Posts Tagged ‘whitby’

Time was, my baby didn’t sleep. Not just the odd night waking here and there: he was awake, and bawling, every two hours. All night. Every night. For twelve months.

When I asked advice from the health visitor, she suggested ‘sleeping when he sleeps’. Silly cow, I thought, he doesn’t bloody sleep. Not even during the day. Tiredness made me grumpy (and blunt about it too): I suspect I may have muttered as much – whatever I did or didn’t say, the woman scuttled out of the house quick sharp and I haven’t seen her since.

I am reminded of this as we descend into Robin Hood’s Bay. It’s fabulously spooky: mist rolls in across the muddy beach, crawling up narrow lanes that twist and hug the cliff. Figures loom in and out of view; fleeting glimpses of people I half hope are the spectral remains of the smugglers who once claimed this part of the North Yorkshire coast as their own.

The steep slopes and rocks of this place would have rendered the buggy useless, so we left it behind. But Milo decided he absolutely completely had to fall asleep on the bus on the way over and he’s now a dead weight in my arms.

‘He looks heavy,’ says my Dad a little too cheerfully.

I scowl and shift the sleeping boy to ease the burning sensation that spreads through my arms. It starts to rain. Cute little pitter-patters fall first, an advance army that signals the rapid advancement of big, heavy drops. Proper rain.

‘We need to get inside!’

Dad has disappeared. He does this a lot; Mum and I can never work out why, when we go out as a group, he always strays off somewhere. We spend many hours waiting for him in the place we last saw him and calling him on a mobile he never answers. For his part, Dad spends many hours bemused by his wife and daughter’s inexplicable annoyance.

‘Dad! We need to get inside!’ I shout but it’s only Mum who answers.

She points to a café. We duck through a door and find a tiny room cantilevered over a stream, its windows streaming. Damp families and discarded cagoules are squashed up inside in gently steaming heaps.

Mum spots an empty table in the corner. I lay Milo on the bench: he flicks his head about and I think he’s about to wake up but he settles back into his dream. Mum and I look around forlornly: with Milo on the bench there’s nowhere else to sit.

Just then, Dad pitches up, carrying three tiny stools, and we’re forced to perch uncomfortably around the narrow end of the table.

‘He won’t sleep like that for long,’ I say confidently. ‘It can’t be comfy, can it?’

Six coffees, three slices of cake and two hours later, Milo wakes up. The rain has stopped and all the families we’d sheltered with are long gone. The waitresses look uneasy: I think they’re worried we’re about to claim squatter’s rights. Milo opens his eyes, yawns and before he has time to open his mouth we’re out of the café, Dad haring off down the hill like a prisoner on day release, Mum and me cracking our knees and stretching our arms.

‘Did you have a lovely sleep, Milo?’ asks Mum.

‘No,’ says he firmly. He shakes his candyfloss hair for added emphasis.

Mum and I look at each other and roll our eyes. There’s nowt so contrary as children.


Ratings. Babychanging facilities: No. Cafe: Yes. Buggy-friendly? No. Cost: £1.30 for a coffee and the cake comes big and cheap. Worth it? Yes. Apart from a fantastic, crab-full beach (mud not sand), the Old Coastguard Station has kid-friendly displays including a tank stuffed with shore crabs, sea scorpion, eel pouts and common prawn (free entry).


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‘Oh my god, he’s got sand in his eye.’

‘No, darling, please don’t do that, you’ll just rub it in.’

‘I don’t know what to do. What should I do? Would a tissue help?’

‘He’s rubbing it in. And now it’s stuck to the sun-cream.’

‘Milo, darling, just hold still while I wash it off. STOP rubbing it in!’

Babies and holidays: they don’t always mix. In fact, two unsuccessful trips away from home last year almost put me off for life. In the Lakes, on our wedding night, Milo was teething. He woke up and screamed every two hours all night until, at 5am, I peeled him off my chest and handed him to his father, sobbing, ‘please, just take him away.’ (I do like a bit of drama.)

In the Yorkshire Dales, in the middle of a heatwave and in a house so warmed by its Aga that I was sweating milk, Milo went through a ‘sleep regression’. Uncannily similar to teething, this regression meant he woke every two hours every night for the entire time he was away. And then pretty much kept it up when we got home.

For twelve months.

So it was with some reluctance that, this year, we thought we’d try again. Milo has got to an age where he understands that when I say, in the dead of night, ‘Milo, you’re not hungry, you’re not thirsty, you’re not ill and you’re really not playing with your cars. Now go to bloody sleep’, he knows roughly what I mean. He does: I remember now what eight hours’ sleep feels like.

So we tried an overnight stay to my Mum’s. It wasn’t unbearable. We braved a long weekend in Edinburgh. It was pretty manageable. And then we packed up for a holiday with the grandparents in Whitby. Seven days. Seven nights.

When we got back, I read a feature about why you should never, ever take your kids on holiday. It warned against taking toddlers onto the beach. It mentioned bored kids in hot cars. But it never said a word about not sleeping.

And you know what? There was no need. We’ve finally cracked it. Milo slept like the scruffy little (soggy, mucky) angel he is.

And, aside from the sand in his eye (and an incident involving a dog, a ball and a bloody great pair of teeth bursting Milo’s most beloved of toys), we had the best of times. So I think our travels may only just have begun – it all starts here.


Ratings. Babychanging facilities: No. Cafe: Yes. Buggy-friendly? No. Cost: Free. Beach huts can be hired for around £8 per day; wind breaks £3, deckchairs £2. Worth it? Yes, a beautiful, safe and sandy beach that’s close to town but far enough away for a bit of peace and quiet. Can be a bit windy and, of course, there’s no accounting for the British weather.

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