Whitby Weekend

Suddenly, we needed a break. A real, get away break. It had to be a break that was a) affordable and b) fabulous. Remembering  a campsite called la Rosa in Whitby I’ve always fancied, with quirky vintage themed caravans, I sent a  desperate email begging them to fit us in at short notice later,  and the wonderful Kate on reception came into my life. I swear it was like having a sort of big sister who just explains how everything’s ok and well, she’ll just, kind of sort everything out… ( I haven’t actually got a big sister so perhaps this isn’t an accurate portrayal and come to think of it, I am a big sister and don’t really sort much out for my siblings but just go with this). Turns out they have a hotel. They do B & B and the whole top floor is an apartment style rental with three bedrooms and a living area. This was ours for the weekend!!

So here is how to do a fabulous weekend in Whitby with the kids (Obviously you can go without them):

First, call La Rosa (info at the end). They will sort you out. Pack sandwiches for the car journey. We set off after school and arrived at 7 pm so the sandwiches were tea (I use tea rather than dinner because I am from Yorkshire and I think you’ll find, it is actually, tea). Naturally, you need  wellies and rain gear as well as sunscreen and hats. You really can’t rely on the forecast on the coast. It swore it was going to pour it down for us and was, in the event, pleasantly sunny. Firstborn son said  this was because he did a deal with Poseidon – sunny weather in exchange for the sacrifice of the second born son but I can’t recommend that as a strategy so take the wellies just in case.

Arrive at La Rosa. You can park outside on the road for free. Enter and be impressed. I mean, if you love the predictability of travel lodge (and I do understand that in some circumstances) and if you think Malmaison is the height of alternative style, you might not quite get La Rosa. If however, your idea of a British seaside break is a timeless swirl of Gipsy Rosa Lee  drama with dollops of vintage  kitsch and a bit of gothic Tales Of The Unexpected type atmosphere thrown in, I swear you will love this place. The whole building is overflowing with vintage furnishings and treasures and each room is themed (ours, had a kind of sea faring / Peter Pan thing going on including treasure chest of dressing up costumes which the kids wore all weekend). Crucially, the beautifully heavy cotton  sheets and thick towels were crisp and clean . Closer inspection revealed this place has a social conscience. All toiletries were locally sourced. We fell in love with the sugar mice style soaps.

We spent the first night on the front at the arcades which are clearly more magical when lit up at night. The two pence machines are your best bet. Two tubs of 2p’s each (we gave  a total of £2 worth per child) and we returned to La Rosa triumphant with our booty: –  a fairy ornament and a fake Beyonce drivers licence for Aunty Sarah.

Breakfast was delivered in a picnic hamper and, I liked this bit – they do the knock and run thing, leaving it outside your door at any time you like from early to 11.30 (they believe in a lie in here; check out isn’t till 12). I do think it is important to be sensitive in delivering peoples breakfast. It’s no use putting someone as glamorous as Kate on the front desk and then expecting people not to feel they have to get up and look equally delightful to answer the door to take delivery of breakfast. This is neither relaxing nor fair and La Rosa understand that. They knock and run. Peep your head out and pick up breakfast naked for all they care.

Whilst they are wonderfully helpful and just relaxed enough to make you feel you are staying with friends, they are not the nannying types. Clearly, there are ample smoke alarms etc but if you’ve managed to produce and live for any amount of time with children and not figured out they might get hurt on a heavy door / kettle which is in reach etc, and haven’t the wit to change things around to suit your particular families aptitude for danger, you’d best not go.

So, where was I, oh, yes,  breakfast… A picnic basket with warm eggs, cheese, fruitcake , croissants, jam, delightful bottles of fresh juice and jam jars of fruit. And fresh coffee. Most of it locally sourced. On Sunday, the croissants were replaced with warm cheese scones. I put on three pounds over the weekend and this contributed to that triumph of weight gain.

They don’t do dinner on the premises but there is a lovely tea room downstairs for high tea (as opposed to proper tea – see earlier)  and a library which you can use as your own for relaxing, reading, enjoying a tipple…

We went to the old town in the morning and looked at the shops. The usual ones from when we were little are still there but its all gone a bit more upmarket and in amongst the whitby jet and dodgy printed t shirts, there was a lovely independent book shop with a spiral staircase and a street seller who had an impressive  array of Harris Tweed jackets. Ice cream at Teare Woods was fantastic. They have their own dairy herd and make their ice cream from their  produce, three hours form cow to cone, apparently. My best find though, was a tiny shop called Dotty About Vintage where Trudie, the owner had the most wonderful wooden train set (snapped up from under my nose by some people buying it for their Grandson), I came away with lots of scrabble tiles for a pinterest project I WILL get round to…

Having worked up an appetite on the beach, we could have ordered in a takeaway to the room or, of course, visited The Magpie which seems to me to be the only place in Whitby that anyone outside Yorkshire thinks does fish and chips, but we chose instead to eat at Humble Pie. I cannot emphasis how good a choice this was. Walk toward the old town over the bridge. The road bears right and on your right there is the aforementioned Dotty About Vintage and a couple of doors on, Humble pie. They simply do this: Pie with mash and peas in a tin dish. Stodgy nursery puddings which vary. Tea , Coffee, as well as  Camp coffee if you must. Glasses of milk for the kids as well as the usual fizzy stuff which I do try to discourage. The pie and peas meal is £5.99. I swear. There were about six flavours of pie and between us, we went for Steak and Ale, Mince and Onion, and Sausage and Black Pudding (The four year old has a slightly embarrassing fondness for black pudding). These were exquisite. Real pies ,  moist pastry with lots of gravy. No bit of lame meat with a puff pastry lid here Mateys. Divine.

Sunday, we had a lie in and enjoyed another La Rosa breakfast, one last wander round Whitby and headed up the coast to Robin Hood’s Bay where we enjoyed a day mucking about on the beach topped off with a drink in the pub overlooking it (there’s a veranda you can sit out on and watch the sea) and then head back up the hill and off to your left there is the perfect chippy. Cost a fortune (The cod is sustainably caught so I felt ok about the £37 it cost us for five fish and chips and some peas) but it was delicious. You could have frogs legs for a bargain £1.95 but we declined.

We got home about seven that night with sandy, sleepy kids and feeling like we’d had a proper break. I was musing about the mermaid ornaments I’d seen at La Rosa on Facebook and guess what?  Kate from La Rosa only sent me a link to where I could buy some – I TOLD you they were fabulous!




 Swallow Barn La Rosa Campsite Extraordinaire! La Rosa Hotel. Whitby, North Yorkshire | Tel: 01947 606981 | Email: info@larosa.co.uk, © La Rosa 2005 
dottyaboutvintage.co.uk – Trudie Ward: 07733 142475
 Teare Woods Ice Cream Parlour:

9 St Ann’s Staith, Whitby Y021 3PW, England

Rachel Goodyear at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, (Thanks CultureVulture for the invite). An Autumn disguised as summer evening and all us arty folk (well, they are, I’m trying to look like I know what I’m talking about) are milling about, sipping wine and looking for a glimpse of The Artist. We’ve  been told she doesn’t want to address the crowd but is happy to chat in small groups. This has the effect of making her even more of an enigma. When she does eventually give in and say a few thank you’s, the nerves are apparent in her voice and I’m left feeling her reticence is not false modesty or arty temperament, but an apparent  dislike of public speaking. One of us then. Except with exceptional artistic talent.

And another thing. She is not the one I’d have picked out as The Artist. She’s a skinny lass (I mean that in the nicest sense) who looks like she’s off to a party after picking up a few cans at Morrisons. I like her. I’m glad I didn’t do the full arty headscarf thing. She would have made me feel like I was trying too hard.

Then there’s her art.  There’s a familiarity to it that I couldn’t quite grasp until I was halfway home – It’s as though she’s captured the essence of girldom. No, no, not that one, not clean and bright and all things nice;  the real version.

I look at my two year old who accompanied me – she is the picture of enchantment and femininity, and what are her obsessions? Roadkill, boobs and nature. Yes, yes, she likes pretty dresses (todays is a stiking red with polka dots), and princesses, but the dresses have to have pockets for her collection of leaves, stones and if she’s really lucky broken egg shell from a birds nest or a real bone of an animal. Princesses, ditto, they’re great but the attraction is in the macabre (we couldn’t figure out why she only ever took one bite of an apple until her brother helpfully pointed out she was being Snow White. That also explained why each bite was followed by her falling over and declaring she was dead). Her favourite recollection is of  “The squirrel with the tomato eye” – her fond observation of country walk road kill. That kind of girldom. Rachel Goodyear produces girly art. A disconcerting observation of people and nature and the nature of people. Eerie and enchanting. One drawing of a Stag looked pretty. On closer inspection, it caught my breath, literally, made me feel claustrophobic. I couldn’t breath.

Pop down, you’ll love it.