#10: Hornsea, where else? (with a verse to finish)

I often come back to Hornsea. A quiet seaside town in East Yorkshire, which sits just a few miles north west of my hometown, Beverley. Beverley itself is sleepy - but larger and more populous than the other surrounding towns and villages that are dotted in between Hull, the wider Holderness coastal region and the Wolds in the north.

Growing up in a picturesque, safe and serene inland market town provided much in the way of a first-rate education, sporting clubs and a slosh of underage drinking in ale-swilling tap rooms. There was even the risk of a brush with the authorities from time to time too. But what of the romantic pull of the sea? If romance presented itself to you in any form, thoughts of the coast often followed when the predictability of cutesy, cobbled high streets and church steeples became somewhat suffocating.

As the crow flies, Hornsea isn't the closest opportunity for considering water for a Beverley resident - but the clogged arterial A-roads that lead to and from the Humber Estuary, as well as the sight of the bile-coloured current of that mighty body of slurry, are not a huge draw when trying to ignite a spark of young courtship. What to do, then?

Having migrated south many years ago now, I have faith that despite the advent of a reliance on technology for social interaction, teenagers and young adults from Beverley still make the same short pilgrimage, often in their first cars, through duck-ponded villages and a stumpy hill or two along the A1035 to...


I clenched at a handful of stems that summer,

in the shadow of a decommissioned

water tower. An indistinct flurry of

violets and lemons - type unknown.

We had scurried to the chalk-coast,

hurried there by boredom, one Yorkshire afternoon.

Chased the light in an unfair race to the

shore; parked beside the panorama fen of a crop field.

Hornsea: that comatose seaside town, crumbling.

Ammonites uncoiled in rock, along county cliff tops.

A stone’s throw inland stand lost teddy pickers, no tourists -

but we craved trays of chips,

vinegar fizz - the chance of sea.

Closed down prom, pulled down blinds,

wind-smacked hotel signs; yet there’s still something here -

left unsaid and behind. Days with hope of romance,

kids with nowhere else to go, but scope to

skim stones, wet tiptoes, a salty teenage kiss.

Our ancestry speaks of peat bogs. They came

to Holderness and found: marshland, heather, further bogs.

But we’re just north of that now, grappling with the

same sense of belonging that our forefathers must’ve felt.

This county has seen shoddy wool and mungo

turned cloth, warp and weft, lamb become mutton.

But still, you, came to me all silk.

We conjured up something there and let it bloom -

pulled it out of nowhere, as countless generations

from our town have had to do before, in Hornsea.

Back at the field’s edge and you said

that you had snatched at these same petals

with your grandmother, as a child.

So, I bent down to grab a bundle, eased them from the ground,

and drove us home.

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