samnstew

7 – 11 July 2016: A short tour around the East Coast

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This morning we were saying another goodbye, as Lez and Elaine headed off to work. We were heading off for a few days and we’d be back after the weekend. We weren’t rushing to get off, as I really needed to get a few jobs done. We finally managed to get packed up and were on the road by 11.15am. The skies were pretty grey and it was definitely on the ‘brisk’ side – but we were quite well wrapped up in all our gear, and thankful that is wasn’t raining. It felt so good to be on the move again; we are both getting cabin fever and itchy feet while seemingly waiting for ages to get our passports back. The weather forecast for the next few days was definitely an improvement on last week, and so we hoped we’ve be able to make the most of a route down to Skegness and then up the coast to Filey and onto Whitby, before heading back.

We headed east on the M62, hitting the streaming heavy traffic that continued all the way down the A1M to Newark. Just before the exit junction we needed we pulled into a small services, just to stretch our legs really – and it was time for a cuppa too. Once on the A17 toward Sleaford the roads were so much quieter, Stew was able to relax the pace and I could also take in more of the scenery, rather than having to concentrate on the heavy traffic on all sides. The countryside was mostly flat and a patchwork quilt of lush agriculture, and summer smells – from the sweet flowers, to the not so sweet pigs and dairy. We wound our way through sleepy villages and an hour later could see the huge church spire in Boston, and not much further along there was a gorgeous restored windmill (but I wasn’t quick enough to snap a photo). Skegness on the coast was only another 12 miles or so, but we weren’t going that far, we were heading to a very small village of Friskney, where Sandra and Keith lived (old motorbike friends from the bike racing days, now nearly 80 yrs, and they had visited us for a couple of weeks in Perth in the February of 2012). Nothing was looking too familiar (its all pretty much the same – cultivated fields, boarded by irrigation dykes, with a smattering of houses and farm buildings. We took the turning into Friskney, but couldn’t see ‘Sickling Lane’. As we turned a junction we saw a fellow standing by his gate, so Stew pulled over so I could ask directions. He was quite surprised to see the bike, and gladly could help us out. So with sound directions we set off again, and it only took a few more minutes to find the right lane. It was so overgrown with the summer growth, that we actually drove passed the cottage, but realized as soon as we passed. So we turned around and pulled into the grass driveway between the cottage and Keith’s workshop. The doors were already open, and Sandra and Keith were soon out to greet us.

We were soon welcomed inside, having mugs of coffee and catching up over the past few years. We had a lovely afternoon and evening together. Sandra’s son, Phillip called, to see if we wanted to go to Boston for the evening – it was a bike night, but really we couldn’t be bothered. We were more than happy to have a quiet night in nattering away. So Phillip and Joanne said they would come round after tea.

Stew went off to look at Keiths’ recent projects, and was in awe and so jealous of the well equipped shed – He spent ages with him looking over all his machinery and what he was doing, and I wandered around a bit and managed to get a few photos. The old place is really too much of a handful for Sandra and Keith to look after now. Other old shed’s and a static caravan hadn’t been opened for years, and the big garden was mostly ‘wild’, with Keith only just managing to go round to keep a section of grass area cut back.

Sandra made us a nice cold salad meal; butchers pork pie, sliced ham, tossed salad, pickle beetroot and bread & butter, as well as a big pot of tea. There was plenty on offer for afters; Bakewell tarts, chocolate roll – but in the end we both opted for a slice of homemade Christmas cake. Phillip (now 60) and his wife Joanne came round just as we were finishing the meal – and ended up staying till ~10pm, as we had a slide show of our South America photos. They have 2 grown boys, Lloyd and his partner just had a baby son in February, (and live in Knaesborough) and Lewis and Carly, have a lively 2 year old Tia (And live in Boston). We had more mugs of tea, as we chatted mostly of families, travels and our adventures – till it was time to go. Then more hugs and goodbyes, and so nice to have seen them again, as they headed home. Sandra had given up her bed for us, which was so nice. So we all wished goodnight, and headed off to bed around 10.15pm.

It took quite a while to get to sleep in another bed again, but once asleep we slept quite well, only waking to hear the pounding rain that began about daybreak. We got up around 7.45am, as we knew Sandra wanted to get off to the veggie markets in Wainfleet, with their produce around 9.30am – so we’d have chance of coffee and a natter before we headed off. We found Keith already up, and he invited us to get whatever we liked for brekkie. Stew made some cereals but I was happy with tea and coffee. Then Sandra joined us a good half hour later, and we talked some more of the lovely evening, and what they were up to in the coming months. Well it was time to go, so nice to have seen them and revisit their place in Friskney again. There were hugs and good wishes all round as they waved us off down the lane.

It had stopped raining and it was supposed to be dry today, but the state of the cloud cover didn’t bode well. We were taking the coast road heading north, up passed Mablethorpe, and onto Cleethorpes, Grimsby across the Humber Bridge, and onto Bridlington, to end up in Filey where we were meeting granddad and grandma at the caravan. It was a lovely drive on the small country roads, and we just had to negotiate the huge farm vehicles and a static caravan being transported. Then out on the coast road, we passed field upon field of static caravans, the huge Butlins holiday park – with large roller coaster behind the vans too. Nothing really appealing to us for summer holidays.

We didn’t quite make it to Cleethorpes before we could see a massive black downpour happening just up ahead. We’d just driven through the small village of Tetney, and in the end did a quick U-turn returning into the village to find some shelter. There was not even a café, and the pub and chippy was closed, so we ended up in the bus-shelter. At least we were dry!

Thankfully the rain cell moved pretty quickly, and we were soon on the road again. Reaching the outskirts of Cleethorpes we spotted Mac’s, so we ended up pulling in there. It was lunchtime and I would be able to use the wifi. Parking the bike up again, brought the usual curious onlookers – one guy even coming over to our table to ask about the bike. He told us there was a big scooter meeting in Cleethropes tonight, and I’d already seen a load of bikers camping up as we came into town. We had a nice lunch; I enjoyed the spicy chicken wrap, while Stew had a burger, and the coffee as always is very decent. And online I was able to check the emails. Feeling refreshed we got back into our jackets and on the bike. The road through Cleethorpes was very familiar; we’d spent many happy hours when the girls were small around these parts, when we were over for the weekend at our boat.

 

So next stop was at the Grimsby fish dock marina – the yacht harbour looked quite lively, but now locked behind secure gates and fencing so we couldn’t get in. The old ice-house was still standing, though only just, and other parts of the harbour side had been completely demolished. It still smelled like Grismby fish docks, but not too bad!

From Grimsby the rain was still keeping off, and the afternoon brightening somewhat. We headed north to cross the mighty Humber bridge, and a very strong sidewind – the coffee brown estuary far below was churning, and the high vantage point gave us view right across to Hull and pretty much the North Sea. We didn’t need to drive into Hull, but took the road towards Driffield and onto Bridlington.

Neither of us could remember the seaside town too well as we made the approaches; across the railway line and going left onto the main promenade (there was a huge new fitness and leisure centre on the prom). We did fancy another rest, as we’d been going nearly 2 hours again, so we turned towards the harbour – and now we came to familiar turf, and knew there was a parking area down the back behind the harbour. We found it easily, and also glad to find it was free parking for motorcycles. Again we were greeted by curious onlookers, as we parked up and climbed off. By now the sun was breaking up the clouds and we were feeling quite hot. Stew fancied an ice cream, but I didn’t want anything. It was just good to stretch the legs and have a walk along the harbour walls. The tide was a really long way out, and looking south we could see quite a large wind farm had been established not too far beyond the town, in the fields facing the seafront.

Back on the bike riding the country lanes, it was a really pleasant drive, but I was surprised just how little of the coastline we could actually see on the ‘coast road’. We passed Flamborough Head and Primrose Valley, and soon took the road into Filey. When we crossed the railway line we knew we’d gone too far, so returned around the roundabout, taking the first left after the railway line. It was correct, as we headed passed a small industrial park and a school, but then we entered a huge new housing estate. We followed our nose, and it turned out right, as we soon spotted a sign for the ‘Seadale Caravan Park’. Now back on familiar ground, we soon made our way round the park to granddad and grandmas caravan. They heard the bike coming, and we could see grandma waving from the rear window. So nice to be here again – it had been a long time since we were last here with the girls and Jason too.

Granddad and grandma looked well settled and happy, and after hugs all round we made coffee and nattered over what to do. They had already eaten their afternoon meal, and said they didn’t want anything else, but were happy to go out for a drink. Their nearest pub also did meals, so we could get some food later. For now we were happy to get out of the bike gear, and get sorted for sleeping in the small bedroom. I hadn’t realized they had a shower in the caravan, and so we both soon enjoyed a lovely hot shower and getting changed into fresh clothes. Stew called Jason to see what his plans were, and he said he’d come over early Sunday morning – so we could all go for a breakfast together. So we all got ready and changed, and set off walking in the lovely late afternoon sun. It wasn’t far to walk, through the van park.

Then on the small pathway under the railway – across to the ‘Bon Homme’ Bar and Restaurant. It was right on the big old Victorian terrace on the high gardens overlooking the bay. It was a friendly cosy place, even with not too many customers. It was a lovely evening, nattering away – reminiscing, and enjoying each others company. We enjoyed a decent pub meal and after a last drink, walked out into the waterfront gardens. The fading daylight was quite opalescent, with long shadows highlighting the distant cliffs. The gardens were really well kept, with so many remembrance benches to sit on and enjoy the view, as well as a very pretty bandstand. In fact there is a free summer series of live bands playing every Sunday afternoon.

Surprisingly it was the wood pigeons, and not the seagulls who sounded the dawn chorus this morning, around 4.30am – but after that, with heads tucked under the dark cover meant we slept on till gone 8am. Granddad and grandma were just getting up too, and we heard the kettle going on. I drew back the curtains and saw the grey skies, and that it had rained overnight – the car was dotted with wet splodges. We were soon all up having teas, coffees and granddad was having marmalade ‘for a change’. Granddad said we should get off soon, otherwise it would not be good for parking in Scarborough, so we all got ready. We all took jackets, raincoats and a brolly – it really wasn’t that warm, and the sky was still leaden. Scarborough was only another 12 miles or so up the coast, and despite the pretty miserable weather it was surprising how traffic was already starting to back up, getting into the town. Granddad knew a couple of parking spots on the front; the first was full, so we went to the farther one near the old tramway lift into town.

Nothing much had changed since our last visit, except for the construction (underway) for a new RNLI lifeboat station, right on the beach front outside the harbour. And next to it there was a marquee on the beach for the local rowing club, with a load of members young and old maneuvering trailers with the long wooden boats down onto the shore. The tide was a long way out. And even on such a dull, cool day the town was already brimming with day trippers, and kids still wanting to be on the beach digging sandcastles.

 

We wandered the length of the lower prom, and were enjoying the gorgeous old architecture, (though most buildings were well passed their heyday splendor). There were a few small fishing boats and vessels sank in the soft mud in the harbour, awaiting to refloat when the tide came back in. The seaside vans selling cockles, mussels and crabs were all decked in flags and I also snapped a photo with everyone standing by an old blue police box. The penny arcades and bingo halls were as glitzy as ever.

We headed into a café at the far end just as the rain was starting again. The coffee and tea was good and hot, and we drank slowly, taking a good half hour, as the rain just didn’t want to bait. In the end we decided to just go for it; we had rain jackets and a brolly, and it really wasn’t a heavy downpour now, just drizzly wet.

Further along we headed into one of the slot machine arcades, and enjoyed pushing the 2p coins into the various machines for a while. We then headed up the hill into town, and more wonderful, but very tired and uncared for buildings lined the streets – they would have been so amazing when new, but now mostly looking like they had been neglected for years. We sat again for another coffee, and bite to eat, this time reading the days papers, which Stew picked up in the newsagents. I was really interested to see an article on GCHQ (near Scarborough), for opening a new Alan Turing training centre – so fascinating. They had a ‘Y-museum’, with the original enigma machine – BUT it was closed to the public!! Well hopes that the rain had stopped by the time we emerged onto the streets again were not borne out; it was still soggy. So instead of walking the long way back to the car, we soon agreed to hop on the old 1881 tramway – 90p would take us back down to the waterfront. It was nostalgic fun, and you could imagine the Victorian holidaymakers making the same trip all those years ago.

We had a nice relaxing afternoon back at the van, and nice to have an hour to get the diary up to date too. We’d arranged to go over to Andrew and Janes’ place (now living in Norton-Malton), later when they had finished working in their shop (They now run a small lighting business in Norton – as well as their other work too), so we got ready to set off around 5pm. Granddad directed us right there, and we were quite surprised to find them located in a brand new housing development, and in a great location at the end of a culdesac, finishing up at the side of a beck. They had in fact ‘pinched’ some extra garden down to the beck side. It was so nice to see where they had relocated, and settled – with good friendly neighbours.

Andrew had booked a place in Pickering (15 mins away). The ‘Spice 4U’ curry house was already pretty full at 7pm, so we were glad to have a reserved table. We had a lovely evening together, and enjoyed the food and conversation. There was quite a lot of food left over, as we had all had starters, so we got a very good doggy-bag to take home. We’d finished and paid up by 8.30pm, so we went back via Norton, and getting the chance to get a look at the lighting shop ‘Theatre of Lights’. It was really very impressive, and we hope they do well with it.

The daylight was fading, so Grandad was happy for Stew to drive us back to Filey, and it was about 10.30pm before we got back. We were soon off to bed as we were up early the next morning, when Jason arrived by 8am. We had a lovely morning and brekkie with Andrew and Jane in Scarborough, before we headed off to Whitby. The drive was so nice, though we were dodging rain clouds all the time.

 

We found the Folly Gardens camping in Whitby, off Green Lane close to the Abbey. It was not cheap by any stretch of the imagination – 20 quid, our small tent and bike. No power or wifi, no camp kitchen, only decent toilets and showers with a wash-up sink! We got pitched up by 11.30am and then headed off into town.

 

We ended up on a 5 hr walk about – and the weather so improved. It was a gorgeous afternoon. The town was so busy with holidaymakers, but we easily avoided the crowds, heading up to the Abbey (the 199 steps) and then out on the South shore harbour wall, and onto the exposed beach under the cliffs, at low tide.

We were fossil hunting, and amazingly had some good finds. We even were able to get inside some of the sights we’d never been into before; the 12th century church, St Marys by the Sea, next to the Abbey, and also climbing the spiral staircase up the north mole lighthouse. We had views right across to the Abbey south, and north to the Captain Cook statue and whale bones. The afternoon weather was quite spectacular, as we enjoyed the sights of the old ‘RNLI lifeboat’ and ‘bark Endeavour’ taking tourists for a 30 min ride out in the North Sea.


It was lovely to see the traditional donkeys and an ice cream van on the beach too. There were only a few paddlers in the later afternoon sunshine, and we only saw one person totally in the water – its so not appealing after what we are now used to in Perth !

Well neither of us fancied anything like a big meal after last night and this morning. So we just got a few scoobie snacks, and some wine to take back to the tent. We wandered back calling in at the last tavern before camp; Theakston’s ‘Middle Earth’. We would have sat outside, except it was full of smokers, so we got a nice quiet spot on the first floor by the window overlooking the yachts. After that we took one of the narrow back snickets, the ‘Salt pan well steps’, and steep ascent back up to the campground. Once back at camp, it was so lovely to sit out on our new chairs, and read another hour with a glass of wine before turning in for the night.

The weather turned again and the rain pounded down for hours through the night. It was still pattering on the tent when Stew got up for a pee around 8am. I turned over for a half hour snooze; definitely no rush to get up – and thankfully when we did decide we really should get up, the rain had actually baited. So we emerged from the soggy tent to a very turbulent grey sky – definitely more rain on the horizon. We were just hoping for a bit of a respite, so the tent would dry out for us to pack away. So we dressed and ate our yoghurt and museli, then headed out in the drizzle with our raincoats, into town for a cuppa tea. By the time we headed back up to camp it had stopped raining, so we did manage a pretty dry pack up.

We really hoped we could take the old ‘Roman road’ back to Pickering, but in the end the weather was against us. We managed a lovely ride through Goathland, and then out on the road passed ‘Fylingdales’ – the skies were so brooding and black, then the rain hit us – so we pulled in at the high pass car park, and put on our waterproofs. It was very hit and miss, as the roads we rode were so wet with recent downpours, and with the huge vistas over the moors we could see the rain all around. We didn’t do too bad in the end, and then getting off the A64 services passed York, we decided to pack the waterproofs away, as we called in at Macs for lunch. Being accosted by a very chatty local, wanting to talk about all things bike. We ended up giving him one of our travel cards.

So onto the last stretch of road and an hour later we were back, yet again, in Dewsbury, Yorkshire……welcomed back by Lez and Elaine. We soon found there had been no post for us while we were away,  so still waiting for our passports, and now really hoping they would get here in the next week ?

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