Our next Big Adventure with our lovely friends from Red Bus Days Out took us to the East Coast. It’s quite a long way from where we live and so we had to set off very early. In fact, I was surprised to find out that there were two eight o’clocks on a Sunday, but I guess a Little Bear can’t know everything.
One big advantage of being out at that time, however, was that the roads were fairly quiet, though we saw quite a few classic cars that were on their way to join around 1000 others at a classic car gathering at Ripon racecourse. (This made Mum feel a bit old as she could remember some of the models from when they were first launched in the 1950s and 1960s!)
The other advantage of being early was that the Red Kites weren’t about – or, if they were, I couldn’t see them. Better still, they couldn’t see me as the clouds were very low in the area where they’re usually looking out for me and so I didn’t have to hide in Mum’s handbag. Instead I could look out of the window all the time. In doing that, I was lucky enough to see a baby barn owl sitting on a fence at the side of the road and, although I know it’ll also grow up to eat mice and other small creatures, I didn’t feel scared of it as it had such a lovely heart-shaped face.
Our first stop of the day was at Thirsk, a lovely old town with a racecourse on the outskirts…
…and the James Heriot Museum down a side street in what had been his home and veterinary surgery, which he wrote about in All Creatures Great And Small.
There is also a huge market place in the centre, surrounded by shops, including White Rose Books which had a window display celebrating the 30th anniversary of “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. Mum said it was very attractive, but I didn’t want to look too closely in case anyone realised I was a bear and felt inspired to hunt me.
There are also plenty of cafes, pubs and takeaways around the market place and lots of places just to sit down and enjoy the sunshine on a nice day. While most of our friends went to a cafe for coffee and cakes, however, me and Mum went to a baker’s shop and got a sausage roll and a cup of tea to take out as there was something special she wanted to show me.
This was the latest project of the Thirsk Yarnbombers, a group of volunteers who use their knitting and crocheting skills to decorate items and buildings in the town. The theme this time was children’s stories and they’d made covers, topped with story-book characters, for all the bollards around the seating area near the town clock. My favourite was Goldilocks and the Three Bears – of course! – but there were plenty more to look at and admire and we were both well impressed.
Once we’d looked at them all, it was time to go back to the bus and continue our journey towards the coast. Amongst other places, this took us through the pretty village of Great Ayton on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors and very close to Roseberry Topping, a strangely-shaped hill just over 1000 feet/320 metres high, views of which features on many Yorkshire calendars every year. The village itself has two village greens with the river Leven running alongside one of them.
It was also the childhood home of the navigator and explorer, James Cook (1728-1779). He attended the Postgate School, which is now the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum, and worshipped at the 12th century parish church of All Saints.
At the age of 16, he was apprenticed to a grocer in the fishing village of Staithes and from there he moved to Whitby to work for a shipping company. After that he joined the Royal Navy and in 1768 he set out on the first of his great explorations which would eventually take him into the Pacific and along the east coast of what we now call Australia, as well as New Zealand, and the west coast of America and Canada. He also went to Hawaii, where he met his death in 1779.
Not being as intrepid as Captain Cook, we just went from Great Ayton towards Guisborough, then across the moors to Whitby, but I’ll tell you about in my next post.
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