08.10.2015 16 °C
It is the 8th of October and it is National Poetry Day in the U.K. The British poetic lexicon abounds with stormy visions of the sea and needs no supplementation from us amateurs. However, as we stare out over the tempestuous North Sea from Whitby harbour today we feel compelled to add a few words to our pictures:
White horses galloping madly along the shore
Leap over the sturdy sea wall
Sending the lifeboat to the rescue.
So – what to do on a wet, windy day in Whitby,
When the weather cock shelters in the hen house
And weathered fishermen put their feet to the fire?
We eat fish and chips of course.
The fleet may be tied up in port, but the numerous fish restaurants are stocked to the gills with the freshest lobster, cod and haddock – and we indulge.
The North Yorkshire seaport of Whitby was a setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula and as we wander its narrow backstreets, darkened by fog and rain, we feel the chill that must have inspired him to write his scary story of vampires and ghouls. But then we come to quaint shops with original Victorian facades and it brightens our day.
Another bright spot in Whitby is this harbourside house (built in 1688)…
This is where Captain James Cook lived from 1746 -1749, when he was an apprentice seaman before he set out to survey the whole world.
And then the sun comes out; the murk clears and the lofty ruins of Whitby Abbey soar into the clear blue sky on the headland overlooking the stormy sea and the ancient port...
This Benedictine Abbey began with modest buildings in 657 AD. It was here that Caedmon wrote poetry in the 8th. Century, (His poems have survived 1,400 years while ours will probably be forgotten tomorrow). The abbey was regularly sacked by the Vikings in the 9th century but successive abbots and abbesses rebuilt until the place had gone completely over the top by the mid 1400s...
These majestic arches withstood the worst that the North Sea could throw at them until 1540 when Henry V111 dissolved the monasteries and took a battering ram to them.
Despite nearly 5oo years of assault by notoriously vicious easterly gales, and the malignant efforts of a couple of German battleships during the First World War, the ruins of Whitby Abbey are still an inspiring sight. It is easy to see why Stoker felt them to be a suitable backdrop for his gruesome tale.