Favourite Things: Paul Spencer
Paul is a local writer and sometime actor who has written stage plays for Beach Hut Theatre and Bananadrama, and presents a weekly radio talk show for Coast & County Radio. He also plays keyboard for reggae act the Sofajunkies and fronts acoustic band Lost Hours.
Choosing favourites is often a tough call – particularly in a town like Scarborough, where there really is an
embarrassment of riches. Contemplating this for the article, I found myself taking a bit of a mental stroll through the town.
Starting in the restful gardens of the Royal Albert Park in the North Bay, I often head up to the heights of the Castle headland. Visible for miles around, the craggy keep is such a vital, signature part of Scarborough – reproduced in postcards, paintings, even the medieval seal of the Borough. I enjoy watching its change of moods – whether blanketed by mist, or bathed in sunlight.
Up in the castle grounds, I always feel restored by the brittle wind rolling in off the North Sea, and the panoramic views of both coastal bays.
The castle is also a great place for families, with its Master Gunner’s House serving refreshments as well as providing museum displays. Its tale of a Bronze Age broadsword pulled from the grounds reminds you that the town has its own sense of rich history.
I’ve always enjoyed walking through Scarborough’s Old Town, which lies beneath the keep’s protective gaze. There’s a further sense of history in the maze of narrow streets and Victorian architecture. If you listen hard enough, perhaps you can hear the clatter of horse and cart upon the cobblestones! There are so many hints of a larger history to be told – the weather-worn ‘Butter Cross’ on Princess Street; the centuries-old Three Mariners Inn; a glimpse of the Bolts – back alleys running alongside the rear of the buildings on Sandside, said to represent ancient walkways.
As a writer, I’ve always found the Old Town inspirational, particularly when it comes to a good ghost story! It’s also a little more peaceful than the excitement of the South Bay, only a few footfalls away.
There are two coastal cafes I enjoy stopping by. One is Harbour Bar on Sandside, with its ’50s American Diner style décor – always good
for warming, milky coffee if the wind is a little icy – and if the summer heat is up, perhaps one of those
award-winning ice-creams wouldn’t go amiss.
The other is the Clock Café near the Spa, another
historic site with a superb view of the unfolding sea.
Scarborough has a thriving artistic community. The elegant Woodend on The Crescent, one-time home of the Sitwell family of poets and writers, and the Stephen Joseph Theatre, with its
wonderful theatre in
the round, are two places that continue to offer a steady flow of great artistic and musical events.
It’s been really exciting to see plays I’ve written performed in these great spaces, and meet so many talented fellow writers, artists, musicians and actors who love their craft. There is an absolute wealth of talent in the town, and I’m confident Scarborough will continue to be our muse!
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