Beautiful Beaches

Terri, from Second Wind Leisure, hosts Sunday Stills photo challenge, and the challenge this week is ‘Beautiful Beaches’.  Follow the link and join in or just enjoy looking at Terri’s and others’ photos.

My contribution this week is a mixed bag. I have loads of photos of beautiful beaches but my computer is misbehaving and my choice of picture folders is currently limited. Anyway, I hope you like them.

My first two are from Borth-y-Gest in North Wales.

The image below is a beach on the wonderful beach of Es Pujols on the island of Formentera. Yes, those are my legs.

The last one is a small cove in Nerja, Spain. I have no idea who if anyone lives there or what it is used for but doesn’t it look cool?

Monday Window – Southern France

Welcome to Monday Window – a photographic challenge hosted by photographer/blogger, Ludwig Keck.

This week my windows are from Southern France, in particular Cannes, Hyeres and Nice. I was drawn to photograph them because of the wonderful colours of the buildings and shutters. I hope you like them.

Cannes

Cannes

Giens Peninsula, Hyeres

Hyeres

This last one was taken a few years ago at the Nice Carnival just before the start of the ‘Battle of Flowers’.

Nice

Please note I own the copyright of all photos See ‘Legal Stuff’ above.

My evening with Count Arthur Strong

I am still laughing a week after my wife and I and a friend went to see ‘Count Arthur Strong, And This Is Me’ – a one man show based on the character Count Arthur Strong created and played by comedian Steve Delaney – at the Leeds City Varieties theatre. Bits of that evening of comedy keep coming back to me and as much as I try to explain to people unfamiliar with Arthur, what makes him funny, I start talking in the same confused and befuddled way as the Count himself and just end up snorting and giggling to myself.

At heart, Arthur is a forgetful showbiz veteran on a short fuse and over confident in his knowledge and talents. He appears as a befuddled old dodderer in a badly fitting suit and a Tyrolean hat staggering about the stage talking about himself, or as he says, “me and the man behind myself which is also me”, delivering rambling stories, mangled logic, and bizarre anecdotes and fantasies. He struggles with his memory and the English language, and rarely finishes a story, digressing and losing himself up the garden path in his confusion. In his frustration, he momentarily loses his cool and then finds another subject to ramble on about.

His ramblings include hundreds of hilarious malapropisms, many which are sheer genius and which the audience applaud individually if they are quick enough to get it. His doddery yet very physical movement on stage mixed with the funniest confused facial expressions are masterful – and why I think you have to see him perform and not just listen to his radio stuff.

As you can tell, I’m a fan. I’m also a fan of surreal comedy and this show delivered in that regard

His topics included considering the wives of ‘Henry VII I am’, the benefits of humans having a dislocatable jaw, and his recommendation that reading the chemical contents of Toilet Duck is as good as a Dickens novel for relaxing with a good read on the toilet.

Some ludicrous and surreal moments included a ventriloquism act where he struggles to delineate between himself and the doll, a tribute to Elvis – appearing in a white judo suit, Napoleon singing about Waterloo in the words of Abba playing a squeezebox, and French dancing. This wasn’t far away from Reeves and Mortimer territory.

At the end of this fun and uplifting performance I hovered over the merchandising stall and I wanted to buy a T shirt. I liked the one of Count Arthur’s face with the words ‘Sod It’ underneath – but my wife told me to grow up!

May be, but as Count Arthur might suggest,

“You could purchase my wonderful tee shirt on the interweb without her knowing and marvel at the wonderful photograph of me on the front …which I have to say has not been hairbrushed in any way and is head and soldiers above other tee shirts out there. It is ethicately man united in some foreign country where it is cheap as crisps to make. Mind you, have you seen the price of crisps now? They’ve gone up and I’m sure they’re putting fewer crisps in the bag. Its a diabolical liberty and I for one won’t be giving my money to Gary Lineker. Anyway, stop going on about crisps will you. So , as I was saying, use the intfinet or one of those computer pages to buy my wonderful tee shirt. Besides, why would you want to buy it from me at that price. I certainly wouldn’t. Its not rocket salad is it? Oh, I didn’t think that through did I? Anyway, neither did you because if you bought it, you could only wear it out of sight of your wife….. or she might give you a mouthful or an earful and that might break the camel mightn’t it?

In a previous post ‘Not Another Trouser Fire‘ there is a clip from his BBC TV comedy series. To go straight to the clip, click

Energy now restored thanks to Rolling Blackouts

No, I’m not talking about the power shutdowns likely to hit the country this winter in order to save electricity. I’m talking about the Australian indie rock band, ‘Rolling Blackouts’ who we saw at the O2 Ritz in Manchester on May 31st. This 5 piece wall of sound was just the tonic I needed after a recent spell of lethargy, dwelling on bad news and losing my music mojo.

Imagine 3 cool, perfectly intertwined guitars delivering lively guitar rhythms and killer chops, led by a bass player who struts up and down stage like a chicken on steroids and a tidy thumping drummer and you’ll get the picture.

The crowd were bouncing up and down from the word go and I have to say me and my mate Bill did a fair bit of bouncing ourselves for a couple of 68 year olds. Of course the energetic dancing, stranger hugging with arms/fingers pointed in the air was more for the youngsters and it was great to be there with them despite being jostled and having our feet repeatedly stepped on. .

As at the end and into the encore, girls were on boyfriends shoulders, the moshing started (right in front of us) and it was great to feel the old sprung dancefloor moving in time with the music. It was a proper rock and roll finish and we were knackered, and our voices were hoarse (despite a few beers earlier). But we were energised and we felt young again.

Rolling Blackouts have just released their their latest album, Endless Rooms. Here is a sample of what to expect titled, ‘The Way it Shatters

Rolling Blackouts (bass player out of shot)

#Sunday Stills -Feathered Friends

Today on Terri Webster Schrandt’s Sunday Stills Photography Challenge, the topic is ‘Feathered Freinds’. Here are some of my snaps featuring our feathered friends.

Eagle and Trainer at National Centre for Birds of Prey, Helmlsey, Yorkshire
Fine looking Rooster

What a show-off

Crane punk rocker

Duck Family on route march

Swan-ning about, Lake Garda, Italy
Noisy Geese in Delph, Oldham
Hungry seagulls in Aldeburgh, Suffolk (they could smell our fish and chips)
Father and daughter feeding Pigeon friends in Crete

Another great gig at the Band on the Wall !

Source: Jake from Manchester, UK, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Who says ‘You Can’t Buy a Thrill’?*  For just £20.50 I was ‘Reelin’ in the Years’* singing along and dancing (well sort of dancing) at Manchester’s ‘Band on the Wall’ last Saturday – taking in the spirit and sound of Steely Dan.  

One of my all time favourite bands, Steely Dan have since the 70’s shown me just how good music can be.  For those not familiar, although I’m sure you’ve heard of them, they are a jazz rock combo formed in New York by college friends Walter Becker and Donald Fagin. (Sadly Walter Becker died in 2017.)

Why do I like them so much?  Well, their music combines jazz, pop, rock, bits of reggae, funk, blues and a lot more.  It is catchy (there’s an old man’s music term) but complex, sophisticated and rich.  They always managed to get the best musicians for every song and their recordings are so hi fidelity and so well engineered you hear the individual sound of every instrument. 

Despite the complexity of their music, their lyrics, hooks and infectious dance grooves stick in your memory.  They are of such quality, it is no wonder they have been sampled so often in pop songs right up to today.  Their lyrics are clever.  They tell a story and can be quite profound or acerbic.  Some contain hidden meanings.  Frustratingly some are a complete mystery to me but they still have appeal and make me want to sing them.

I won’t go into massive detail about Steely Dan.  You can look them up if you’re interested.  But if you’ve never given them a chance, check out some of their songs.

Before I go any further, I feel I should clarify something.  I didn’t actually see Steely Dan at the Band on the Wall last Saturday.  I saw the wonderful 10 piece tribute band ‘Nearly Dan’.  What a great name!

And what a great night it was. The place was packed. Not just with pensioners either.  I was quite amazed and encouraged to see there were 20 and 30 somethings there and who clearly knew all the songs and most of the lyrics.  There is hope for our youngsters!

I’m sure you’ve all seen a really good tribute band at some point and this was quite something.  I was gobsmacked at how close some of the versions were to the original especially given how complex many of Steely’s songs are. The vocals and instrumentals were extremely good although there were a few glitches early on. The lead vocalist closed the first set saying, “We’re going to take a 15 minute break now whilst we argue backstage about who got what wrong etc. but we will be back best of friends.”  They were and they got better and better.

Finally, after a very energetic encore with instrumental battles between the guitars and saxophones, the gig came to an end and the house lights came on. It was hilarious to hear the oldies remarking on the way out that their legs and backs were a bit sore after jostling about during the concert.

This was as special and as uplifting as any concert I’ve been to (and I’ve seen the real Steely Dan live). 

The entertainment continued though on the tram back home.  I have mentioned in other posts that when travelling on the Oldham-Didsbury Metrolink tram at the weekend, one is guaranteed to meet aliens from another Universe or parallel world.  There were teens with black and white clown painted faces, feral goblins standing on seats and smoking some substance but the star of the tram-show this time was a black guy dressed in a sequined and embroidered denim jacket and jeans, leather and bead jewellery, aviator glasses and huge expensive looking headphones. Despite his somewhat stylish look, he was I think under some influence.  I wouldn’t say it was alcohol as he was drinking what looked like an energy drink but it was the way he drank it that was somewhat unorthodox.  He produced a daffodil head from his hood and poured a few drops out of his bottle into the trumpet and drank it as if it was a cup.  Throughout the journey he struggled to hold these whilst also trying to use his mobile phone and put on some thin leather gloves which he produced from his sock. It was a ballet of totally uncoordinated actions.  I wondered where he was intending to go and hoped he would get there in one piece.  

* Cant Buy a Thrill is the debut studio album by  Steely Dan, released in November 1972. It contains their first single ‘Do it Again’ and another- ‘Reeling in the Years.

Nearly Dan (click here to go to their website) began life around 1995 as a 5-piece band called Baldwin’s Casuals (the name of Mike Baldwin’s clothes factory in Coronation Street), performing quality cover versions at venues in Stoke-on-Trent.

Nearly Dan (Source: website, see above link)

I’m back watching live music and I’m lovin’ it.

I can hardly express how much I have missed watching live music.  But after two years in the wilderness, I finally attended a live music gig at the Band on the Wall in Manchester city centre. I can report that it was a joyous, magical occasion! 

Earlier that evening, I set off with my neighbour and good mate Bill and caught the Metrolink tram into Manchester.  The anticipation of seeing and feeling live music surrounded by other people after such a long a break, made me fidget in my seat.  It was a slow journey but great for people watching as it always fascinates me what a diverse group of passengers pile on to experience a night out in Manchester.  The tram was getting full, and whilst I couldn’t help but wonder how many passengers were infected by covid, I was chilled and feeling good.  I was going to enjoy this. 

There is something special about watching good musicians – in the moment, working as a team, feeding off an audience.  And listening to the power of their output and feeling the impact of the bass and instruments through the speakers bouncing off the walls and ceiling.  

We arrived early in the city centre and enjoyed a couple of pints of first rate Blackjack beer in the buzzing Smithfield Market Tavern.  When we arrived at the nearby Band on the Wall, the support act ‘Deaf House’ were well into their set and doing a good job warming up the audience.  We got ourselves a good spot on the balcony ready for the main act and soon people filtered in from the bar swelling the floor ready for the start.  A big cheer went up as the band came on stage and plugged themselves in and said, “ Hello Manchester – it’s great to be back!” (yes, we saw them on their last visit).  

For the next nearly one hour and forty minutes, we enjoyed some great jazz fused with soul, afro-beat, hip-hop, reggae, and pop.  The band was ‘Nubiyan Twist’.  They are a Leeds/London ten piece jazz combo and a collection of ultra-tight musicians with a powerful horn section, and great percussionists’  They played a mixture of new stuff from their latest album and some older numbers, including some stonker dance tunes which left the audience cheering and danced out.

We were buzzing on the way back in the tram, the vibes still with us and feeling a sense of achievement for going and a determination to see more live gigs soon. The atmosphere on the tram was great although somewhat noisy thanks to some well oiled passengers and wierdos.  We were only to pleased to do Kat’s friend (sat across the row) a favour and make sure Kat didn’t sleep through and miss her stop (also ours).

P.S.  We are off again to the Band on the Wall next Saturday to see ‘Nearly Dan’.  Those more discerning music lovers will be able to guess which all time ‘supergroup’ this tribute band is based on. 

The Goblins are in control. What’s going on?

I was only recently introduced to the term ‘Goblin mode’ by blogger Ally Bean in her post, “Deconstructing Goblin Mode: It Can Happen To The Best Of Us” and it got me thinking.

Firstly, for those unfamiliar with the term, ‘Goblin mode’ is a state of mind where people become slobs, go feral and don’t really care what others think.  Ally refers to a recent article published in The Guardian newspaper entitled: “Slobbing out and giving up: why are so many people going ‘goblin mode’?”  It’s an interesting article and explains that the pandemic is partly to blame by slowing down society, people’s expectations, and removing the need to keep up appearances.  The article quoted a tech worker who said, “At home there’s no social pressure to follow norms, so you sort of lose the habit,” he says. “There’s also a feeling that we’re all fucked, so why bother?”  This is probably a reference to the psychological impact of bad news and social media ‘winder-uppers’.   If you think we will all perish in WW3 or due to environmental disasters caused by global warming, or will soon be penniless as the world economy crashes, or will run out of food, then I suppose it is hard to motivate oneself.  But these people have stopped thinking. They have become numb, weird and socially inept and have given up.

It seems to me there are two aspects to Goblin mode.

First, ‘Slobbing out’.  Since covid lockdowns, many people don’t go out to socialise as much and prefer staying in, dressing-down in loungewear to watch Netflix or YouTube or video games stuffing their faces with pizza and doritos.  That’s fair enough.  But often, when I go out, I see more and more people dressed like they’re ready for bed or ready to beg for the price of a meal.  Some people can’t walk along the street without munching something and swigging a can or bottle (often disposed of anti-socially).  I see more and more litter and dog poo everywhere.  People are starting to look sloppy, they drive sloppily, and tradesmen often do a sloppy job – not just because they are not trained but because they have lost all pride.  Of course, many people are working from home more. The comfort benefits of working from home have posed new challenges, such as avoiding ‘pyjama syndrome’.  This is where the change in work schedules means people can’t separate work responsibilities and behaviours from leisure.  Many companies complain about slipping standards since co-vid.  I know some companies and workers use covid as an excuse for being lazy although I accept there are many valid reasons why employers and employees are not functioning as well as they used to.  But I really don’t think we can blame ‘slobbing out’ on the pandemic, world news and the pressures of being human. So why are we turning into slobs?  

The second aspect is ‘Going Feral’- something closer to the traditional description of a Goblin: an animal or person who is grotesque, mischievous and potentially evil.  Now I know we sometimes need to act a little crazy or act out of character to keep ourselves sane. But I see more examples of people who have gone completely feral and who delight in being more than mischievous and just doing what they want regardless of the impact on other people. Why are people going feral?  My theory is that many people are reacting to being shut down, controlled, powerless and cancelled.  Covid restrictions, less personal freedom and erosion of civil liberties, not knowing who to trust or what is fact or misinformation, being manipulated by big business, being monitored by your employers, being controlled by social media companies etc.. all contribute to our determination to put two fingers up to businesses, politicians, Government, etc, and to push boundaries and do what we think we can get away with.  Hence, for example, we see BMW drivers racing along like they’re in an arcade racing game where, if they kill somebody, they just need to put another £1 in.  The ‘fu*k you, I’ll do what I want’ attitude is difficult to distinguish from anti-social behaviour.  This is on the increase as social boundaries disappear and those responsible for preventing and intervening do nothing.  In 2021, police recorded over 2 million incidents of anti-social behaviour – the highest in seven years. Offences range from people using and dealing drugs, fly-tipping, vandalism and threatening behaviour. The annual Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated more than a third (37%) of adults experienced or witnessed anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their community last year – its highest level for six years.

Conclusion……… I would like to think I haven’t slobbed out.  However, I have I think gone slightly feral in response to the behaviour of some slobbish and feral people.  I challenge bad drivers and parkers regularly (and despite not being abusive, my wife thinks someone will eventually thump me).  I have threatened dog owners (I won’t say exactly how) who let their dogs run up to my grandsons in the park and dog walkers who don’t clean up after their dogs.  I have removed unauthorised and unsightly advertisements and birthday banners erected on roundabouts and lampposts and disposed of them.  I have re-acquainted slobs with their discarded rubbish in various ways.  I have confiscated pens from a group of teenagers who were graffiti-ing a telecoms box.   I have threatened to eject a noisy, drunk and swearing feral family from a campsite in the early hours one morning convincing them I was the owner’s brother. (Yes, it worked!)  I only do these things because no one else appears willing to challenge bad behaviour. I also challenge stupid and petty rules as a hobby. I like to think my responses are measured and proportionate.  

Please don’t think I’m an angry man or a Judge Dread character.  I am aware of my limitations in terms of policing the world and maintaining standards.  I also accept that there are some things you just have to let go either because it is a hopeless cause or just too dangerous to make a stand.

Thankfully, the majority people are not lazy slobs or feral goblins but that other minority are really getting on my wick!

My evening in A & E

I arrived at my local hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department (or ER in American) just before 8pm and explained that I have had chest pains and that the National Health Help Line (111) advised me to go straight to A & E for investigation (i.e. an E.C.G. and blood tests).  My details taken, I was issued with a card that identified me as an urgent case and was told to go to the ‘Urgent Care’ room.   Oh, I thought, I might not be hanging about for hours; I might jump the inevitable queue.  On the way I passed patients on seats, wheelchairs and trolleys and when I arrived in the Urgent Care room,  I was confronted with a room full of 60+ people awaiting attention.  I was somewhat deflated.

I checked in and was told to take a seat and that I would be triaged shortly.  There were no vacant seats so I stood near the door for half an hour waiting to be triaged.  The triage person (junior doctor I think) fired question after question at a great rate of knots and told me I wouldn’t have to wait long for tests.  After another hour, during which time I managed to find an unoccupied seat, a nurse called me into a consulting room and wired many leads to my chest and legs and took what seemed like a pint of blood from my arm and dispensed it into 3 separate plastic bottles.  “What did the ECG say”, I asked.  “It’ll all have to be assessed” she replied, “but I wouldn’t worry”.   Phew, that’s encouraging, but what is this weird pain?  On the other side of the consulting room (intended for one patient) a 20 year old man with a cut face and head was having something pulled out of his head and being stitched back up. I wondered if he had been in a fight.  He didn’t seem the aggressive type.  He was profusely apologising for taking up the doctor’s time and gave me a thumbs up for my test.  I asked the nurse when I would get my results and she said there was a five hour wait to see a doctor.

Five hours is quite a wait but normal in A & E’s these days.  I sat down and tried to adjust to the prospect of spending 5 hours in very close proximity to many sick and vulnerable people.  I looked for another seat within sight of the tv and where I could stretch my legs, and get away from the ‘nutters’ and the ‘coughers’.  And believe me there were some nutters.  That may be a cruel and politically incorrect term these days but I use it anyway to describe those patients who have chosen to get in a fight, show anti-social tendencies and lack of personal awareness in a hospital waiting room (e.g. by shouting or wandering around without a mask) and/or who are drug addicts.   One tall guy in a hoody walked up and down the room all the time I was there, stopping occasionally to just stare unblinkingly at other patients. Another guy laughed uncontrollably in a loud high pitched voice like he was having a great time.  The star of the show was a woman in her 40’s who was drugged up to the eyeballs and had to be escorted and detained by 3 policemen.  Her swearing and shouting was annoying but a lot of sympathy was shown by other patients as her antics could only be described as a tragic comedy sketch.  She was contained in the children’s waiting area (obviously there were no children in it) where her mood changed from upbeat (“shall I sing a song for you!”) to down (I’m going to die/kill that bastard that stole me money) in an instant. She moved from a crouched position behind a vending machine to sitting on a window sill whilst trying to hide behind the vertical blinds. After a while she was moved to a secure room, and relative quiet returned. 

I got back to my book (I knew this was going to be a marathon, so I’d brought one) but I couldn’t concentrate.  I’d been sat two hours on a seat designed by a sadist.  I was conscious the tv kept showing depressing images of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  I kept thinking about my chest pain – If it wasn’t my heart, what was the problem?  And I’m sat in an environment where I am almost certain to catch covid or something. There were no decent vending machines.  The restaurant for visitors and staff was inexplicably shut and I had another three hours to go.  I decided to get out and go for a walk outside.

I felt better immediately for a walk in the fresh air and despite my chest pain, did not feel like I was in any danger of a heart attack.  But where should I go?  Walking the hospital grounds and car parks at night in the rain is a pretty unappealing pastime and so I walked down the main road thinking I could buy a decent coffee in the petrol station shop. I got there and decided that drinking a coffee when I might be having a cardiovascular episode was not a good idea.  I bought some water instead and walked slowly back to the hospital.

There was still two plus hours to go so I tried to get back into my book but ended up reading emails, looking at photos on Flickr and Whatsapping my wife to say ‘no news yet’.  In that final hour the room thinned out a bit but was still busy.  People appeared with pots, slings, drips, bandages, and nurses scurried up and down with discharge papers, medication and instructions.  The lady next to me who fell of her horse now had her wrist in a splint and said the pain had improved.  The drug addicts never returned.  I couldn’t get over how much energy the staff had.  They were rushing and were so focussed.  They must be absolutely knackered after a full shift.  The lady who did my ECG must have been in her early 60s and was still rushing in and out of the consulting room like a 20 year old.

Around 1.30 am, my name was called and a doctor took me into a room.  I braced myself trying to dismiss the idea I might have to stay in for treatment or further tests.  The doctor smiled and said my results were back and she could tell me they indicated no signs of heart disease, heart attack, an enlarged heart, or abnormal heart rhythms.  My bloods were all normal.  That was one heck of a relief but what was causing my chest pain?  Her opinion was that it could be inflammation from a gym injury (I had pulled something doing stomach crunches some weeks ago) or it could be an acid reflux issue.  The pain is similar and given its location, the NHS Helpline was right that I should have it investigated.  I should double up my Omeprazole for a week and set an appointment with my GP to monitor or further investigate.

Result! I know I’m not likely to have a heart attack and I have a plan.   I didn’t expect my taxi driver to be so interested in why I had been in A & E and as I got out he said, in a broad Oldham/Pakistani accent,  “ You look after yourself my man!”

I have to say, the pain has receded quite a bit and the fact I am not worrying about it so much may have something to do with it.  I went back to the gym today.

My wife and I are resigned to the likelihood that episodes like this will become more common as we get older.  But we have to stay active and positive and get on with life whilst we can.   

Finally, you may have noticed from my previous posts that I am far from impressed with the NHS as a whole.  It is failing.  It is inefficient and services are not integrated.  My local GP surgery is a joke.  I remain to be convinced that there any doctors in it.  However, I would like to record that I am nevertheless grateful to the dedicated staff in The Royal Oldham Hospital A & E Department who were switched on, professional and pleasant despite being under enormous pressure!

Filey makes me smiley

“So you’re going to spend a couple of days away at the seaside…. in February, in a storm?” a friend asked.  “Yes that’s right” I replied.  “We’ve booked it so we’re going.”  

And we did.  And I’m glad we did because it proved to be just the tonic.

We set off on Sunday evening in Storm Eunice and with Storm Franklin about to follow.  We were going to drive from North West England to North East coast. Filey in Yorkshire to be precise.  It was blustery over the Pennines on the M62 with horizontal rain lashing the windscreen but as we approached Leeds, the weather seemed to improve slightly. That Sunday night we stopped at a friend’s house in Leeds.  On the Monday morning, we set off to Filey without any great expectations.

As we drove eastwards, the sun came out and the wind died down.  We passed the town of Tadcaster which, unsurprisingly, had flooded again.  You couldn’t tell the river from the floodplain as we drove over the A64 bridge.  The flooding extended across the fields and looked really quite attractive with the water glistening in the sunshine.

As we passed York we saw further extensive flooding but the recent flood prevention measures seemed to be keeping the water from nearby housing and the park and ride car park.  I believe York centre wasn’t so lucky.

Onward we drove along a quiet A64 through the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside towards Scarborough and then on to the nearby seaside town of Filey. 

 

We hadn’t been to Filey for some years but it always struck me as a tidy, characterful and inviting place and a great family resort.   As we walked through the town I was reminded that it is not a flashy place. There are no big attractions or piers, gin bars or cocktail bars (or at least we didn’t see any), and no prospect of Rick Stein opening a restaurant. 

So, what makes Filey so beguiling?

Most obvious is its position, its setting….. the Brigg and the bay, the elegant architecture along the front and the long billiard table pristine green flag beach. 

On the impressive headland of clay cliffs to the north of the bay (known as Carr Naze) is the country park.  We walked from there along the headland but aware that there have been recent large rock slips due to constant rapid erosion, we didn’t venture close to the edge.  Below jutting out further into the North Sea is a neck of rock called ‘The Brigg’ (a site of Special Scientific Interest because of its geological importance and designated as a local Nature Reserve). We walked out along the Brigg as far as the tide would allow enjoying the sea air, the rockpools, the waves, the gulls, the guillemots and oyster catchers, and the children looking for crabs in the rockpools.

In the town itself there are independent shops selling everything from antiques and local art to local handmade chocolates as well as a decent selection of restaurants, cafes, pubs and delis. The buildings were for the most part modest but tidy and well maintained.

The front, or what some would call the prom(enade) is a very pleasant place to stroll.  Wooded ravines run inland and along it are gardens, a bandstand which is host to regular concerts, a sea front sculpture trail inspired by Filey’s heritage, and of course the elegant and substantial whitewashed Victorian buildings on the Crescent.

The people we came across were welcoming and it seemed like there was a genuine community spirit in the town.

Having enjoyed a snack, we walked along the beach to Cobble Landing which is a hub of family activity.  Here was the R.N.L.I lifeboat station, the few remaining cobbles (small fishing boats), the amusement arcade, snack bars and seafood stalls.  Unfortunately, the seafood stalls were not open but we had fun spending a few pounds in the amusement arcade.   

We did more of the same on day two, at one point having to take off our coats on the beach because it got too warm!  After lunch, we decided to drive to Flamborough Head and have a walk there. Flamborough Head lies a few miles south of Filey and is an 8 mile long promontory and a Special Area of Conservation.  It is marked by a stretch of rugged white cliffs surrounding a nice little village which was colonised by the Vikings back then. It’s a great base for bird watching and hiking it has a scenic nature reserve, two lighthouses (one built in 1600s and one in 1800s) and a Roman signal station.  It’s a pretty untamed place and not for the casual walker ( many visitors didn’t venture far from the restaurant and gift shop).  We set off walking along the cliff top just as the clouds spoilt the sunshine and the wind got up.  I went to put on my top coat and nearly lost it in the wind.  The sight of me wrestling with it flapping about and finding the arm hole appeared to amuse a few people. We didn’t climb down to the beach as the steps were slippy and the tide was on its way in.  It was exhilarating though and a place well worth seeing.

We returned to our hotel for the second night and ate in the hotel restaurant before hitting the bar for a nightcap or two.  We woke up to another sunny day and, after soaking in the sea views and taking in a final breath of clean sea air with just a hint of fish and vinegar, we set off home, refreshed and uplifted.  We decided that this is a place with a genuine feel good factor.  A place that is just nice to spend time in. A place that seems to look after itself and which visitors seem to respect.

After a very pleasant stop at Malton – a stunning rural market town and known as Yorkshire’s food capital, we drove back over the Pennines into the rainy and blustery misery of Storm Franklin whilst listening to the increasingly depressing and scary news coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the radio.

I was tempted to turn round and go back.

Some images of Filey and Flamborogh Head ……..

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