We keep a visitors' book, and ask our friends to write a note in it when they come to stay. This is from Lucy, included with her permission because it's honest and a little bit of town history:
"...We came up to see E and Steve and stay with them for the first time, but we also came to take a little peek into my ancestory. My Gran grew up in the Station Hotel where we had a beverage or two [on Saturday night] and my dad spent his early years growing up on North Parade, a terraced street that my great grandad built. Being proud of my family I was probably biased in my opinion of Whitley Bay, which I feel is a beautiful seaside town in need of sympathetic regeneration to bring it back to the busy resort I visited as a child..."
E and I are incomers. Another twenty years and we still won't be local. But we already feel a similar mix of pride and sadness when we show the town off.
It's fading on our watch. But the true value of it all is the community held by and holding the town, and Lucy and Pat reminded us of that at the weekend, both by their enthusiasm for the history, and by their company. Thank you, both of you. It's been great to get to know you better. And to learn the rules of meshi-mishi (sp?). Rematch!