‘People used to come for weeks now they only come for days’

This is said to me as a matter of fact. There is no sense of remorse. There may be a tinge of yearning for a bygone era but perhaps I’m projecting this on to her. My conversational partner retired from the hotel industry 20 years ago. She said it was changing even then but that change is accepted. Change had been a big part of her life.

I am in Scarborough. I am sitting in the very stereotype of a seaside hotel. There is copious amounts of white linen, lovely if slightly overcast views from large bay windows and young men in waistcoats serving tea. I am having my lunch, steamed vegetables, a lot of gravy and brisket.  It reminds me of my gran. Specifically, having lunch with her at the ex-servicemen’s club, with my mum and aunt. A lot of this trip reminds me of my Gran actually. I’m visiting a group run by Age UK and another support group for carers and those with Alzheimer’s. As you can imagine there is a lot of fantastic stories and reminiscing. But this isn’t the only reason my Gran springs to mind.

One of my Gran’s annual highlights was her holiday to a Seaside town. Blackpool and Scarborough were two of her favourites. She loved them dearly. I had never visited and to be honest, my Gran’s glowing recommendations didn’t endear them to me. My Gran was one of those grans who always seemed old. Sprightly and full of energy but always of a good gran-like vintage. It is only looking back now I realise she aged just like the rest of us. Nevertheless, the generational difference meant my Gran’s top weekend breaks never registered as must see destinations. I was wrong.

Scarborough is one of the most dramatic looking towns I have ever been to. I am now standing beside the Grand Hotel, it towers above me and looks like everything a grand hotel should. I look out to sea and before me is a sheer drop cliff face down to a seaside harbour, complete with beach and promenade. The cliff face is torn in two with a deep split that is traversed by a spindly and adventurous looking bridge. Above all this stands Scarborough castle, defiant in its age, looking both kingly and battle scarred. I want to describe it as a forgotten gem, but that would be wrong. It is not forgotten, others remember it fondly, I just never took the time to discover it. I feel very lucky to be able to take that time now.

Tortoise in a Nutshell are working in partnership with Scarborough Museums Trust to make a pop-up exhibition. The construction will celebrate the rich history and future of Scarborough. It is a temporary exhibit which takes the concept of a museum for Scarborough and places it right into the heart of the community. By travelling to gym halls, community centres and any other room that might take it, this interactive display will look to excite and ignite the imagination of all the participants who might engage with it. In the coming weeks we will be working with the Scarborough community to identify facts, characters and stories that be contained in the pop-up museum. This means a lot of hands on research and really getting to know this amazing town and its inhabitants, we’re really looking forward to it.