not far from the station.  The Ritz it certainly ain’t but clean, tidy and cheap at £45 double room including cooked breakfast does for us.   We had decided that our first stop would be the West Riding at Dewsbury station, having seen a blackboard advertising their famous sausage sandwiches on our last visit. 

West Riding, Dewsbury

Famished, having only eaten a slice of toast before leaving Hull…in anticipation of said sausage sandwich, you can imagine our devastation to be told ‘We’re not doing food today’!  We had a couple of wonderful beers anyhow and got the train back to Huddersfield, to a fantastic Fish and Chip shop by the market (had it been a market day that is!).  This Friday malarky wasn’t proving too successful!  After Fish and Chips, we made our way to the station to catch the train to our next destination.  For some reason my memory of the order in which we visited the pubs along the trail is a bit hazy 🙂 .   So in no particular order, we also visited: The Station Buffet Bar on Stalybridge station.  This is an absolutely fascinating place, being the original station buffet.  A huge selection of ales but a strangely remiss attitude to glass collecting!  On our previous visit, the place was heaving so I put the vast quantities of empty glasses and bottles all over the tables, bar and any other flat surface down to the fact that they were rushed off their feet serving.  On this occasion though, it was relatively quiet, yet they still didn’t seem in a great rush to clear the surfaces or wash the glasses.  The Riverhead at Marsden, we had a less than satisfactory time in here and didn’t stay for a drink due to the lack of service and terrible attitude of the staff.  The Railway Inn at Greenfield, we managed to arrive right on the tail end of a very large party of drinkers from the same train as us and with seemingly only one man serving behind the bar, had quite a wait.  Theakstons Old Peculier more than made up for the wait though.  The pub interior itself is a bit grotty quite honestly so we sat in the beer garden, overlooking Saddleworth Moor.  I checked the timetable for the next train.  In my, by then, hazy state of mind I misread the timetable and told Patrick that the train was in 2 minutes.  We rushed the rest of our OP (criminal) and dashed across the road to the station.  It didn’t seem to occur to us that if the train was really due, the pub would have emptied and the station platform would be full.  We had rushed the Beer by which all others are judged in order to sit on a station platform for 7 minutes!  The Commercial in Slaithwaite, which is pronounced Slawit apparently so do take note and don’t make a fool of yourself should you ever want to visit the place.  Actually, from what we saw of it, whilst walking to the pub (here is where the ale trail goes a bit awry, the pubs in Slaithwaite being substantially further then a 2 minute walk from the station and up and down hills to boot) it seemed a nice enough town.  The Commercial isn’t very memorable really, being one of these refurbished jobbies, you know the kind..all the interior ripped out to make one huge room which is then decorated in ‘contemporary’ style.  Decent selection of beers though and we sat outside, me making a fuss of a couple of whippets whilst we both tried to decide what the hell the wasps that kept dissapearing into drilled holes in the stone window frames were doing.  The holes were clearly drilled for drainage purposes in the solid stone so there would be no hollow behind them, no room for a nest.  Not even enough room to turn around I wouldn’t have thought, yet they kept flying in and out all the time we stood there.  I found myself wondering how they had turned around in this little tunnel, why didn’t they have to reverse out, in fact could they do such a thing?  Time to move on!!  Back to Huddersfield where we headed for the Kings Head.  The second of two pubs situated at either end and within the old station buildings at Huddersfield station.  This place is the polar opposite of the Commercial and clearly hasn’t been cleaned in decades never mind refurbished!  It is in what was the old waiting room and has a fireplace at either side of the room.  I don’t think they are in use though but having only visited in warmer months, I don’t know for sure.  The selection of beers in here is massive, 12 I think it was and it was a hard choice by that time of evening.  

The Head of Steam - Huddersfield Station

We then decided for one more in the Head of Steam before heading into the heart of Huddersfield night life (ahem!) for a kebab at a wonderful cafe/takeaway called Kebabish, these are proper kebabs and not the rubbish you see at some places.  We ate here on our last visit and it was as good again.  Back to the hotel and a good night’s sleep.

The next day, weather being beautiful again, we decided on a walk along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to Standedge Tunnel.

Huddersfield Narrow CanalHuddersfield Narrow Canal

 
It was a very pleasant walk and the Standedge visitor centre at the end was very interesting.  You could go on a boat trip through the tunnel but I couldn’t really imagine that being too fascinating so we skipped on that.  All in all a very good weekend.  The weather was fabulous for April and I now find myself hoping that wasn’t summer!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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..is a river which makes for a very pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll and an impromptu picnic.  So that is what Patrick and I decided to do on Sunday afternoon, having availed ourselves of Tesco’s finest scotch eggs and pre-packed sandwiches, a bottle of Leffe and a blanket to sit on. 

Hull is built on the junction of two rivers, the mighty Humber, at the other side of which lies Lincolnshire, and the meandering River Hull, which the city itself straddles.  Despite living here all of my life  and spending much of my childhood mucking around where I shouldn’t be and, well, trepassing I suppose, at the industrial section of both rivers in and around the city centre, I confess I hadn’t previously ventured this far up river, well not along the riverbank itself anyway.  I drive across a bridge over it at this point everyday on my way to work and say to myself “that would be a really pleasant walk to do one day”.  So finally got around to it.  The weather was glorious and a lovely day was had.

River Hull

River Hull, looking towards Industrial Estate

  I work somewhere over there!

Patrick

 See those Dandelions?  I’ll be collecting some of them this week to make Dandelion Wine 🙂

You’d think looking at these pictures that I lived in some lovely country village with lots of green space around not right in the middle of a very industrial city like Hull.  Just goes to show, there are hidden gems if you are willing to get out there and look for them.

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Not blogging is the obvious answer here.  So much for a post a week, I haven’t posted for what…5 or 6 weeks!   It’s that old thing that we never have enough of again – time.   So, what have I been up to?  I can’t honestly remember a lot, that’s what happens if you don’t blog it you see.

One thing I do remember is that Patrick and I went to see the wonderful Gordon Giltrap at the beginning of March.  He was playing in the area again at a charity gig organised by a friend of his, we saw him last summer for the first time and I wasn’t really familiar with his work before then. The only track I knew of his was his most famous hit Heartsong, which was the theme of the TV show Wish You Were Here.  I have to say I was completely awestruck during the performance.  The skill with which he plays is amazing.   He is an incredible guitar player and a very humble and entertaining man and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

In knitting news, I have finally finished the green jumper.  But…and it’s a big but after about 5 weeks of knitting, I’m not happy with it :-(.  It doesn’t fit quite as well as I would like, being a little bit loose.  I could live with that but the main problem is that I cocked up on the tops of the sleeves and the shoulders stick up a little.  I think it can be fixed but at the moment, I can’t face it.  It is in the naughty corner until I can be bothered to unpick the offending bit and re-do it.  I will, at some time, because it was an awful lot of time and yarn to have wasted if I don’t….but not just yet.  I’ve picked up my Hampton Cardi again, that of the 4 row, 9 stitch pattern that had me flummoxed a few weeks ago.  That worked out fine first time when I had another go at it.  Sometimes it pays to just put something aside for a while until it learns its lesson and decides to behave :-).  So, that is on the go at the moment but will be a few weeks in the making yet.   I have also made some progress on my February Lady cardigan and am knitting that as well as Hampton.  I’m enjoying both of these projects a lot now.

Patrick and I had booked a couple of days off work this week and had decided to go to York for an overnight stay.  We love to go to York, primarily because of the huge number of fantastic pubs to visit.  On the York Camra website, there are mini-guides to download and the one for York centre has no less than 82 pubs selling real ale from independant breweries.  I do love to try beers that I haven’t tried before and to visit pubs that I haven’t visited before and there are opportunities in abundance to do both in York.  Arriving on Sunday afternoon in glorious sunshine, we checked in the Travel Lodge in York Centre and set off for a little walk towards the first of our target pubs.  I took this picture of the beautiful daffodils around the walls on the way

Daffodils in York

Our first pub then was The Rook and Gaskill.  Just outside the City walls and named after two 17th Century sheep thieves who were the last people to be hanged at the St Leonard Gallows nearby. A real beer lovers pub with a selection of 12 beers and a friendly barman.  It was a struggle to just have the one in there I can tell you!  We had more pubs on our radar though so we next crossed Hull Road to visit the Waggon & Horses, a pleasant pub with 3 distinct rooms, sun beating through the windows at the front made for thirsty drinkers.   Back to the hotel after this to freshen up for the night ahead.  The very convenient Posterngate pub right next door to the Travel Lodge was our first stop for a meal and a beer.  A Wetherspoons pub, where you know you are going to get value.  I am a huge fan of Wetherspoons pubs.  The food may not be gourmet but it is good value and their commitment to Real Ale is second to none in the pub chain industry.  After that, we visited a further four pubs that we hadn’t been to on previous visits to York.  The Punch Bowl just outside Micklegate, which is another Wetherspoons,  Brigantes, a cafe bar type establishment, then Ackhorne, tucked away down a little cobbled street.  We would never have found it by accident and now we’ve been in, we certainly won’t be finding it again on purpose anytime soon.  After trying out one more new one, Maltings, in the shadow of Lendal Bridge we finished up with two of our favourite pubs, The Yorkshire Terrier and Ye Olde Starr, both down Stonegate.  A catfood-like burger on the way back to the hotel finished the night off nicely!  Monday dawned bright and sunny again and we had a little wander around before heading off to the Castle Museum.  Neither of us had been there for years and we had a good day.  I had a strange experience in one of the police cells in that as I stepped in the door, I got an overwhelming feeling that I just shouldn’t be in there.  I can’t explain other that it was a kind of panicky feeling and I just couldn’t bring myself to go right inside, I hovered near the door as Patrick went in.  Later, speaking to one of the staff in another exhibit, the sweet shop, he was telling us about ghostly goings on in the place, including the time that a child who was visiting the museum had said that he wanted to go back into the police cell to talk to the lady who was in there!  Needless to say, Patrick then wanted to go back and see for himself.  We went in, I was a bit apprehensive to say the least but the feeling wasn’t there on the second visit.

I’ll leave you with another couple of pictures from York,  the first, a lovely little old building, I can’t remember for the life of me where it was but I thought it looked very pretty with the blossom trees outside and the second picture is of Clifford’s Tower.  Just look at those daffodils!

Blossom and Beams

Clifford's Tower, York

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