A party in Pickering

The second weekend in October is always on the Slaw’s calendar; the finale to their season. Slaw and the Mrs are reenactors for the Second World War and this weekend is usually North York Moors Railway in Wartime event in Pickering. Sadly the event was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the Slaws and a gang of their friends still had accommodation booked and set off to Pickering for a long weekend.

North York Moors Railway

Helga was de-dogged and the 1970’s-style shag pile carpet put back in. Sounds seedy! But, after a summer of use with the pooches, Mrs Slaw loves to see Helga in her natural beauty. The lovely suede seating with cobalt, heather and teal flecks toning with the fawn and mushroom. Usually hidden under large velvet throws so Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl can travel in style and the seats are protected from muck and claws. The covers also protect the seats from Slaw’s late night encounters with chocolate. Oh dear, this now sounds even seedier 🤦🏻‍♀️ The utilitarian hard floor (a must for furry little bodies who soak up half the beach on every walk and deposit sand in every orifice in Helga) is now covered with the luxurious deep pile carpet, so lush to wriggle your toes into on those cold mornings.

Helga’s natural beauty

Anyway, back to the weekend. Mrs Slaw wobbled a bit about still going to Pickering because the event had been cancelled. There was a fair bit of animosity on social media against people still turning up. Speaking to Slaw and other friends, she was persuaded as our group will put a rather large chunk of money into the local economy over the weekend. Meals in the cafes and pubs, copious amounts of alcohol consumed, Christmas presents bought in gift shops, bargains from charity shops, train tickets etc etc As Mrs Slaw was in Scotland when the arrangements were being made, Miss Gorgeous took over. She made a good start, even considering buying a colour coordinated folder for the job! Tables were duly booked for meals and drinks (separate and a must in these strange times) but Miss Gorgeous fell at the hurdle of coordinating activities. She very nearly booked the train tickets at the same time as the vintage vehicle parade 🤦🏻‍♀️ Mrs Slaw took over the reins. The Young Pretender (Miss Gorgeous) needs a lot more coaching before she can take her L plates off.

Mrs Perky then attempted to usurp Mrs Slaw by organising the train tickets. Either a technology error or an, ahem, age related failure 😜 meant Mrs Slaw once again took over the reins and the tickets were safely secured. Railway in Wartime is a fascinating look back in time to learn about and remember life in wartime. The stations are transformed and reenactors help the public learn what life was like in those days. Mrs Slaw is hopeful that she never has to experience any world wars in her lifetime, but is passionate that we must not forget what happened. These events are not a celebration of what happened, but a chance to learn and pass on knowledge to others. #lestweforget

A one o’clock finish from work and the Slaws were on the road by two. It’s a two hour journey for them up to Pickering and there is a section of the A64 just after York where two lanes merge into one and you can be severely delayed. That section was passed with ease and Slaw relaxed into the weekend. The campsite is Beckside on Mill Lane in Pickering. It’s a narrow approach road, but after the NC500 it was no bother for Helga. Miss Gorgeous also navigated the lane with the caravan with no problems. The site is small with a handful of hard standing pitches; some of them nestled under the trees along the beck. In the summer these would be very pretty but may be ‘midgy’. There are also grass pitches and electric is available on most. Some reviews report an issue with electric but there were no problems for the Slaws. There had been quite a bit of rain and the grass was muddy in places. The site has a small shower and loo block, wash up facilities and chemical toilet disposal. All clean and covid precautions in place. The cost of the pitch was steep for this weekend. £30 per night. However, they have stepped into dead-men’s shoes to secure the pitch for future wartime weekends. This is considerably cheaper than cottages that the Slaws and Miss Gorgeous have rented in the past, paying up to £900 for a two bedroomed cottage for four people 😱

Beckside campsite

It’s a pleasant 10 minute walk up to town from the campsite. You can either follow the road to the top of town or take either of two tracks through fields or a park coming out at the bottom of town. Pickering has lots of pubs and clubs and the Slaws have frequented most 🤪 They always return to the Black Swan on Birdgate though. It’s been recently refurbished and is very pleasant with it’s old ornamental furniture. In normal times they have live 1940s singers (you know what I mean! Not that they were alive in the 1940s. If so, Miss Marina Mae looks amazing 🤣) It was strange this year and the pubs are doing their bit for Covid, but some of the staff in the Black Swan were bordering on being rude at times. Mrs Slaw was extremely tempted to question them on their repeated use of paper menus that weren’t disposed of after each use, but the pocket rocket didn’t launch. Slaw was very pleased! The menu is currently limited but had choices including curry, pizzas, ham and eggs, pasta etc. A nice touch was the Kerala curry available either as chicken or fish. Slaw enjoyed a rather fine Porter from their own brewery Breworks and the gents urinals are certainly a talking point!

Black Swan urinals

There are also lots of cafes in Pickering. A favourite of the Slaw’s is Feast on the High Street. Dog friendly with local artwork for sale adorning the walls. There’s a very light and airy room as you walk in. Up the stairs, interestingly through the serving point, there is a cosy alternative seating area. The breakfasts are very good. Slaw had the full breakfast, served with quality sausages (always a bonus!) Mrs Slaw had the eggs benedict with ham and extra side of black pudding. An excellent choice, just rather too much ham for her personal preference. It is reassuring to be served by staff who have worked there for years and operate a slick service.

Even though the Wartime event had been cancelled, a lot of shops had quite obviously prepared for an influx of 1940s loving tourists with their themed window displays and strategically placed items to catch your eye. Bargains were had! Mrs K purchased a delightful vintage handbag and Mrs Slaw a CD of 1940s music. There were a handful of reenactors parading in their vintage clothing. The ladies resplendent in dress coats, corsages and stunning hats. The gents in uniform or gabardine and trilby. A small vintage vehicle parade gave a tempting glimpse into past year’s parades and hopefully parades to come in the future.

Willys Jeep
The Beast!

Once the parade was over, the Slaw’s decided to explore the Pickering they haven’t seen before. A steady walk past the railway station up to Pickering Castle was first on the itinerary. Mrs Slaw was riding bareback; no colour coordinated folder😳 It’s an easy walk around the ramparts of the Norman castle. It harks back to William the Conqueror and survived the Wars of the Roses and the Civil War. No chance of exploring the interior though as Mrs Slaw hadn’t pre-booked online tickets 🤦🏻‍♀️. A bit of a missed opportunity for English Heritage. No one was in the grounds. Four people were willing to pay and have a look round, but no pre-booking = no entry.

Pickering Castle

As no entry was allowed at the castle, the next activity was the Quaker Meeting House open garden. A delightful oasis of peace and calm. Perfectly manicured lawns edged with beautiful floral displays. Hung from the trees were thought provoking cards. Miss Gorgeous took time to sit and contemplate and Mrs Slaw found it hard to tear herself away. But the pub was calling Slaw!

Quaker Meeting House

The White Swan is bitter sweet for the Slaw’s. The pub is lovely, with cosy seating areas, fine ales and good food, but they loathe putting money in its coffers. A few years ago the pub started to rent out a cottage in the village. The Slaw’s and Miss Gorgeous rented this for a week for the Railway in wartime weekend for £750. It was perfectly placed, period style and decor. Just perfect! They tried to book it for the year after; the price had doubled to £1500 🤬. Needless to say, it wasn’t re-booked!

The White Swan

After a steadier night than Friday night 😉, Sunday dawned bright and fine. Today was the day for the steam train ride from Pickering to Whitby. The Optimist Service runs twice daily and gives nearly three hours in Whitby. Slaw entertained the private compartments in carriage A with 1940s music. Backpacks and vintage cases were emptied of beer, gin and whisky and Mrs K had a word with Mr K who was enjoying himself rather too much! The Slaw’s, Miss Gorgeous and Ms TT enjoyed lunch in the Abbey Wharf after walking through Sandgate. Mrs Slaw spent the rest of the day singing The Keel Row! Slaw chose fish and chips and Mrs Slaw the mussels. Oh no! Was this to be a repeat of mussel-gate in Banavie? Thank goodness, no! Mrs Slaw was very pleased with her mussels. Served in a white wine, cream and garlic sauce, just as she likes them. A receptacle was provided for the shells, but alas no finger bowl. Mrs Slaw is now resigned to the fact that she cannot find a perfect mussel meal. She sighed deeply and asked for a finger bowl. The young waiter stifled a snigger, looked at Mrs Slaw like she was an alien, but returned with the requested bowl. All too soon it was time for the train back. Mr Perky had re-stocked with beer and a joyous time was had on the return journey! Until next time dear friends.

Pickering station in the steam