There’s nothing like a good destination to make the trip worthwhile. Yesterday was Whitby, a lovely seaside town – it’s not a resort, thank goodness – about an hour and a half from our new home. Easy striking distance.
It’s a glorious place, a former fishing village that grew up the steep hills on either side of the harbour. Home to the ruins of a wonderful abbey perched on a cliff and, of course, where Dracula made his landfall, which has given rise to the twice-yearly Goth conventions there.
A day in Whitby needs no excuse, but we had one. Musicport, a little gem of a roots music festival, and particularly the Danish band, Himmerland, who turned in a glowing performance, a group that’s grown a great deal since their first CD. The guitarist is a good friend, and this was our first chance to meet up in four years, a truly pleasurable experience, as well as taking him to the tea room at Botham’s – how can you not treat someone to something so quintessentially English?
Setting off, the weather was grey and dry. It’s a lovely drive out to the Yorkshire coast, thought Pickering, with its lovely church full of old wall paintings, then up on to the beautiful bleakness of the North Yorks Moors, where the Fylingdales early warning system stands like some strange monolith, somewhere between science fiction on Ozymandias.
But not yesterday. The fog had socked in, turning the landscape into something more ghostlike. Up on the moors proper there are few trees, and rolling higher and higher, the fog grew thicker and thicker, until there was only a ribbon of road and about 50 metres of visibility. If not quite white knuckle time, it was still tense, not even seeing the tail lights of the car in front.
Fierce concentration, glancing between windscreen and mirrors, cutting down on the speed. And a few thoughts about insignificance and mortality. They’re wonderful things to flicker through the mind where you might as well exist only in the vacuum of the car. Only a tiny portion of the world is there. Soon enough you’ll come out the other side, but where will that be? The usual, familiar place, or could you have vanished through some portal to exit in another dimension where everything’s off kilter.
Stupid, of course. The real answer’s always going to be mundane, although at the top of Blue Bank, the coast spread out ahead, the view and clarity is welcome. But some journeys contain a little more than others.