Wet and happy up North

By Paul Taylor


Being away from our home country, England, for nearly eight years, we thought the time had come to catch up with friends and family in Yorkshire.

For Kiwis, the OE is a tradition and London is a magnet to many. This Yorkshireman believes they should certainly have a swift nosy around the big smoke, then programme the sat-nav to head north to God's county.

Fair enough. The weather down south is usually better but why be put off by a few months of constant rain and grey skies when you have the wealth of history and stunning views that can only be found in Yorkshire.

Wanting to spend as much time as possible bludging off the family, we managed only a few day trips around the region. But the ones we chose reminded us what a varied, wonderful place Yorkshire is.

The ancient capital is, funnily enough, York. Anglo Saxons, Romans, Vikings, and Norman William the Conqueror have all played a part in the walled city's heritage. A stroll around it is a visual feast. At every turn history hits you full on, like the imposing Clifford's Tower, named after some bloke called Roger de Clifford whose neck was stretched there in 1322.

Then there's the old cobbled street of The Shambles, which won Britain's most picturesque street award in 2010.

From York it's a short trip to the east coast harbour town of Whitby, home to the Captain James Cook museum, and inspiration for Dracula, a fairly well read book by Bram Stoker. Whitby is a shopping paradise, narrow winding streets in the old town and modern high street names in the new town where, when hunger strikes, we headed to The Magpie cafe. The $12 a fish price tag doesn't deter many. There are constant queues waiting hours to get in the door. Thankfully, I have a fish allergy and suffer from spending a mortgage on a feed so made do with a chip butty down the road.

A 10-minute drive from Whitby is the old smugglers' village of Robin Hoods Bay. No one knows the true origins of its name but it's unlikely the legendary bowman ever went there. After a steep walk down the narrow main street and a few pints in the Bay Hotel, beware. The walk back up is much steeper.

We found a place called the The Forbidden Corner, a labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises laid out in a 1.6ha garden in the heart of Tupgill Park - voted England's number one family day outing. Here, you follow a map looking for strange, wonderful things. At one point we entered a dragon's mouth, tickling his tonsils as we passed, then exiting unceremoniously via his sizeable red, glowing butt, which was a huge hit with the kids.

For adventurous outdoor types, Brimham Rocks, in Nidderdale, is an absolute must. These curious formations scattered over 20ha of Brimham Moor offer climbers and trampers a great day out all for the cost of a parking ticket. Bargain.

On a wet day - and there are lots of them in Yorkshire - the county is geared up for indoor entertainment and my home town of Castleford has one of the best complexes in the country. Xscape has the lot: a 12-screen theatre, indoor, real snow ski slope, bowling, climbing, eating, drinking, even cosmic golf, whatever that is.

Being from a coal mining town, I took the family along to Caphouse Colliery, home of the National Coal Mining Museum. The free admission which includes the best part of two hours underground, was a personal highlight.

Another place of note, but one we didn't manage on this trip, is in the north-west of the county where you'll find the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a collection of river valleys and where the popular television show Emmerdale is filmed. About 20,000 people live and work here and it draws millions of visitors every year.

We wound up our sightseeing at the market town of Knaresborough, home to the oldest chemist shop in England. My Dad tells me the castle's dungeon is where some poor bugger long, long ago had a red-hot poker shoved up his backside during a medieval torture session. His screams could be heard throughout the town, quite understandably. Think I need another beer.

Ay-orp! Talk the talk

Some useful words to help connect with Yorkshire locals:

Tyke: Yorkshire man

Bint: woman

Cock:  friend or mate

Ar-lass: wife or girlfriend

Nay: no

Aye: yes

Ay-orp: hi

Chup: hello

Thee: you

Thy: your

Al si thi: I'll see you

Owt fer nowt: anything for nothing

Brass: money

Brassed off: fed up

E bah gum: oh my god

Snap tin: lunch box

Fish ole/chippie:  fish'n' chip shop

Sarnie or butty: sandwich

Sup: drink

Watta: water

Chuffed: happy

Chunter(ing) : mutter(ing)

Chelp: talk too much

Sitha:  look now!

Summat:  something

Orate: all right

Old Yorkshire proverb: "Ad ratha be a frog than a Lanc" which means "I would rather be French person than be a Lancastrian", dating back to the tribal rivalry between Yorkshire and North-East neighbours, Lancashire and can often be followed up with "Best thing to come out of Lancashire is the road back".

- THE AUCKLANDER

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