Standing high on the clifftop at Whitby in Yorkshire, overlooking the ocean and across the harbour to the ruins of the old Benedictine abbey, is this statue of Captain James Cook. It has a plaque commissioned by Australia and New Zealand to commemorate the bicentenary of his first voyage which reads...
This plaque is to commemorate the men who built
The Whitby Ships
'ENDEAVOUR','RESOLUTION',ADVENTURE',DISCOVERY' used by
Capt.James Cook, R.N.,F.R.S.
the men who sailed with him
on the greatest voyages of exploration of all time
1768-1771 1772 - 1775 1776 - 1778
It is the perfect place for this New Zealander to return and begin her travels through the counties of England but only one of the reasons why I want to start here.
A little further south is Bridlington, another seaside town...
It was here, in 1911, that my father was born. For generations his family were Yorkshire farmers but he was not destined to grow up a Yorkshireman. Six months later the family emigrated to New Zealand.
My brother now lives in Helmsley and we have visited and I'm familiar with much of the East and North Ridings and had the pleasure of walking on the same ground as my forebears. Yorkshire is a beautiful county with wonderfully friendly people ( I forgive them for thinking I'm an Aussie) and I feel my connections very strongly.
So what to read? I spent considerable time thinking on this question but it always came back to the same place. For me, Yorkshire belongs to the Brontes. The only two I haven't read are Agnes Grey and Shirley and glancing through the former I felt it wasn't going to have the history or the landscape descriptions I want in the books I read for this challenge.
So Shirley by Charlotte Bronte is my choice.
" If you think, from this prelude, that anything like a romance is preparing for you, reader, you were never more mistaken. Do you anticipate sentiment, and poetry and reverie? Do you expect passion, and stimulus, and melodrama? Calm your expectations, reduce them to a lowly standard. Something real, cool and solid lies before you; something unromantic as Monday morning, when all who have work wake with the consciousness that they must rise and betake themselves thereto.............it shall be cold lentils and vinegar without oil; it shall be unleavened bread with bitter herbs, and no roast lamb."
Not Jane Eyre, obviously, but something else which I think I might prefer.