We left Whitby, continuing our route southwards through Yorkshire along a road we had travelled together once before. “We’ll have to go to Whitby,” we had said back then. “In winter,” we had added, looking at the steady stream of traffic crossing the North York Moors. We had been looking out over the heather covered Hole of Horcum, after an utterly magical morning and a very odd meeting with a sagacious llama. The sun was warm on our backs and the moors looked at their beautiful best. They looked a bit different now as my sanity was called into question while I waded through the snow to the same vantage point. Equally beautiful, to my prejudiced eyes, of course. But different. Whiter. And colder.
It was getting towards dusk too. The sun had long since set behind the hills and the only light was that which lingered in the sky. There are no street lights on the moors and we had still been unable to find anywhere to get the bulb changed in the headlight… a job I would do myself in minutes on any other car than a Puma. Even the experts struggle.
Mind you, just for once we actually had a vague idea where we might end up that night. I had come across a reference to a little church just outside Pickering where there appeared to be a number of fragments of old carved stone… and there just happened to be a pub in the village, right next door, where they did accommodation. Perfect for an early start on our last day on the road.
Pickering we had visited on our earlier jaunt, calling at the church there to see the most fabulous medieval wall paintings. We had explored the area over a long weekend of summer and heather, climbed hills, forded more streams than we had hot dinners, chased a disappearing Roman road and found revelations in stained glass amid the scarecrows. The whole thing about the Simeon windows goes back to that trip and we told the story in our book Heart of Albion… as well as on the blog.
It was late afternoon and almost dark as we turned right in Pickering towards Middleton and the little church with its convenient inn… which had inconveniently closed and taken down its sign. Driving on we passed through another couple of villages without seeing anywhere we fancied.
“How far’s Cropton?” Not far… this was the pub with the micro-brewery in the garden where we had stayed for the weekend last time we were here. The turning came up immediately. The New Inn is a busy place all year round… but it was worth a try. We know the food is good and the beer even better. Stacey, the smiling bar manager, checked the bookings… she wasn’t hopeful… but yes… as long as it was just for the one night…
Chatting away she showed us up to the top floor… we exchanged a glance. What were the chances of the same room being the only ones free on both visits? Mind you, we had given up on coincidence long ago and accepted synchronicity instead. I looked up at the painting on the wall… with a definite Ani looking back at me, well…it almost felt like home.