A dazed-looking figure walks around the car park wearing full motorcycling gear, including a black helmet to match with its tinted visor down. I'm expecting this sexless figure to pull out a shotgun or brandish a cat o'nine tails but instead an initially intimidating look becomes comical. As the biker turns, we notice a furry koala rucksack worn over both shoulders and can't help but giggle.
We've spent the last two days constantly amused by the memorable characters Filey harbours. I've been curious to visit Filey for years since my first teaching job when I discovered many of the kids holidayed there. Don't get me wrong - I had no desire to spy on my pupils or share a vacation spot with them but was instead inquisitive, wanting to know why Filey seemed to appeal to so many.
When in the area late last year, The Boy and I did a little drive through and got very little feel for the place, left with no desire to return. Months later, I'm slightly embarrassed when I tell an old teaching chum about my first impressions and she immediately tells me she owns a caravan in Filey. Pleased to be invited for a weekend away, I'm keen to keep an open-mind and lured in by the promise of a girls' road trip.
I'm already impressed with how luxurious and spacious the caravan is and walking from the campsite in Gristhorpe to the centre of Filey, we're blessed with sunshine. Once in Filey, we decide to go for a drink and my host says she knows of a nice pub not meaning to be ironic in the slightest. We end up at Foords Hotel and decide to only stay for a half.
At Foords we're greeted by an old toothless drunken man wearing a cap backwards who's drinking with a dishevelled looking gent with a shoe lift. Inside they're friendly and seem to view us as somewhat of an attraction, unable to take their eyes of us or the dog we've brought along. On the way out we pass the outside toilet hut and are invited for a drink at one of the regular's houses.
In The Bull Inn back in the safety of Gristhorpe, we order food and are soon joined by another exceedingly drunken young man who is waving an enormous wad of money about. Having recently moved down from Manchester, he claims it is protection money and is determined to buy us drinks. Four drinks later and although 32, his dad has been alerted. He's whisked away with his £250 almost in tact and we learn about his daily routines.
The next day before leaving, we see a monkey tree with soft toy monkeys dangling from its branches and make a final trip to the local. Under threat of closure, The Bull Inn needs all the help it can get. My Catholic friend has agreed to bless the pub. As she makes the sign of the cross and sprinkles the lucky holy water her mother gave her over a shamrock, we watch with the slightly bemused bar man and optimistic owners. I hope the The Bull Inn's still there when I come back to Filey to make more friends.