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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Holidays

While going through and updating old posts, I came across this one. I thought it apt seeing as I am off on my jollies soon.

Please enjoy this entry from 2008

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So there I am lapping up Council-by-Sea thinking to myself just how did the British seaside get into such an appalling state of grotesqueness. When it struck me. In the 70’s/80’s when package holidays to Magaluf and Torremolinos cost about ten shillings, those that previously lapped it up in the likes of Butlins and Pontins legged it to these sunnier climes.

Thus the rot started. Less people spending money at the seaside means less money for the attractions. Old people retire to these once bustling resorts, too old and poor to maintain the once grand 4 storey Victorian and Edwardian terraces, the area looks shabby. Because the place looks shabby nobody wants to go and eventually you end up with the likes of Llandudno or Rhos-On-Sea or New Brighton. A sad state of affairs.

So like I said, I’m musing on this and it struck me like a bag of wasps. How come, during this lull, nobody ever thought of rebranding the seaside? I mean like strolling down the promenade being assaulted with the sickly stench of fish and chips, doughnuts and last nights vomit is not everybody’s cup of tea really now is it? I mean yeah I wax lyrical about the joy one can experience by rolling up ones trousers to the knees, donning a knotted hankerchief on ones head while sitting in a red and white striped deckchair on Blackpool seafront in the piss cold rain. I know poncing about on the dodgems makes some people think they’re James Dean or some other teen icon. But really, those days have passed. What is needed is a careful bit of rebranding. Instead of Council-on-Sea, maybe there should be Gated-Community-Le-Mer. Instead of the Sun readers flocking in their hordes to resorts like Skegness and Scarborough, try and attract those nice Guardian readers instead. Something which should have been done during the lull in trade in the 80’s. The reinvention of the British Seaside.

Of course the wife said I was being daft because the concept of rebranding is only a recent thing. I disagreed though, saying that the reason resorts didn’t rebrand was purely because of those in control of the local council. Nobody, especially a British person, likes change. As local councils are full of old fuddyduddies the likelihood of change in such circumstances is virtually nil. Indeed some councils went through the good old “whoops what a shame the lido caught fire so now we have to pull it down and build luxury apartments on it” strategy but this too is self defeating, like who would want to live in a seaside town where there isn’t anything to do? Not me!

So in my new rebranded seaside gone are the old and in with the new.

The pier – totally refurbished, instead of tack and rock shops – designer boutiques

Tatty victorian terraces and guest houses – replaced by luxurious, totally serviced apartments with self contained gyms, spas and creches

Icecream – Icecream, as you know is fattening and not everybody can eat it. Instead, healthy frozen fruit juices, sorbets and fruit on a stick.

Amusement arcades – These tend to attract the wrong sort of people so they’ll be bulldozed. Of course the penny cascade things can stay as they’re harmless enough but the noisy modern arcade games can go. Instead of arcades, however, a change to small, members only casinos.

Fish and Chips – Everybody knows, fish and chips are really bad for you. They make you fat and can cause heart disease. Instead stylish culinary delights in the form of swanky but affordable seafood restuarants. A whole new dining experience. Similar to those you might see in resorts on the continent. Where passers-by have to wrestle with the waiters attempting to lure them in with promises of a good meal.

Kiss-Me-Quick hats – In this day and age of paedophiles, rapists and shifty men with greasy hair and sweat stained tshirts such things should not be encouraged. Instead Kiss me and you’ll receive an assault charge hats. Designed, of course, by Gucci or maybe even Gok Wan.

Donkey rides – Riding donkeys, as every decent person knows, is exploitative and cruel so such a recreation would not be available in Gated-Community-le-Mer. Besides which it is much healthier to walk places.

Y List Celebrities from yesteryear in end of pier shows – Sadly it comes to every performer that they will spend their remaining working life on an end of pier show before disappearing into obscurity. Ant and Dec are heading that way as is Simon Cowell. So why prolong their agony (and indeed the risk of being rediscovered) and banish such crap. Besides, the type of show that goes on at the end of the pier normally involves some blue humour, weak family jokes and some bloke pulling knotted hankies out of a hat. Bollocks. Nobody wants to see that anymore. So instead, Broadway shows; Profound political or philosophical plays; lively debates and maybe some nice music from whichever artist is trendy to have in ones collection these days.

Screaming kids – the seaside, as every parent knows, is not a safe place for children. What with sand allergies, the risk of jellyfish stings, sea monsters and even people taking pictures of their own family which might capture your kids image too trapping their soul forever in some 2 dimensional vortex like in Superman II or that episode of Sapphire and Steel. Indeed while freedom of expression is healthy for a child, the seaside is not the place for them. Far too many dangers. Instead the rotting chalets and beach huts can be converted into soundproof, paedophile safe, allergy free, hermetic containers for children. Simply place the child in and leave until such time as you need to return. Of course you could just not bring the little shit in the first place.

Old People – Old people don’t belong at the seaside. In Gated-Community-la-Mer, old people will be restricted to certain “oodyarememberwen” zones. Safe. Warm. Miles away.

Fairgrounds – Fairgrounds attract the unwashed. Bulldozing them (or accidentally on purpose setting them on fire (the fairgrounds that is, not the unwashed)) would solve this problem. In their place, delightful formal gardens to promenade around. Of course the gardens would have to cater for those with allergies so any flower within would, of course, be artificial.

See even with just a few paragraphs I have turned an atypical British Seaside resort into a place where YOU would want to go. Yes YOU because that is what market research has shown and as we all know nobody can argue with market research.

If I go….I’ll send you a postcard email.


Abridged version

Seasides -> Bulldoze them.


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>