View From the Window

In the footsteps of Anne Brontë- Visiting Scarborough

Last summer our research in the footsteps of the Brontës led us even to the North of Yorkshire, far beyond the windy moors around Haworth. So, together with Patrizio, loving boyfriend and precious friend, on an unusually hot and very sunny afternoon, with rucksacks on our backs and sunglasses on our noses, we got to Sacrborough, the most popular coastal town of Yorkshire. In this place we lived what we can call a real adventure, and if you like, you can read it here. 40

Our goal was of course Anne Brontë‘s grave, as she’s the only member of the Brontë family not to be buried in Haworth. As a matter of fact, when Anne got tubercolosis, she left for the coast along with Charlotte and Ellen Nussey, hoping that the climatic change could help her health. It was the end of May, 1849– alas, that plan failed, and Anne died in Scarborough, saying her very last words to her sister, words which we know very well now: “Take courage, Charlotte!”.

She was buried in Saint Mary‘s graveyard, on a hill from which you can enjoy a quiet, but yet surprising, view of the bay. There are no crows on the trees to keep vigil on her tomb, but there are seagulls flying high in the sky; there is no scent of mud and wet earth, but here, you can smell salt in the wind. The graveyard in which she is at rest is very quiet, even if now and then you can spot someone walking through the tombs, looking for a name, and eventually stopping at that old tomb, respectfully. 59

It felt good to stay there, in silence, and arrange a small bunch of heather on her tomb. A few days before we were in Haworth, and our friend Glynis (you can read about her here) told us that everytime she goes to Scarborough she brings something with her- a leaf, a stone- as a gift for Anne. She asked us to bring something for her, since we would have been  there in a few days. We just loved the idea, so before leaving for the seaside, we went for a walk out on the moors and gathered some blooming heather. A little piece of home for Anne, resting on a hill, at the sea.

52So what about our adventure, that’s it? Nope.
Since we had a really unpleaseant problem with Booking.com, which influenced and ruined part of our trip, we found ourselves in search of a new place where to sleep, different from the one we chose and bought months before. So, after a totally horrific experience at the Park Lane Hotel, and after several complications, Booking.com directed us to the Grand Scarborough Hotel. It’s a hotel built in 1867, and when it was inaugurated, it was the biggest hotel in Europe. This huge building stands out the South Bay lonely and nostalgic, and even if on that very same street you can find lights and colors of shops, restaurants and casinos, still it makes everything look gloomy and sad, a pale ghost of what once was a great and magnificent building.

Our stay in Scarborough was but a pleaseant one: we lost a night of rest and two days of holidays, and even if the staff was very kind, our room at the Grand Scarborough 43was really bad, everything seemed to go wrong… But on the very last day of our stay something happened- while leaving the building we noticed a plaque on the wall: “Anne Brontë, 1820-1849,writer, died in a house on this site on May 28th 1849”. Yes, indeed! Before the Grand Scarborough was built, that was the very place where Anne spent her latest days, and where she died. So, very tired and sleepy, without knowing or planning it, we were unwittingly in the footsteps of the Brontës again!

So once more, thanks to this blog, we learnt very important lessons: first of all, that you need very good travel mates to enjoy an adventure; second, that you always need to see the glass half full, for even a bad adventure can surprise you; and third, that if you look carefully, the signs of your path are everywhere- so just start walking!!!

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