Monday, 3 October 2011

A visit to Count Dracula....

from Dracula by Bram Stoker, 1897

Is this the beach where Dracula landed?
Whitby harbour

This quote from Dracula  is actually a description of the town of Whitby in North Yorkshire where I have just returned from a short break with my husband.  Bram Stoker was inspired to write his book whilst staying in Whitby and the town still thrives on its Dracula heritage conducting ‘Dracula Tours’ around the town after dark and hosting a ‘Dracula experience’ attraction. The town is also quite a magnet for Goths who clearly like dressing up for the vampiric occasion particularly at the twice-yearly Goth festivals hosted here.

St Hilda's Abbey
The town is very old and atmospheric. The eastern skyline is dominated by an ancient Abbey (St Hilda's Abbey) which lies behind the church at the top of the hill and dates back to 657 AD. The Abbey fell to Viking attack in 867 and was re-founded in 1078 by a soldier-monk. It was finally destroyed by Henry V111 in 1540 and left to fall into ruin, which is how it remains today.

View of Abbey through the Whale bone arch
(on West Cliff)

Whaling used to be a big industry in Whitby and there used to be several of these whale jawbones around the town, though this is the only one left now. Whaling was introduced to Whitby in 1752 (ceasing in 1850) and the street lights were fuelled by whale oil. Whale bones were used in women's corsets as well as other things!

beach viewed from East Cliff (tide out)

Today Whitby is a tourist magnet, not just for its beauty and history but because of its beautiful unspoilt beach. I was amazed at how quickly the tide came in though. After taking this first photo of the beach from the East Cliff, we walked round to the beach and sat on the sand to read. After about 10 minutes my husband said we'd better move quick. I looked up and the sea was virtually lapping my toes. We headed for the cliff, where I took the second photo and you can see how far the tide has come in. 5 minutes later there was no beach to see!

Beach viewed from West Cliff (tide coming in)
Did I mention that I went on this break with my husband - and not the boys? Yep. We're finally at that stage where we can leave the boys at home alone! This was an experimental break to see how we all coped. At 16 and nearly 18 we decided they were ready to fend for themselves for a few days. We chose term time because we knew they would have a structured day at school and be kept busy.

They coped fine - even walking all the way to karate class one evening, what more can you ask?

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