Category Archives: Scarborough

Playing in Scarborough Paradise

A South Coast beach
A view on the North Coast

I already told you how I came to love the seaside, and in early July when the weather was nice and hot I longed to travel to the east coast. In nearly six years in the UK I’ve travelled a lot along the west coast and in Wales, but the east and south of England remain largely unvisited. So on that lovely Saturday in early July I took a train to Scarborough where I did the following three things for the first time in my life: 1) hired a beach chair and sat idly in the sun amidst the screaming kids and sunbathing adults; 2) entertained myself with digging my feet deep inside the warm soft sand; and 3) took a one-hour boat cruise along “the picturesque route” into the North Sea. Before you ask, the boat rocked mercilessly, and my side of the boat was splashed generously with waves. I licked a drop of sea water off my shoulder; it was bitterly salty. It was my first time in a boat in the open sea, and considering that I had fish&chips a little less than half an hour before I went on the cruise, it must be saying loads about my seasickness. Or maybe it only means that I need to go on a longer cruise to test myself properly.

I didn’t get to visit the Scarborough Castle. As with some of the landmarks in Llandudno, the castle sits atop of the hill and can be seen from the town, but the route up there isn’t half as steep as in Llandudno. It’s not even as steep as in Llandeilo. Walking up the hill reminded me of the Mediterranean; while the trees and herbs along the route almost smelt Russian. It was a mystical experience which climaxed in seeing the North Bay. The South Coast is spectacular, when seen from the hill, but when I saw the North Bay upon entering the castle’s “arch” I was spellbound. Comparing to the busy and wavy waters on the opposite side, the North Bay was serene and regal in presence of the castle overlooking it.

Anne Bronte grave
Ashes to Oils: an old cemetery  and a parking

This was followed by the two or three weird observations. The burial ground of St Mary’s church is divided in two: the part closest to the castle “houses” the grave of Ann Bronte, while the part closest to the town is occupied by a small car park. Just a short walk from there is a playground called “Paradise”. I was curious to see if anyone was using it. I wasn’t disappointed although I didn’t expect to see the scene: young man and woman were frolicking on the grass. This gave a whole new meaning both to “playground” and to “paradise”.

Scarborough Paradise

Love Imposes Impossible Tasks…

I say about nearly every place I visit that “I’ve long wanted to go there”. Be it York, the Welsh castles, or even London, I’d long wanted to go there by the time I finally went. I should probably stop saying this because I want to go to so many places that it’s only natural that by the time I do I will have been wanting to go for some time.

Speaking of Scarborough, I was obviously aware of it as a medieval landmark and also as the place commemorated in the famous song, “Scarborough Fair“. The song was popularised by the American singers/songwriters, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and appeared on their 1966 album. We may imagine that for some listeners this is a Simon&Garfunkel song, but in fact this is an “authentic” medieval song.

The video below is again produced with my own photos. Over at Yahoo! Geocities page by Bert you can read a lot about “Scarborough Fair”, with some interesting conclusions. If you’re a German reader, then this is the page for you, which also contains the known interpretations of the song. On either page you will find a short history of Scarborough and its famous fair, of Simon&Garfunkel version, and the full text of the song with the short analysis of the lyrics and its meaning. Particular attention is paid to the meaning of the herbs: parsley (soothing power), sage (strength), rosemary (faithfulness), and thime (courage). One thing I will say, is that I’d not be misled by the fact that

the singer is asking his love to do the impossible, and then come back to him and ask for his hand. This is a highly unusual suggestion, because in those days it was a grave faux-pas to people from all walks of life for a lady to ask for a man’s hand.

If we suppose that the lover is offended by his beloved, then getting her to do the impossible is a rather natural way of taking the revenge. The last two lines seem to support this reading: the lover asks for the impossible as the way to prove to himself and to his beloved that she is indeed his true love.

Love imposes impossible tasks
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Though not more than any heart asks
And I must know she’s a true love of mine.

Dear, when thou has finished thy task
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Come to me, my hand for to ask
For thou then art a true love of mine.

British Seaside and Holidays by Polnareff

It is absolutely true: my first ever sea was the Irish Sea. I saw it in 2002. When I told one of my friends about it, he pitied me. Indeed, how sad is that: to see your first sea in Blackpool?

This was in 2002. Between then and the late 2007 I visited Blackpool a few times. I rode past Conwy Bay in North Wales once or twice. But it was at the turn of 2007-2008 that I spent almost two weeks in North Wales. I was staying in Llandudno and taking day trips to Conwy, Caernarfon, Beaumaris. Most importantly, each day I was walking by the sea, breathing sea air and watching seagulls. Little did I know that the memories of staying in North Wales would be so strong that I would want to go to the seaside more and more often.

This is what has been happening since March 2009: whenever I had the chance, I tried to go and spend a day by the water. I visited Southport for the first time; then I went to Blackpool after a 3-year pause; and finally I visited Scarborough. I figured out that Scarborough would be the closest to Manchester town on the eastern coast which was unknown to me.

From all those trips I brough back some photos, and the most recent ones from Blackpool and Scarborough are still in the process of being uploaded to Flickr. But, looking at them recently, I realised that they can illustrate “Holidays” by Michel Polnareff. I have already written a post about this song in December 2006, although I include the English translation here again now. I arranged some of the photos to the “story” of Polnareff’s song; the photos were taken in places like Llandudno, Conwy, and Deganwy (North Wales), Blackpool and Southport (English west coast), and Scarborough (English east coast). Mr Polnareff is web-savvy, so I hope he likes my attempt at spreading the word about his work, if he sees this post or the video.

Holidays, oh holidays
It’s a plane that comes down from the sky
And the shadow of its wing
Covers a city below
How close is the ground
Holidays…

Holidays, oh holidays
Churches and council flats,
What is their beloved God doing?
He who lives in the space
How close is the ground
Holidays…

Holidays, oh holidays
The plane’s shadow covers the sea
The sea is like a preface
To the desert
How close is the sea
Holidays…

Holidays, oh holidays
So much sky and so many clouds
At your age you don’t know
That life is boring
How close is death
Holidays…

Holidays, oh holidays
It’s a plane that lives in the sky
You’re so beautiful, but don’t forget
That planes crash
And that the ground is close
Holidays…

Feeling Greek

Scarborough 21, originally uploaded by loscuadernosdejulia.

I remember walking up the hill on which the Scarborough castle rests, thinking that this entire place strangely reminds me of Greece. Perhaps it has to do with the general image of Greece, or even the Mediterranean: historic rocks, lush hills, deep-blue sea, beautiful leafy trees, and a clear sky with a few white clouds. When I was trying to find the angle and to “frame” the photo, I was attempting to convey this Mediterranean feel.