Off to the coast

With all this (surely temporary) glorious sunshine around at the moment we decided that we’d be better off spending some time increasing our chances of skin cancer rather than moping around in the gloom of our appartment. With increased levels of UV radiation in mind we headed off to the coast yesterday afternoon.

Now, Nottingham is fairly central and the nearest town to the coast is probably Boston, and that’s 62 miles away according to Google Maps. Boston is exactly a seaside town but it is located pretty close to the Wash, so we figured we might have a chance of grabbing some sea air. I haven’t been to Boston in at least ten years but it’s only a short drive from my old base at RAF Coningsby and it happens to be where I passed my driving test back in the early 90s.

Even during my earlier visits to Boston I don’t remember seeing the sea. This is because you can’t – Boston is sat on an estuary for the Rivers Witham and Haven and isn’t actually on the coast at all. It’s near the coast but I really wouldn’t turn up here expecting to be able to paddle on the beach or find any crabs in rock pools. It’s not that sort of place.

The Market Square area of Boston is quite pretty, if a little deserted for a Sunday afternoon. I was expecting to see more people about but it was pretty quiet. We parked up and headed for a look at Saint Botolphs Church, better known as Boston Stump. This impressive church dominates the skyline from just about anywhere in Boston. The interior is simple but beautiful and allows visitors to head up some stairs for spectacular views of the local area.

The church was near to closing time when we arrived but I did get a few interesting shots of the place.

Boston Stump (by rutty)

Boston is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. I wouldn’t drive hundreds of miles for a specific visit – there’s really not a whole lot here – but if you’re on your way past then it’d be criminal not to come and see it for yourself. The view from the bridges crossing the river are quite lovely, even though the tide was out and there was plenty of mud on display.

Boston Stump (by rutty)

So, there was no sea air in Boston to be had so we headed off up the coast in the hope of finding somewhere with a beach. It’s funny in that I’d spent nearly seven years of my life in Lincolnshire but I’d not really explored this part of the Lincolnshire coast at all. I’d visited Skegness a few times (who hasn’t!) but I really didn’t know what we’d find.

It wasn’t long before we found a sign for Freiston Shore. This is a bird sanctuary on the Wash and we figured that we’d have a good chance of seeing some sea and breathing in some lovely salt-laden sea air. Well, we say plenty of birds but the sea was a little more evasive.

Freiston Shore (by rutty)

It all looked a bit dry for a supposed wetland environment but they had some nice facilities there, including a hide so that all the geese and ducks couldn’t see you. Surprisingly, most birds opted to loiter close to the carpark rather than the hide. Still, this was only a very small area of the whole reserve so we headed up the path to a nearby band where we hoped we could see the sea. We could – just.

Freiston Shore (by rutty)

That hint of blue in the far distance is the entrance to the Wash, essentially the sea. There was no beach within easy walking distance and no salty sea air. Still, the sun was still out and there was a refreshing breeze keeping us cool enough. We might not have needed our bucket and spade but we were still happy to be out in the great outdoors.

Time was getting short so we decided to head back towards Nottingham via some of my old stomping grounds. We found some roads that headed in the general direction of RAF Coningsby and tried to follow the map to get us there. Here I rediscovered one reason why I sometimes hated living in Lincolnshire. Someone in charge over there really hates road signs. Boston is appalling for this – you may get one sign pointing you in roughly the right direction but it’s not long before you end up at a junction with no signs and no clue where to go next. The whole of Lincolnshire is like this it seems.

Still, we managed to navigate in roughly the right direction until we happened upon a rather pleasant surprise. We found the Sibsey Trader Windmill and we managed to get there before they closed. It’s a lovely six-sailed windmill and they have a very nice café there too. It’s in the middle of nowhere (like most of Lincolnshire) and I had another good excuse to break out the camera.

Sibsey Trader Windmill (by rutty)

There are a number of windmills in Lincolnshire but this has to be the nicest one I’ve seen. It’s still in working order and still producing its own flour. Jo bought herself a bag – she likes baking bread for our lunches and I rather enjoy eating it.

From here we headed over to RAF Coningsby – my first proper posting in the RAF after trade training. On the way there we headed through New York (somewhat smaller than NYC) and into the amusingly monikered Dogdyke. I used to share a house with three friends in 1990 and I thought I’d be easily able to pick out which one it was. My memory, however, failed me. We saw one house that might have been the one I lived in for a year but I really couldn’t be sure.

Still, a few hundred yards past Dogdyke is RAF Coningsby. I had some wonderful years here working with some great people and I was amazed to see that the place had hardly changed at all, at least from what I could see from road. There was even one of those “temporary” rubber hangers in exactly the same place I remember from when I left in 1996! The Tornadoes may have been replaced by Typhoons but the place still looks exactly how I left it.

From Coningsby we headed down the A453 towards Sleaford. How, here was a town I was sure to remember having lived here for six years and owning a house on the outskirts. Sadly, some bugger had decided to rejig the entire road system and introduce a one-way loop all the way around the town centre. The bastards! We drove round here three times before I remembered where the turn-off for my old estate was. We eventually found the right road and stopped and stared at my old house for a while. I sold this for £41,500 back in 1996 but I’m sure it’s worth a lot more now! The new owners had replaced the windows but it still looked the same.

Memory Lane well and truly revisited we headed home for tea. It wasn’t long before the flat, generally boring countryside of Lincolnshire was replaced by the much prettier rolling hills of Nottinghamshire. I really didn’t get on with the Fens. They’re too flat and there are too many fields full of cabbages, potatoes and sprouts for it to be considered “beautiful” to me. Give me some hills any day.