Friday, October 5, 2012

To the Sea

"To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying." - Tolkien

Just a few weeks ago, we spent a good portion of the day on the Mediterranean coast, enjoying sun and sand.  But this trip I had envisioned something else all together.   We took the shortest route east (by distance, not time) to the North Sea, and I did not bring my swim trunks.  However, a trip to Skegness will dash to pieces any poetic thoughts of the grandeur of English seaside.

The first picture is from Flamborough Head, the second is from Skegness, about 100 miles south.  The funny thing about British roads is that from our bungalow near the roundabout of the M1 with the A52, I could have got to Flamborough in the same amount of time as Skegness, even though the trip would be 30 miles longer.  However, per the advice of R.W. Emerson, the goal of this trip was not the destination, but the journey.  I wanted to drive through countryside with hedgerows and steeples and plenty of green fields.  We'll go to Flamborough (or other equally picturesque coastal towns) taking the boring old motorway some other time.

To back up a bit, I gotta mention that we went out to eat with our American friends Doug and Tara, who are living here for two years (nearly to the halfway mark).   They are like our weekend travel idols, and we try to learn from their sage traveler advice.  Check out their crazy exploits here:  

Jamie Oliver is huge out here, and we went to his Italian kitchen restaurant in Nottingham, where I had squid pasta - the ink dyed the noodles black.  Very cool.

Squid ink has no nutritive value, but adds a great sea flavor
Then, we hit up a bar to celebrate the birthday of our friend Rob from Crossfit Nottingham.    The bar really stood out - it was in old church, complete with stained glass.  I guess Britain is so littered with 17th century historic churches that they have extras to convert to bars.
The Chapel-turned-bar 

Fellow expats!
Me with the birthday boy
We bowed out early (by the British party-goer standard), to catch our bus home, which happened drop us off next to a kebab shop.  Dinner had worn off by this point, so it was time for the doner kebab experience (one of Doug's recommendations)!  I would call this a gyro in the states.  For 3 pounds you get a giant pile of shaved gyros meat, but it leaves a bit of a film on your mouth that you don't notice after a few drinks.

Simple menu for the early morning crowd
The next morning we didn't get the earliest start... But I'll blame the Robin Hood marathon street closures as much as having a "lie-in" from the late night before.  The route was to take the A52 from home all the way to the seafaring town of Skegness, with a waypoint in OG Boston, and hit up Lincoln on the way home.

Trip looked something like this - 175 miles of beautiful Lincolnshire countryside.

OG Boston was the home of St Boltoph, ans supposedly St. Boltoph's Town was too much of a mouthful.  I paid for 1 hour of pay-and-display parking and we got out to stretch our legs, and see what there was to see.  We did hit up the parish church, named "The Stump" - the largest in England.  I might even call it a small cathedral.  It's not a popular tourist stop, so everyone was pretty cool, it was as if you stepped inside any other church on a Sunday afternoon.  

 No one told me I blinked

The fun thing about visiting old churches is spotting details

You're not going to make many friends with that face

I'll admit we knew going into this that Skegness is a corny tourist trap, and has seen better years.  That was kind of the point though - it reminded me of Myrtle Beach

Panorama view of the beach, highlighting the Skegness Eye

I won't give Skegness more explanation than it deserves, so on to Lincoln.  

Lincoln is as medieval as it gets for a modern town. So after we shared a roast chicken at Nandos, we decided to walk around.  It was getting to be late Sunday evening everything was closed, but we walked up a cobblestone hill lined with quaint shops to see the castle and cathedral (which were closed).  We had the area to ourselves, which was fun.  Here's a taste.

Transported back to the 16th century

A drizzly English evening

Accent lighting goes a long way

The imposing cathedral on a hill

On a final note, I'd like to discuss a victory my old nemesis, pay-and-display parking.  I lost a pound to the machine in Skegness, adding to the pain of wasted parking fare.  I was totally redeemed in Lincoln.   As I stared at the machine figuring that since I arrived at 6:30, but evening rates don't start until 7, that I'd have to pay for the whole hour PLUS the evening rate (even though we'd only stay for a few hours), a kind woman gave me here ticket as she was leaving which was good for the whole night!  I paid the gesture forward when we left a few hours later to another guy heading toward the pay machine.   Oh the sweet taste of victory over pay and display meters.  


  1. Nice post Jeff. Thanks for the multiple shout outs. Doner Kebab is my go-to late night food. Glad you finally got one.

  2. Doug - I read that if it doesn't say "Doner" it's not 100% lamb. Good to know.