We’ve seen some magical places and there are many more yet to be discovered but our energy has slowly drained and much quicker than the drenched land that we pitch the tent on. We’ve arrived at a crossroads. Do we push north into Scotland or head south and jump on a ferry to Europe?
If I had any cricket whites they’d be covered in mud. We haven’t seen an iron in weeks so there’d also be more than a couple of creases. It’s time to apply the Duckworth Lewis method, not that there’s much chance of an achievable target. The Great British summer has proved to be too tough an opponent.
I can’t back this up with figures; I’d say that every other day has seen rain. There’s been sun but not sufficient to cast any spells but, as if by magic, it has appeared when we needed it most – while conquering Snowdon for example.
There’s still a couple of loose ends to tie up before I’m completely free of the rat race so with our spirits literally dampened we decide to head back to Kent and re-gather our forces for the push into Europe then beyond.
I investigate a visit to York but it turns out you can’t get anywhere that’s cheap and cheerful last minute. Mablethorpe sounds fun, I’ve never been there before and it sounds like a typical British seaside resort, what’s more I’ve found an attractively priced campsite.
For those that don’t know Mablethorpe is on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds and up the coast from Skegness where Billy Butlin opened his first holiday camp. The landscape is generally flat with the occasional area of gently rolling hills so a nice contrast to the more inclined topography we’ve seen to date. One of the first things that surprises you is the size of the sky – it’s huge! The different cloud formations are fascinating and continuously changing.
The beach is vast and stretches far off into the distance, as the sea retreats even more lovely clean sand is exposed. We stroll along the water’s edge bare foot with the sun shining but with a breeze coming in off the North Sea that’s a degree too strong to allow the temperature to be comfortably warm. We’re treated to infrequent moments of precious summer as we walk, the type of summer we remember as children, when there were proper seasons not slightly different shades of grey skies and mild fluctuations on the thermometer.
Unfortunately, the quality of the beach is not matched by the resort itself. There’s the usual combination of amusements, cafes and fish ’n’ chip shops housed in tired buildings that could do with a lick of paint, typical of the decline in the British seaside.
There’s a massive car park in Skegness. To reach it you drive along the main drag passing the vibrant and colourful beach entertainment – fairground attractions, rides, crazy golf, the works. Your ears are filled with the sound of sirens, music, screams, babies crying, children laughing. A sniff of salt ’n’ vinegar is replaced by burning fat then donkey – every sense is under attack. Yes, it is tacky but so what? It’s alive and everyone there has a smile on their face – including me.
If Mablethorpe and Skegness are thorns then the rose between them is Sandilands. All three have superb, long, sandy beaches but here the front is lined with cosy beach huts nautically decorated and personalised by their owners. Behind is the golf club and along the road is the tennis club. As we walk we catch snippets of conversations from the ladies doing lunch; ‘Do you want wine? We always have wine here’. The men, with sweaters drapped over their shoulders compare scores from the morning’s match-ups.
It’s a little tricky to find the entrance to the car park for Tattershall Castle but once you’re in it’s an easy walk to the castle through the grounds of the Collegiate Church of Holy Trinity. Don’t just walk by, pop in and have a look around. There’s a nice little tearoom inside that serves home made cake at a reasonable price. While you sip your cuppa keep looking up and you’ll catch an aerial display from the resident bats. When we arrived we noticed two bats lying motionless on the cold stone floor. As we inspected closer for signs of life one bat slowly turned its head in an eerily slow and mechanical fashion. We learnt later that a saucer of water was enough to revive them and they took their place in the belfry once more.
The castle is well preserved and interesting to walk around while you listen to the audio guide. If you’re lucky when touring the grounds you’ll get to see jets taking off from nearby RAF Coningsby.