All these weeks in storage are not doing Portia any good:-( Her van battery is suffering and refusing to let us fire her up. After several visits to the garage to charge her up and with some help from Linda, who runs the place, we got her going. Clearly Portia was pining for the open road again but we had several jobs that needed doing in the back. Why not do them parked in the sun beside the sea? Charge the batteries, look at the waves and enjoy a nice cup of tea. Life does not get more exciting than this in February! So we took the road north, circled around the top of the North York Moors and followed the road down into Sandsend. There is a lovely wooden chalet of a cafe on the promenade there, just beside a length of road with parking along the sea front (free October to March).
At first, being February, we expected to have the place to ourselves; being sunny we expected a few hardy dog walkers; then realising it was half-term, we feared the crowds would have turned out. Ah well.
Our luck was in – there was a long enough space in the parking bay and Neil reverse parallel parked like a professional. Our luck went out – the sun disappeared. There were the anticipated dog-walkers throwing sticks into the sea for their enthusiastic if foolhardy pooches, a few well-wrapped families, but no crowds – clearly the chilly northern coast is an acquired taste.
The cafe and our parking place have an impressive view of St Mary’s Abbey (of Dracula fame) in Whitby to the south, and the sandy beach with its cliffs to the north. The coastal part of the Cleveland Way national trail comes over those cliffs and wends its way to Filey Brigg in the south. You can do the Sandsend to Whitby section on the beach if the tide is out – a great little walk.
A cup of tea and toasted cheese sandwich later we got on with our van-enhancing jobs. Firstly, the carpet. We had taken the beige carpet out as it was getting a bit marked. It is now clean, wrapped and in the loft. We bought a black and grey carpet runner and the dark colour looks great and does not show the scuffs and muddy marks. I forgot to take a picture though so will have to add that at a later date.
A short break to admire the view….
The second job was to improve the functional storage of the wardrobe. I doubt if we will want to hang any clothes up, except maybe a coat or two, and this is the largest storage space in the van. I can see that things would just end up piled in on top of each other and a lot of rummaging would be required to find anything – not good for the temper! We were reluctant to start drilling into the veneered wood of the walls to install shelves properly (despite having bought all the stuff already) and, with TV and satellite components on one wall, it would be difficult to locate more than one shelf in any case.
The solution is not beautiful, but very practical: a set of free-standing plastic basket-type shelves. As you can see, it leaves room alongside for the table and space in front for last minute bunging when packing up. It even leaves a usable couple of inches of hanging space if needed. In line with our tradition of doing everything twice, we started assembling it before discovering it was too wide to go through the door. This was particularly annoying as I already knew this from all the careful measuring I had done before buying it. Ah well.
With a drizzle starting we set off home. We continued south over the top of the moors just to see how Portia likes steep and winding roads. She ate them up! “Plenty of grunt” is apparently the technical term. The weather meant the views of the moors and the Devil’s Punch Bowl were a bit greyed out but there was a sprinkling of snow lurking in the sheltered parts for light relief. We will come back to the moors before long to experience the sights visible from the Dark Skies sites.
And that’s it for our day at the seaside. Apart from finding a couple more levers that allow the seats to be adjusted to within a gnat’s crotchet of sheer perfection, there were no startling new discoveries of a good or alarming kind today. Portia’s battery is full to brimming again and we cannot wait to get going for real.