A Day Trip to the Lincolnshire Coast

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Skegness Clock Tower

Lincolnshire is a relatively sparsely populated county, and exploring it requires a bit of driving.  The coast offers some good beaches, and we spent a day checking this area out. 
Skegness is a typical English seaside town.  It has beach, arcades, and fair number of eateries and cafes.  We gave the windswept beach a visit and found its rugged views wonderful.
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Beach

The town’s clock tower is a really wonderful landmark, and along with several maritime public art make for some great atmosphere.
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Anchor Fountain

While there are many options for a quick drink and bite we gave the Jive Bunny Cafe, 116 Lumley Road, Skegness a try.   This is a quirky cafe with the jive theme (records on walls) and seaside arcade themes intermixed. The service was good and the place a good one for getting in some chill time.  The coffee was good, and the ambient music selection pleasurable.   The decorations of guerrillas, donkeys and such gave it a bit “Skegness” touch.
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Jive Bunny

I had read about Gerardo’s on TripAdvisor and as it was then our practice to get seaside ice creams (pre-Keto) we ame our way to 1A Victoria Road in Mablethorpe.  While it is 17 miles from Skegness, it was a pleasant enough drive, and it was well worth it for the quality of the ice cream.

 

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Gerardo’s

The restaurant/café was very busy, but its popularity didn’t compromise the service. We were served quickly, and attentively. The set up of the dining space is café /snack bar type, but is pleasant all the same. The quality of the ice cream (we had chocolate, cappuccino, and strawberry) was excellent. The coffee likewise was rich with out being bitter. It was a worthwhile stop, if in the area.

Sadly we couldn’t explore more of the coast on this occasion, but I do hope to check out Lincolnshire for a longer stay in the future.  All in all it was a good outing, and one which allowed us to “colour in” a little more of our UK coastal map.

 

Padre

 

Gerardo’s

Another Wonderful Norfolk Deli/Shop

Hot drinks, scones and cake

More than just tea and cakes

We have stopped in to explore this deli on several occasions over the past three years.  This is a very good foodie specialty shop, with gluten-free products, as well as loads of homemade and local offerings.   They have a broad selection of baked goods, quiche, and pies (pasties) as well.   The “deli” offerings are more limited (by American standards) but  include some good looking salami, and specialty artisan cheeses. This is not to say that this is a bad place to shop, but rather that as a deli it could have a wider selection.

The cafe/restaurant was very well run, and the servers and counter staff were friendly and attentive.  The teas were loose leaf and very tasty.  On our latest visit we focused more on seafood, than on the cakes and scones of previous visits (my wife’s diet moving us away from most carbs), and it was an exceptional experience!

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Seafood Board

The seafood board had crayfish cocktail, a generous portion of poached salmon, whitebait, mussels, tempura king prawns, and fish soup with croutons, and a warm deli roll.  This was complimented with a homemade tartar sauce, and rouille.  My wife had a very nice fish soup served with rouille and Parmesan.   All was prepared exquisitely, and nicely presented.

The main dining area is in a conservatory overlooking a garden which has an olive tree, and several plants which draw one’s focus.   Seating is purposely a bit rustic, but it adds to the ambiance.

While my wife may be off sweets, I am not under any such restrictions.  On previous visits I have enjoyed fruit scones which were large, had more than the usual amount of fruit.  These were served with a generous portion of clotted cream, as well.  On our recent visit I had a warm pecan pie, served with caramel sauce and a scoop of almond ice cream.  It was delicious.

While not strictly “deli” fare most of the items in the meal were on offer at the deli counter to take away.  The poached salmon, pecan pie, and scones featured there.

The shop offers an array of sauces, condiments, and teas.  There was also a wide range of olive oils, and other home prep ingredients.

I have reviewed Back To the Garden near Holt previously, and it remains one of our favourite places for a shop and for a bite.  Thornham Deli gives its Norfolk neighbour a run for the money, and if in the area of  “Sunny Hunny” it is well worth a visit.

Padre

A Visit To King’s Lynn

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Lynn Minster

King’s Lynn in North Norfolk is one of the principle settlements on The Wash.  It offers maritime history, historic churches, and some interesting museums.  We have visited on several occasions, and each time we find something new to check out.

The main place of worship in this once important Medieval town is the Minster.  Lynn Minster was established as The Minster and Priory Church of St Margaret, St Mary Magdalene and all the Virgin Saints,  in 1101.  It was originally a Benedictine house and its construction was authorised by Herbert de Losinga, the first Bishop of Norwich.   It remained a monastic house until the dissolution of the monasteries.  It then became the parish church of St Margaret’s.

The present church is a wonderful collection of 12th, 13th and 18th Century features with Victorian touches. The central nave is later than the chancel or entry as it was rebuilt after the spire collapsed in a 18th Century storm.  It has is really beautiful screen and the altar area is very nice as a whole.

We found the priest welcoming, very informative and the entire visit was inspirational.

Sea Henge Reconstruction

Reconstruction

The Lynn Museum is small, but it does serve as the home to Sea Henge.   The Henge was constructed of oak timbers in the early Bronze age for ritual purposes.  The original was constructed fifty-five small split oak trunks forming a near-circular ring (7 by 6 metres).  The museum has the original timbers of this ancient monument as well as a modern material mock up. There are scale models of the life of the builders, and loads of interpretive data on hand, as well.

The museum has the original timbers of this ancient monument as well as a modern material mock up. There are scale models of the life of the builders, and loads of interpretive data on hand.

The collection also has collections documenting Lynn’s development from its monastic origins, to its importance as a medieval port, to its modern position today. I did particularly like the miniature carousel.

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Carousel

The museum is fronted by the King’s Lynn bus station, so easy to access by public transport, though parking (nearby) is a little more difficult.

Our main meal in the town was at the Market Bistro.  We had heard good things about it in the past, so gave it a try.    It was wonderful experience!

We arrived just as they were opening the doors, but we were given a warm welcome and given a choice of seats. The decoration is casual with some features that are “shabby chic” and others showing off the venue’s 17th Century charms. The walls are a deep gray, but the paintings and other features keep it from having a dull feel. The overall impression is pleasantly cordial.

The service was very attentive and professional, and the carafe of iced water and serving of sourdough bread on arrival was an excellent touch.

The menu was posted on A4 clipboards, and specials on the chalkboard. We ordered the bistro burger,  a fish pie and a side of hand cut chips.  In addition, I enjoyed some really superior olives while we waited for the mains.

The main courses came in a timely manner, and were really wonderful.  Her burger was well presented, well cooked, and juicy.   The side of chips were some of the best that I have tasted, especially served, as they were, with homemade mayonnaise.  The wholegrain mustard mash topping the fish pie was excellent as well, and the salmon was some of the best I have ever tasted. The meals were full of flavour, really good in portion size, and satisfying to the extreme.

It was a pleasure to eat there.

Padre

 

 

 

 

HMS Hinchinbrook (Revisited)

Menu

I write about the Hinchinbrook in a previous  post on Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. We have since revisited the restaurant on a couple of occasions, and it seemed that a Travel Tuesday would be a good place for a more thorough review.

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HMS Hinchinbrook

This is a clean, well laid-out establishment, with booth and table type seating in the main dining room, cafe style tables near the window, and “sidewalk” seating as well.  The bar is to the left as one enters, and the cooking area is just beyond.  The opposite wall features a room length depiction of the port of Great Yarmouth.   References to Nelson, and the Hinchinbrook are in various places as well.

Mural

HMS Hinchinbrook is an especially nice seafood and grill restaurant. The welcome has been warm on each of our visits.  Some of our favourite dishes are the goujon combo with salmon, sole, and plaice.  This was served with a variety of dips and sauces (the garlic sauce was especially lovely), and a huge portion of chips.  The battered cod and chips is particularly nice as well, and is really well fried, and had a firm tasty golden batter.

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Cod

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Goujons

There are also various grilled dishes available, and as my wife now needs to be super low-carb, the steaks have become a new favourite option for her.

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It is a great venue to just stop into if near the Wellington Pier or Sea Life Centre.  It has some nice tea and coffee as well.

All in all, this is really high quality seafood restaurant, and it offers great value for money as well.  The service is always excellent, and we really enjoy our experiences there.

Padre

 

A Visit to Sherwood Forest

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Sherwood Oak

We stopped by here while on a trip up to the Peak District. The visitor centre signs sparked our interest so we made the detour. We arrived to find that there was a £3 (at the time) parking fee (not bad but we literally had no cash on us) so we resolved to visit on our return journey.

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We called back as planned on the return trip, and were mildly disappointed to find that the restaurant was closed to the public in order to cater for a wedding, and some of the other sections of the visitor centre were similarly closed. We did have a nice look around the pretty hardwood forest, and the open gift shops. We also watched the information video which was well produced and presented some interesting facts. The men’s toilets were in need for a good clean and smelled badly of urine. The stalls were cleaner, but someone had urinated in one of the sinks as well.

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Visitor Centre/Shop

The Robin Hood links were clear, and not overly hyped.

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Robin and Little John

Not a bad visit, but not as nice of an experience as we might have hoped. Clean toilets, an alternative way to pay the parking, and more availablity of access to the public during “private” bookings would all have improved the experience.

Padre

Lynford Hall, Norfolk

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Many stately homes in England are preserved by the National Trust, others (in shockingly high numbers) are converted to nursing and care homes.   Some, however, have been converted to hotels, and Lynford Hall in Munford, Norfolk is one of these.

It is constructed in the neo-Jacobean, and  was built in the mid-Nineteenth Century, by the “richest commoner” in England.  It is a beautiful estate, and it still maintains some of its Victorian grandeur.

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Clock Tower

In the first half of the Twentieth Century visitors included the then US Ambassador, Joseph Kennedy, and the writer Ernest Hemingway.  During the Second World War, the hall was requisitioned by the government and converted into a hospital.  After the war the property was acquired by the Forestry Commission, and later sold to become the present private hotel.

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Bar

During the late 1960s to early 90s, the hall featured in the sitcoms ‘Allo ‘Allo and Dad’s Army with various parts of the property being used as the French village, the chateau used as German Headquarters, and various other venues.

Today, the hall is largely used as a weddings venue, and had some lovely grounds.  The hotel also provides function and conference rooms for business meetings. The Wellingtonia Bar also does some good trade.

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View from Bar

We have visited on a few of occasions and found the restaurant a bit hit and miss.  There have been times when staff seemed short, and orders have taken a long time to be filled.  On other occasions both drinks and food have been well prepared.

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Churchill Portrait in Dining Room

The grounds are well worth visiting, and for those into the period sitcoms, the site also finishes off the Dad’s Army Trail.

Padre

Lynford Hall Site

Brief Stop at Cheddar Gorge

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Aging Cheddar

We had the opportunity to stop off at Cheddar Gorge for an afternoon.  This is a really fascinating natural feature, and while we only made a flying visit, it offers a lot for a variety of interests.

The Gorge itself is said to have developed over a period of 300 million years.  Geologists say that its foundations were laid down when the area was a tropical sea.  Over time sediments like fish and bones and shell accumulated, and were eventually converted into layers of  limestone.  These layers were in time thrust upwards, and began to become weathered and exposed.  During the Ice Age the limestone were temporarily frozen, but as the ice melted and all the water gushed into huge rivers and one carved out the gorge.  The climate has continued to warm, and the rivers started to sink into and through the gorge where it flows today through narrow caves and cracks.  This is what has given us the dry valley, Cheddar Gorge of today.  (Well that is what Key Stage 3 Geography says, anyway).

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The Gorge Late Summer

Whatever the cause this natural landscape is sought after by tourists, climbers, cavers, and adrenaline junkies.   The natural beauty makes for wonderful photo opportunities, and walkers and bird watchers enjoy its paths and upper walks.  The steep walls of the gorge are challenges for climbers going up, and BASE jumpers coming down.  The areas many caves provide not just a place to age the famous cheese, but for cavers and others to explore.

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Cave Features

We visited a cave, and enjoyed the rugged beauty during our visit.  But there is so much more to do.  And cheese of course.

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Flows

Padre

 

 

 

A Visit of Gooderstone Water Gardens

 

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Peaceful Lake

Back in the spring, we had the opportunity to visit the water gardens at Gooderstone in Norfolk.  It is a peaceful place to visit and we found the staff welcoming and friendly.

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Bridges and Paths

The entire site is well maintained, peaceful and relaxing. The different ponds and features each have their own charm from the Monet inspired pond to swans gliding by on the connecting channels.

The gardens were established in 1970 when the farm land and meadows on the site became too a damp for cattle to graze.  The resulting water features and bridges are almost unrecognizable as a farm, and it seems as if nature had meant for it to be this way from the beginning.

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Swans

The Gardens have a tea room where we found the staff especially friendly.  In fact the manger of the tea rooms treated us as if we were neighbours or long lost friends.  The tea was good, and the cake was extremely wonderful.

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Tea room

This is a wonderful place just to laze away an afternoon.  I highly recommend a visit if in the King’s Lynn area.

 

 

 

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Monet themed pond

Gooderstone Water Gardens

A Visit to Penzance and Land’s End

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Land’s End

During our Christmas break we had opportunity to visit Penzance and the nearby St Michael’s Mount.  Penzance unlike St Ives is an identifiable town with the usual seaside amenities, as well as a shopping precinct and High Street.  We did a little shopping and refueled here, and took in some of the sea views before heading to Marazion to view St Michael’s Mount.

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St Michael’s Mount

St Michael’s Mount is a small settlement and castle complex on an island in the bay.  It is accessed by a man-made causeway which is passable during mid and low tides. I had really wanted to see the island ob this trip to Cornwall, as it completed a pairing with my visit to its namesake Le Mont Saint-Michel which is a walled town and abbey on a similar island off the coast of France.

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le Mont Saint-Michel

Both sites have traditions which link them to the archangel Michael, and in the early Medieval period they islands shared monastic patronage.

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St Michael’s Mount

Today, the English site is managed by the National Trust, thought the castle is held on a 999 year lease by the St Aubyn family.

We had some good photo opportunities an captured various aspects of the island before heading to Land’s End.

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Land’s End Complex

Land’s End is a landmark marking the most western point of England’s shore.  It is in the village of Sennen, and is essentially a tourist trap.  The complex and its adjoining parking is private land, and a hefty parking charge is levied even for a brief photo visit.  There are some shops and a picnic area, but the main attraction is the sign marking the point.

While it isn’t the greatest of visitors centres, it is still worth seeing to if nothing else say you have been there.  What is worth seeing though are the views especially as sunset approaches.

All in all it was an interesting day out, and it allowed me to fill in a previously un-visited part of my travel map.

Padre

 

 

 

Christmas Break in Cornwall: Porthtowan and St Ives

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St Ives View

We decided Christmas 2017 that it might be nice to go away for 2018. After a little searching we struck upon Surf Sounds Apartment in Porthtowan.  It has a balcony overlooking the sea, a short walk to the beach, and provides fairly easy access to St Ives and Penzance. We booked it Boxing Day ’17 for the following year.

It was a good choice. That said there were two primary issues. The first was a 400 mile drive (which we broke up with a stop over in Bristol), and the second was GPS. We put in the post code for the apartment, but our “trusty” GPS took us to a location on the hills above the village. So word of advice, log in Beach Road or Unicorn Pub as your destination, it works better than the post code.

Now the positives. Gilly, the owner made our arrival easy.  She had sent us the code to the key locker so our arrival time was left a bit open for us. On our arrival we were greeted by a decorated Christmas Tree, stings of lights, and mince pies and mulled wine. What a wonderful touch.

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Downstairs Bedroom

The apartment had a open plan kitchen/lounge, a loft bedroom with a double bed, a bathroom (with whirlpool), and a smaller room with two twin beds. The lounge had TV, WiFi, and a bed/settee. A full array of cooking utensils, a fridge, cooker, and microwave were also provided.  Just to note, we have used “holiday flats” before, but this is the first time we had loo roll, washing up liquid, and towels provided.  Again, a pleasant surprise.

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Kitchen

The electricity was on a pound coin meter, but it was set at a reasonable rate, and we only needed to insert a couple of pounds a day.

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Bathroom

 

There is a cafe on the beach front, the aforementioned Unicorn Pub a few 100 meters away, and a village shop for necessities.  We obtained our main groceries from a Tesco Superstore in nearby Redruth (about a 20 minute round trip).

The view of the beach was wonderful, and while a grey December as a whole, the sun did break through from time to time, and we could watch the surfers doing their thing.

On Christmas Day we made a drive into St Ives. St Ives seems more a geographical expression than a “town,” as there are several villages and build up areas that make up “St Ives.”  We did, however get to the beach area near the Tate and were able to take in views of the surf, surfers, and dog walkers.

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Tate St Ives

Though the museum was closed for the holiday, it was still a bit of interesting architecture, and our main reason for stopping was the historic town, and the sea views.

The best views were actually in the public “pay and display” car park above the Tate. It provided nice views of the sea, of the church (in the top photo), and of the St Nicholas Chapel – which was an early Christian missions point, a chapel proper, revenues post, and coast guards station in its long history.

Next week I will post on our visits to Penzance, and Land’s End.

Padre

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Surf Sounds Booking Info