Yorkshire (1980)I'm a southerner and always used to think that life died out round about Potter's Bar. When I was working in the theatre and found myself posted to Scarborough I barely knew where it was, so for me it was total discovery.
Everything about Scarborough is contrast. It's built on two bays. The north side is very quiet for people who just like to look at the sea, whereas South Bay has got the harbour and the candy floss and bingo. That's the side I like.
Leaving the cliffs and the beaches you can drive a few minutes inland and discover the equally gorgeous Whitby Moors. And it's no distance to the totally different countryside of the Dales which are deep and almost jungly.
It's the hotels in many ways that make Scarborough. The Laughton family used to run the Royal. Charles Laughton went off to Hollywood and made his fortune, but his brother Tom stayed on as 'mine host' at the Royal, and ran it like a glorious country house. It's an incredible building. The entrance hall alone is well worth a look.
The holiday season's getting longer all the time. It's now October or November when the shutters come down on the front. That, for me, is when the best time of year begins. I love the Yorkshire coast when the waves are high and the sea comes crashing in and the voices of the Brontes fly on the wind.
There's a huge clean sweep of coastline to explore from Flamborough Head to Whitby. Whitby, of course, is the home of Dracula. That's where Bram Stoker wrote the story and it truly feels like stepping back in time when you go there.
Among places I have a special feeling for, I think Mallion Spout in Goathland would be top of the list. I've had some lovely picnics there. It's got a secret stream that drops from a great height and runs down through thickly forested hills. I love Ravenscar. There's some good blackberrying and kite-flying country round there.
Ilkley's a town I like. It's charming. So is Tadcaster, where you can't move for breweries. They say you can wake up in the morning and get drunk in Tadcaster if the wind's in the right direction.
And I love the Snake Pass over the Pennines. It's amazing up there. One gets a most extraordinary feeling of being right at the end of the world. I don't think I'd quite have the stamina to live there, but it's a great place for poets.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.