Scarborough

Hi! Apologies for going missing for a couple of weeks, but I've been enjoying some time away exploring places old and new, and now I'm back to share them with you.

Scarborough is a firm family favourite as a UK holiday destination, and a place where family still live. We used to spend most summers up there, as well as half term breaks with my grandparents, and then only occasional visits while my sister was at university in Yorkshire. But it's been a few years since we visited, so my parents and I decided it was past time for another pilgrimage.

We made a Monday to Friday of it, setting off for the nearly 300 mile drive from home and arriving along familiar roads, waiting, as I always did as a child, for that first glimpse of the sea through the houses as you descend into the town. After briefly settling in at the hotel we headed out for a walk - down the steep paths and steps to the sea front, kicking off shoes to wiggle toes in the sand, and then further down the beach they met the water with gasps at the chill.

It's fine once you get used to it - it always is - so we dawdled along enjoying the freedom of bare feet, dodging the larger waves, and looking for the prettiest pebbles and shells. For a late Monday afternoon the beach was relatively busy with couples, families, groups of friends, and individuals making the most of the mid-September sunshine.

Shoes back on, we followed the foreshore road along, past fish and chip shops, ice cream stalls, amusement arcades - essential ingredients of the British seaside - the newly re-built lifeboat station, and on to the harbour. Out along the wall we wandered, drawn by the lighthouse, and the uninterrupted view of the sea. Wind buffeted and sunshine warmed we paused, taking in the unknown expanse before us and the familiar town at our backs, smiles breaking out spontaneously as the relaxation of the holiday mood hit.

Tuesday promised another bright and clear day so I was up before dawn, clothes and shoes pulled on, and out the door in time to catch the sunrise. And my goodness what a glorious one it was! At 6.30am the town was mostly still sleeping, the beach near deserted except for a few other early risers with cameras, and only the ubiquitous gangs of seagulls noisily making their presence known.

Along the beach once more, happily snapping away, each moment revealing a new aspect of this new day. Feet carrying me briskly past the harbour and to the very tip of the headland to capture the eventual rising of that glowing orb above the horizon far out at sea. Inch by inch, the colours changing - pinks and purples to red and orange, then bright yellow and clear blue.

Back I walked, by a different path, always turning to see what the light was doing, noticing how it played on the details around me, how the town was slowly woken by the glow. And then, the sun finally bursting free of a low bank of cloud, she shone bright and clear and the day began in earnest.

The rest of Tuesday and Wednesday took us exploring further afield, and I will share those adventures soon.

Thursday saw us spending another day in Scarborough, but a very different sort of day than when we arrived. This one was shrouded in mist, the fog rolled in off the water, cooler, quieter, but no less beautiful in its mystery.

We headed this time further up, up to the summit of the town, past old stomping grounds of my Dad when he was a boy and would visit an aunt and uncle who ran a guest house, along the cliff edge, this time with no view at all of what was beyond or below us, only the lapping of the waves giving us a clue.

A first visit to Scarborough Castle in decades made for an interesting hour, the ruins standing as an isolated island in the mist, but as we followed the perimeter and reached what must have been the very furthest spit of land, the eerie wail of the fog horn at the harbour wall far below reminded us of the dangers of this coast, and its strategic importance in battles through the centuries.

Down we walked again, legs working hard on the steep, winding paths, headed for the warmth of a cafe, a mug of steaming tea, and a sit down. Those smiles of Monday? They were still there.

(Click on photos to expand)