Walking in the footsteps of Captain Cook

For many sailors the port of Whitby in Yorkshire, England, is a place of pilgrimage – for it was there that the venerated explorer, navigator and cartographer, Captain James Cook served his seaman’s apprenticeship with ship owner John Walker.

The pretty harbour of Whitby

Cook, along with other apprentices, lived with the Walker family in a small cottage overlooking the pretty harbour. This very building not only still exists but now houses the James Cook museum.

The house where James Cook lodged as an apprentice seaman

Standing in the rooms where he acquired those maritime skills which led to his epic voyages of discovery was an incredible experience.

The kitchen in Cook’s lodgings reconstructed to show how it would have looked

It really was an amazing feeling walking up those same stairs that the young James Cook clambered up to the attic room he shared with the other apprentices. As you enter the airy (but for the apprentices very crowded) space it was easy to imagine him banging his head on the low rafter (he was unusually tall for those days – over six feet).

How many times did James Cook bash his head on this beam as he got to the top of the stairs?!
The airy but crowded attic James Cook shared with his fellow apprentices

The house is furnished in a similar way to how it was when James Cook lived there – simple, sturdy and plain furniture in line with his master’s Quaker beliefs.

Quakers favoured plain and practical furniture

Almost every room in the house was filled with fascinating exhibits relating to Cook and his explorations – charts, ship’s logs, paintings, drawings and items he gathered in the Pacific Islands.

The cloak made from bark that Captain Cook picked up on his travels

We stayed at the museum until closing time and felt we could have stayed much longer.

A painting of Captain Cook wearing the bark cloak above
Captain Cook would recognise this view if he came back today

Back on the tiny, winding, steep, streets and alleyways of Whitby the thought struck me that if James Cook came back tomorrow he would surely recognise this delightful town.

There would have been a lot more of these tall masts in Captain Cook’s day
The view from the attic where Cook lodged. How many times did he stare out at this scene?
The sweet narrow lanes of Whitby
This pub was established long before James Cook was born

I wonder what he and the other apprentices thought of the ghostly ruins of the deserted abbey high up on the cliff overlooking the town and did he dream of sailing to undiscovered places as he gazed out to sea from the old Churchyard after Sunday service?

A view of the Abbey ruins from the other side of Whitby
The view from the Churchyard

We grudgingly left Whitby late in the evening – too late to go on and find somewhere to spend the night – so we decided to tuck into a spot we had seen on the way to Whitby, right on the banks of a peaceful reservoir. We had a beautiful walk by the water before bed where we saw hundreds of water fowl gathered together on the still waters.

A peaceful time of day down by the reservoir
Our campervan tucked away out of sight from the main road
Hundreds of water fowl – safety in numbers for the night

It was time to move on as we had family to visit, first in Suffolk and then in Cambridge. On our way we drove through the old fashioned but lovely seaside holiday place of Scarborough – we even saw donkey rides on the beach!

Driving along the beachfront in Scarborough
Lots of yachts in the harbour
The old fashioned penny arcade
Donkey rides are still available on Scarborough beach
More donkeys on the way to work

After a quick but fun visit to Jonathan’s brother (who coincidentally had his other brother from Australia also visiting) we headed for a joint 50th birthday party for my nephew and his wife in Cambridge.

Three brothers together once again

As always at this sort of occasion, it was wonderful to see lots of family – all in one spot and at the same time. We ate, drank, talked and laughed the afternoon away.

Always such a spread on these family occasions
Family members gathered to celebrate

Then it was off to the home of my other sister in Beckenham, Kent (South-East London) for her birthday celebrations and a hilarious visit to the Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington (seating capacity 5,544) to see what we thought was a Spanish guitarist but turned out to be Miguel Rafael Martos Sánchez (Raphael) an ageing crooner (and actor).

Driving in the outer suburbs of London can be fairly fraught sometimes!
More birthday celebrations!

Fortunately we hadn’t paid a lot for our tickets and actually we really enjoyed the entertainment of watching the excitement and joy he was bringing to the massive Spanish (except for us) audience.

The Albert memorial commemorating the death of Queen Victoria’s beloved husband in 1861
The famous concert hall was also named after Prince Albert
Inside the Royal Albert Hal the audience was rapturous!

We had yet another birthday to celebrate – this time for our daughter who lives in The Netherlands. So it was time after a great couple of months in the UK, to catch the ferry in Dover and then drive from the French port of Calais to Pijnacker near Delft.

Back in Pijnacker again! Helping out in the garden.

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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