Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Article excerpt

When towns are on the up, there is a brief period when they inhabit what I would call the Goldilocks Zone. Stuff has changed for the better and there are suddenly very agreeable things to do, places to eat etc, but the area has not yet been comprehensively and irredeemably arseholified by arseholes. There is still a retention of the old: it hasn't all been expunged. For Notting Hill, I guess that would be the early 1970s -- after the race riots and before Cameron et al moved in. For lovely Saltburn-by-the-Sea, 12 miles from Middlesbrough, it may be just about now. Or perhaps it is already drifting beyond the pale. For recently we have welcomed micropubs, expensive restaurants, organic delis and indy greengrocers selling okra and galangal, shabby chic cocktail bars, a food festival. It was listed in the Sunday Times as one of the best towns to live in the UK. And I overheard two young men talking at the top of my street, looking balefully down the two rows of parked cars. 'Four, five, six bloody Minis. This is becoming a town full of' -- he spat the word -- 'twats.'

It is still exquisite. From towering Huntcliff (541 feet), the start of the highest cliffs on the east of Britain, stretches ten miles of pristine, sandy beaches scoured by oystercatchers and sandpipers. The second best surfing beach in the country according to one report, and never crowded even in high summer. There is more space up here in the northeast. Better fish and chips than you would find in Cornwall, too, at the imaginatively named Seaview. …

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