The day had arrived; it was time to embark on the Ben Lairig summer barbeque of 2002. Our destination was to be Robin Hood’s Bay and so we set off in earnest to start our adventure.
This was to be my second trip with Ben Lairig after joining a few weeks ago for the trip to Haworth. I, as well as everyone else who was there, had a great day especially after my initial annoyance at not being greeted into Haworth by Kate Bush playing her piano and singing ‘that song’. So, I was really looking forward to our barbeque; and was not disappointed.
A quick role call I feel. We had three cars, ably driven by Stephen, Ben and Jen with the rest of the motley crew being made up of: joint captains (ex-captain Ben, new-captain Stephen), Arran, Mary, Dan, Stu, Andrew (again in shorts – well, it is summer!) and myself.
Upon arriving in Robin Hood’s Bay, the weather was overcast with the possibility, no, near certainty of rain; the weather forecast was by no means good. There were initial deliberations over whether to walk first and then eat or to eat and then walk, the age-old problem! However, it was pointed out that no one had eaten anything since breakfast, well, except Dan who’d had his breakfast somewhere around lunchtime but the feeling was one of hunger and thus, by a majority ruling, we made haste in getting down onto the beach to start the cooking.
Whilst passing through the village, carrying a party sized disposable barbeque, several bags of meat and a sheet of tarpaulin, we were greeted with a look of bemusement from locals and tourists alike. I suppose you can forgive them because at first sight it might not seem the best day to be having a barbeque, most traditionally held in the height of summer with the sun blazing down upon you but surely we too can be forgiven for thinking that a barbeque on a day in June shouldn’t be that silly an idea? Nonetheless, we weren’t going to let the rain dampen our spirits; rather, we were more concerned with it dampening our barbeque.
We made our way onto the beach and found ourselves a nice spot to set up our makeshift kitchen. The barbeque was laid on the floor and via the strategic positioning of umbrellas; the barbeque was lit and remained fully alight despite the downpour that inevitably broke. One thing that had seemed to be neglected when selecting a location for the feast were the tides, which, just as luck would have it, were on their way in. As it happened, we’d run out of buns before the tides came anywhere near the barbeque so Dan and Jen heroically went off in search of more bread but were held up from helping two foreign tourists after our exit from the beach was engulfed by the sea. Our new point of retreat from the incoming tide was over a series of rocks, not a problem for your standard Ben Lairiger, but as was seen, it posed more of a challenge for the tourists. Beers, burgers and sausages were consumed and before Dan and Jen had bought the bread and come back, the barbeque had served its purpose in that we’d all had our fill and so it was extinguished via the most obvious method – chucking it in the sea; although the tide nearly took it away from us, who knows, maybe the Dutch equivalent of Ben Lairig could have made use of our barbeque if it had happened to float their way………..
So, the rocks were negotiated with some style and ease and we left the beach behind. As is often the case with barbeques, upon extinguishing the flame, the rain promptly stopped too – typical, but then again it was only to be expected. There was now a big decision to be made, walk or pub? If I tell you that we’d already been drinking throughout the cooking, it will come as no surprise to learn that we decided to venture into the ‘white pub at the bottom of the hill’ – sorry, I can’t remember its name. However, it was a very nice pub though, and, upon entry, we were greeted by the sounds of a folk band that were playing in the corner of another room. It seemed like a very good representation of what a good seaside pub should be like and at the risk of sounding American, it was rather quaint.
By this point, ex-captain Ben was down to the last half of his bottle of vodka and proceeded (after his initial pint of beer) to make an addition to his recently purchased Coke; creating a mix between the two that could rival Absinth for alcoholic content. Nearing the end of our stay in the pub, and after we’d consumed the odd beer or three, it was decided that we should move on and focus our efforts on Whitby and all that it has to offer.
Our arrival in Whitby saw us start with a bit of a walk. Whilst in Whitby, we thought it rude not to go and have a look at the abbey and thus, we started our mini-walk and headed in its general direction. It was the second time that I’d been to Whitby, the first was when I was eight so I only had a vague idea of where we going but Stevie was confident of his local knowledge and duly led us to the 199 steps that lead to the abbey but first, via some public toilets after special requests from certain members of the group who looked in an amount of pain from their need for the loo. After the stop, it was straight on to the abbey via the 199 steps. Many people thought it fun (mad if you ask me!) to run up to the top and so we all made it up in stages but each of us seemed equally knackered out from the climb up the cliff. After a walk around a churchyard, a moments admiring of the view from the cliff and a failed attempt to get in the abbey, we thought that it was now time for another barbeque and headed in the direction of the beach.
This time, we were fortunate enough to find a nice little cave that was hidden in the cliffs and out of the way of the wind. However, it was also realised that once the barbeque was lit, the smoke tended to linger somewhat in the cave which meant that whoever was on food duty took the full brunt of the carbonised air. Not terribly good for breathing but we struggled on and after much blowing on the barbeque, it was properly alight and once again we ate like kings.
As a consequence of the cave being where it was, there were many attempts to ‘scale the cave’, namely from Dan and our two joint captains. There were varying degrees of success but Dan scored the biggest win with his ‘scaling of the pier’. A ladder stuck out on the side of the pier wall and so Ben and Ben took it upon themselves to see if they could climb it. Upon actually getting up close to it, they saw the extent of the coverage of seaweed and turned back. This didn’t stop Dan; in the blink of an eye he’d climbed the ladder and was running back towards us along the pier wall. Dan one, wall nil!
After some extensive frisbeeing and many failed attempts to throw the Frisbee ‘properly’, we headed to the end of the pier to watch the sunset. Whilst waiting for the sun to drop below the horizon, we noticed a seal that popped its head out of the water, just long enough for us to get a look at it. Along with the seal, there was something else making rather large waves in the sea that day, suggestions of a whale were heard but realistically, we couldn’t tell what it was. After watching a most beautiful sunset, made even better from the fact that the weather had eventually cleared up in time for us to marvel at it, we headed for the pub, eventually deciding on the Duke of York. We had to pick this pub, on this night of all – when the legendary Ray Randall was doing his gig there. To be fair to the man, he had a good voice and provided us with some sing along songs for the hour or so that we spent in the rather crowded pub. Dan chatted to a couple he’d just met and tried to convince the ‘car-loving’ woman that there was an alternative to fossil fuel derived motion, alas, I fear that he may not have succeeded on this occasion. During the attempted conversion, the rest of us sat and chilled to the mix of 50’s and 60’s hits being so expertly delivered by Ray.
Upon leaving the pub, Dan and our joint captains decided to run up the 199 steps and so we decided to meet them back at the cars. On our journey back to the car park, we passed many boy-racers in their Vauxhall Novas, or at least, we thought that there were many but it turned out to be just two lads in their cars, driving round and round and round and round and…………….. you get the idea! Needless to say, none of the female contingent of our party was at all impressed by the blue glow from underneath the cars or the banging music emerging from inside, not that I would blame them at all.
And so, we piled into the cars for our return journey to York; somewhat more tired and slightly tipsier than when we’d left but after having a great day out. May I declare the 2002 Ben Lairig barbeque a resounding success and thank everyone who was there for making it such a fun day out for us all. I wait with anticipation for my next venture out with Ben Lairig!