There is a walk I’d like to do. It is a long long walk. But I think it would help me clear my mind and procrastinate without actually sitting on my arse playing World of Warcraft all day. It would probably help me get fit too. I am terribly out of shape and I worry that unless I start to be proactive about stuff I will end up in an old people’s home being force fed puréed carrot by a Polish nurse with BO.
So I said to GtHD “This year, we will be exploring the Lincolnshire Coast”
To which he replied “Oh you’ll have a great time. I went t’ Skegness at Easter”
“What’s it like?” I asked, expectantly
“Typical seaside resort” he replied “All that coast is great”
“I’ve always imagined Skegness to be like Blackpool”
“Oh no it’s not as bad as Blackpool” he assured “Mablethorpe is nice too, it’s a bit ‘old pensioner’ is Mablethorpe, but it’s reet nice you’ll have a grand time”
So on that reccomendation, Tuesday morning after completing a few errands, the wife and I packed the car with the camping stuff and shuttled off down the A631 to the east coast. The journey was pleasant enough, sweeping landscape of crop laden fields, the hilliness of South Yorkshire giving way to the flatness of Lincolnshire. The straight straight roads littered with signage warning motorcyclists to kill their speed not themselves. Several hours of driving and I was in need of a break. So for lunch the wife and I stopped in Louth catching a sandwich in a local bakers shop before hitting the road once more and onward to the coast.
Saltfleet was our first stop. Now, on the map, Saltfleet looks like a relatively nice place. In between the rowdy clatter of Cleethorpes and Mablethorpe by all accounts it should have been a peaceful fishing village with old houses and interesting twisty bendy lanes. Tea and gift shops aplenty. Well….maybe anywhere else. Here on the Lincolnshire coast it just goes to prove that one can not judge a village by it’s position on the map.
This warning should be enough to keep people away
Saltfleet – A dangerous place to be
It was pleasant enough. The village of Saltfleet was a good distance from the seafront. In fact a great distance. I suppose this should have been the first warning. The village had modern well kept bungalows. I couldn’t see any shops. I could see a sign, however, directing me to the sea. A 5 minute drive following this sign took us past acres upon acres of holiday site. Static caravans as far as the eye could see. “Fair enough” I thought “Maybe the action is just at the end of this road”.
The free empty and vast parking area should have given it away. The lack of amusement arcades; the dearth of demanding and hyperactive children; the lack of PEOPLE. Should maybe have given me some clue. But it wasn’t until I saw the signs warning me not to step on the sands and if I did not to touch any suspicious object that I realised Saltfleet was probably not a good place to come on holiday.
So turning round we headed south along the coast and to Mablethorpe.
Now those of you who have never been to a British Seaside resort should. No really. You should come to the UK, legally or illegally, and visit somewhere like Brighton, or Eastbourne, or Bournemouth. There in you will get an idea of how British seasides are typically laid out. Using the material availiable to me, and having never been there, I can only imagine Coney Island though as I say, I’ve never been there. Maybe even a sort of chavvy Weston-Super-Mare. Still struggling? Well ok imagine a coastal road lined with bingo halls, variety clubs, fish and chip shops, screaming little bastards, teenage mums, burly hairy tattooed vest wearing men and women, lots of old people wandering round looking at things with some faded fondness, fair grounds, gaudy illuminations, mile upon miles of caravan sites and the like. Oh and some sea, maybe a bit of sand and plenty of icecream.
Well yeah that’s the Lincolnshire coast for you.
Anyway, shocked as we were, it was too late to head to Scarborough, so we bit the bullet and headed to Skegness for our holiday. Our campsite was the lovely Sycamore Lakes (mosquitos) at £15 a night for our tent. We then despatched ourselves to the centre of Skeggy for a look round. Therein we discovered a tasty fish and chip shop and a rather splendid shop selling ice cream.
The next day involved a look round Skeggy, a trip to Gibraltar Point (a local area of beauty) and finally a drive into the market town of Boston. Our moral sapped, we agreed that on the Thursday we would head north once more and return via Cleethorpes.
OMG. Cleethorpes is positively grand and vogue compared Skeg. Sadly we could only spend a few hours there before our will to live was sapped. We then headed back to Brierley.
Soon to be a restaurant
You can see this tower from miles away
Soon to be offices
Ye Olde Subwaye
Some bloke who got frozen
No escape from Lincolnshire
The end of our holiday was wrapped up nicely with a trip to Liverpool to catch up with some good friends. Theres nothing like a dose of homesickness to really top off your Barnsley Icecream.
Home now though. It’s late. Time for bed said Zebedee.
Brierley -> Sheffield -> Saltfleet -> Mabelthorpe -> Chapel St Leonards -> Skegness -> Burgh le Marsh -> Boston -> Alford -> Cleethorpes -> Brierley -> Liverpool -> Brierley.
<edited 24/05/18 replaced pictures and made some corrections here and there>
Where was I? Oh yeah…Conway.
So we did Conway. The weather there was stonkingly splendid but our return to Anglesey brought disheartening thoughts. For over the Menai Straits sat a big nasty black cloud. It was raining. Still. The winds hadn’t abated much. The promise of further bad weather on the Sunday just made us more miserable. Never the less after a slap up meal in the “Steak House” (They did one type of steak, mine was ok but jimrock sent his back for a refund because it was over done). The Maelog Hotel was pap.
The next morning we bade farewell to Sarah and Steve and journeyed out to the mainland once more. This time to observe the old people in Llandudno. jimrocksat and listened to the Grand Prix in the car was feeling a bit off colour so chose to stay in his car. Llandudno, despite how much praise billzy piles on the place, is like waiting room for death row. The place is littered with charity shops and residential hotels. A good deal of Liverpool’s elderly population go there to die. And rightly so. It’s a nice place to die. Much nicer than Rhyl or Talacre. Or Rhos-on-Sea.
Give it 10 years and it’ll be exactly like Rhyl and Talacre 😉
Anyway…utterly depressed Becky and jimrock decided that the risk of further bad weather was too much and that the comfort of home was too tempting. So they, and Ricky & Ashley, chose to depart on the Monday.
Monday came. Glorious weather. Thus further fishing adventures were called for. Mrs Gnomepants caught a further 5 mackerel, jimrock just caught the sun and the sea. After what seemed like half an hour but what was infact several hours, we returned to the beach for a quick dip before heading back to camp to say farewell after a delicious mackerel dinner. Mrs Gnomepants and I, Big Steve & Rach elected to stay. And so our relaxed Tuesday morning was spent cleaning up the camp, packing up and heading back to Liverpool.
That afternoon I popped into CSD at the University where I used to work (which is where billzy now works) met up with billzy and everybody else. It was delightful seeing everybody. I just wish I had longer to stick around and catch up with everybody’s gossip. That evening we headed out to Chez jimrock where copious drinks and chilli was had for the last time in their little flat in Lark Lane.
Our return to Yorkshire on the Wednesday was accompanied by a visit from Scott; back from the ships briefly.The rest of the holiday? Well I squandered that playing internet games and loafing about. But I tell you what, I had a bloody good time doing so!
Just when you thought it was safe to pack in camping…..
My god! You didn’t think I’d finished did you? It was Wednesday 2nd August. We awoke, nipped into Aberdaron for a cooked breakfast then dashed back to camp to feverishly repack everything into the Vectra. Our next stop was Rhosnieger in Anglesey to meet up with the Elliots. What was to make the holiday extra special was that everybody knew that jimrock, who was at that moment in Neu Yorque in a Merrycar, was going to propose to his long term partner Becky at Niagra Falls. They were to join us on the Friday…but more of that later.
An hour and a half later we were in Anglesey. Intent on avoiding making unnecessary phone calls (electrical sockets are few and far between when camping and I needed my “Cellular” to take photos with (Heh imagine telling your 10 year old self you’d be able to take photos with your telephone! Ha the preposterousness never ceases to amuse me) we drove into the campsite and tried to locate our fellow campers. They weren’t in the usual spot. So we surmised they were on the beach. Arriving at the beach we were still unable to locate them. So a quick telephone call later we’d tracked them down to the usual campsite but in a new location nearer the road at the bottom of the RAF Valley Airstrip. Genius! Who needs alarm clocks when you have RAF fighter jets taking off on training flights at the crack of dawn?
It was good to see everybody. Becky’s sister and brother Sarah and Ricky with their respective other halves Steve and Ashley and Big Steve (Becky, Sarah and Ricky’s Dad) and his Missis Rach.
The next day we loaded up Big Steve’s van with fishing rods and beach stuff. Ricky drove it down to the beach while Mrs Gnomepants, Big Steve, Rach and I cycled the mile or so to Cable Bay Beach. On arrival we immediately tied our bikes together and hiked along the fisherman’s foot path along the rapidly disappearing cliff tops to the rocks by the old ex-MOD base.
After we had fished the Irish Sea of all it’s Mackrel we headed back along the coast to Porth Trecastell where we lazed away the rest of the day rockpooling.
That evening we dined on fresh mackrel cooked on the barbeque served with new potatoes, peas and garlic butter. Amazing stuff!
The next day the weather took a slight turn for the worse. It was muggy, cloudy and frequently showers fell on the land. Unperturbed we soldiered on and took ourselves out to a Jam Farm, Caemaes Bay and Amlwch.
The Jam farm was a bit sinister. Still the jams we sampled there were pleasant if not a bit pricey (£5 for a jar of honey! Fuck that!) I got a nice jar of Winter Ale Chutney which I will review on Muckybadger when I get round to it. After a scone and a cup of tea we journeyed onward to Caemaes Bay. The weather becoming increasingly erratic. Rain falling then stopping, Humidity rising then rain again, the slight breeze increasing fractionally. A good BBC Shipping Forecast might have been able to predict what was to come.
Stopping in the one horse town that is Amlwch (Anglesey’s third town (Beaumaris being the second, Holyhead being the first) the grimness of the weather was heightend only by the grimness that is Amlwch. (Do you know? I still find it amusing trying to imagine how my Merrycan and European chums are pronouncing Amlwch…do a voice post if you dare! heheheh). Amlwch is a tiny place, at one time in it’s history it was probably a bustling happening place. Now, however, it is a shadow of it’s former self. The market was packing up, every other shop was closed or boarded up, even the people looked miserable. The main street through the town saw about one car every 10 minutes and even then two of those were people who had turned round to try and escape. Sad really. I imagine lots of little towns like this all over the world. It kind of reminded me of Grimethorpe with less people. But I doubt any of you guys have been to Grimethorpe so you probably wouldnt get the comparison. Erm….like Garston with less shops…..Blackboy Hill with no traffic, people or shops….Littlehampton 20 years ago…That place in America where they built a lake only for the economy to collapse and the holiday chalets they built there never got bought…..Well, anyway, it was grim.
We returned to camp and were shortly joined by the happy couple that is jimrock and Becky. Becky had accepted jimrock‘s proposal and there was much celebrating and mirthmaking to be had.
By this time the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Gale force 10 winds ripped through the campsite from the Irish Sea, the winds bringing with them, rain and fish and deep sea trawlers. I didn’t get much sleep that night. I kept having to pop outside to secure the guy ropes that kept coming free from their tentpegs. The group marquee was, at times, diagonal in the winds. I half expected to see it fly off to the near by railway line and cause untold travesty! By 4am I still hadn’t managed to get any sleep. Radio 4 had long since turned into the World service and no end of programmes discussing the anniversary of the partitioning of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan would bring sweet sleep to me. My mind was wracked with the thought of one of the caravans above the camp being blown free from it’s moorings and rolling down towards the camp.
I guess I must have passed out by 5am. By 8am the winds had died down a bit. The weather was still shit and as we all emerged from our tents we each decided that staying on Anglesey in the rain would be foolish. Instead, we would journey to Conway.
The other side of the Menai Straits was uncannily bright and sunny. A black cloud of gloom hung over Anglesey but Conway (less than 20 miles away) was perfect weather. So while jimrocklistened to the Grand Prix Qualifying Rounds on the radio had a much needed nap, the rest of the party took to exploring Conway.
The holiday was starting to take a sour turn. The weather breaking some people spirits, the Grand Prix being a distraction to others, the prospect of further bad weather likely and the parting of the ways as Sarah and Steve departed for Peterborough the next morning.
Still…I was having a good time. I took to enjoying the rain. Enjoying the company. Enjoying the evenings playing dominoes and drinking beer. I wasnt going to let a bit of rain spoil the holiday.
However….I shall relate the final part tomorrow evening…
I swear, I’m sure you’ll get bored of this before I do.
The evening after the cycle trip was again spent sat round a campfire reading Buried while the serenity of the Welsh Countryside went about its business. Sticking with things Welsh, I imbibed this delightful ale from a local brewery.
Next day was another glorious day. It was to be our last full day on the Llyn so we turned it into a beach day. Onward to Porth Oer. Porth Oer is sometimes known as the Whistling Sands. Legend has it that you can walk on the sands and they whistle. Something to do with the crystalline structure of the sand. Bollocks though it may be the beach is really clean and unspoilt. I say “unspoilt” but of course dreadful types had already started staking out claims to little shaded corners of the beach and their awful children were being frightful.
Never the less, it was interesting to watch the world go by from under the shade of a hat and sunglasses. One hideously awful family (Rowena, Georgie, Eliza, Gordon and Rupert) sat within earshot discussing willies and Uncle Harvey’s horse boxes while the mother of another dreadfully frightful family endevoured to stop her children from having fun (“Stop that Alfie you know your sister does not like to eat sand”, “Benjamin! Please dont run. You might fall and graze your knee!”,”No mum Alfie does not want an ice lolly he is allergic to ice remember”).
By midday the sun was threatening to turn my skin into pork crackling. I can not abide sitting on beaches doing nothing. I want to be active, swimming, walking, doing catalogue poses and the like. So using my skill of tactical moaning I managed to persuade Mrs Gnomepants that the beach was becoming far too overcrowded and hot for me and that a walk up the mountain would be sufficient to cool me down. And so it was we drove to Mynnedd Rhiw. You might recall that Mynnedd Rhiw is the mountain upon which my Uncle Nat had a cottage in the 80’s.
We parked in the “car park” of the secret government radar station and walked toward the radio mast and the neighbouring trig point, from where, the views are astounding!
After an evening meal we took to the top of Braich-y-Pwl once more and were rewarded by further stunning views.
The next morning we broke camp and headed off for the next leg of our holiday. Anglesey, Rhosnieger and beyond!