What a good day. Jan had bought me tickets, for my birthday, to see Reginald D Hunter and his nearest performance was in Middlesbrough.
A bit of a hike but no big deal.
This was also going to be a trip down memory lane for Jan because as a very young child she had spent holidays in the leafy suburbs of Middlesbrough (and for those that have never been there, that's a joke!) and the nearby coast.
In order to make the most of the trip we headed over the North Yorkshire Moors to Whitby. Whitby, apart from being a beautiful little seaside town, has, for me, the unique distinction of being the only place I have ever found Tiger Nuts, a regular schoolboy snack when I was young, but I digress.
It was going to be a perfect, sunny ride in the countryside. Excellent. As we were going to be in Whitby around lunch time, we headed for The Magpie Café down by the harbour. Fresh fish doesn't get fresher! Fish and chips for Sunday lunch hasn't been part of our normal behaviour but as this restaurant has a very good reputation we had to give it a go (I think we'd eaten there before but whether it was a dream or we'd actually done it I couldn't remember). Anyway this was a good opportunity to measure it up against our own favourite fish and chip shop in Wetherby. Jan, who thinks that she is a tad posher than me, wouldn't just buy and eat the fish and chips from the takeaway so we had to sit and eat in the resto. After the mandatory queue (about twenty minutes) we got seated. We both agreed the fish and chips were good but The Wetherby Whaler, which is only a short ride from Ripon, had the edge and also had the added bonus of shaving a couple of hours off the journey.
As we ambled back from the resto to where we'd parked the car we passed a small boat offering quick trips out to sea. Me, I'm not a good sailor but Jan quickly agreed to my offer so matelots we became for the next 30 minutes.
After our seafaring adventure (I know how to show a girl a good time), we headed (by car) up the coast through Saltburn and Redcar and after a quick trip into down town Middlesbrough we sat and read the Sunday's at the side of the town hall. Grand Touring just doesn't get better than this.
When I decided that I wanted a cup of tea I said to Jan, 'where the hell are we going to get a cup of tea at 5.30 pm on a Sunday in the middle of Middlesbrough?'
I scoffed at her when she suggested Starbucks. The Middlesbrough that I knew of old wouldn't have a Starbucks (I have subsequently checked and it does, which only goes to show how out of touch I've become).
Having put on our stab vests and helmets, we set off on foot to find a cup of tea and there it was, The Central Bar just minutes from where we were parked. Jan, who is a bit posh (have I mentioned that before?), wasn't sure. I thought the bouncers looked friendly enough and as I wasn't in the mood to risk life and limb walking through the middle of Middlesbrough any more, in we went. What a good idea.
I asked the very attractive bar maid if they sold tea or coffee. She looked at me as if I'd just landed from Mars. We don't get asked for that very often she said in her near unintelligible lilt but sit yourselves down over there and I'll go make it for you pet. Northern hospitality at its best.
As I slowly acclimatised to the overpowering, pulsating beat of the music I realised that the end of the League Cup Final was playing on all the tv screens around the bar. It was the gods offering me a little reward for being such a good bloke. The fact that the match went to extra time was even better and filled the time beautifully until it became time to set off to see the show.
Reg Hunter was interesting and funny after you had acclimatised to his deep south Georgia drawl but a show not for anyone of a squeamish disposition.