I Sing of Thee, Whitby


You may notice that my dog’s name is Whitby.  She was named for the city of Whitby, North Yorkshire, England.  My favourite place in the whole world.

Actually, I have a lot of “favourite places” – but I always come back to Whitby.  So it’s #1 in my book.

In the photo above, taken by Clive Mitchell, you can see the 199 stairs curving up to the top of the cliff, where sits St. Mary’s church.  To the right and behind the church, is the Abbey.  The famous Whitby Abbey (aka St. Hilda’s abbey).  So many people have photographed that structure.  It used to be more “whole” before WWII, but I guess it got pretty well bombed out during that time period, and what’s left has been lovingly and painstakingly kept up so that millions of people can come to visit it each year.

At the top of this cliff, near the church, is where I want my ashes to be buried when I go — in the ground, quietly, by Paul if he’s still around.  Right at the top of those steps, where I have visited, in life, many times and where I want to be forever. 

Yep, that’s us trudging up the 199 steps to the top of the cliff. From left are our friend Margaret, Paul, Jean (she lives there, her husband Don took the picture) and way behind everyone in the pea-green jacket, is yours truly – slow as a turtle.

It is said that Bram Stoker sat there at the top of those steps, on the cliff overlooking Whitby Harbour, when he got the idea to write Dracula.  Some of the scenes in the book (and movies) take place in Whitby, and there is quite a lot of Dracula memorabilia around the old town of Whitby.  I think they have a Dracula Walk but we’ve never experienced that yet.   

Whitby is such an alive town.  It’s a working fishing town, which always draws us in to the waterside.  Paul has to investigate all the different types of fishing gear when we are there.  It’s good, too, because he gets to talking with the fishermen as they come in or are working on the beaches, and once he lets them know that he is a lobsterman from “across the pond,” they let down their guard and get very friendly with us.   We always wind up sitting down and having a nice time with the locals because of this bond. 

I remember one time we were in another of my favourite spots, (and don’t laugh too hard, Bill D!) called Skinningrove.  It’s a tiny, tiny little village (?) or really just a bunch of small row houses and a few stores, located up the coast near Loftus.  We stayed in a cottage in Loftus for a week one time, and we just happened upon Skinningrove one day whilst driving around the back roads of that area.  We got to talking with a handful of the local fishermen there, and they invited us into their fishing shanties to meet their pet ferrets that they had in the shanties.  I wish I could locate the pictures I took of them.  Maybe someday when I get some free time (my mantra lately!) I will for you.  We spent an entire afternoon with those guys, and it was so nice.  When you are a tourist in a foreign country, like we were, it’s so much better if you can spend time with “the natives” of that country, rather than just touring around to all the popular tourist spots.  We much prefer seeing England and Scotland this way.  Over the years, we’ve met some really nice people over there and have some good memories of our time with them.

Whitby Jet

Once, while in Robin Hoods Bay, we got to talking with a fisherman (a lobsterman, in fact) right outside his cottage, and it turns out that, as a sideline, he collects jet from the beaches and, after cleaning it up a bit, actually makes jewelry out of it and ships it all over the world.   He gave us a hunk of the raw jet he was using, and we treasure that black, coal-like thing to this day.  Jet is really petrified wood that has been washed up onto the shores and is black like coal.  Queen Victoria loved jet and, when she was in mourning for her departed husband, Prince Albert, she wore a lot of it.  Whitby was a huge jet producer and in the old days, there were jet factories in the old town, and the stories are still alive today.  Now you can go into any number of gift shops in Whitby and buy beautiful pieces of jewelry made from jet.  (Sandy from Iowa got a few pieces herself when we were there together in 2002).  

~ ~  

Well, I’ve been over to work, picked up my new load of typing, and really came up here to get a head start on it.  As usual, I got sidelined, and ended up in here.  This can be very addictive and, being the addictive personality that I am, I got stuck here!  I need to do a little work, though, so see you around.  I’ll be posting more of these favourite photos in the future for you, if that’s OK with you.







12 thoughts on “I Sing of Thee, Whitby

  1. Hi Bex,

    I enjoyed your post on Whitby. I live near Whitby and have just started a website on the town and its Dracula connection. I’d love to get your views on the site: http://www.dracula-in-whitby.com.
    The popularity of Whitby with American visitors always amazes me. I hope the site can provide a link and useful information to all.
    Keep in touch.
    Alan Moore


  2. Ava, I have to agree with you, I happen to love Ellen Degeneres, but I just don’t like the Oscars show. way too long. And Helen Mirren – she’s perfection. I saw her on Oprah the day after the Oscars and she brought out her gown to show, inside and out. She’s such a sketch! I have been watching some old movies of hers lately, she was quite a babelicious actress in her younger days. She did a Bernard Shaw play that I watched recently… among other things. I was wondering, is she a “Dame” yet? If not, she should be.


  3. WOW…I so well remember that day we went there…very chilly but had a great time.
    I have showed off my jet many times when I give my program on mourning in the 19th century.
    I have my jet under glass so all can view.
    Now I am homesick to vist again ..


  4. First of all, I vote for the bigger font. I bet many of your ahem, older readers will do the same. LOL

    As usual, I get a fantasy trip to England when I read your blog. And since I haven’t been here in a while, I caught up with several of the entries. You are so cute in your green jeans. Also, I am sorry about your pain in the neck!

    I did have the Oscars on and am one who likes Ellen Degeneres. We will agree to disagree about her, right? However, I didn’t watch all of the program, because PBS was the final episode of a Prime Suspect and I wasn’t about to miss it.

    BTW, Ms. Mirren was absolutley gorgeous at the Oscars. Her dress flattered her and was entirely appropriate. She was really attractive since she was wearing make up and not so haggard looking as her PS role calls for her to be. As you said, a great actress. If her movie, The Queen comes to our one horse town, I want to go see it.



  5. Bex when you are writing your text highlight the word you want to link. Then look at the top of the page template and you will see a little icon of links, click it and a box will open to place the address you want to link.
    What a pretty and intersting place.


  6. How entrancing the thought of visiting the UK where a good part of my ancestry lies. Thanks Bex.

    Next time that happens please forward the kickback e-mail to me and perhaps I can do something about it.


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