July 31 – Scarborough to Bridlington
Once again the weather took control today. It dictated events. It changed our plans. It scuppered the day.
There has been some extreme weather in these northern parts in the last couple of days and Yorkshire, where we are, has seen towns struck with flash flooding, roads washed away and collapsed bridges, people unable to reach their homes and generally some pretty severe damage due to heavy rains. Some places had 50mm of rain in an hour, a month’s rain in four hours and there was a “deluge in Durham” where we’ve just been. There was more of that forecast and heading our way today. This morning we were glued to our friend Carol, BBC’s weather presenter. We love Carol. She has introduced us to some of our favourite meteorological terms such as “It’s brightening!” and “Fair weather clouds will be bubbling up.” We have the greatest faith in what Carol tells us. We already had an inkling of what was to come, simply by looking at the precipitation outside, but we wanted to hear Carol’s assessment of the situation. I wanted to ride. I figured it was just rain and it wasn’t too cold and we’d just be wet. We’ve done that before. What did Carol have to tell us about the weather for our area and where we were heading though?
“Torrential thundery downpours.”
“Heavy thundery downpours.”
“The temperatures will dip during the torrential downpours.”
“Several heavy thundery downpours to come.”
That’s what Carol said. Every forecast we watched, she spoke those words.
We looked outside. It was raining. It was very windy. Still…we both said we were happy to ride and give it a go. Then Steve looked at the rain radar and there was just a huge, swirling mass of colour right over us and where we were heading. Still…maybe we could get through it. Then Steve looked at the route and it was going to be all on road, no traffic free areas at all and there were some big hills. Then Steve spoke with the voice of reason. “I think it’s a safety issue. We’ll be out in it for at least four hours, in the rain, in traffic, with drivers with less visibility, up and down hills. I just don’t think it will be very safe.” We’d already experienced a not so good event on a steep, slippery hill in the rain in Croatia, adding traffic to the equation…well, maybe the voice of reason spoke the reality of the situation. Between Carol’s ominous forecast and the nature of the route, in the end we decided the weather had won this battle. We didn’t want to sit around though and we did want to make some progress, but not so much that’s we’d miss riding further down the coast. In the end, we decided to hop on a train, try to get past the worst of the “torrential, thundery downpours” and place us where we could pick up the ride again tomorrow, when Carol told us, “Tomorrow, many of us will be starting off with a dry note, some thundery showers tomorrow but they’ll be few and far between.”
We packed up the bikes and as we were leaving reception, I heard a very friendly conversation going on between a man and the lady at reception. The hotel we’d stayed in was one of those that would have been very grand in its day but was now in need of a lot of TLC, but from the way the lady spoke to guests, it seemed to be one of those places where people returned year on year. She seemed to know them all. It was also one of those places where the average age of the guests was about 80, which suits me and Steve just fine, they are our people. When the man said goodbye to the lady at the desk, he walked through the front entrance, where a few silver haired guests were sitting under the glass roof, looking out at the rain and chatting.
“‘Oo ordered the weather!?” said the man as he passed through and stopped to chat to the other guests. He then walked out and I came behind him. “Where are you off to today,” he asked me.
“Well, I think we’ve chickened out. We were going to ride to Bridlington.”
“Now, that’s a great Ostrailyan accent, that is” he said with a perfect impression of an Australian drawl.
“Yes,” I laughed.”
Behind me, Steve had been stopped by the silver haired guests who were having a chat to him and the man with me, began telling me about his trip to Australia, driving around in a motorhome. “Best twenty grand I ever spent,” he said, “I looved it. I call it ‘my little island’ and I can remember everywhere we went, it’s all ‘ere,” he added, tapping his head.
“That’s how I feel about being here,” I said, “you can’t put a price on the memories.”
“Well, you are on a little island ‘ere too aren’t you,” he said with a laugh.
Then he saw Steve about to walk out behind me. “Coom on possum, out yer coom.” he said. How gorgeous is that! He wished us a good day, turned and began to walk away, before turning back and saying, “Now remember. Fast on the down’ills and slow on the ‘oop’ills.”
“We’ve got that last one down to a fine art,” I said with a laugh.
“Isn’t that just beautiful,” I said to Steve as we got ready to ride off, “I just love it! I love that people stop and talk to us and people are so friendly and funny. It’s lovely.” That little encounter put a shine on the otherwise disappointing start to the day.
We rode down to the train station, walked in with perfect access to the platform straight off the street and didn’t wait long before the train pulled in. It was an easy walk on and we could stand the bikes in the carriage and sit beside them. One of the easiest train experiences we’ve had. It was only a short, 40 minute trip down to Bridlington, a distance that would have taken us hours on the bikes, but just a short choof down the line.
We hadn’t travelled far, had our tickets punched by one of the conductors, when another of the conductors walked past and asked us about the bikes and where we were going. He then settled in for a chat. For the entire remainder of the trip, he stood, leaned against the side of the carriage and just chatted away to us about his job on the trains, his wife who was a teacher but had just decided to “pack it in”, the cost of travel during school holidays, their son’s university degree, friends in Australia and all manner of things. It was ab-so-lute-ly wonderful! It was another lovely, friendly person who just chatted away to us. That happens so much with people we come across here and I just love it.
We eventually arrived at our stop, said goodbye to the friendly conductor and walked into the Bridlington station. This was a lovely little station and we decided to sit inside, have elevenses with a cup of tea and sit out some of the rain, before making a dash to the guesthouse we’d be staying in. The station was opened in 1846 and the concourse building we sat in was added in 1912 and it still retained many of the period features.
We hunkered down in the guesthouse for a while, had some lunch and waited for the weather to ease enough for us to get out and have a look around. We put on coats, took our brollies and set off into Bridlington. We walked down to the Old Town, which was like walking into a street from the 40’s or 50’s. It really looked like nothing had changed. This street was used as a location in the film of Dad’s Army and I could see why it would be chosen as a period location, because apart from the cars, the shops looked like no time had passed at all.
We walked past the Bayle, which was built in 1388 as the gateway to the Priory and the Bridlington Priory was once one of the largest and wealthiest in Yorkshire and was founded in 1113.
The rain came down, but we strolled down to the waterfront and saw that Bridlington is another “resort town” with a strip of arcades, fairground rides and lots and lots of people. We watched the waves crash into the sea wall and fly up in the air, sending the kids screaming with laughter as they ran away each time a mountain of water and clods of seaweed rose up into the air. Then we took a walk back to gather supplies and that was the day.
Bridlington is another seaside town that’s a smaller version of Scarborough and it’s been really interesting visiting some of these places in the north. Last time we were here cycle touring we spent a lot of time in the south, in Devon and Dorset and through the Cotswolds and we are certainly seeing the contrast as we travel in the north. It’s good to get a different perspective and see a different view of the country. The difference between north and south is really visible in many different ways. It’s why travel is such a great learning experience.
The day was a little disappointing. It felt like we didn’t achieve anything and didn’t really do anything of note. We ended up on a train again, which I never like to do and I’d much rather be riding along the rail trails like we have the last few days.
“I’m feeling discombobulated,” I said to Steve.
“I know, I can tell,” he replied.
I just felt like we’d used up a precious day without getting to ride or really experience much and felt confined to a train and confined to indoors too much. Still, as far as avoiding the “torrential thundery downpours” in traffic and on hills, it was probably best and importantly, we arrived safely.
But…we did get to chat to some more lovely, friendly people and once again, it was the people who saved the day. It might have felt like a day where we didn’t get to ride and see sights and experience different places, but what we did get, were memories of encounters with a couple of friendly, chatty people who we could talk to and have a laugh with. That was the shine on the day. That was fabulous. That saved the day. The people are gold!
Hopefully, Carol’s predictions will be right, tomorrow will be an improvement and we will ride on. I’ll just look to the sky in the morning and encourage the sun to make an appearance through the clouds and I know just what to say…”Coom on possum, out yer coom!”
Distance ridden: 1.3 km
Time in the saddle: 8 minutes
Distance roamed: 6.2 km
Weather: rain, then eventually less rain 18C