Rob Atkinson: Nowt like a good gawp, home or away

Sunrise at Filey Brigg. Picture Tony Johnson.Sunrise at Filey Brigg. Picture Tony Johnson.
Sunrise at Filey Brigg. Picture Tony Johnson.
We're off to that there America for a few days shortly and, even though we've never been before, I get the feeling it'll all seem strangely familiar when we get there.

The way I imagine it, I’m expecting to feel as though we’ve stepped inside the telly box, transporting us into a world of yellow cabs, skyscrapers and lavish hot dogs, yeah, with everything, bud. That’s how our first stop New York has always struck me - from a small screen perspective, at least.

I’m looking forward to it, naturally – but our options will be limited by constraints of time, baggage allowances and what we may politely describe as budgetary considerations. In other words, we won’t be there very long, we won’t be able to carry much back home with us, and we can’t afford to buy their overpriced souvenirs anyway.

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So it looks like we’ll be falling back on the oldest and cheapest option of all – a good gawp. It’s something we Yorkshire folk have always been very good at – mainly, I suspect, because it’s usually free.

Wherever you go around Yorkshire’s many points of interest, you’ll see the locals showing incomers how to appreciate the experience on t’cheap. Luckily, God’s Own County isn’t short of a sight or two well deserving to be gawped at.

Whether it’s a ruined abbey, a spectacular coastal view or the bleak splendour of the moors, the gawping material around the Broad Acres is plentiful.

Head for the east coast on any decent weather day, and you’ll see row upon row of happy folk, ensconced in deckchairs on the beach or, with the more active types, strolling along the prom. They’ll all be utterly content, gazing happily out to sea, enjoying a right good gawp.

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I’ve done my share over the years, partaking in these visual feasts. It started out for me in Filey, where I can never seem to get enough of the rugged grandeur that is the Brigg.

I’ll sit there for hours these days, taking root in Crescent Gardens and admiring the ancient lines of that rocky promontory, marvelling at its eons-long struggle against the might of the North Sea.

As gawpworthy sights go, you’d have to travel a fair distance to rival the Brigg – but there’s a certain rocky little island off the south coast of France that has also commanded hours of my attention over the years since I first saw it back in 1977.

Views like these are funny things. You know you don’t own them, and you can’t take them home. But you somehow absorb your favourite sights, just by staring and drinking in all that visual nectar.

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I’m expecting to do a lot of gawping in the States. Some of it may give me neck-ache; high-rise Manhattan, for instance. Many spectacles will make my eyes as round as saucers and possibly my mouth agape in wonder.

I might even be heard to murmur “By, that’s grand” at some iconic marvel like the Golden Gate Bridge or the Empire State building.

It’ll all be new to me and I’ll be childishly excited at the novelty of it. It’s going to be a busy, hectic trip - but I’m ready to make the most of it.

I know as well that I’ll have to lumber a good distance around the Big Apple alone, let alone Vegas and San Francisco, to see all that I want to.

So my feet will just have to pay that painful price, while my eyes selfishly enjoy a proper good gawp. For nowt.