Evidence that Fran is having a steamy holiday
We'd only been in the holiday apartment for five minutes when we realised we were overlooking not only the harbour but the railway line and that, four times a day, we'd see steam trains arriving and departing. Here's what we saw.
My husband received this news in a moderate and understated manner, leaping from sofa to sofa and yelling, 'Yippee!' and 'Whoop whoop!' and singing the Thomas the Tank Engine theme tune while waving his arms around.
He's a steam geek. We used to own a record, back in the days when people owned records, on which each track was a different steam engine, setting off from or arriving into a station. To my ear, I wouldn't say the tracks were - er - varied. But I'm not a steam engine fan. People who aren't Rod Stewart fans, or Bob Dylan fans, probably say the same about their albums.
Here in Whitby, when my husband hears the scream of the steam whistle heralding the arrival of a puffer-puffer, he's at the window, his nose pressed to it like a child's. He likes to tell me details. ('Oh, I think that's a 4973 Butler-Heath Old-Chuffer, decommissioned from the North Nerdham Railway on 1st June 1956 by the then Transport Secretary Lord Frederick Anorak-Smythe.')
Then we found out that, at the weekend, Whitby was holding a Traction Engine Rally. On Friday evening, we wandered into town and sat in a pub by the window, near the harbour. Next thing we know, a series of mahoosive traction engines trundle into town. Here's one. Our view was obstructed by other people. Other people just get in the way, don't they? Why don't they stay home on Friday nights?
Then, on Saturday, we walked up to the Traction Engine Rally itself which was located next to Whitby Abbey, at the top of town.
When I say we walked 'up', I mean 'up', as in 'I've just seen my life flash before my eyes' kind of up. I used three months' worth of breath just getting there. In fact, if there'd been a competition between me and a traction engine for the amount of puff and pant, it would have been close.
'This had better be good,' I said to my husband.
When I say 'said', I mean, 'delivered one word at a time while heaving for air'.
It cost £10 to get in which meant it was my husband's turn for sharp intakes of breath, but it turned out to be worth it. Steam was everywhere, though. Large traction engines. Tiny miniature engines. Engines that pulled farm equipment. Engines that milled wheat. Engines that kept factories going.
I looked for one that said, 'Engines that drag middle-aged women up hills,' just in case there was a bargain to be had, but, no.
|One of the engines making its way back through the town to the rally field|
The other type of steam characterising the holiday is the scalding steam that escapes from the electric oven in this apartment. I'm not used to a powerful oven - ours at home is an ancient gas oven and a weakling, a runt. It takes an hour to think about whether to cook your chicken before it even kicks into gear, and even then it's reluctant.
So, I keep forgetting, and when I open the oven door here to check the sausages/roast veg/baked potatoes, there's a blast of hot steam that sends me flinching back across the kitchen yelling 'Arrggh!'
My face is much redder than it was when we came last week but I don't know if that's because I've caught the Whitby sun or because my skin is gradually being peeled off by a malicious kitchen appliance.