This way please…

Wedding Sign

Cartmel, Cumbria, UK.

A response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, Trio

 

MinG

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Back on Track

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.”

I am blessed to live in an area criss-crossed with public footpaths and bridleways.

Perfect for that week-end recharge.

Here are three instagram edited snapshots taken close to home. Not masterpieces but they sum up some of my happy places.

MinG

Which Way Now

Which Way Now

Towards The Light

Towards The Light

A Bright Spot On A Cloudy Day

A Bright Spot On A Cloudy Day

On The Prime Merdian, Day Six : Missed Chances

It’s taken me several months to get round to finishing this….

The sky was looking decidedly overcast when we set off for Donnington-On-Bain, but that didn’t deter us. We had ‘an appointment’ with the Feline Frolics trail laid by geocaching heroes “Waring and Bain” (names of Lincolnshire rivers in case you are wondering). The trail is another example of straightforward caches, aimed at children. Whilst we are not big on completing trails in one fell swoop, it could be a while before we are back again and the feline connection decided it for us.

Donnington-on-Bain is not far from the Belmont Mast (encountered on Day 1) and the Stenigot radar tower. This had been used as part of the Chain Home early warning system, used in World War Two. Nowadays, my learned friend informs me that the RAF send trainee communications engineers to climb the 360 foot tower to test their head for heights. We fortunately only had a minor incline to address along the side of the amusingly-named Horsebottom Plantation (Horseshoe Plantation is on the other side of the track, but what’s funny about that?).

At the top of the hill we wandered slightly off route to take a closer look at what is left of Stenigot.

Stenigot Mast and Dishes

Stenigot Mast and Dishes

It was hard to believe that this unassuming site was part of the defence of Great Britain. Lincolnshire is littered with so many relatively small scale operations which collectively proved so effective.

Twelve caches later we were back in Donnington-On-Bain village and returned to the car after purchasing lunch supplies from the general stores, where we I think we narrowly avoided being enrolled into a lottery syndicate.

More food supplies were required for later in the day, so we headed for The Willows, a garden centre with the (almost) obligatory food hall and delicatessen. When we reached the tills, the assistant asked if I could take advantage of the Thursday offer, whilst pointing to a sign promising 10% off for over 55s. “OVER 55!!” I screamed internally. I should point out that I have recently stopped dyeing my hair which is now grey with charming highlights of silver. I declined (I was “only” 47 at the time and it would have been dishonest). Needless to say, himself was stood behind me stifling a giggle. Had my pride not hijacked my usually quick-wit humour, I would have said “Oh you must mean him” and accepted on his behalf only (he was only 52 at the time).

When I told my boss this story he said that I should have accepted the saving without further comment. He is an accountant.

Pride wounded and full-price provisions secured, we headed to a lay-by in Kirton in Lindsey, for lunch and a potential 13th cache of the day. After dining, I stepped out of the car and strode out to the expected cache hide, only to be cut off by a car pulling in and parking at the right next to the tree that I was going to investigate. I sloped back. We made a coffee and waited for the muggle to move on. And waited. And waited. Eventually we decided that it wasn’t worth wasting any more of our precious holiday time on an already cache-rich day.

Next stop Hemswell, a major antiques emporium, where we did not buy anything, but imagined a lottery win allowing us space and funding for the finer items. We also came across a basket identical to one referred to in Happy Saturday.

Just like I had as a child

Just like I had as a child

For the rest of the day I wondered if I should have bought that basket. Now, I know that it was the right thing to do. It wouldn’t smell of home, or fish and chips. I cannot bring back the past. The memories are enough.

We return to base via RAF Wickenby and talk ourselves out of using the BBQ, again.

It will be our last full day ahead tomorrow. Hrumph.

MinG

Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vertigo

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “ROY G. BIV.”

Unlike my much beloved, I had not heard of Roy G Biv as a method of remembering the colours of the rainbow. In our school, we learned:

Richard

Of

York

Gave

Battle

In

Vain

I’d enjoyed looking at several responses to this prompt and had been stuck for a suitable shot until this morning, when I saw the spines of the unwatched films in a Hitchcock box-set. Ok, so there’s one extra shade in there, but I was struck by the coincidence of the seven other spine colours.

Like most of the films so far, to good to miss.

ROYGBIV - Hitchcock Style

MinG

 

Nice is a Four Letter Word

In an early English Language class we were told that marks would be deducted from our composition exercises if we used the word nice.

Nice wasn’t singled out for this dubious honour, other innocent assemblies of letters were also in the firing line. Lovely knew that its days were numbered.

It was made clear to us. Nice wasn’t nice. Nice was bad, and so was bad. Bad and nice should be put into a plastic bag and drowned. Happy should be pleased with that. Although I suspect that he, along with other the dwarf-adjectives could be next in line, except for Bashful and Doc, and possibly Sneezy.

I’m posting today because I haven’t had the words to complete posts relating to our recent holiday in the Lincolnshire Wolds. I became tired of describing the sky. It was getting ‘samey’  (not a friend of Snow White). I don’t like that word but it fits. I’m no great wordsmith. I have wit and I use puns well, but I shall not be appearing on ‘The Verb’ any time soon. I suppose that I am writing a journal which you are welcome to read and I appreciate your input, but it is, essentially it is for me.

I am reminded of a post from a blog that I follow where Quilt Musings searches for a wider vocabulary. Oh the dangers of reaching for the Thesaurus and stepping outside of your natural style.

Anyway, for the time being, I am lost for words for days six and seven.

More later

(I hope)

MinG

On The Prime Merdian, Day Five : Step Back In Time

Warning : Geocache Spoiler

The course of a Roman Road runs through the neighbouring of Tetford and has remained in public access as a bridleway to the west, and a footpath to the east. We had already walked a small distance along the bridleway at sunset (see Day Three). The lure of a couple of caches placed along the way was a bonus, but it was the pull of seeing those magical words “Roman Road” on the OS Map that put this on the tick list when planning our visit weeks ago. Not that we expected to be accosted by a Centurian demanding that we paid our dues to Hadrian before being allowed to proceed, there is just something alluring about taking steps along ancient ways. We do it all the time (I drive through Chester ten times a week), but we rarely notice. Hmm… maybe another project?

The weather is fine, blue skies and a slightly chilly breeze to take the heat out of the sun. We boot up and set off on our way.

Heading West Along The Roman Road

There’s a deserted farm house which is marked on the OS Map and which we can see from the outskirts of Tetford and the Blue Stone Ridge. It is named as Glebe Farm and is in a state of ruin. We remember it as appearing deserted on our previous holiday in the area seven years ago but not how far it had declined at that time. Now it has no roof and soulless light peeps through the windows. We had hoped that the route would bring us closer, but we respect the Private sign on the track to Glebe and I record its current state today.

No Public Access to Glebe Farm

Noticeably the track up to the farm appears constantly used. Maybe the nearby working farm uses it for storage, or maybe the track provides useful access to the tops of fields, but the buildings are still deserted. Perhaps there are plans to re-occupy Glebe Farm?

We later pondered the meaning of Glebe as it features in the names of several farms in the area. Its name means a piece of land allocated to a church office. An alternate name is the church furlong. Church Furlong Farm doesn’t really trip off the tongue. Oddly there was another Glebe farm close by, and arguably closer to a church. Simon has suggested that the farm’s downfall might have been caused by a leaky roof left unrepaired, as the builder ended up at the wrong Glebe farm and left confused. I somehow doubt this.

Our search for caches is successful and whilst we are sat on a bridge signing the log of a novelty duck cache, we are ambushed by a couple who are walking a dog. When I say ambushed, I mean that they accidentally stumbled across two grown adults laughing hysterically at a duck made up like William Shakespeare sitting on an English Dictionary. I bet that will be discussed in the snug tonight, “You’ll never believe what Jim and I saw this morning…”. Needless to say they returned our greeting a little hesitantly and left rather hastily.

To quack or not to quack...

To quack or not to quack…

After a return trip past derelict Glebe, we head back to the cottage to de-boot before setting off for Belton House and Gardens. This is a fine-looking stately home (we’ve never been inside) with picturesque formal gardens and  a woodland walk.

View of The House

View of Belton House

It makes for a gentle day, strolling around the grounds, dodging the school parties. The property is a fine example of the National Trust in action. We are greeted by a friendly but not overbearing admissions clerk, who scans our membership badges, checks that the new ones have arrived (ours are expiring this month) and asks if we’ve visited before. We tell him that we have and he wishes us an enjoyable day. The gardens and paths are smartly presented. The café and shop are well stocked and attended, and there is a nod away from the corporate towards to self-sufficiency with a second-hand book shop and plant sales. It is NT-clean without being without its own personality.

We visit the church which has an interesting door – saving that picture for a WP challenge.

Belton Pond

The formal gardens are rather fine.

Belton Orangery

The Orangery

The wash of forget-me-nots in front of the orangery were close to losing their colour, but we were just in time.

Belton Path

Neat and Tidy

But our favourite part of the visit is the woodland walk.

Sadly not native Bluebells

Sadly not native Bluebells

Even though the car park was fairly full, there is space here, not quite far from the madding crowd, but enough for us. After our wanders, there is the obligatory trip to the gift shop and we have an ice-cream before leaving.

Yet again, we’re on the search for food. This time heading for “The Boston Sausage” company. Lincolnshire has its own style of sausage. Well its more of a filling than a style, with an abundance of sage and other savoury herbs in the mix. But mainly sage. According to our local food rag, the Boston Sausage Company have opened a butchers in a local farm shop and we have a voucher! We have rough directions and feel sure that we’ve visited it two years ago when it was disappointing. Sausage signs start to appear as we near our destination and it is the same venue.

The butchers have a wide selection of prepared meats (we’re on holiday and don’t want to work too hard) and we leave with sausage pie and duck breasts in a mystery marinade.  The veg in farm shop is still disappointing and we hurry out before anyone can attempt to serve us.

The duck breasts are so tender (cooked with care) and we partner them with fresh local asparagus and a store cupboard favourite, cannellini bean mash.

We couldn’t agree on the likely marinade ingredients, so it remains a mystery. To be honest, I prefer it that way.

MinG

On The Prime Meridian Day Four

Say Cheese

Whilst I might proclaim that for us, geocaching is not all about the numbers, we decided to complete a trail this morning.  Not a power trail, of which Lincolnshire boast several with over fifty caches. We cannot imagine completing one of those in a day, to us that’s the waste of a good walk. No, today’s trail had a humble seven caches placed around Snipe Dales Country Park.

Snipe Dales is, as the crow flies, less than five miles south of our cottage, so only a short journey. On arrival we boot up and set off in search of treasure. Which doesn’t take long because, by pure chance, we have parked less than one hundred yard away from cache one. Himself finds the little blighter (it was as tiny as a Lusby churchyard pony – see Day 2 post).

These caches have been aimed at children which means no shinning up trees or stretching too high (some require a little ducking down low, which falls to me, being more diminutive). It also means that we do not spend too long searching and can enjoy the country park walk. We come to a clearing where there is a special landmark:

Meridan Stone in Snipe Dales

Meridian Stone In Snipe Dales

 So here is our proof of at some point being on the Prime Meridian. We note the reference to a Lincolnshire local. It seems everyone wants a part of the meridian action. We took a little time to  stand in the place where we were and faced North, then faced South. It doesn’t feel any different to any other point in the park. Not that I was expecting this.

It’s a pretty little spot and we soon complete all but one of the caches on a ‘circular route’ with surprising changes in gradient in the final few sectors. As we leave, a coach full of small school children appear, wide-eyed and excited to be outside the classroom. I bet that they find the cache where we failed.

Snipe Dales Path

Snipe Dales Path

 

Next we head to nearby market town Spilsby. It isn’t market day so we find it easy to park and head to purchase some Lincolnshire Poacher  cheese from a shop which doesn’t sell any. We are told that the butchers would be able to sell us some if it wasn’t half day closing. It’s not even half eleven, so we are thwarted by the moveable feast of Spilsby half-day closing and depart the town cheese-less.

Our next attempt to purchase the Poacher is at one of two petrol stations which are situated on roundabouts at either end of a relatively short stretch of A-road. I am surprised that this can support two such enterprises, especially so for “petrol station one” which has a paucity of working pumps. We play musical chairs with other punters and secure some fuel. But no cheese in the attached ‘mini-mart’.

We put our cheese obsession on hold for a while and revisit Claythorpe Water Mill and Wildfowl Gardens. We pull up in the spacious grassy parking area and decide that this would be a good spot for our lunch. When we finish and stroll over to the admission desk we spot the sign “Picnics In The Car Park Are Strictly Prohibited”. We glance around furtively, decide that we haven’t been rumbled, brush the crumbs from our faces and try to act hungry.

The wildfowl area has been given a makeover, there are better footpaths, clearer signs and new additions, some of  which are hiding and are only evident by a vague murmur from their nest. Or is it a recording? The birds prove difficult to photograph, so this is the best I could do without holding up other visitors’ access.

Claythorpe Cockerel

 

Back on the Cheese trail, we locate a sizeable garden centre (“It’s bound to have a local produce section”), where I get a little claustrophobic as I have left my retail head behind. The only produce we find to our liking is some asparagus which we purchase from a woman who insists on telling us about her visit to the dentists that morning: “He completely numbed my face” she says. This hasn’t prevented her from giving us a blow-by-blow account of her treatment. I might sound unsympathetic, but I need to leave, now.

We turn our attention to searching for briquettes for the BBQ which we have no idea how to use. Ironic that we do this just after leaving a garden centre (home of all things BBQ). I think that the need to get out outweighed and temporarily obliterated all other items on our agenda. The BBQ is different to the one back home, but as the weather is half decent, we will burn some food tonight. With this in mind we head to the Not Much Better Petrol Station which sits nearest to ‘petrol station one’. Its fails to creep above the mediocrity of its rival by attempting to overcharge us. It has such a complicated refund system that the assistant has to call for managerial help twice. There is of course, only one till and we can feel the eyes of an angry queue building behind us. With the correct change we make a quick exit, avoiding eye contact with anyone.

Our afternoon coffee stop is in a windy but very pretty spot on a minor road close to Tetford.

Big Big Lincolnshire Skies

 

We chill and are chilled by the breeze. Again, I am very taken with the big skies.

We could head directly home, but we have one last attempt at purchasing cheese and are rewarded at an organic farm shop in High Toynton. Sadly, we are too late in day for the best cuts of meat and leave with leeks, cheese and two greetings cards. At least we have our Poacher which we enjoy with a wee dram later. At this point we are not sure how we will use leeks and asparagus on the BBQ.

Close to the cottage is Belchford. Locally famous for hunting, thankfully now drag hunting. It also has a pretty (and locked) church surrounded by a peaceful churchyard, where we take a short walk and gather our thoughts.

Belchford Chuchyard

 

Back at the cottage we are thwarted by not knowing exactly how to use the BBQ (it’s gas, not like back home) and eat indoors. Despite our meanderings from plan, or perhaps because of them it has been another good day and we look forward to more tomorrow.

 

MinG

On The Prime Meridian, Day Three

On the ground, in the skies.

Amongst the plans we made before arriving here was a trip to the nearest fishmonger in Louth. We are not that far from Grimsby where fish is still landed on a daily basis and we hope that this will mean fine fresh produce. A simple view in these days of global food transportation, but we’ll hold onto it for now. Besides, fresh fish doesn’t travel that well. Unless it is in the sea.

On this basis we make an early dash to Louth to visit Igloo Foods.

As we wend our way through its higgledy piggledy town centre I get a sense of faded glory. Louth is a market town and thankfully has many apparently thriving independent shops, a diversity of trades – an active ironmongers is always a good sign to me. But the discount shops have moved in. Just here and there, not in great numbers. I wonder how it will look in five years time, or maybe only two.

There are a couple of characters about who, given a change from shell suit to Victorian street garb, would have been ne’er do wells in a Dickensian novel. The ambling youth later blocking our way, apparently innocently staring into a shop window (it was empty), then following us a little too close until I brave a sharp stare – I’m onto you – and stop him in him in his tracks, is a case in point.

Only when we reach the next corner do we realise how quiet that little side-street was. I ask Si if he saw the man with the roll-up sat on the steps near to where we encountered our temporary shadow. Despite this, I love this type of town. Narrow dysfunctional streets, not knowing where you are, a slightly shabby appearance being spruced up in random places, independent traders each with their own speciality, having to visit at least four shops for your weekly purchases, and recommendations of who might have exactly what you want.

I also favour this time of day, just before opening time. Blinds being raised, unloading of goods, shouted “hello”s and “nice day”s, butchers carving up and hanging meat carcasses, windows and pavements being washed down, savvy shoppers arriving early for the best cuts, the promise of a good day’s trade.

We collect our fish, grab a quick cache, then revert to type and complete the shopping in the co-op supermarket. Sad really.

A quick drop off of provisions then onto Gunby Hall, a National Trust property with pretty gardens and a prettier cat called Committee, because she looks like she has been designed by one. Much like Min the cat back home. She lazily greets us whilst sunning herself on the path to the greenhouse.

Designed By Committee

Committee the cat

We find that we do not tend to visit the houses of National Trust properties, but the gardens and woodland walks. The former gives me ideas for our more modest patch back home, and the latter allows us to stretch our legs in a tame environment, plus some ideas for the wilder (less maintained) part of our garden. Gunby has the added bonus of a church (sadly locked), with views over the fields.

Close to the estate, and still part of it, is Monksthorpe Chapel, which has what looks like a cess pit, but is in fact a disused outdoor baptistery. On our way there we pass the former site of RAF Spilsby, now featuring a poultry farm. Large sheds emit a familiar smell, pervasive and persistent. We are pleased to leave and head to a grass verge near Revesby to have our lunch.

Being in these parts means a trip to Coningsby, home of the RAF Typhoons. It’s a sunny day and makes for good plane watching. Himself is pleased as we sit in the car park full of similar couples but mainly many solo males armed with tele-photo lenses galore.

Down the road is Tattershall village boasting a fine 15th century castle-keep. We have visited before, decline the audio tour and head straight for the ramparts.

One of Tattershall's  Corner Towers

One of Tattershall’s corner towers

It’s a clear day and the views are splendid. Lincolnshire does not have the dramatic beauty that you find in Snowdonia or the Lake District, but, being reasonably flat, you get a real sense of space around you. The skies here are huge. Really huge.

Big skies seen from Tattershall Castle

Big skies seen from Tattershall Castle,

Next to the castle and visitor centre is the Holy Trinity Collegiate Church. A fine building with intricate stone work and a wonderful east window.

The Holy Trinity Collegiate Church, Tattershall

East window, Holy Trinity Collegiate Church, Tattershall

We return to the cottage via another of our favourite spots, known to us as the Scenic Lay-by. It is on the blue stone ridge and its allows us to look over towards the cottage, just about.

Part of a failed panoramic shot from The Blue Stone Scenic Lay-by

Part of a failed panoramic shot from The Blue Stone Scenic Lay-by

Dinner is delicious. Halibut baked in lemon and pepper, accompanied by purple sprouting broccoli and seasonal Boston new potatoes.

 

We round the day off with an impromptu stroll partway along the Roman Road which passes though Tetford.

Roman Road Sunset

Splendid. Just splendid.

 

MinG