I was fortunate a few weekends ago to spend a couple of days in a friend’s flat on the Esplanade in Scarborough which overlooks the South Bay, just above Scarborough Spa. Unfortunately, it happened to coincide with the weekend that Storm Babet decided to visit too.

The reason for my trip was to go and see a long-awaited concert at the Spa. My friend and I had planned a gentle afternoon walk on the beach followed by fish and chips overlooking the ocean view before heading to the show.

Well, very grumpy Babet had other ideas, didn’t she, descending on the town and causing absolute mayhem wherever she went. She whipped the sea into a boiling frenzy, sending huge waves crashing over the wall in front of the Spa, battering the building and flooding the car park. The concert was cancelled.

Obviously, we also abandoned the beach walk, but were determined to have our fish and chips. We headed out, opting to take the car as the shop was a fair bit away, and by then, Babet was at the peak of her incandescent rage. Away from the sea front, we were protected somewhat by the buildings, but as we turned the corner back on to the Esplanade, Babet powered up her giant wind machine and pointed it right at us. We had to park quite a way from the flat, and it was a battle to stay upright when we got out of the car. I hung on to my friend for dear life for fear of literally being swept off my feet. I don’t think I have ever felt wind like it, and the deafening roar of the sea just below us made any kind of conversation impossible. Once we’d battled our way back inside, we felt like we’d just survived a polar expedition. It meant we enjoyed our fish and chips even more from the safety of our warm and cosy cocoon as we listened to furious Babet battering the windows and brawling along the sea front.

By the next morning, Babet had grown bored with Scarborough and moved on, but had left plenty of evidence of her displeasure, with dozens of broken branches littering paths and a trail of sandy scum along the seafront roads. She’d even tossed a van onto its side on Marine Drive. I was glad to see the back of her.

I took a walk around the Spa gardens, determined to get some sea air into my lungs and grateful that the wind and rain had subsided. What struck me most on my ramble was just how many memorial benches there are. It is understandable that this stirring view out to the North Sea is a favourite for many, as it is undeniably beautiful, and seeing the rows and rows of benches, each with their own little memorial plaque and moving personal dedication to whomever had passed away, made me feel just a wee bit sad for those left behind. But when we lose a loved one, we all appreciate a special place go to remember them, and a bench is a fitting way to do it, especially when it is placed in a favourite spot.

My dad was not a big fan of such benches though because, although he acknowledged it was a lovely idea, he declared that it might not occur to people that the bench would need to be maintained and kept sound, especially if it is in a popular public place. Who would repaint it when needed and who would pay for its ongoing maintenance in the years to come? He had seen too many neglected benches that had fallen into disrepair and gone rotten.

Scarborough Borough Council, however, have already solved that problem, and have a system in place where you can order a bench with a plaque which they will install, and part of the cost goes towards future maintenance. No doubt they receive so many requests that establishing a formal system was inevitable.

Another favourite spot for memorial benches is undoubtedly Sutton Bank near Thirsk, arguably one of the finest views in England. It is one of my all-time favourite places, as it was for my late sister, Tricia, who requested that some of her ashes be scattered there.

We haven’t gone as far as buying her a bench though. I’m not sure Dad would have approved.

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