We returned to the Grape Vine for breakfast and had a pleasant chat with the owner. I asked him whether he knew the origin of the name Grape Lane. He confirmed our speculation that this was originally called Grope Lane. In earlier times, nearly every town had a street or lane of this name, especially ports where sailors coming ashore after a voyage would go in search of ladies of easy virtue.
After a good breakfast to set us up for the day, our next stop was the bus station to wait for the 8:30 Scarborough bus. The latter town is not our destination, however, but more on that anon.
While we walked across town, we could see dark clouds gathering and as the bus ran along the winding roads, rain began to fall. Out to sea, sunlight areas were visible too, so perhaps conditions will improve or we will have a day of showers and bright intervals. Wait-and-see weather.
As we reached Scarborough, the skies opened and the downpour began. One of our plans was to go on to visit the RSPB reserve, Bempton Cliffs, near Bridlington, but the heavy rain (and having to wait for a bus at a bus stop without any shelter) made this now seem unattractive. We retired to the the Rendezvous cafe to study possibilities and bus maps.
An alternative was the Ryedale Folk Museum which we had wanted to visit in any case. The day seemed made for this, always assuming that the at times quirky transport system could get us there and back.
Tigger phoned the local travel information centre. They put her through to someone whose designation she didn’t catch. On being told where we wanted to go, the person helpfully replied “Can you not look it up on the Internet?” Ten out of ten for customer-service skills.
In the end, it was a case of “If I were going there, I wouldn’t start from here”: the journey promised to be complex so we put it off for another time.
What was left was to jump on a bus going, well, somewhere. We plumped for Malton. Why? Well, why not? Fortunately, the rain had eased though that carried no guarantee for later.
As the bus sped towards Malton, we were happy to see that we were heading towards sunlit regions. How disappointing, then, to disembark at Malton to find ourselves once more in heavy rain. This is a disincentive to taking photos.
We stopped for coffee in the Palace Theatre, the town cinema that has had a long history. The building, originally the corn exchange, now accommodates the new smaller cinema, the cafe and a “shopping mall”, which is less quaint than it looks.
We decided to stay on for lunch and when we left, the sun had come out. Accordingly we explored the town and visited the small museum where we had to put up with the nonsense of signing a disclaimer certifying that we would not publish any photos we took. Therefore I cannot show you any of the exhibits.
While we were waiting for the 15:36 bus back to Scarborough, the clouds began to gather and as we stepped aboard, rain began to fall.
At Scarborough, we just missed the 16:40 Whitby bus and had to wait for the 17:10. This was very late, thus proving the law that any bus you miss is on time and any bus you are on time for is late. When the bus did arrive, about 20 minutes late, people kept asking why the bus was late, thus holding things up and making us later still.
The sun has come out and it is now very warm. There are still clouds, however, whose size suggests that there could still be more rain to follow.
By the time we arrived back in Whitby, it had become a lovely sunny evening, so we have thought to explore the western part, which we have not so far done.
I had better explain that the coast curves in at Whitby so that its beach faces north, not east as you might expect. The river Esk therefore divides it into eastern and western halves. Our hotel is on the eastern bank of the river and the town centre on the western bank. There is a western section of the coast that we have not yet seen.
The weather held for our foray to the west side and we were rewarded with some beautiful views lit by a golden evening sun.
We returned to more familiar parts by walking along St Anne’s Staithe. This is the least attractive part of Whitby, a place of slot machine arcades, fish and chip shops, cheap restaurants and woo-woo shops.
Further along we came to Shafiq, the third “Indian” (actually Pakinstani in this case) restaurant. Would this one finally prove good and make up for the faults of the other two?
We chose a “Vegetable Platter” each with matter paneer and rice to share. We ordered lassi to drink and had to order litre to share as they don’t make it to order. We started eating but there was no sign of our lassi despite the fact that other tables received their drinks in a timely fashion. I reminded the waiter but we still had a long wait. In fact I had finished my platter by the time the lassi arrived.
The waiter served us each a glass. As he served Tigger, some ice cubes that had stuck together slid out of the jug and bounced off the rim of Tigger’s glass onto the wooden table top. The waiter seized the paper serviette off the drinks tray, used it to pick up the ice cubes and then… dropped them into the jug of lassi! Unhygienic, to say the least.
When I started drinking my lassi, I saw that my glass had a crack about an inch long running down from the rim. Not a huge deal perhaps, but still not what you expect in this health sensitive age.
The matter paneer and rice arrived after we had eaten our platters. This is one of our favourite dishes but we both agreed that this one was bland, with little taste. I suppose that this could have been deliberate and that the people of Whitby are not fond of strongly flavoured or highly spiced dishes. We have come across this is other towns.
We have now experienced three Indian/Pakistani restaurants in Whitby and found each wanting. It’s just as well Moutrey’s Italian restaurant impressed us or we would be tempted to dismiss Whitby as a culinary desert.
We have seen L J every day but we didn’t see Jane at all yesterday or this morning. Had she gone home to mother? Suffered an accident? Taken a holiday? When we returned to the hotel this evening, we spied the familiar silhouette of L J atop the lamp. Then he flew onto the ledge above the hotel door and there was Jane too! They billed and cooed briefly and then flew off about their business. It’s nice to know that all is well.