The Compostual Existentialist

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Harry Windsor and the Torp of Clee

In case you’ve been in an Argentinian coal mine for the past week or so, at the weekend bumbling ginger nut royal, Prince Harry, married someone he met a few years back and the entire UK  shut down.

Of course, it didn’t really. I’d say a good deal of people couldn’t give a flying fridge about some overprivileged bloke tying the knot and an even greater deal of people couldn’t care less about the football that coincided either. I’d also say that many people, Mrs Gnomepants v2.0 and myself included,  used the opportunity to sneak away and do something awesome instead.

Where did we go for this awesome adventure? Why! Cleethorpes of course!!

Situated just a few miles eastish of Grimsby, a town once famous as the landing area for most of Britain’s fishing fleet, now a monument for industrial decline, Cleethorpes sits on the southern tip of the Humber Estuary opposite Spurn Head. A stretch of glorious sands passing under an old pier is accompanied by a promenade with what remains of formal gardens before turning into a road and heading south towards a now cleared fairground and a large static caravan park. At Cleethorpes it is clear that the British Seaside is alive and well, the scant remains of Victoriana, although not on the same scale as Scarborough, can be seen by the observant from the town planning to the location of and facilities near the railway station.


A stub of a pier juts out over the sand in a feeble attempt to touch the distant sea with the tide being out. The pavillion on the pier, now owned by Papa’s,  claims to be the largest fish and chip restaurant in the country.  The interior is grand and bright, the staff dressed and trained well and the fish and chips? Well they’re just amazing. Possibly not quite up to the same standards as Magpie in Whitby or Mary Jane’s in Cromer, but definately a good competitor. See that’s the problem with fish and chips, it’s only as good as you remember and unless I was actually in some judging situation where I had samples from all three aforementioned places, I can only go on memory!

 

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

 

I suppose the thing I liked most about Cleethorpes is what remains of the formal gardens. Some councils in the UK have long cleared away any genteel public gardens as they are expensive to maintain and, in the conservatives eyes, impossible to make money from. So the best solution to tatty looking gardens in their eyes is often to blob a lump of concrete over them or just let local youths gather to express themselves by performing acts of vandalism and pissing all over the place. Fortunately it seems locals to Cleethorpes still have some civic pride and the gardens appear to be maintained by a mix of council, local charities and volunteers. Even the “millenial” sculptures along the promenade are pretty. A complete contrast to the modernisation of Bridlington and the classic yet rapidly decaying seafront terraced gardens of Scarborough.

 

Amusingly, regular readers will remember the last time I was at this part of the coast, back in 2008, I was coming to the end of a slightly disappointing weeks holiday along the coast at Skegness with Mrs Gnomepants V1.0. So it seemed only fitting that, while in the area, I showed Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 the delights of Saltfleet. That too hadn’t changed much except for it now appears that the car park had been built on and there has been a bit of shrinkage in the number of caravans. Still, it was just as austere so we didn’t stick around for long.

And it beat watching some posh kid get married.

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Holiday

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.

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”.

 

How wrong.

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.

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.

 


Abridged Version

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>