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Smallville: Humble Pie

"Despite it being in the middle of summer the heavens opened and we drove on in disbelief amid torrents of rain and occasionally hailstones...'' Peter B Farrell and members of his family, sallying forth without meat pies, follow the tourists' trail on a soggy summer's day in North Yorkshire.

“An impregnable lead by England;” intoned the commentator. I had been following the Test cricket match on TV between England and Australia with avid interest. Unfortunately a tour of the Dales was planned for today therefore viewing would be restricted.

My wife and I were staying with my cousin Pauline in North Yorkshire, along with my aunt and her daughter who had both travelled from South Africa. Sleeping downstairs in the lounge on the bed-settee necessitated rising early to be first in the bathroom. In order not to disturb the others, all our belongings including changes of clothes were outside in the car which doubled as a wardrobe. A certain amount of organisation was required but at least I could abdicate when it came to the driving.

“When you fetch the photos‘, can you call in at the butchers and bring in some more meat pies before we go?” I had made a photographic record of a recent visit to Lindisfarne and Alnwick Castle and I was about call in at the local shop for the prints. Apparently the meat pies were in contention for the best in the land, and after last evening’s meal they would get my vote.

“Aussies Humbled, England In For The Kill‘ screamed the billboard outside the newsagent‘s. Apparently with three days to go we couldn’t lose.

I was amazed to see the long queue outside the butcher’s and went on to collect the holiday photographs. On the way back, the queue if anything was longer and I reported back pie-less. It was agreed I would have to get up earlier tomorrow to stake out my place; we would eat out today probably in York.

The journey took us along the coast with Pauline driving. Despite it being in the middle of summer the heavens opened and we drove on in disbelief amid torrents of rain and occasionally hailstones. It eased off when we reached Runswick Bay, via a very steep and precipitous drop, with the road running with water. Old memories were revived of family holidays when it was common practise to rent a fisherman’s cottage for a week. “In blazing sunshine.” I added.

After a tour of the small town several attempts were made to drive back up the hill, but the heavily laden car would not make it. The wheels spun, thwarted by the amount of water on the road. It was agreed Pauline should try again with me giving advice from the back seat while everyone else vacated the car. After a racing start from the bottom we finally made it, passing the others plodding up the hill. Waiting at the top I noticed a warning sign advising against the descent during inclement weather.

Scarborough soon came into view; the seaside resort was packed with holidaymakers all escaping the rain by hurrying from one shop to another. In one of the many charity shops I bought a video for my brother which extolled the virtues of New Zealand. He had long since decided this was his spiritual home after a three-month visit, which I could well understand after seeing the picture of the deep blue seas and blazing sunshine when contrasted with the steely grey gloom of Scarborough. Everyone else seemed cheerful though, apparently the variety and price of clothing contrasted favourably with the anything to be found in South Africa.

“Well it would do if you live in the Bush, on the other hand your Safari Parks take some beating.” This was partly a riposte for my cousin Jennifer who had professed a total ignorance of most of the 100 Best Songs” CD which we sang along to in the car.

“In the early morning raaain....” The track was appropriate and we sang along on the way to York. The weather had cleared with some welcome sunshine by midday and after parking the car we walked into the old city centre to see the impressive York Minster. The town was crammed with tourists who were well catered for by buskers and all kinds of street entertainers. Music drew us to a band-stand where a band was performing in aid of the Ghurka Regiment.

Once again the shops were the main attraction, especially the buildings in the ancient Shambles, which was crowded, but I readily stayed outside in the sunshine looking out for a TV shop showing the Test match ,or
“A suitable café or restaurant.“ I quickly added.

A complication arose; my aunt had seen a coat but not in her size. The correct size could be obtained in an hour or so and she agreed to return.
“Just remember where we are.” Her daughter Jennifer reminded us as we made our way through the crowded market. Without a TV shop in sight I made for a small café at the side of the market-place, while they made several circuits of the stalls.

The choice of café proved acceptable to all and we enjoyed our lunch before heading out for more sightseeing; still no TV shop.

After watching two grotesque street performers on stilts frighten the living daylights out of watching children we, dangerously, split up.

“The shop is first left then the second on the right, get the coat and we’ll meet back in the car park in half an hour.” Jennifer and I then made our way to an antique and collectors fair in a deconsecrated church crypt. A 1920s postcard of Lindisfarne caught my eye; priced at 30 pence it would be a reasonable souvenir of the UK and remind us of visit there a couple of days ago.

“The car-park should be second on the right then first left, I think.” Not so - and we rapidly retraced our steps.

“Better make for the shop, first left and...“ Jennifer pointed towards the Minster.

“Second on the right and hurry up.“ I added and made for the Shambles.
Luckily everyone else was still in the shop trying on more clothes, but I made a point of asking for mobile phone numbers just in case.

Sticking closely together we left the Shambles and after a few wrong turnings, came across our car-park. After loading the car up we set off back on our return journey accompanied by Take Me Home, Country Roads.

“England could be washed out of the game.” Having rushed into the house I had quickly tuned in for the latest score. According to the TV commentator, bad light and heavy rain had interrupted the Test match, so I hadn’t missed any play after all. Alas he was correct; over the next two days, despite amassing a reasonable score England failed to bowl out the Aussies in time and the match was declared a draw.


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