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.

The challenges of friendship – a photostory

I have loved getting to know the group of friends I spent last weekend with. It’s great to have people with whom you can completely be yourself and who understand the eccentric ways in which you tick. It pleases me that my introvertedness is understood to the extent that I was offered a car ride in France just to have some time-out from the masses and that when conflict looked set to dampen my mood on Sunday morning, I was whisked off for a tour of Chichester.

All such groups have their own dynamics and quirks. A common theme with this particular gathering is never knowing where everyone is at any one time. A cursory glance at my texts reveals four or five messages along the lines of ‘where are you’, ‘do you know where X is?’, ‘I’ve been left behind’, and ‘Don’t forget X – she’s in the pub’. Sometimes I think it’s a miracle we ever get anything done!

On Sunday, we took a walk along the beach at West Wittering. It was beautiful and just what was needed for blowing away cobwebs and having a bit of meditation time. However, in typical fashion, we arrived in two separate groups and it took a while for us to be reunited – despite clear directions to the missing pair that all they needed to do was walk to the beach and turn left…

 Looking out for our missing companions
Note the holding of phone to ear.
“We’re waving at you…there’s three of us…we’re waving…we can see you, can you really not see us? We’re right in front of you…”

“We’re still waving…”

Finally, they spot us.

Hugs aplenty. 
(Who’d have thought they’d only been missing for half an hour?)

“How did you manage to lose us?”

Honestly, I’ve no idea how we’d function without mobiles…

Friday Fun frolics in the sun

This week I did something I haven’t done in years – I bought a non-sporty, actually attractive (in terms of fabric) swimsuit. I think it was essentially part of my ‘buy stuff now before you’re a student again’ strategy, but it was also an impulse buy while watching Wimbledon. For years, I’ve sworn by Bravissimo in the bra department – now I can swear by them in the swimsuit department too. Lush. [In case you’re wondering, the genius is that they sell swimsuits by bra size rather than dress size which makes soooooo much more sense.] This might not sound like Friday Fun, but in honour of my purchase and the fact that it’s summer and we should all have the opportunity to wear attractive swimsuits, I give you Literary Greats in their Swimsuits

…sure, Sylvia Plath looks good on the beach; turns out Hunter S. Thompson was quite a hotty, as was Truman Capote; but Ernest Hemingway? Not so good. Not to mention the unfortunate swimwear Virginia Woolf’s era provided her with.

 Virginia Woolf in an all-in-one & F. Scott Fitzgerald (and his wife Zelda, yes, Zelda!) in theirs.

Tenuous link time: you know what female literary greats often are? Spinsters.

In case you’re a spinster and have been wondering for quite some time as to how you ought to behave, fear not – there’s a book that explains how. Published in 1901, Myrtle Reed’s The Spinster Book tells all the single ladies how they ought to behave, especially around menfolk. Fortunately, thanks to Google, 21st century spinsters can learn the lessons of over a century ago – and they’re gems. Just the list of chapters makes for delightful reading:
Notes on Men
The Lost Art of Courtship
The Natural History of Proposals
The Physiology of Vanity
The Consolations of Spinsterhood

If you read any of it, check out ‘Love Letters Old & New’ first – delicious! Or, just read part of the exchange shared in The Hairpin article that alerted me to this gem:

All this talk of Bravissimo and single ladies and you might think we were on a girls’ weekend away – except there’s been no mention of Mooncups. But wait! Ladies (and it is probably exclusively female readers who will find this fun) one of this week’s discoveries was the awesome Camp Cranky – a website for girls on the brink of puberty. There are videos of puppets telling the stories of girls’ first periods, random cartoons, an interesting international angle and a charity project – oh, and a lot of squirrels. I have no idea why the squirrels are there, but I highly recommend listening to ‘Girl Squirrel’ on the lower right-hand side of the bonfire homepage – I hadn’t realised that squirrels were Mexican…

Pictures in the sand

Didn’t know London had a beach? More fool you…