Saltburn to Scarborough Coast


Saltburn to Scarborough

The team journey to Saltburn, a resort founded by the Victorian entrepreneur Henry Pease. His vision was to create a 'heavenly city above the cliffs'.


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Transcript


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There's an energy to this coast that's infectious.

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A bracing sense that people here

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know how to grasp opportunities and turn them to their advantage.

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Nowhere embodies this more than Saltburn.

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I like this place.

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It feels washed clean every day by the wind and the sea.

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But the fact that it's here, is literally down to one man's vision.

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Like many Victorian industrialists,

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Henry Pease had a strong religious sense.

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After seeing an apparition of a heavenly city above the cliffs,

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Pease built this coastal spa town from scratch.

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His Saltburn Improvement Company had the noble aim

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of restoring the jaded spirits of his work force.

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As Pease was teetotal they had no public houses,

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but they did have their very own stairway to heaven.

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Powered by nothing more potent than water.

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And to reflect the purity of his vision,

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Pease had the town clad entirely in a distinctive white brick.

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The bricks are certainly very striking.

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They were made at a factory in Durham owned, oddly enough,

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by the very same Henry Pease who set up the Saltburn Improvement Company.

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Thousands of tonnes of material were required.

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And the most efficient way to move it all was by railway.

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A railway owned and run by the Pease family.

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The whole thing was a money-spinner.

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Clearly, Pease believed that God helps those who help themselves.

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But on a day like this, Saltburn is so picture perfect,

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that you could almost buy into his dream.

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The jewel in the crown of his heavenly town

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was this magnificent hotel.

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But the grand guests have long since moved on.

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The hotel has been sold off for flats

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and it's the meek who've inherited the earth.

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And the sea view.

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I wasn't expecting this! It's like getting up onto the crow's nest

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What do you say about a view like that?

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You could talk about the coast till you're blue in the face,

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but this is all you need to see.

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And that is why the British coastline is a bit special.

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Just eight miles south of Saltburn is the tiny fishing port of Staithes.

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The beauty of this town owes nothing to man, and everything to nature.

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It was the boyhood home of the great navigator, Captain Cook.

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It's hard to understand, how he could bear to leave it.

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Small wonder then, that 100 years ago, Staithes acquired its very own artists' colony.

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They were painters who'd studied in France.

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They wanted to build the sort of bohemian artists' commune they'd seen abroad.

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Staithes seemed the perfect place.

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'The Staithes group took their art seriously.

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Like the French Impressionists, they believed in capturing

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the vibrancy of real life, by painting in the open air.

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But the French never had to cope with the Yorkshire coast.

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That's the North Sea there, that can bring in some furious weather.

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It must've made it hard for painters,

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more than enough to blow the bristles out of the stoutest brush.

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And yet the Staithes group not only survived, they thrived on wind, rain and salt spray.

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Even today, the world they captured seems almost within reach.

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But on one day of the week, painting was never tolerated.

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Whatever else they did, the artists seldom made the mistake

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of putting brush to canvas on a Sunday more than once.

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Those that tried it, learnt in these parts, the reward for such lack of respect for the Sabbath,

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was a bowl of rotting fish heads to wear for a hat.

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Whitby.

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The town lies at the heart of Yorkshire's Jurassic coast.

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A seven-mile slice of exposed sedimentary rock,

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formed when the dinosaurs around here were paddling through tropical swamps.

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Alice Roberts is on the trail of a dark legacy of the Dinosaur Age,

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which gave Whitby a Victorian claim to fame.

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This is a bit of Whitby jet, its name embodies darkness itself.

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It is jet black and it's been used to make jewellery since

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at least the Bronze Age.

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The Venerable Bede thought it kept serpents at bay

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and it became a must-have fashion accessory, when Queen Victoria

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adopted it as part of her mourning attire.

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Victoria wore Whitby jet for 30 years as a sign of her grief,

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after the death of Prince Albert.

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For her, Albert's loss was a tragedy,

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but for Whitby it signalled boom time.

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Suddenly, the town's fishermen were outnumbered by people

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carving the strange black substance into ever more elaborate shapes.

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The Victorians loved jet. They used it to make very ornate pieces of jewellery like this,

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which to the modern eye, can look a little over the top, but this was the height of fashion.

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So jet was a very valuable commodity.

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'It must have been a bit like a Yorkshire Klondike,

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'everybody wanted to get their hands on Whitby Jet.

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'So, what is it? And why do you only find it here on the coast?

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'I'm joining the Whitby jet-set, with local geologist, Will Watts.'

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These collapsed bits are the roofs of the Victorian jet works.

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Once, there'd have been a big hole in the cliff

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where they were quarrying to find jet.

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And you've got pillars on either side and the collapse in the middle.

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Right. Quite a major undertaking.

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-And unique to this part of the coastline.

-What is jet?

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It's monkey puzzle tree.

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Lumps of the tree that floated out to sea and then sank,

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and were buried at the bottom of the sea and come back as jet.

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'Now, there are only a few monkey puzzle trees in the area.

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'They're native to Chilean Argentina, where it's much warmer.

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'But 180 million years ago, when this coast was much nearer the equator,

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'monkey puzzle trees were in abundance.'

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What sort of clues are there to help us find the jet?

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We might find some nice, black material.

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-We're more likely to find a hole in the cliff where somebody's already found some.

-Like this?

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Yeah, here we go. Here we have a hole in the cliff,

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and if we look at the bottom of it, we've got some wonderful black jet.

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There is, yes, there's a layer of it.

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Imagine seeing driftwood on the sea. That sinks to the seabed,

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and must be found as a fossil. When someone finds a bit in the cliff, they're only working a single log.

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We've got a bit here, which is similar in thickness.

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It's only about a centimetre thick.

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-Yes.

-It's not the biggest layer of material in the world.

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It's like a thin plank of monkey puzzle.

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It would have been round, it's been squashed down.

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-On top, you can see the pattern of the wood.

-Yes.

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-You can see the grain.

-That is actually

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the side of a fossil seashell, I think it's a little fossil oyster.

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At some point, that was living on this wood.

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Why is jet particularly found in Whitby and nowhere else?

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We only find it on a seven- or eight-mile coastline,

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because of the way the rock's laid out in the UK and the world.

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They're not horizontal, they dip ever so slightly.

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If you go too far south, they're way beneath us and too far north -

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they've been eroded.

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It's probably a million-in-one chance that we find jet in Whitby,

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but we do and we have a long history of it being worked.

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Almost 150 years after jet took off in Whitby,

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the business is still going strong.

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Which is strange because jet isn't mined much here any more.

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The fact is, that alongside the local jet

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there's a certain amount that's been imported from abroad

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from places like the Ukraine. And as anyone form Whitby will tell you, it's just not the same.

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So, if you want authentic Whitby jet,

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how can you be sure of getting it?

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Mike Marshall knows the real thing when he sees it.

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It's amazing how elaborately it can be worked, this here is amazing.

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How would I know it's made out of local,

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good quality Whitby Jet and not a cheap import?

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-Obviously, it all looks black to me.

-There's a simple test you can do.

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Whitby Jet, if you get a piece of wet and dry sandpaper,

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if you mark it on there - that's a gingery brown

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-which is good quality, hard jet.

-Right.

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You can also get poor quality jet around Whitby.

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Again, if you mark it on a piece of paper, that's almost black.

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-It's softer, almost like charcoal, isn't it?

-That's probably sea coal.

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What about the Ukrainian, how good is it? Is it as good as Whitby Jet?

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It isn't really, no. It's probably going to be similar to the poor quality jet.

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You can make the jewellery of it, but it will crack and craze over time.

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It is very poor quality jet.

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It's buyer beware, really. It is jet, but it's not Whitby jet.

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If it's authenticity you're after, few places on this coast

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offer a more authentic British seaside experience than Scarborough.

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Cheap flights have changed our view of the world,

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not always for the better.

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Some locals would have you believe that Scarborough's a match

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for Monte Carlo or the Bay of Naples.

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Giorgio Alessio is well-placed to judge.

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He's an Italian chef, who's lived here 25 years.

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He's passionate about food and even more passionate about Yorkshire.

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'Every morning I go to the fish market.

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'The beauty of that is you just pick and choose what you want.

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'I get quite a wonderful halibut,

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'this is about one-and-a-half, two kilos valuable.

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'One of the ugliest fish ever is the monkfish.

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'They've got teeth like sharks.'

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The best things you can find about Scarborough is the Englishness.

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It's a very different part of the world here.

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At 12 o'clock is in the middle of the sun. English people get very excited about it - sunbathing.

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You never see anything like that in Italy,

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at this time they're all outside having lunch until the fierce sun goes away.

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A lot of English people got to Italy

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because they say they're all wonderful, beautiful people in Italy.

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Very good! That's why I'm here. I'm the only one.

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No competition at all. Look how good-looking are the women here.

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MUSIC: "Let There Be Love" by Nat King Cole

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People think it is the Bay of Naples, people think it is the Bay of Monte Carlo,

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bloomin' heck, it's Scarborough. What d'you think of that?

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