Category Archives: Lincolnshire

Chips at the Dolphin

I’ve been going to the Dolphin fish and chip restaurant for around 30 years. When I sold chickens to farmers in Lincolnshire I would make a detour two or three times a year to walk round Sutton and then have lunch at the Dolphin.

We have been most years, either with the kids or just as a couple. It was always OK rather than outstanding, but has always been a pleasant place to eat. Over the years various owners have made improvements, though this has been accompanied by the occasional lapse, and in the last few years, they seem to have been selling off household goods to raise cash. It did start to look a bit like a jumble sale, but when we visited on Wednesday it was a lot tidier.

It has also grown an assortment of notices prohibiting various sorts of behaviour. I can’t give examples as I didn’t really read them. I prefer my food without too many petty rules.

Haddock Special at the Dolphin Fish Bar, Sutton on Sea

Haddock Special at the Dolphin Fish Bar, Sutton on Sea

The Haddock Special was £9.95, not £8.95 as stated in various reviews, and tea is not included in that. The chip portion was sufficient, though not generous, and the peas were also served in a smaller pot than we remember. That wasn’t the worst thing though, they were a bit tasteless too. All in all, not the best “special” we’ve had.

You can’t order at the table now either. It’s not a big thing, but it is a sign of the erosion of standards of service.

Finally, on that subject, when someone asked for tapwater they were told it was 50p a glass. Now, the law states that only places selling alcohol have to provide tapwater free of charge, and they are, it seems, allowed to charge for service and use of the glass. As the Dolphin doesn’t serve alcohol they don’t need to offer free tapwater, but on the other hand, it’s another nail in the coffin of customer service.

However, if you have a dog with you, you are welcome to bring the germ-ridden fleabag into the eating area, where I have no doubt it will be provided with free water, and if that’s not enough you can even buy frozen lactose-free yoghurt for your dog.

Frozen yoghurt for dogs - what next?

Frozen yoghurt for dogs – what next?

The staff were quick, efficient and reasonably cheerful, though they were arguably too efficient in clearing tables. I finished before Julia, as I come from a family of predatory snackers and speed is the best defence against food theft. The way they whipped my plate from the table was undeniably efficient, but felt like they were trying to get rid of me as soon as possible.

So that’s the report – declining portion size and a couple of queries over peas and service. It’s clean and efficient, and the food is generally good, but not so good we can’t find somewhere else equally as good. We will probably do that next time.

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Wall tiles – Sutton on Sea

Sutton on Sea – a Pierless Place by the Sea

We went to Sutton on Sea on Wednesday. It doesn’t have a pier, and never has had one, but it’s an excellent place to relax and eat ice cream and fish and chips. Well, that’s what I did, and it worked for me.

We walked along the seafront, had an ice cream, rejected the selection of sunhats on display and looked at the beach chalets.

The sun hats were either pink, pink with decorations or definitely made for women. As if pink ones aren’t for women. I’m trying to be a New Man but there are lines I will not cross. Pink baseball caps with a Playboy logo is well over that line.

The chalets are looking tired, and not a patch on the ones at Southwold. On the other hand, you can buy one for £12,995, though as there’s talk of ground rest it may not be freehold. The estate agents don’t seem to be doing much of a job of selling it. The green grass on the photos compared to the arid wasteland on my photos shows the passage of time. If you can’t sell a beach chalet in summer it must pose a question about your sales skills.

At least one patch of beach looked busy, but that was partly due to everyone being herded in between two flags. To be honest, I think we’re going over the top these days. In the old days we were just told not to swim when the red flags up and drowning was considered a matter of personal choice. Now we have lifeguards and all manner of bureaucracy. No wonder this country is going to the dogs with all this namby-pamby safety stuff.

The town is quite old-fashioned, free parking is available and there are plenty of non-chain shops, including sweets, baked goods and hardware.

This is a picture of the Lifeguard again, this time frightening pedestrians on a cycle.

Life Guard at Sutton on Sea, Lincolnshire

Life Guard at Sutton on Sea, Lincolnshire

Please excuse the 1970’s style postcard colour in the photos, I set it on “Pop Art” to brighten things up a bit and forgot to take it off. It was quite a bright day but my standard setting was making it look grey.

This is where the scooter gang meets

This is where the scooter gang meets

There are a lot of retired people in Sutton, and consequently, a lot of scooters cluttering the place up. If speed kills, some of the residents of Sutton are going to live a long, long time.

And finally, a look at the war memorial. It’s 100 years since the foundation of the RAF and Lincolnshire, having been heavily involved in military aviation from before the founding of the RAF, is making a big effort to commemorate it. For some reason the contributions of the Royal Flying Corps, and Royal Naval Air Service mean nothing, but the founding of an amalgamated air service on 1st April 1918 (who thought of that date?) and a uniform reputedly designed by a chorus girl using leftover material from a cancelled Russian order.

 

Next – a fish and chip review.

Reflections, Shopping and Scent

We went to the doctor his morning as Julia has now been caught up in the excitement of the endless round of blood tests and unwanted health advice. She had two appointments so I waited in the car park and did some paperwork.

After that we had breakfast and headed off for Springfields. I first went there when I was a small child, feeling like I was being punished by being made to walk round ornamental gardens full of tulips. On a really bad day we had to stand and watch an entire tulip festival. It was like a visit to the garden but the tulips drove past, so you didn’t even get the excitement of walking.

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The Fragrance Shop, Springfields

There are clearly big savings to be had if you like scent. However, as I am explaining to Julia, reflected in the window, it still looks expensive to me. Aftershave, as you may gather from looking at my reflection, does not play a big part in my life.

The gardens were looking good in the sun, though the autumn colour has been disappointing this year. I’m sure we will be back in Spring and will take more pictures, which will give a better idea of the gardens and sculptures.

Things don’t change much, even after the passage of fifty years. There’s a large shopping complex and garden centre built on half the gardens now, but as I walk round the shops with Julia I still get the feeling of being punished. Only the presence of a bookshop lightens my load.

And cake. Even the worst pre-Christmas shopping trip can be brightened by the presence of a good slab of clementine drizzle cake.

 

Donna Nook – Seals (2)

As I hinted in the last post, there’s a bit of a disaster looming, though, to be fair, it sort of worked out alright.

We arrived at the car park after a trek across Lindsey (one of the ancient divisions of Lincolnshire) and found it was full. Worse than that, there were a couple of people lurking round waiting for spaces so it was a slow job getting round and finding the overspill car park. This one costs £2 but they have portable toilets, and after journey of one and a half hours this was quite a welcome feature.

From the car park it only took a couple of minutes to walk over the sea defences and down to the beach. That was when disaster struck. I raised the camera to take a picture of the Donna Nook sign and…

…do you remember that I said in the last post that part of my plan for the morning had been to take my camera card out of the card reader and fit it in the camera?

Have you ever had that “Memory Full” message? I have. It’s a dreadful thing to see when you’re miles from home and you’re planning on a big photo session.

I suppose it’s already obvious that I managed to get round this, but for a moment I have to admit I was somewhat downcast. The solution was really quite simple – clear the camera’s limited memory (around 30 pictures) and use it to store a limited number of pictures.

Here are the results.

 

There will be more seals in a few weeks, as this is just the start of the season. The best season on record resulted in over a thousand pups, so I deduce there could be ten times as many seals by the end of the month. That’s a lot of seals.

There was also a warning notice, as Donna Nook is still an active RAF bombing range. I have heard them bombing sometimes when travelling in the area, though they don’t bomb when the seals are ashore.

There was plenty to see other than seals – including Pied Wagtails,Skylarks, Starlings, Shelducks, Redshanks, Crows and Great Black-backed Gulls. There was plenty of sea buckthorn too.

Zen and the Art of Procrastination

It’s time to start sorting out my life. How many times have you heard that? I know I’ve said it several times.

As things stand, I’m not reading books, I’m not reading blogs and I’m not getting enough decluttering done. That’s not to say that I’m idling my time away, I’m still writing, I’m still cooking (in a determondly average sort of way) and I’m spending time on ebay.

I’m happy with the writing time but the time on ebay needs decreasing. Originally I was looking at it with a view to learning current prices and looking at starting to sell on ebay again. It hasn’t quite worked like that and I’m back, once again, to collecting.

The intention was actually to clear the house and live a life of zen simplicity interspersed with the holidays we’ve not had over the years.

It has struck me recently, as I’ve sat cogitating my hospital experience and the nature of mortality, that I’m on the downward leg of the journey to three score years and ten. I’m 60 next birthday (as I was recently reminded), and this isn’t a two way street.

I’m also mindful that health problems prevented my parents carrying out their retirement plans. They still had a long and happy retirement, but it wasn’t the one they had planned. In fact Dad is still with us and still enjoying himself. However, he would probably be enjoying himself more if things had gone to plan.

So there you are, a slice of philosophical misery. Not very cheerful but something I wanted to talk about for some time as it’s important, and I’m interested if anyone has any views.

I’ve been meaning to write it for some time but I never get round to it.

Two go to Anderby Creek

Anderby Creek is, according to its website,  Lincolnshire’s hidden coastal gem. Or, to quote Julia, it’s “like the places we used to go in the sixties”. Even the name makes it sound like an Enid Blyton story.

The website admits to having five caravan parks and a chalet park, so I’m not quite sure what it will be like in summer – but I’m guessing that the word “unspoilt”, as used on their website, is relative. They are, however, free from amusement arcades and night clubs, though there is a cafe, a couple of shops, a pub, a Cloud Bar and a car park. In the high season I imagine it’s a badly heated version of hell.

Out of season, as one a warmish spring evening, it was a very acceptable way of spending an hour on the beach taking pictures and thinking of chips.

I didn’t go up to the top deck due to my creaky knee and a deeply held belief I didn’t need to see more sand. Julia went up because she’s more adventurous than me – they have mirrors for looking at clouds and information boards. Each to his own.

I liked the poem on the goose silhouettes, though I’m not sure why they didn’t use cloud shapes.

It’s part of a series of structures along the coast – Structures on the Edge. This is the second we’ve seen, though we didn’t realise at the time. The wave-like screen we saw at Frampton Marsh is actually one, called Reflector. I don’t have a photo, because it’s on the card I lost.

On the way to the beach we’d passed several sets of telegraph wires covered in hundreds of Starlings so we kept a lookout as the sun went down, and weren’t disappointed when three groups of Starlings started to whirl around the sky. It wasn’t a massive murmuration, but it was one, and there were just two of us to see it. The picture only shows one of the three flocks, by the time they’d joined up I couldn’t get a decent shot.

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Murmuration of Starlings – Anderby Creek

As I said to Julia, I may have my faults, but how many husbands would lay on a murmuration especially for their wife.

Then we went for chips.

 

Time goes by

Sorry, this is one of those posts that runs contrary to the nature of time. After telling you about the visit to Gibraltar Point I still had plenty to tell, and was going to post a second installment on Wednesday.  However, as you know, I had a lucky escape yesterday, (or a frustrating waste of time, depending on point of view), and wrote about Carsington Water.

I could have written about my view of the National Health Service, but why bother. They waste enough of my time without me going over it all again.

So, going back in time two days, imagine yourself standing on a windswept saltmarsh, with just a visitor centre, a car park and some bits of whalebone for company.

 

There’s no explanation with the whale bones, they are lined up and left on the grass. I’m assuming that it hasn’t been done by the person responsible for grass cutting. These could be from the 1985 whale, they certainly look old enough and the size seems right. However, there are a lot of dead whales knocking about on that part of the coast when you start looking at the links. Mass strandings and art installations are all part of the story, and according to this report a sunfish and blue shark were also washed ashore in 1998.

The first birds we saw, whilst walking back to the car, appeared in a big noisy flock, flying between trees. They were against the light and just looked like tubby brown birds. We didn’t have the telescope with us (no more will be said on that subject, as Julia is of the opinion that I mentioned it enough on Tuesday) and we couldn’t get a good look with the binoculars. I couldn’t even get a decent photograph, though we did manage to see streaked underparts, white face markings and black breast markings.

I haven’t seen Corn Buntings for a while, but that’s what they were. In addition they were very vocal (a song described as “jangling keys” in the book) and (biggest clue of all) there was a flock of 40 Corn Buntings recorded in the sightings book.

It was a good start to the day, which got better when we drove to the other car park and heard the call of waders. Two curlews flew over as we were standing by the car deciding which way to go. That made the decision easier.

In the first hide, after mentioning that things would have been better with a telescope (I’m reporting what I said, here, not actually commenting on People Who Forget Your Telescope) we immediately saw a variety of birds, which became better when two avocets flew across to join an assortment of dots in the distance. The dots proved to be more avocets (23 in all, when we managed to count them) though, due to lack of telescope, we had to move hides to complete the count.

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Avocets, Canada Goose and Cormorants

There were other birds about, including (on the other side of the road) a male Goldeneye that kept diving just as I tried to take the photo and a pair of mating Mallards. I would normally have allowed them some privacy but the fact they disappeared underwater completely several times made it more more interesting. By the time I got round to using the video button they stopped and swam away. It’s quite clear that Mallard drakes aren’t gentlemen.

There was a lot to see, and we saw quite a lot of it. However, there is still a lot more to see so, as with everywhere we go, we will be going back.

We went home the long way round, but that’s a story for another post.