Lincolnshire: Tattershall Castle

All photos can be enlarged for detail, and look better that way.

Across a double moat separating it from Holy Trinity Church, (see previous post) lies the imposing building called Tattershall Castle. Originally built as a defensive structure in the 13th century by Robert De Tatershales, (hence the name of the village) the present building is a fully-restored fortified house dating from 1434. It was the home of Ralph, the 3rd Baron Cromwell, famous for its double moat and drawbridges. It is by far the finest example of a Medieval brick-built structure to survive in the UK.

Closer to the castle, you can see Julie and Ollie admiring its grandeur.

In the foreground, the circular stonework is all that survives of De Tatershales’ original fortress.

The lower window allows light into the cellar.

Inside, the rooms on each floor have been left empty. However, the wonderful fireplaces in the main rooms are still there to be admired.

I was very excited to discover that visitors are allowed to access the roof and battlements. So with Julie taking Ollie on another tour around the grounds, I scampered up the 149 steps to the top, to be greeted by this lovely bastion.

Inside that, I got an archer’s eye view from this place of safety.

The well-chosen spot really commands the surrounding area, and feels a lot higher up than it looks. This view from the top shows how close it is to Holy Trinity Church. The outer moat is now overgrown with bulrushes, but there is still water in the inner moat, closer to the castle. (Not visible in this photo)

I really enjoyed that visit to the castle, especially as it didn’t rain until we got back to the car park!

One more holiday post to come soon.


Lincolnshire: Holy Trinity Church, Tattershall

A not-quite level photo of some stained glass inside the church.

All photos can be enlarged for detail, and look better that way.

Situated next to the castle in the village of Tattershall, Holy Trinity Church dates from 1466. It is famous locally for being the home of various species of bats, and is one of the largest churches in the county.

The church organ is huge, and very impressive as it dominates one end of the building.

The interior is open to visitors, including dogs. Parts of the restored timber ceiling can be seen, along with the Gothic architecture. This was taken from the altar, which is covered against bat droppings! You can see many blue cloth coverings around the building, all because of the bats.

The next post is about the adjacent castle.

Lincolnshire: A walk to Mablethorpe

Walking along the the promenade to Mablethorpe on Tuesday, the clouds were mainly over the sea. If you enlarge the photo, you can see just a small section of the enormous offshore wind-farm in the distance.

All photos can be enlarged for detail, and look better that way.

Halfway there, we stopped for a coffee at a beach cafe. They were still trying to sell these beach windmills, despite a distinct absence of any children.

And there were no takers for these foam boards at £9.99 either.

Ollie was sitting by the table, and spotted another dog in the distance.

More to come soon.

Lincolnshire: Sutton on Sea

This small town was the base for our recent holiday. Situated between the large commercial resort of Skegness, and the traditional seaside town of Mablethorpe, it has remained unchanged for decades. The beaches stretch for miles, and are mostly deserted, as you can see in the photo above. Unfortunately, the weather was rather bleak, as you can tell from the dull light in these pictures.

All photos can be enlarged for detail by clicking on them, and look better that way.

Nothing at all about this town is fancy, or pretentious. This water feature is by the side of the approach to the promenade.

And this one is on the other side of the small playground and greens.

As it was the end of the season, the beach shop was closed. I took this photo from the rock garden below.

The simple children’s splash pool and play area was deserted in the late afternoon, on a chilly day.
The ice cream and refreshments shop is also closed after the season, as you can see.

Rows of popular beach huts line the promenade. None were being used that day.

The town war memorial is unusually modern, with its sculpture poppies. If you fully enlarge the photo, you can read the names inscribed.

Along the high street, this alley leads to a laundromat that hasn’t changed in living memory. I love the name of the business.

The Bacchus Hotel is the largest building in the town. It hosts weddings and functions, has a choice of restaurants, a well-stocked bar, and is a popular meeting place for holidaymakers and residents alike.

Our holiday cottage was situated behind the hotel, next to the beer garden. It doesn’t look much, but was stocked with everything we needed, and had two large bedrooms. Converted from an old outbuilding of the hotel, it was just right for our short break.

More holiday photos to come.

A Positive Holiday

Determined to stay positive, in 2017.

A different Pete might well have complained about driving to our holiday in torrential rain. Being stuck behind a tractor for ages, then having to take a long diversion because of an accident in Boston. (The original one, in Lincolnshire) But not me, not the positive me. A journey of about ninety miles north still only took some three hours, even with the unexpected delays.

We arrived in a dry but chilly late afternoon, and checked in to our rented cottage behind the large comfortable hotel. The town of Sutton on Sea was unchanged, after nine years. Still the same shops, the small High Street, the unspoilt seafront, and long promenade. This is a place set in time, and that time feels like 1960. The cottage that we last stayed in in 2008 was as we remembered, with better beds, and a modern television. There was even time for a brisk walk along the front before dark, and the handy convenience store provided some essentials before we settled down to an evening in, with the food we had sensibly brought with us.

Ollie enjoyed the novelty of the stairs leading up to the bathroom and two double bedrooms, and there was ample space for his large bed, and both his food and water bowls. Once unpacked and settled, we relaxed watching the TV, before I had a nice early night, and a very good sleep. Because it was officially out of season, there were no noisy family groups, and few people around, other than a handful of hotel guests. So no issues with parking, and no noise of any concern after dark.

After breakfast the next morning, we set off for the seafront walk to the town of Mablethorpe, around three miles north. Deliberately downmarket as a resort, Mablethorpe is home to holidaymakers in caravans, cheap guest houses, and basic accommodation. It has cut-price markets, bargain-basement gift shops, and the cheapest fast food we have ever seen. This is a bucket and spade, sand-castles holiday town, in the long tradition of the British seaside. And all the better for it, in my opinion. After stopping for a coffee, we retraced our steps to Sutton on Sea, and bought a Chinese takeaway meal, to save cooking. That night, the coast was hit by a fierce storm, and torrential rain. But it didn’t really affect us, other than hearing the howling gales from the comfort of the cottage.
Another positive day.

On Wednesday, we had arranged to meet my cousin and his wife. They live in West Lincolnshire, so it was a relatively short journey for them to come and see us. We met for lunch in the hotel, which we all agreed was excellent. Then the sun came out, so we were able to enjoy a long walk with Ollie, heading south to nearby Sandilands. Catching up with my cousin and his wife again was a welcome diversion, and we finished off the evening with toasted sandwiches in the cottage.
Positivity was once again the order of the day.

On Thursday, I had planned a trip to Tattershall, with its castle and church on the agenda. Following that, a short journey to the pleasant town of Woodhall Spa. We woke to dark skies, and some heavy rain. The sort of morning where you consider abandoning plans, and going back to bed. But not when you are being positive, oh no. You head out anyway, and hope for the best. Under an hour later, we pulled into the car park for the castle and church, and it had stopped raining. Off we went, and discovered that the church was not only open, but photography was allowed inside too. Even better, dogs were allowed, so Ollie made his first trip inside a church into the bargain.

Once at the castle, despite gloomy skies, the rain still held off. Julie looked after Ollie as I scampered up the stairs inside, delighted to discover that the roof was open to visitors. The sun came out just long enough for some distant views and photos, followed by a short walk around the moat, and the fields beyond for Ollie. Back at the car, the rain finally came down. But it didn’t matter, as we were safe inside the car, making the trip to Woodhall Spa. Arriving there, we had coffee on the outside terrace of a pub, and made a quick tour of the familiar town, before getting back to the car park just as the heavens opened once more. Our luck was holding, and being positive was appearing to work. That night we ate at the hotel, where Ollie was allowed to sit by our table. Another delicious meal, finished off with some powerful ‘designer gin’.
All in all, a great day out, and very positive.

Friday was our last full day, and we woke once again to threatening skies and rain. Undaunted, we set off to Chapel St Leonards, a seaside village eight miles from Sutton on Sea, to the south. Once again, it felt familiar, and completely unchanged in almost a decade. The cheap cafes, seaside shops, and local people on mobility scooters. Another window into the past, steeped in a tradition that is in my bones. Once parked and heading for the beach, it had stopped raining, though we had to dodge puddles. The chilly wind was beaten back by wearing a warm coat, and I was soon happily photographing the closed down seafront cafes and beach huts. Despite being the end of the season, the small amusement arcades were still operating, and all the cafes were open. It was a nice nostalgic trip indeed, and although Ollie wasn’t keen on the windswept beach and sand dunes, I loved it. When we got back, the sun had come out a little, so I took off with Ollie to photograph some more sights at Sutton on Sea. For our last night, we went back to the hotel to eat in the restaurant. Ollie was fast asleep by 7 pm, so we left him resting. After another nice meal, we enjoyed some cocktails before heading back to the cottage to get ready for bed.
Being positive and braving the weather had worked out just right, once again.

Driving home on Saturday, we were in and out of torrential rain, delayed by farm tractors, and wary of road accidents in the gloom. But it was of no concern, as we were only travelling home, and the short holiday was now behind us.

Staying positive, in 2017.

Back from London

I arrived home yesterday evening to find close to 400 emails in the queue, almost all to do with blog notifications and comments. I just haven’t had time to respond to them all, or to comment on many blogs that I follow. I do apologise for that, but I did my best. From today, I will be able to get back into the swing of regular blogging.

Last weekend marked my first trip back to London since April, 2012. Regular readers will be aware that I lived in various parts of the capital for sixty years, before retiring here to Norfolk. I had to attend the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends on Sunday, so went up on Saturday afternoon, to stay with my cousin, who was also going to the wedding. As she lives in South London, it was incredibly convenient for a wedding in much the same area. Julie was unwell, with a bad cough and chest infection, so she regretfully decided not to come with me. It was sad that she was going to miss it, but no point putting herself through that, when she felt just awful.

I left here on Saturday afternoon as planned, expecting to take around three hours to make a journey of almost 120 miles. After an hour spent meandering around the country roads in Norfolk, I arrived at the A11/M11 junction at Mildenhall, hoping to speed up, and make some progress. But it was not to be. This major route was closed, due to a serious accident. All the traffic, and that was an enormous amount of traffic, had to be diverted off onto a country lane. This was little more than a track, with room for one vehicle, and passing places dotted along it, should something come the other way. We had to go almost to the town of Newmarket, to rejoin the motorway, a distance of around 6 miles. That took ninety minutes, of stop-go crawl.

By the time we emerged onto the now empty main road, it was raining so hard that visibility was seriously impaired. With wipers on full speed, and proceeding carefully, the fastest most of us could manage was under 40 mph. By the time we arrived at the busy junction with Stansted Airport, the road was at a standstill once again. It was already the time I had expected to arrive, and I was only halfway there. Once I got into East London, I had to cross the Thames to go south. My first choice was the Blackwall Tunnel, so I headed for that. I soon discovered a 3-mile tailback, just to get onto the approach road. Undaunted, I continued into the city, heading for the Rotherhithe Tunnel instead. But the situation was no better there, with similar queues. I had no alternative but to drive further on, and cross the river using the magnificent Tower Bridge. By now, I was so much later than planned, I had stopped worrying about it.

Once south of the Thames, in a place where I grew up and know well, I was able to take many back routes and small roads to make progress. Or so I thought. I hadn’t bargained for speed bumps. There were always some streets in that area with them, but in the few years since I moved away, it now appears that every road, including all bus routes, is ‘fully bumped’. These things are so close together, that as you are driving off of one, you are almost mounting the next one. It seems possible to become seasick on a South London side street these days. I eventually arrived after more than five hours of driving, having averaged a speed of only 24 mph for the whole journey.

I spent a pleasant evening at a restaurant with my cousin, and we were both up and about early for the wedding ceremony on Sunday morning. The taxi arrived on time, and everything went very smoothly all day. I managed to fulfill my duties as master of ceremonies with few if any errors, and everyone agreed that it was wonderful to see our friends marry in such a happy and emotionally-charged fashion. The reception was in a marquee in their garden, and was executed to perfection. The excellent food was enjoyed by all, and the speeches and entertainment that followed were equally delightful. I even managed to stay relatively sober, until almost 9 pm, when I was sufficiently inebriated to join in with the dancing. A shared taxi back to my cousin’s house was arranged, and I was in bed asleep by 11. It had been a very long, but most enjoyable day.

Then I had to drive home on Monday morning.

The traffic around South-East London was completely gridlocked, not helped by emergency water-works closing parts of the main road. It took me well over two hours to travel less than 5 miles, and I didn’t get home until late in the afternoon. As much as I relished the chance to see my old friend get married, I won’t be rushing back to London anytime soon.

A Southwold Birthday

I always like to visit the seaside on my birthday. This week we were blessed with excellent weather for the 16th, so we decided to venture south-east, and to see somewhere in Suffolk, instead of Norfolk. Southwold is a genteel town on the East Coast. Recent popularity with visitors from London, and others buying second homes there, has also made it a desirable destination, as well as prohibitively expensive to buy property in the town.
(The photos all look better if they are enlarged)

The pier was built in 1900, and is as popular today as it ever was. Unlike some coastal piers in this country, it conceals its commercial side very well.

Along the pier is the famous water-powered clock. The metalwork is suffering a little from exposure to the elements, but it still tells the correct time!

Further into the town, you will discover the imposing St Edmund’s Church. It was built in 1430, and is considered to be one of the best examples in the county.

Unusually, Southwold’s lighthouse is in the town centre, rather that at the edge of the coast. It still operates today, and has been seen in many films and TV series too.

The town is dominated by Adnams Brewery, which still operates in its original premises there, brewing Suffolk’s famous beer. There is a popular Brewery Tour, run every day. As well as a small market, held in the old Market Place, the town has a wealth of small shops, delicatessens, and restaurants. Most are of the ‘exclusive’ kind, catering to the many wealthy new residents. A visit there is highly recommended, as it will give you a snapshot of the British Seaside, almost unchanged for over 100 years.