Guisborough; this old North Yorkshire town with its cobbled streets and tall trees is a delightful place on market day – unless it rains. Water trickling down the canopies and on to our heads send Colin and I scuttling into a café. It’s warm, steamy and busy inside. Peeling off our macs we slide into a corner snug. A family of four dive into the snug opposite. I run my fingers through my wet hair which hangs like a mop after tackling the kitchen floor. After tea and toasties, Colin opens a soggy newspaper and engrosses himself in the football page. That’s when I notice the picture on the menu. I draw the waitress’s attention to it.
‘Ah! The Priory ruins,’ she says.
‘Worth a visit?’
‘Definitely!’ Her mouth quivers at the corners. ‘Legend has it that a large black raven stands guard over a chest of gold in one of the underground passages.’
An unexpected silence descends on the family snug.
She lowers her voice. ‘Legend also has it that a visitor ventured down the passage one day, came upon the raven and discovered …’ she hesitates, ‘…discovered it was no less than the devil himself.’
Sharp intakes of breath come from the family snug followed by a whispered, ‘Can we go, dad? Can we go to the Priory?’
As the waitress leaves I turn to Colin still absorbed in the football page. ‘Were you listening to that?’
He looks up. ‘Not really.’
‘Would you rather watch the football on TV or go in search of gold at the Priory?’
He glances out of the window to where a watery sun is drying out the cobbled square. ‘I’ve no idea what you’re talking about but as I’m not interested in the local team I guess it’s a trip to the Priory?’
There’s an ominous silence from the family snug as we rise to our feet. Colin catches the father’s eye and nods in his usual friendly manner then backs off sharply at the scowl.
‘Thanks a lot mate,’ the father snaps. ‘You’ve just put paid to my football this afternoon.’
I drag a rather bewildered husband out of the café.