Are you going to Scarborough, fair?

[The emphasis in that sentence is in the comma…]

Until last weekend, I’d only been to Scarborough once. I was there 8 days, thanks to the 2008 Methodist Conference and a role looking after international representatives (including, notably, Bishop Committee and Bishop Zebedee…). At the time I blogged about it quite a lot, probably because it was a semi-traumatic experience. The sun didn’t shine very often; I spent a long time sat in a bright orange chair listening to reports that made little sense; very few people my own age were present; and I was musing the likelihood that I was about to be jobless. As I recall, I spent a lot of time traipsing along the beach in the rain as it was the only place I could get a decent phone signal. Scarborough’s only redeeming feature was discovered on my last day there – the Heavenly Chocolate fudge shop, which merited a blogpost of its own.

On Friday night I passed through Scarborough en route to the retreat weekend and was glad to be there for all of 10 minutes, while organising lifts to the retreat centre. On Sunday, we arrived at the station for a train to York, only to discover that we’d just missed one and there wasn’t another for 2 hours. Two, whole, hours. I was miffed to say the least.

However, it seems that on a sunny Sunday in spring, Scarborough is actually rather pleasant and there are plenty of ways in which you can entertain yourself. (Even when the heavenly fudge shop is deemed to be slightly out of reach.)

You could call that sunbathing, but barely any skin is visible.

For a start, there’s an extensive sandy beach, with donkeys.
The beach is at the bottom of a steep cliff (as is often the way with beaches) and can be reached by cobbled streets or a zig-zagging path through a Victorian garden. Given that we were carrying many bags, the opportunity to lie about on the sand was something of a relief. However, the thought of carrying them back up the path was rather daunting. Which leads me to another excellent Scarborian diversion – the Cliff Lift.

For 75p you can travel up the cliff by tram (well, they call it that, it’s actually more of a funicular). Utterly genius. It takes about a minute, but is quaint, charming and run by people who are simply fascinated by a group of travellers from that there London. (We had a nice chat about London trams while waiting.) Seriously, this little jaunt made my day and kept me smiling on the 2 hour journey from York to London, where a dog had to moved from my designated seat and whose smell was constantly discernible.

Oh, and a final reference to the title. Appropriately, on our trek back to the station, we heard strains of Scarborough Fair being played on panpipes. No trip to Scarborough is complete without that.

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