Carolyn Hodgson is a former TV and radio presenter and newsreader. She started her career over 20 years ago at BBC Radio York, before moving to ITV Yorkshire where she was a fashion and entertainment correspondent and news reader. Carolyn currently lives in York with her husband and two teenage children, but hopes to retire to Scarborough in the not too distant future.
There is no contest when it comes to choosing my favourite thing to do in Scarborough. Sitting out at our beach chalet on the South Bay, cup of tea in hand, and feasting my eyes on the incredible view. Heaven!
Summer or winter, tide in or out, I just can’t take my eyes off that perfect little bit of coastline, topped off with the castle high up on the hill. Enjoying the peace until ... that moment when I realise our dog Winston has wandered down to the Clock Tower Cafe for the umpteenth time, and is begging for scraps from the customers.
To be honest, if the weather is kind I really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. The view sparks memories of my childhood, when I used to be a member of Plaxton’s Long Distance Swimming Club. I still can’t believe I swam around the Castle Foot at the age of nine. Thank goodness for puppy fat and goose grease!
Scalby will always be home to me, no matter where I live. It’s pretty as a picture, and I just love everything about it.
Like the Yew Tree Cafe, where I used to indulge in a hot chocolate with my hard earned pocket money (don’t believe a word, I was spoilt to death!). The tennis courts which remind me of my school days when most evenings in the summer were spent perfecting my volleys and double-handed backhand. You wouldn’t believe how rubbish I am now, what happened to all those hours of practice?
And of course, the people. It feels like everyone knows everyone in Scalby, and they pretty much do. I wouldn’t even dare leave my parents’ house without make-up on. If I see anyone at all either I’ll know them or they’ll know me!
I was crowned Miss Scarborough in 1986. When I tell people now, it always raises a smirk. Ha, ha...I laugh too. Beauty competitions may have had their day, but back then my title meant that every weekend I was opening fetes, hosting events or making speeches. So it was those beauty queen duties that gave me the perfect training to going on to work in radio and TV. Being constantly photographed also helped me perfect my irritating grin. My lovely children both say I’ve got a face that they want to smack. Thanks kids!
The Miss Scarborough title gave me automatic entry into the Miss UK Competition. As a newly turned, very innocent, 17 year old I felt I had made the big time. Although my excitement for the big day soon turned to horror, when I was hit in the nose playing hockey at Scarborough Sixth Form. My nose was broken and gushing blood, my eyes were swollen and my cheeks were bruised. OMG! I had surgery less than a week before the big event and each night I had to wear a plaster cast on my face to prevent my nose popping out of place if I had any violent dreams. My roomie, Miss Scotland, used to howl with laughter at the absurdity!
I had Scarborough Evening News photographers taking pictures of me in all my
favourite seaside locations, on the North Bay, the South Bay, in the sea, next to the sea, oh ... and wearing a swimsuit during a snowy spell in the height of winter. Glamorous life? Think again.
I have to mention Peasholm Park too, especially the legendary “Tree Walk”. It used to be a winter highlight. Crossing the bridge, and stepping on to the island all lit up and sparkling in the darkness has treasured memories. The Flea Circus was my favourite exhibit. I genuinely thought there were fleas jumping up and down behind the glass, and I used to be mesmerised.
Simple things, from a bygone age, that just wouldn’t stand the test of time today.
When I worked for ITV’s regional news programme, Calendar, I used to persuade my producer Ned to film in Scarborough at every opportunity. He didn’t take much persuading, so at least once a month we would head to the east coast from our studios in Leeds.
It goes without saying we filmed at Peasholm Park ... the Naval Warfare, the
concerts, and of course my attempts at rowing on the boating lake. Rowing is so much harder than it looks, at least it was for me.
My TV producer always liked a bit of drama so I would invariably end up getting wet during filming days in my favourite town. Funny how whenever the cameras were rolling there was always someone around who splashed me, or pushed or tripped me into whatever water was handy. He wasn’t fussed whether it was the Mere, the chilly North Sea, Peasholm lake, or just happening to put me in range of the Water Splash.
Happy days, great memories. That’s why I’ll always love Scarborough.