This is my original blog – all my blogs  since I started in 2009 - are here including those from The Ale Archive – all the beers I’ve sampled at home and on our travels since 2012.
 
Since 2012 most of our travel has involved a caravan. I now have a specific caravanning blog called (Get Your) Legs Down which not only documents all our trips but includes product reviews, site listings, storage locations, mobile service engineers and much more. It too is on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

An Easter(n) Escape part 7 - A look around Lincolnshire

Friday, and it was time to leave our lovely spot and head down the coast To Sutton-on-Sea, near Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire.IMAG0607

There were a number of possible routes but we elected to go along the coast as far as Bridlington, following the A165, then coming inland and skirting Beverley before crossing the impressive Humber Bridge.

We eschewed the delights of the dual carriageway to Grimsby, staying inland and bypassing Louth before turning towards the coast and onwards to the site. It took around three and a half hours to do the 130 or so miles, and it was one of those journeys that while not hard, did require a lot more input than just trundling up the A1. Whilst the landscape got generally flatter as we approached the Humber, the other side was full of twists and turns that kept our attention. Quite important with a tonne and a half of caravan bouncing around on the back. The second half of the journey did remind us of the fens in East Anglia - flat as a pancake and quite a difference from what we’d become used to over the last couple of weeks.

The site presented no surprises being a caravan club site. All the usual facilities and nicely laid out but not within walking distance of any er, research venues. Something which both wallet and liver were extremely grateful for.

Saturday brought with it the rain the weather forecasters had so gleefully been promising. To be honest I wasn’t that sorry as it was a good excuse to take  some time out. Saturday morning TV, a book and the internet all vied for attention whilst we waited for the rain to clear.

At last however we were able to hit the road and headed first for the seaside resort of Skegness. What should have been a short journey turned into  a much longer one thanks to the main road being closed but having found our own detour eventually found our way in.

There's two things there is lots of around Skegness. The first is sand. The beaches that stretch along this coast are massive - and impressive with the gentle gradient making it the perfect spot to bring kids - which clearly many do. The second is caravans - statics make up the vast majority but there are but a few tourers too. There are sites everywhere and they are massive, like villages. It’s a remarkable sight. The whole area is geared for families and kids will have a great time on the beach when weather allows. There are amusement arcades and fun parks nearly everywhere too - catering for both the young and young at heart.

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We stopped for our usual caffeine and cholesterol top up in the main shopping street before searching out the compulsory fridge magnet.

Further up the coast  sand dunes emerge separating the beach and we found a great place to stop at Chapel Six Marshes. Steps lead up to an interesting contraption designed as a viewing platform. When you first step in to it though, there is nothing to see, then the inner cage  tilts forward alarmingly lining the viewing letterboxes.

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Mablethorpe was next - a much smaller resort than Skegness where a diversion from all the sea, sand and fruit machines could be found in amongst the fun fair in the form of a model railway. It’s mighty impressive and the attention to detail was astonishing.

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Last stop of the day was back at Sutton-on-Sea - although a good couple of miles from the site. Sutton proudly announces itself as amusement arcade free, giving a quieter - and no doubt cheaper - alternative for parents and others alike whilst still being able to enjoy the fabulous beaches.

It now being late afternoon we paused for a chippy in Sutton’s main thoroughfare before returning for a night in.WP_20150329_003

Sunday was sadly, more of the same - weather wise I mean - and it was gone lunchtime when we emerged in search of food. Lots of places were offering Sunday lunch, but only until 2pm, so a drive around eventually found us in the Red Lion at Mumby, but not before seeing the lovely windmill at Alford in full flow.WP_20150329_009

We both forwent a traditional Sunday roast opting instead for a big fact burger and chips. Yes, the diet is still going well.  The landlord is a man after my own heart - although undoubtedly not literally - and keen real ale fan with a display of on the wall of his er, research. Worryingly, there was an awful lot there that I’d sampled too.

Another quite night in saw us up somewhat earlier and reasonably recharged for our last day in Lincolnshire and a visit to Lincoln. I knew it had a Cathedral already, but for once undertaking some proper research revealed it has a castle too - home to another copy of the Magna Carta. Sadly this was not going to be of much help to us as it didn’t open for the season until after we’d left. Dammed inconsiderate! Anyway, further research revealed the existence of a useful bus service - and location of car parks served by said bus service it it was one of these we headed for on Monday morning.

As anyone who has visited Lincoln will know - it aint flat. The cathedral and castle - the ‘Cultural Quarter’ sit at the top of a hill - accessed - on foot by a steep footpath winding up from the end of the high street and main shopping drag. This is where the bus comes in. The ‘Walk & Ride’ service covers thirteen stops around the city including those up around the Cultural Quarter. Useful for locals who are unwilling or unable to make the steep ascent - or descent come to that but handy for tourists too. For three quid you can hop on and off all day and it runs every twenty minutes or so. A lot cheaper than a ‘proper’ tour bus although of course you don’t get any commentary.

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We perused the main shopping area first - where I got a very nice compliment from a gentleman about my coat - then caught the bus up to do the cathedral bit. And what a pretty bit it is too. We against ‘doing’ the cathedral but did stick our heads in the door for a couple of photos.

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We ambled around ‘up top’ for a while before making the steep descent, pausing on the way at a Mod themed cafe for a foot long Lincolnshire sausage hot dog and cuppa. And before you ask, yes I managed the whole twelve inches…

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To the south of the city is the Brayford pool development - Cinema, bars and eateries on one side of the water and the university of Lincoln on the other together with a not-quite-out-of-town retail park. We headed back into town, pausing by the railway station for coffee before catching the bus back to the car park. At the entrance to the castle we poked our noses in - they have recently made alterations allowing you to walk all around the castle walls and this is certainly something we’d do on another visit.

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I really liked Lincoln - we both did. Some places grab you like that. The Cultural Quarter is classic tourist fodder and rightly so, but the town centre has enough individuality to set it apart from others too. There is plenty of parking and both rail and bus station are within walking distance of the town centre. A great place to visit and it’s on the ‘must do again list’.

So our time in Lincolnshire was at an end, with the city being the undoubted highlight. It’s a good place to for a stop over next time we head up north so we’ll be back I’m sure.

Right, Nottinghamshire next and our last stop before it’s back to hopefully sunny Saltdean. So look out for the last blog soon.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Thwaites - Original Best Bitter

WP_20150320_060What they say:

A beer that’s as Original today as it was in 1807, when Daniel Thwaites himself began brewing.This refreshing amber bitter is brewed using premium grade Maris Otter malt and a blend of traditional English hops including Goldings and Fuggles for a malty flavour with a delicate dry finish.

Less well know perhaps - at least in our neck of the woods - than it’s stable mate Wainwrights, I came across this is in B & M Bargains in Whitley whilst on our travels in the north east.

Put simply, it’s one of my favourite bottled beers, hitting all the right spots. It tasted - to me anyway - a little similar to my beloved London Pride, but whereas LP hits you with 4.7% A.B.V this weighs in at just 3.6%. I’ll be looking to pick up some more of these but I suspect they may not get as far as the south coast.

An Easter(n) Escape part 6 - More North Yorkshire

After throwing ourselves on the mercy of public transport on Tuesday, Wednesday saw us back on the road in Rosie, our bright red Honda for day inland that took us first to Pickering at the southern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. Pickering is popular with tourists not least because it is also home to the NYM heritage railway which runs 18 miles to Whitby. We visited Pickering some seven years ago catching one of the lovely old steam trains from further up the line in Grosmont during a stay in Robin Hoods Bay with HRH, A.K.A Trev’s Mum. It’s a delightful trip through the moors stopping at a number of stations but perhaps most notably Goathland, famous for being used as fictional Aidensfield in the TV series Heartbeat.

The trains only run at weekends in the quiet months but a full daily service resumes this weekend. Not cheap but well worth it.

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Next up was Malton, or more precisely Eden Camp just outside Malton. Eden Camp is, essentially a war museum but with a unique twist. It’s actually housed in an old prisoner of war camp  that housed both German and Italian POW’s during its life. There are different scenes and features in each hut that focus on different facets of the war and tell the story of what life was like for people affected by it.

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The first hut explains how the Second World War began with the rise of the Nazi party in Germany and the first exhibit that greets you is a large flag with a swastika - universally recognised and regarded as a symbol of hatred and evil. The flag is protected by a glass fronted frame and I could see my reflection in the glass wearing - as usual - my black leather trench coat. Oops! It’s a garment seemingly forever demonised by Hitler and his mob - something confirmed later on when I heard a youngster in a visiting school party up ahead of us spot me and  shout “Oi look there’s ‘itler”. Not the look I had in mind.

Anyway, back to the museum. It also looks at the first world war and other conflicts since. The number of artefacts is mighty impressive and the reconstructions are excellent with sights, sounds and smells adding to the experience.

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There is a cafe/canteen and a bar that doubles as a cinema for special screenings. We stuck to the soft stuff and prices were very reasonable.Tasty mugs of tea for just a quid. Large mess rooms allow individuals or groups to bring their own food. We spent way longer here than we’d anticipated but for history buffs you’ll need much longer than a day. Trev spotted the listing for this in one of those ‘things to do whilst in…’ leaflets and I’m so glad he did. At just twelve quid for the two of us it was good value too.

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Last stop of the day was the market town of Helmsley again at the edge of the NYM National Park although part of the town is actually in it. It’s clearly aiming itself fairly and squarely at the tourist market - it even has it’s own leaflet which I spotted - but there’s nowt wrong with that. It’s a very pretty place and you know what they say - if you’ve got it……

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It presented a little bit of a challenge to get more than a few photo’s without a car in the frame - it’s a popular place and one can only imagine the hoards of tourists during the busier summer months - but Helmsley is hardly unique in that. Nevertheless it didn’t spoil the enjoyment of the place and there were some very inviting looking pubs too but we resisted. Some how.

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Returning to Whitby traffic was light enough to allow us to slow and get some photo’s of the fantastic landscape that is the North Yorkshire Moors. The only blot on the landscape was an odd shaped building that sat in a large parcel of land belonging - according to the warning signs - the Ministry of Defence. Typical!

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Thursday and our last full day in North Yorkshire. We’d promised ourselves an easy day and a lie in, not least because the weather forecast promised rain until nearly lunchtime - and it was right too. First stop - when we did eventually emerge from Patsy’s comforting bosom (?) was Robin Hoods Bay, four or so miles from Whitby on the road to Scarborough. It’s another picture postcard village with a narrow road winding steeply down to the sea mush like Staithes. As I mentioned earlier we stayed here some seven years ago in a lovely little B & B at the top of the village. In amongst the photo’s below is one of a pub - the Victoria Hotel just a short walk from said B & B. I mention this because it was here that I had my first pint of bitter virtually since I started drinking. My first ever beer was Whitbread ‘Best’ - which goes a long way to explaining why I drank lager for the next 20 years or so. Anyway, I remember the beer that made me see the light - Cameron’s Castle Eden - and I’ve hardly touched a lager since.

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Last but not least was dear old Whitby, with a pause at the Abbey for the necessary lens clicking before crossing the bridge and heading in to town.

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Having parked up on the east side we headed for the old town only for it start raining. Immediate plans were hatched to dive in to the nearest cafe, but somehow we ended up in a pub. Just while the rain cleared though. Honest! With a few more images committed to digital memory it was time to head back to the site.

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Our last night was of course in our ‘local’ - The Stiddy - just around the corner from the campsite. An extremely friendly pub that made us feel very welcome.

So, by the time you get this we will have moved on. Our time in North Yorkshire has again been very fulfilling and the camp site played a  part in that. Not too big, Lythe Caravan & Camping Park offers great facilities and cracking views across farmland and out to sea. There are wooden camping pods too should you have friends that don’t caravan or motorhome.  A volunteer run shop a short walk up the road stocks all the essentials and is good place for a cuppa and a chinwag too.

Right, that’s it from the North Yorkshire Coast. Lincolnshire coming soon!

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