Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Yorkshire coast & picnic basket - the perfect day out.

I would have never expected that living in the countryside will make me feel so happy. Mind you – this is unusual countryside, different from most of those I have seen before. It is situated in the heart of Yorkshire Dales National Park. One day I will write about it, but today I want to take you for a journey to the Yorkshire coast. What can be better than great company, picnic basket full of yummy food and beautiful surroundings?

This time we have decided to go to the Robin Hood’s Bay, which is located few miles south of Whitby on the east coast in North Yorkshire Moors National Park. The origin of the name is uncertain, and it is doubtful if Robin Hood ever visited bay. According to legend the bay may be called Robin Hood's Bay because he went out in his fishing trip and he encountered pirates, got them to surrender and returned the goods that the pirates had robbed during the plundering of the northeast coast of England to the poor people. There is not a scrap of evidence to suggest that this legend is true.

The town surrounded by moors has a tradition of smuggling. Certainly a maze of tiny streets and labyrinths helped smugglers and there is reputed to be a network of underground passageways linking the houses. Today prices of the properties in the town are extremely high.

On Monday the cloudy sky welcomed us to the bay, and sun was only coming out for few minutes to highlight the spectacular cliffs. We have climbed a green bank and sat there enjoying feta & sundried tomatoes muffins, onion & salami flatbreads and spiced rhubarb cake. Rather cheap Merlot in a small bottle never tasted better.

Today I look bit like one of the garden dwarfs with red cheeks and nose. My face did not feel any sunburn due to the cold, refreshing sea breeze.

On our way back we stopped in Whitby which is an absolute “must see” when visiting Yorkshire cost, next to Scarborough. It is very commercial place and you can find there lovely old town, pier, sandy beach, ruins St. Hilda’s abbey and ancient cemetery as well as candyfloss, amusement arcade, rough people dressed in track suits and golden chains.

Most importantly from culinary point of view you can also find the best fish & chips that we ever had in England. It is just behind the best fish & chips in whole UK, which we had on Orkney, in Kirkwall.

The one we had was very common, although not served in newspaper. The portion I had was far too big for me, but I have managed to eat all of the haddock (quite like the cod, but it was even bigger!) and gave some chips away to the seabirds. They quite enjoy my chips, even with the vinegar. I enjoyed this fish & chips on the bench and when I came back home I never though about even looking into a fridge.

If you fancy something more posh and do not get upset when queuing for a table try Magpie Cafe. This is the most popular place to eat in Whitby and well known by its great menu. And it does not cost you too much as well. If you order a small portion try to remember that you are in Yorkshire, where people like a proper hearty food, so small portion does not always mean small, and it is good to leave some space for the dessert.

Talking about dessert you must try some cakes from Bothams of Whitby served with Wensleydale cheese made just about 15 miles from where I live. This is possibly the UK's longest surviving tea room, trading since 1865.

If you bellies are full now you can enjoy the old town and maze of tiny streets and go up 199 stairs to see the abbey and fantastic views of the town, pier and cliffs from within the abbey. No wonder Bram Stoker was inspired by its gothic splendour when writing "Dracula". The local merchants try to make money based upon this story, so horror gadgets or Goth’s outfits are easy to buy in the town.

Whitby is also known as a home of famous Cook, who was not born in the town but his training as a seaman began in Whitby. Therefore you can visit his museum or see a statue of him.

I could write a lot about Whitby and possibly I have missed a lot important things about this place such as lovely foot paths, museums, ancient churches or sea trips. It is all worth seeing; we have seen it before and every time anybody who does not live locally is visiting us we take him to Whitby. This time we decided we are having a relaxing day out – just to chill out and have some nice food. We came back home the same night but we were not sad or disappointed – we only came back from one beautiful place to another…

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