Skegness, Oh yes!
I had never been to Skegness before; when I got there I realised why.
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Situated 42 miles east of beautiful Lincoln on the East Lincolnshire coastline, battered by the relentless brown mass of the North Sea, looking out the icy wind at a sea of wind farms, generating enough energy to light up every amusement arcade along the strip, this really is the last place on earth.
Skegness, Oh yes!
I was looking forward to this trip out to the seaside. As every mile of A road twisted and turned towards our destination, I became less and less enthusiastic, the 42 miles took 90 precious minutes, in the face of a steady stream of vehicles escaping back to normality in the other direction, why are so many people coming away from this resort on a pleasant Saturday morning I thought; I can see why now.
Finally arrived, having driven out to a desolate car park at the Sea View Pullover on the edge of town next to a derelict Sun City Amusement Park, where a giant digger was noisily smashing up a huge fibreglass tyrannosaurus.
Windswept, everything closed, desolate; a long time since any fun was had here.
It’s time to don five layers of windproof clothing plus hat scarf and gloves, to climb down from the Discovery into a world that forty years ago was a thriving family holiday destination, the jewel in the crown of the Lincolnshire Riviera.
Immediately switched the Leica to Black and White; monochrome is the best method here I thought, everything is grey anyhow, 50 shades no doubt behind some of those closed doors.
The North beach itself is a beautiful if baron place, but it would be in February. Stretching for miles towards the distant Butlins encampment to the North, where thousands of caravans line up in Google maps to resemble a military encampment. We turned south and into the bracing wind, towards the pier; that’s the pier that mysteriously stops 300 yards before it meets the sea, seemingly not fancying its chances against the swirling waves battering the beach beyond it.
After a couple of miles taking in the lifeboat station and the South beach area it was time to turn inland and find a well-earned coffee; beautiful coffee aromas, Starbucks for a cinnamon swirl? Costa for a chocolate muffin? or Nero for a crisp biscotti?
Decisions decisions; time to consult the map…
Fat Chance! You are in Skegness, Oh yes!
It’s Greggs, or Greggs. A tomato soup and three sausage rolls for £2 take it or leave it.
In fact, finding any ‘mainstream’ shopping experiences in town were a challenge; Harrogate on sea? I think not. It’s not everywhere that you can find a strip joint above an amusement arcade.
There are certainly many parallels with Bridlington, another favourite monochrome East coast town that time forgot. See my 2014 blog post here.
There is a charm to these places, if you can avoid being mugged, and have the luxury of escaping to normality; it is a true experience to savour their delights on a windy cold February Saturday.
But of course for their residents, there is a fierce pride and loyalty, get off our patch, leave us alone; we don’t want you here. The glare from the teenagers in Gregg’s, the growl from the pit-bulls on the beach, the police van in the car park; the steamed-up cafe you didn’t dare to go in.
Skegness, Oh yes!