Having left our holiday planning even later than we normally do, our options were extremely limited this year. Lacking the balls to risk a Balearic bargain bin end, and having left it too late to sort Gerry's passport anyway we opted to staycation: a week in a Whitby cottage. I had spent fourteen consecutive summers staying in nearby Sandsend as a kid (no it was great really) and had fond memories of lucky ducks, chip-strewn Space Invaders and glimpses of rude objects in the 'joke' shop.
Packing seemed easier than ever before, with no need for a particularly big car boot let alone a roof box. I put this down to the fact that two of the boys are now teenagers and are planning to wear the same clothes all week. Even Gerry's mobile toy stash has been replaced with an iPod and a man bag. Holiday family device count: 7 screens that I know about.
Journey to Whitby uneventful; only four "Are we there yet"s and one of them was from Emma. By the way, the North Yorkshire Tourism Board has played a master stroke putting Middlesbrough in the way - everything beyond it seems beautiful and wholesome once you clear the great smog.
Arrived a little early so parked on St. Hilda's Terrace near the town centre. I have childhood memories of this street, mainly it being festooned with dog shit and seemingly miles from the town centre for little legs. My how things have changed! Now it's all disc parking and heritage lottery funding.
A little too early for the cottage and looking for eats, we straightway encountered The Whitby Deli which promised continental meats and cheeses, homemade soups and pies. Technically they did provide at least one example of each of these things but the menu seemed to be theoretical, and despite being almost outnumbered by retro-fashionable staff we had to wait a very long time before being served very small portions, albeit on very charming breadboards with a flip-top jar containing pickles and such. Gerry's very loud assessment of his artisan (i.e. home-made, badly) sausage roll: "OH MY GOD THAT'S TINY." One can only admire his bluntness when being ripped off by trendy bollocks.
At the appointed time we arrived at the cottage nestling in a charming location just behind Poundland, reassuring that Whitby is a real living town with crap chavvy shops just like anywhere else. Adventure Cottage is decked out with an array of faux 18th century trappings themed around Whitby's heritage of fishing and Captain Cook. Welsh dresser, writing bureau, captain's chair, inglenook stove, telescope, model yacht. More bogs than bedrooms and a dishwasher. The smallest telly we've seen since 1996, bought from Marks and Spencer during their ill-fated sojourn into the home electronics market (integrated DVD player, woo) is accompanied by a Sky box whose main purpose is apparently to present the number you can call to upgrade your package.
And no wifi. Utter despair descended. What kind of cruel Luddite could inflict such an empty existence on an unsuspecting family? I imagined the gingham-wearing lady who owns this place saying "Oh I don't think a family holiday should be about using technology - it's important for children to play together and for everyone to speak to each other." Bitch.
Also very important to point out the notice warning us of the charges levied should we place un-recyclable items in the blue bin. Can't help thinking this isn't something that the grizzled old salt that surely once inhabited this cottage worried about, as he chucked his pail of piss out of the window.
To lift the cyber-gloom we went for a stroll on the trashy part of the sea front, reacquainting ourselves with the smell of stale chip fat and ciggy smoke, to the blaring bleep bleep of amusement arcades. Nostalgic bliss.
Later we partook of that other most quintessential Yorkshire pastime: a curry at the Kam Thai restaurant adjacent to the railway station. Classic Dunphy holiday planning: on arrival we found that the Quayside Express (fish and chips on the train) was about to depart, and it goes only once a week. Being too British to stand up our Thai hosts we continued with plan A, with good results. Kudos to Michael for eating the hottest curry, and for braving it out with a face like a well-smacked arse. As ever I ignored my own advice to the kids and ate too much rice, leaving me later having to count the family, feeling like maybe I'd eaten one of them.
Back at base, my perseverance with BT's legendary terrible service over the years found its karma: a weak, intermittent but usable wifi signal from someone else's router - happy days! Browsed some pointless stuff for a while and turned in, satisfied. Kept awake half the night by f***ing seagulls - WHAT THE HELL DO THEY HAVE TO BLOODY SQUAWK ABOUT AT TWO BLOODY O CLOCK FFS? HAD ONE OF THEM FOUND A CHIP OR SOMETHING?