Staying in ‘Skeggy’ feels very much like a time-warp! I’ve just nipped down for breakfast before heading out. My attendance lowered the overall age of the rooms occupants by a couple of years at least! Whilst folk ate breakfast a medley of 1940-50s tunes played softly in the background. Two elderly couples sat opposite me were obviously regulars here. They were discussing how the hotel’s previous owners had gone bankrupt and stripped the place before they went “there wasn’t a lightbulb left” said one woman. I can imagine profit margins aren’t high here in Skegness, which makes the areas decision to vote Leave in the Brexit vote even more suicidal. It’s increased costs and made the place less attractive to foreign workers who’re the lifeblood of the hospitality trade. Last night the young English woman serving behind the bar was also changing barrels, sorting out the tech for the bingo caller and acting as receptionist. Talk about multi-tasking! Add in the fact that the majority of the folk staying in this hotel won’t be around in another 10 years and you don’t need to be a rocket-scientist to do the maths. This town is going to be in trouble…
Right now I’m off to have a quick look around before heading off to photograph the local rail line. I’ll update this blog as I go. As this will be done via my mobile phone, please forgive any typo’s – it’s not always easy to spot them when I’m on the move!
As you can see the town’s a hive of activity…
Wandering around and looking at all the tourist tat shops, cheap clothing stores and vaping shops I’m struck by how much the town’s reliant on cheap imports. How will they survive (never mind thrive) in a post Brexit tarriff barrier world? One other thing that strikes me as I wonder round is the fact most visitors are elderly. It reminds me of the old Colin Compton joke about Morecambe. “They don’t bury the dead, they just stand ’em up in the bus shelters”. You don’t need cycle parking here, you need spaces reserved for these.
As I had an hour to kill before catching my train I went and had a (much needed) haircut in a unisex hairdressers. The pkace was festooned with England flags in celebration of the world cup. On the TV Jeremy Kyle was interviewing a heavily tattooed young woman. Mercifully, the sound was turned so low I couldn’t hear proceedings. The young lady who cut my hair was lovely. She chatted about the forthcoming England match but what struck me was she was barely articulate, filling much of her sentences with so many ‘you knows’, ‘likes’ and other superflous and meaningless words that she often lost herself – never mind me!
I’ve move on to get a few pictures around the town of Bostonwhere I’ve found a lovely metaphor for Brexit. Boston had the highest leave vote of any town in the UK at 75%. I’ve just spotted this pub by the Grand Sluice…
This is the first time I’ve visited Boston and (despite it voting the way it did) I found it an attractive little town with a huge marketplace in the shadow of its magnificent church.
If I was to come this way again I’d far rather stay here then Skeggy as the historic buildings and narrow streets are great for photography. The market was in full swing when I passed through. One thing I did notice was the number of folk speaking the Slavic languages, plus the number of small shops selling food from Eastern Europe. I’ve little doubt this is what will have propelled the Brexit vote here, but the thought also occurred that – OK, if all these people left overnight, there’d be a huge amount of empty shops, rented flats and a very large hole in the economy. Who’d step into the breach – all those folks on mobility scooters in Skeggy?
Hubberts Bridge. 14.52.
I’m writing this from a little place called Hubberts Bridge. I came here to get scenic rail shots (as you’ll see later). The only problem is that the station only sees four trains a day, so I walked here from Boston! It’s only 3.5 miles, which is great exercise when you’re carrying a 13kg camera bag. The walk was lovely because once you’re out of Boston the route’s along a footpath on the side of the South forty foot drain, which is effectively a river teeming with birdlife. The railway runs aalong the opposite bank which makes it an ideal photographic location. I’ve certainly worked in worse places!
As you can see, it’s another red hot day – and I’m beginning to wonder if having a No1 haircut before I set off this morning was such a clever idea! At least Hubberts Bridge has a pub with shade. Handily enough it’s the other side of the river from the railway station and the next train’s not until 15:50. I may have to indulge…
Hubberts Bridge. 15:32.
Well I did have chance for a pint at the Wheatsheaf, but only one as they closed after lunch but as I was sat outside they never bothered telling me! It was only when I went to use the loo I found the door locked and all the lights out! Now I’m waiting on the station for my train. I can see why the service is so sparse, Apart from the pub, the bridge and a few scattered homes, there’s bugger all here!
The signalbox survives as the old wooden gates are hand operated and this is where the line becomes double track as far as Heckington to the West.
I’m now homeward bound on an “all shacks” EMT service to Nottingham after escaping the clutches of East Lincolnshire. The weather’s still absolutely stunning and I’ve a feeling this will prove to be the hottest day of the year so far. I’m certainly glad of the chance to give my skin some respite!
I’m taking the ‘scenic’ route home in an effort to make the most of the great weather. After a brief stop in Nottingham (where the light wasn’t really right) I’m now on a Cross-Country service heading for Derby. I rather like their Class 170s. They’re getting a little tired inside now but they’re comfortable units and the air-conditioning is welcome change from the forced air ventilation and hopper windows of the EMT 156 that brought me from Hubberts Bridge. So much so that I’ve had to put my jacket on. There’s also such luxuries as wifi – and a trolley service. My fellow passengers are a little different too. There’s far fewer folk competing to see who can get onset diabetes first. Oh, and the crap tattoo quotient’s taken a tumble too…
On the move again after a quick mooch around Derby station where the new island platform’s really taking shape. There’s also a massive new signal gantry straddling all the tracks at the South end. Network Rail have obviously designed it so that it can cope with overhead wires, the question is – will it ever see them?
I’m now on a 4-car Cross-Country Voyager heading for Sheffield, taking advantage of the power sockets to keep my mobile charger topped up. Voyagers come in for a lot of stick from some railway enthusiasts but I don’t mind them at all. My only comolaint would be the 4-cars are far too small for today’s growing railway. Whilst removing the shop has helped a little I’d love to see a re-let XC franchise get bigger trains & see Voyagers cascaded to other routes.
Fortuitously, my XC service deposited me on platform 1B at Sheffield – right outside one of the finest station bars in the country – the Sheffield Tap. It would have been rude not to, so as I had 35 mins to wait for my connection (off the same platform) I decided to spend some ‘dwell time’ in the tap and enjoy one of Thornbridge’s excellent beers. If you’ve never visited, you really should!
Now I’m on another XC Voyager heading for Leeds and the final leg home…