Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oh I Don't Like To Be Beside The Seaside.

Yesterday was a pretty nice day, weatherwise, and I fancied a drive to somewhere new.

I decided to plan where to go over another delicious and cheap carvery meal at The Wellington on Wetherby Road which has rapidly become my eatery of choice and it's hard to resist if I'm passing within 5 miles of it with a rumbling stomach.

So I tucked in to ham and turkey with Yorkshire puddings, new potatoes, peas, carrots and delicious thick gravy with my UK A-Z next to me and tried to decide where to go. I settled on finding somewhere east of Leeds as it's still pretty much a black hole when it comes to my personal travel experiences. I wanted the seaside but with something a bit more than sand and candy floss to keep me photographically entertained for the day.

Grimsby it was then. Never been before and I thought I'd get to see some fishing boats in an idyllic harbour setting. As time was getting on, I skipped any ideas of taking a scenic route, if indeed there was one from Leeds to Grimsby, and opted for the M62/M18/M180 all the way there.

No sooner had I made it onto the M62 than I hit trouble. The overhead signs showed that due to an incident, the motorway was reduced to one working lane up ahead.

This is an exciting photo of us on that one lane.

Actually I was doubly cheesed off as, in merging from three lanes to one, I went past a vehicle that I would have photographed if traffic had been flowing normally. It was some sort of a trike contraption but one unlike anything I'd seen anywhere, even in America.
It looked from behind like a standard 3 wheel vehicle but the bike part, although obviously fixed to this frame, moved independently in some way. Hard to explain but after the traffic merge it was way behind me and I never saw it again.

The debris from the incident, whatever it had been, was being swept up when I passed it and I'm sure the motorway was back to 3 lanes soon afterwards.

I reached Grimsby without any further delays and it was good to have been on new roads to me.
I actually smelled (or smelt) the town before I saw it and I got some idea of what it would be like to live in a house made of fish fingers. Handy for late night snacking but hard on the nose.

I drove around the docks for a while but only saw high walls and closed gates and the occasional teasing view of a mast. I finally stopped at a security gate post and asked where would be the best location from which to photograph the fishing fleet and although he didn't exactly laugh, the guard said there was no fleet anymore. The fishing industry in Grimsby was essentially history and anyway, thanks to Mr. Bin Laden and his cronies, the docks were off limits to the general public. I wasn't sure what was left to keep secure or even why any terrorist would want to blow up a fishing fleet at the best of times, but I drove on into the town............

......and right out the other side. There was nothing remotely interesting about Grimsby. I'd go so far as to say that if I lived there, I'd be trying to leave asap. I'll be kind and leave it at that.

Just 2 miles away and almost joined to it, is the seaside resort of Cleethorpes. I still wanted to see water and walk on sand and so, bitterly disappointed with Grimsby, I drove on to Cleethorpes.

Oh boy. It was everything I hated about UK seaside towns with it's miles of sad old slot machine arcades, unhealthy food outlets and decidedly antique rides spoiling what could've been a lovely promenade next to a wonderful length of clean sandy beach.

Ok I suppose every seaside resort has to have ice cream, fish and chips, candy floss and so on but PLEASE get rid of the arcades.

Most of the ones in Cleethorpes looked like they'd not been painted since the 50's and everything about them reeked of a time long gone - like the customers.

This small Ferris Wheel was the only amusement offering on the beach side of the promenade and further on was the 134 year old pier which does have one claim to fame - it's the shortest pier in the country.

With the decline of such structures, it's changed hands numerous times over the decades and seems to have lost money for whoever owned it.

Another reason for not liking Cleethorpes was that you had to pay 90p ($1.80) to park for an hour anywhere along the promenade and although I understand that the town has to make money wherever it can, I feel there should always be free parking for a Renault Clio at the seaside. It just makes sense and should be a law. Anyway I parked and moved a few times and never paid and displayed. I'm a rebel.

Across the road from a particular line of arcades was this solitary eatery - why we like to slap "USA" or "American" on lots of our eating places just because they sell hotdogs or donuts is beyond me.

I'm not sure what menu items ordained that this place should class itself as a USA Take-A-Way but I'm quite sure that the quantity, if not the quality, would have made a visiting American raise an eyebrow or two.

It wasn't so much a take away as a stay away as the customers were giving the place a wide berth.

Further along the prom and beyond the pier, things got a little better, visually if not gastronomically. The sky was a tad overcast and being mid afternoon on a weekday with many school still in session, there weren't many people out and about. All the more ozone for me then and I took in great lungfulls and enjoyed the views.

The prom was wide, very clean and - empty for the most part. The sand was clean too and very soft underfoot. Like with most beaches on the eastern side of the UK, the tide went out a long way and this, coupled with the cool temperature and a lack of tourists, meant only a few brave souls were frolicking.

Now I enjoy a good frolic as much as the next person but I was happy to just walk on the sand with no wish to dip my digits into the water. The air temp needs to be above 80F and the sea temp not far behind before I dip my delicate bod into it. Actually I think the last time I had a swim in open water in the UK was when the paint on those arcade places was still fresh. I kid you not, it's probably been the best part of 40 years.

A short walk later and it was obvious that the tide was coming in......from Norway or somewhere. You still had to walk half a mile to get your ankles damp

This didn't stop some people rushing out to meet the tide halfway or, in the case of this dad and little girl, playing that old favourite seaside game called "now where did you hide Daddy's car keys, sweetheart" ?

I think that's what was wrong with this trip to Cleethorpes and it wasn't really the town's fault. There were so few kids around that the place had an out of season feel to it. Give it another few weeks and I bet it'll be rocking. Maybe.

As usual, what the place lacked in youths (or yutes...hehe) , it made up for in golden oldies. It's a simple but time honoured recipe : take one seaside resort, add a dash of wooden benches or deckchairs, throw in a few wrinklies and voila........the perfect mix.

There wasn't much worth watching on their home tv so George and Mildred here decided to get out and watch the ships passing towards Hull.

"I've had enough of this show, George"
"I like it, baby. And it's great in widescreen"
"But it's boring. Change the channel"
"It's not a channel, Mildred, it's an estuary"
"Nobody likes a smart ass, George"

I drove to the end of the promenade road and things livened up. There was a cute coastal train to ride, some sort of water park, a shopping plaza and fast food outlets galore. The ice creams, donuts and candy floss at the other end of the prom had given way to original recipe chicken and bigmacs. Similarly unhealthy and similarly nummy. I gave in to temptation and had a 2 piece Colonel Meal which was my first fast food meal in 6 months so I didn't beat myself up about it. I even saved one chicken piece till today.

By now it was 6pm and Cleethorpes was closing down for the day. The coastal train had stopped and if you wanted an ice cream along the prom, tough. I took the hint and left too.

Maybe I'm not a seaside person although it's really the seaside town that I have issues with. I don't 'do' amusement rides. I try not to eat unhealthy (if nummy) food. I detest arcades. So that just leaves the water and the beach. I like both of those and so the next time I decide to feel the hot sand between my toes and have the urge to jump headlong into the warm breaking waves I'll know what to do.

Go to Florida !

1 comment:

Daphne said...

I've never been to Grimsby but I have been to Goole. Take my advice and do not go there: it filled me with gloom. Grimmer than Grimsby.
I don't like those arcade-type run-down seaside towns either. My seaside town of choice is Tenby in South Wales - pretty harbour, safe swimming, great views from the cliffs, clean sea, glorious beaches, seals and the occasional dolphin. There are arcades, but kept well hidden and a good thing too.

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