My Bridlington Blog
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Welcome to my Blog
Susan Siddeley was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, attended University in Wales and emigrated to Canada with her geologist husband in 1968. They later lived in Jamaica, Bolivia and Chile. Nowadays, she divides her time between Toronto and Santiago, Chile, where her husband still works, and where they host annual writing retreats - a development that grew out of her signing up for a workshop to help with writing a memoir.
(See extract below)
Time was, Christmas in Bridlington began early Dec 25th with my sister and me feeling our way to the foot of the bed in the boarding house on Summerfield Road, and diving into pillow cases filled with jigsaws, dinky cars, hankies and socks - just as eagerly as we dove into the waves rolling in on the South Side sands a few months later. The pillow cases came from a pile at the back of landing linen cupboard where, on the top shelf years on, I found Auntie May’s cache of Readers’ Digest book clubs choices and …Winifred Holtby.
During those mid-winter visits, after breakfast and weather permitting, Dad said “Right, let’s go ferry across.”
Leaving Mum behind to help with lunch, Pat and I bundled up in our new scarves and fur-backed gloves, would march beside him along the promenade to the harbour. Even the sweet-smelling pine trimmed with tinsel, bells and painted walnut shells, gracing Hall Garth’s entrance, couldn’t beat the thrill of the gruff boatman standing and propelling us with effortless strokes of his oars from the South to the North pier.
The creaky old boat would be packed and murky water lapping the gunwale as he pushed off. The possibility he might topple in, the boat capsize, or we’d stumble on the slippery steps getting out, was worth the long walk back for the turkey and trimmings - or what was left of them.
Every summer in the fifties, during the school holidays, we went to stay at Auntie May’s boarding house in Bridlington. The night before we left, Pat and I would lie in bed tossing and turning, innards knotted worse than on Christmas Eve. The vigil ended in the blue pre-dawn with a low call from the bottom of the stairs.
“All right, you two, you can get up now. Time to go.”
Only then did we fall out of bed, stagger downstairs and pull on our clothes waiting in a pile on the sofa. Shorts, knickers, socks and T-shirts. After we’d dressed and a mug of tea, we stumbled through the passage to the car, where the big brown suitcase filled with our summer clothes was already strapped on the luggage rack at the back.
We clambered in, still buttoning our cardigans. Mum followed, dropping the house keys into her bag and snapping it shut. Surreptitiously, so we wouldn’t pester too soon, she pushed a packet of ginger biscuits under the dashboard. Dad appeared last. After walking around the vehicle, kicking all the tyres, and cranking the engine with the starting handle, he grunted and climbed in himself.
Then, upright as brigadiers, off we set. Down Thornton Lodge, along Manchester Road, across St George’s Square to distant Mirfield. No bypasses and motorways then, just street after street of row houses, mill chimneys and corner shops.
We’d drive through the dawn, repeating place names under our breaths, Heckmondwyke, Paisley, Leeds, Garforth, Seacroft and Tadcaster. Sometimes Pat got the order wrong and Dad would twist round and hiss, “How many times! Tadcaster is after Leeds.”
When the dual carriageway began and green appeared in the roadside palette, we were well on our way. Eventually, with a collective ooh, we rounded the fortifying white walls of a still-sleeping York. If you couldn’t smell Vikings drying fish, as you can in the wonderful Jorvik Museum today, you could certainly hear Roman Centurions stamping out their watch on the corner towers. Eyes looking left, we slid round them, relishing the sight of the moat-side lawns and great portcullis gates.
Chugging on into the pink of breaking day, we made for the dreaded Garraby Hill, sometimes a problem for the little Ford 8. The engine, like our hearts, might miss a beat, or we could have a puncture. Incline topped, we relaxed. Sledmere and Warter, with their thatch-roof cottages and hollyhock gardens, lay ahead. Also, if we peered through the morning mist, we might see parades of long-tailed pheasants and bobbing rabbits. Next, Fridaythorpe and Pocklington.
“Who wants the toilets?” Dad would leap from the car and make a beeline for the Gents. Pat and I just wanted the transport café with its promised orangeade and Penguin biscuits. Mum needed a cup of tea.
After almost four hours, sun well up and the Yorkhire Wolds in sight, we cruised the deserted country roads to Driffield, Burton Agnes and Carnaby. Finally, cresting Bessingby Mount, faint but sparkling in the distance, we spotted it, the sea and our destination, Bridlington.
“I saw it first.”
“You did not.”
“Yes, I did!”
“Does it matter?” Mum scrambled in her bag for a comb to tidy our hair. “We’re here!” We always arrived in time for breakfast, because Dad, who wanted to miss the traffic, liked an early start.
Extract from Home First, A memoir in Voices (Wynterblue2011)
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