Wow. Maybe that's all there is to say about yesterday. Wow.
OK, maybe not.
After a little contra dancing, that I can't say went very well, I was off on a half day cruise on the North Sea on a ship called The Esk Belle (named after the river) to a little town up the coast called Staithes. This is where Captain Cook apprenticed before he moved down to Whitby.
The view back at Whitby is stunning, my words will fall short, so you gotta just look at the pictures. Bram Stoker describes Dracula entering the harbor and heading up to the Abbey, and now that's all I can think about when I look at it. I'll have to read the book again that I've walked those steps.
There are other legends and songs and stories that are associated with this sea and this town and the Abby which I'll write about when I return.
I was gob smacked at the coastline, having enviously seen it in picture books and golf tournaments, it was just surreal to be looking at it from this ship. The seas and the weather were turning, every mile we went, and sure enough it began to rain just as we pulled ashore.
Staithes was old and gorgeous and gritty. The Cob and Lobster, a pub we stopped at, had pictures of turn of the century sailors doing their thing, and I just can't imagine how hard that work was. Our generation will just never have the opportunity to be that tough.
It rained a bit, and the seas were rough on the way back, it was cold, but it sure could have been worse. I didn't hear many complaints. Lots of mudcatters onboard, so much love again, and great conversations. I think we're up to 45 mudcatters that I've met at this point.
Had my first Whitby Cod fish and chips in a delightful dinner with Hillary, Noreen, Richard and Cats. Brilliant. The ladies talked me into formal tea and fancy cookies the next day, did their share of teasing my pronunciation of certain words, and turned me on to the holiday tradition of sucking on knobby ends... I'm not going to explain that quite yet, but get your mind out of the gutter. A very pleasurable dinner with some very fine folks.
Boy was I tired at this point. I wanted nothing more than to go to bed, but Bill Sables showed up as we ate our deserts, lemon sorbet for me, and pointed out that 2 old friends, Sam Pirt and Ian Stephenson, whom I hosted 10 years ago when they visited the states, were performing at a Ceilidh (look it up, it's awesome). So I sat down for a moment (big mistake), but was successfully able to pull my butt off the couch and head up to the Spa Pavilion. Boy am I glad I did that.
The place was loaded with folks, young and old, which brought warmth to my heart, seeing young people enjoying a traditional social gathering, music and dance, with genuine smiles on their faces. It's like a giant square dance. Hundreds of people dancing. I watched and photographed for a bit, and wondered how to approach a strange Englishwoman and ask her to dance with an American who has no idea what he's doing, and luckily Noreen showed up and dragged me out on the dance floor. We proceeded to tear up the floors till 1am. It was the time of my life. Never have I ever had so much fun dancing before in my whole life. Noreen was a peach, and I am so grateful, and I believe I picked up the steps pretty good. I woke up sore, tired and grinning from ear to ear.
A fantastic display of rappers (Morris Dancing with swords) ended the night. I got some great video of that, which I hope to upload shortly. If there is video of me dancing, I will pay money for that.
I walked the 199 steps up to the Abbey this morning and took about 1000 photos of it all. The views overlooking Whitby are magnificent. The 360 view boggles the mind. Check the pictures, I uploaded a bunch more today.