The one with the Whitsborough Bay tour round Scarborough’s North Bay

We made a decision to aim for one family day out each weekend but couldn’t go very far this weekend just gone. The munchkin was on a Duke of Edinburgh practise walk from one end to the other of Scarborough’s sea front (about 4 miles) on Saturday afternoon and we were expecting a plumber to quote for some work on Sunday.

As we needed to pick the munchkin up at the end of her walk, we decided to go early and have a wander round North Bay. It was a very cold and windy day – preparing for Storm Malik – and I took quite a few pics to show different parts of North Bay from my books.

STANLEY MOFFATT

Freddie Gilroy is an oversized statue of a former soldier who sits on his giant bench overlooking the sea at South Bay. You can read more about who he is and the story of the statue on this Wiki page.

He’s so iconic that he had to feature in my Whitsborough Bay stories but, as Whitsborough Bay is fictional, I needed to change his identity.

In my stories, he’s Stanley Moffatt, a fisherman who was saved by the RNLI. He’s first mentioned in The Secret to Happiness and features in Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café and the forthcoming Spring Tides at The Starfish Café.

As you can see, Freddie’s (or Stanley’s) bench looks a bit wet. It hadn’t been raining. This was from the earlier overtopping caused by the high tide and the wind so I took these photos very quickly while keeping an eye on the sea just in case.

You see the buildings on the top of the cliff? That’s where Danniella rents her flat from Aidan in The Secret to Happiness, although her flat would be a smidge further round off camera.

THE SEA

The dangers of dodging waves is one of the themes I explore in The Starfish Café series. In Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, I talk about bollards being put up on the slipway after several tragedies. Although the details have been changed slightly on one of these, it is based on a true story from 2005 which resulted in the slipway near Freddie being permanently closed. Signs remind the public of the dangers of the sea yet people still take chances.

When we were down on the seafront on Saturday, it was a couple of hours after high tide. There were a few high waves and some spray but we stayed well back because we’re not daft.

The photo above shows the slipway that is permanently closed. Without giving spoilers, this is where an incident in Jake’s childhood occurs in Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café.

THE BEACH HUTS

Scarborough’s North Bay beach huts are gorgeous. Painted lime green, sky blue, red, orange and yellow, I decided not to change any aspect of them and they appear in my books exactly as they appear on North Bay.

They feature in loads of my books. In The Secret to Happiness, Karen’s bootcamp often takes place on the promenade in front of the huts which was inspired by my own experiences of doing two different bootcamps at 6am three mornings a week for a few years. Couldn’t do that now!

Clare walks along here on a visit to Whitsborough Bay in Coming Home to Seashell Cottage and they feature a few times in All You Need Is Love. And I’m sure you can see why.

SEA RESCUE SANCTUARY

Although I haven’t set a story there (yet), I do mention the Sea Rescue Sanctuary in several books, especially The Starfish Café series. In Scarborough, it’s really the Sealife Centre and it’s the pyramid shaped building in the background here (which I’ve changed to domes in my books).

HEARNSHAW PARK

Near Scarborough’s North Bay is the fabulous Peasholm Park, re-named as Hearnshaw Park in my books. Again, it features in several stories, perhaps most notably in Making Wishes at Bay View when Callie walks round the lake with Ruby and discovers the secrets from Ruby’s past.

Dusk was approaching so the pics aren’t the best as it wasn’t quite bright enough to pick out the colour but not quite dark enough to pick out the illuminations. But here you go…

Hope you enjoyed your little tour round Whitsborough Bay.

It’s February tomorrow – how did that happen?! Wishing you an amazing second month of the year.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

My morning with the seals

Those who have already read Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café will have discovered that the café is positioned on a cliff top and there’s a 200-strong seal colony on the beach and rocks below. The seals feature in this first book in the series although not heavily, and they’ll feature more in the second book out in April – Summer Nights at The Starfish Café.

I’d already undertaken a lot of research into common and grey seals – the types found in the Yorkshire Coast waters – but I decided that a visit to our local Sealife Sanctuary (Scarborough) where they have resident seals and a seal hospital may well be in order. Then, when I spotted they did a seal experience, I couldn’t resist.

Sealife Centres are run by Merlin Entertainments and they have 12 sites around the UK and many more overseas. You can click here to find out more. The focus is on education and conservation.

We arrived this morning 75 minutes before the general admission time of 10am and it was quite lovely having the centre to ourselves for so long. Our guides for the duration were Minnie and Tiegan and they were friendly and knowledgeable as they took us round.

First stop was Harris the sea otter. Awww. His partner in crime passed away at the grand old age of 16 a few weeks back. They are preparing for another female to keep him company, but he seemed more than content swimming about and playing with his pebble. (Apologies that the photo isn’t great – he kept moving!)

The seal hospital had one admission: a seal pup called Buzzard (apparently all recent admissions have been named after birds). Buzzard, a girl pup, was found abandoned in South Bay with cuts and a swollen muzzle. She has healed nicely and should be moved into the next stage of rehabilitation next which is a small pool.

Because she was abandoned, she’ll be released into a colony of seals, very likely at Ravenscar up the coast which was where I got the inspiration for my Starfish Point colony.

Isn’t Buzzard gorgeous? Look at those big eyes! There is some water in the ‘sick bay’ but she apparently isn’t so keen on swimming yet so they haven’t filled it. She’ll get used to that in the next stage of her programme.

We moved round to the main pool where there are four resident seals called Mando, Pendle, Boo and Ed. None of these seals could be released back into the wild because there are reasons why they wouldn’t survive there such as they were reared in captivity at other facilities or have had injuries or bad experiences which mean they wouldn’t be able to fend for themselves. They are, however, treated as though they are wild animals. They aren’t taught tricks and the staff don’t touch/handle them unless for medical reasons. They have a lovely pool and it gives them all the swimming space they need. In the wild, seals are known for lounging on rocks and beaches and not actually swimming very far.

We had a bucket of fish and all had a chance to feed them. Steven the Seagull is a regular visitor who tries (and sometimes succeeds) to get the fish first! You can see him swooping in at the top of the pic on the right!

Hubby captured a gorgeous pic of the munchkin and one of the seals through the underwater glass. He tried to capture something similar for me but he stood further back and caught my whole body in it. I actually look like a killer whale beached on the ledge so I’m not going to share that one!

There’s a section called Penguin Island were Humboldt penguins live. They’re endangered in their natural habitat (South America) so this is a breeding programme to ensure the survival of the species.

There weren’t many out of their beds when we went round but the newest chick was swimming while its dad watched from the doorway of its bedroom. Awww.

The only other one out and about was the only single penguin, Fred, who was on the noticeboard as ‘bad penguin of the month’. Apparently he’s got his eye on some of the other females and has been picking fights with their partners! Bad Fred!

Fred’s on the left grooming himself (it’s molting season so he’s looking a bit shabby just now) and the chick is the one on the right who managed to haul itself out of the pool right into where Fred had just evacuated his bowels. Yes, that is fresh penguin crap all over its chest!

I say ‘it’ rather than he or she for the chick because apparently you cannot tell what sex a penguin is from looking at it. When it’s older, a feather has to be sent off to an expert who will analyse it and confirm the sex. I did not know that!

There are several aquarium tanks with sharks, rays, fish, corals, seahorses, sea dragons, jelly fish and so on (not all in the same tank together, mind). They have an amazing jelly fish breeding programme and there was a new rainforest section which I’ve not visited before so that was lovely.

We were able to stroke some starfish and sea anemone and hold empty shark egg pouches and I managed to grab a quick starfish pic before we left in homage to The Starfish Café.

We were then dropped off for some breakfast and were free to wander round again at our leisure. We all loved our seal experience and would like to thank Minnie and Tiegan for the really great tour/helpful information. I bombarded them with research questions about seals although confess I didn’t tell them why I was asking. I meant to but I just didn’t see an opportunity to slip it in.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the pics. Apologies that WordPress seem to have stopped displaying the gallery ones (where there are 2 or more together) properly. I noticed this last week and thought it might sort itself out overnight but it appears not. Don’t have the technical expertise or time to resolve it just now but fingers crossed it will right itself.

Big seal-hugs
Jessica xx