An inspection of #Mablethorpe on the #Lincolnshire coast of #England

This is the season when the English sea-side closes, bars its doors and windows and retreats down some deep, dark hole to hibernate until about March. Yesterday the old Bugatti had a tail-light out and didn’t respond in any meaningful way to my changing the bulb, so I had to take it to the professionals. The nearest authorised dealership is in Mablethorpe, a sleepy little sea-side town about seven miles away from Hutson Towers. The garage was open, Mablethorpe was closed.

At least the queue was short.
At least the queue was short.

The visit began of course with that casual sentence that even we blokes wince upon hearing from a mechanic’s lips – ‘give us a kiss, gorgeous…’

Er I mean – ‘Leave it with us for about an hour, and we’ll have a look.’

The main drag of Mablethorpe and ne'ery a person to be seen...
The main drag of Mablethorpe and ne’ery a person to be seen…

It’s not so much that one inevitably arrives at the establishment in need of micturition and may look to wandering around town for an hour with a gait like John Wayne after a Phall, chips and eight pints of lager, but more that there is to be an hour before the nice mechanic tells you what you told him in the first place, but this time with a sharp intake of breath and a price tag attached…

There’s no escaping the process, so one simply hands over the keys as though phtttt, it’s just a lump of metal, mate, and strides towards the horizon as though shambling up and down the streets of a deserted English sea-side town was top of your to-do list that day, and you can think of nothing nicer. Seriously, if we all spoke the truth the mechanic would just say ‘look, either sit in the corner out of the way, or sod off and let us get on with the job’, for that is what he means.

The home of the See Food Diet, when open for business. Anchors away, eh?
The home of the See Food Diet, when open for business. Anchors away, eh?

Mablethorpe dates from the fourteenth century, although a large part of it suicided during the 1540s or, as the more sensitive media of the day put it, ‘was lost to the sea’. The town has had an RNLI lifeboat station since 1883, and currently sports a ‘Class D’ lifeboat, the D-653 William Hadley. The town got awfully wet indeed during the 1953 North Sea Flood, a flood that killed some 2,551 persons in the Netherlands, England, Belgium, Scotland and “at sea”. It also killed some 30,000 animals, damaged 47,000 buildings and destroyed some further 10,000 (but not all in Mablethorpe).

The town was visited regularly by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and was mentioned in D H Lawrence’s novel ‘Sons and Lovers’ as a holiday destination. Who knew that after such an august history, it would then be treated to a royal walk-about by me, eh?

A man driven insane by the isolation, riding his bicycle into the sea.
A man driven insane by the isolation, riding his bicycle at speed into the sea.

I am familiar with Cleethorpes in all seasons, and I have been horribly familiar with Blackpool in all weathers, having slept in its telephone kiosks (drunk) and slept on its pavements (drunk) and rolled out of its nightclubs (drunk) on many an occasion thankfully not reported by the mainstream press. Mablethorpe is no different. In fact, in winter, it’s absolutely identical – empty, sand-blown streets, a few die-hard novelty shops still opening their doors, the aroma of fresh potatoes wafting from the rear yards of a dozen fish and chip shops, signs indicating public lavatories and various attractions rattling in the wind.

Dogs are not allowed on the beach during the months of May, June, July, August and September upon penatly of £1,000, although I do wonder how many dogs would be able to pay such a Draconian fine without some assistance from their humans.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach during the months of May, June, July, August and September upon penatly of £1,000, although I do wonder how many dogs would be able to pay such a Draconian fine without some assistance from their humans.

The beach itself is extensive, and unlike that of Brighton (somewhere else that I’ve also slept al fresco and puked on a lot), is of proper sand and not rocks. It extends left and right as far as the eye can see, naturally, (seal sanctuary and gas pipeline to the north, wind-farm to the south) and as far out to sea as the North Sea allows, which is a variable amount dependant upon tides and the EU budget for salt water. The North Sea is a precious commodity, every bit as precious as the English Channel, separating us as they do from “rotten foreigners” and “the abroad”. It should be noted that in times of fog the continent may be cut off entirely from civilisation, but they all “le bumble” and “das manage” nicely anyway, being barbarians and knowing no better.

Fish and chips; an empire was both built upon it and lost. The government men tell us that an anglicised version of an Indian curry is the
Fish and chips; an empire was both built upon it and lost. The government men tell us that an anglicised version of an Indian curry is the “National Dish”, but we the non-politically corrected people know better; it is Fish & Chips.

Mablethorpe exists now almost entirely on grockles and is surrounded by eleventy-twelve million static caravans that are supplemented during high season by thirteenthy-two billion of the more mobile variety of caravan. Mablethorpe hosts Britain’s only beach hut festival, Bathing Beauties, in September each year. Owners of private beach huts compete in exterior design, amidst a backdrop of poetry, music, and drama.

A quick rub down with a Boy Scout, some No.3 sandpaper and a few tins of B&Q's finest weatherproof gloss wouldn't go amiss, here and there. Here, certainly.
A quick rub down with a Boy Scout, some No.3 sandpaper and a few tins of B&Q’s finest weatherproof gloss wouldn’t go amiss, here and there. Here, certainly.

Apparently, there is also a Mablethorpe Marathon race that attracts some 2,500 runners each year, but I rather think it more likely to be merely an unusually well-organised attempt to run out of town and away over the hills, than any recognised form of sport. The runners are all usually re-captured quite swiftly. The town does sport winter illuminations, and celebrities that have attended the switch-on event in the past include Barbara Windsor, Timmy Mallett and Wolf and Hunter of Gladiators… Being daytime and too early in the season, these were not a-glow during my visit.

Oh some folk they do like to be beside the sea-side, they do like to be beside the sea - in gaily, if not subtly, painted Council beach-huts, but not me. I. Not I. That is to say that I don't, not for long, anyway.
Oh some folk they do like to be beside the sea-side, they do like to be beside the sea – in gaily, if not subtly, painted Council beach-huts, but not me. I. Not I. That is to say that I don’t, not for long, anyway.

Lush green, wooded countryside of the English variety remains my natural habitat but don’t misunderstand me, I love English seaside towns too – during winter (only), when they are deserted ghost towns such as this. During summer they are indescribable hell-holes and to be avoided at all costs, but during winter they settle into a unique, almost post-apocalyptic charm all of their own, and are apparently populated entirely by half a dozen dog-walkers. Mablethorpe in winter, like all of the others, just needs a good hug (and fifty quid’s worth of gloss paint slapping around). In winter the parking restrictions are eased, the tiny multi-screen cinema beckons with row upon row of empty and available seats and there’s very little danger of being killed by a tsunami-like invasion of candyfloss rolling up the High Street like demented tumbleweed.

'Mon Favela' since one Dun Roamin?
‘Mon Favela’ since one ‘Dun Roamin’?

The “beach huts”, in all of their variants, remind me of nothing so much as prime examples replanted from some Brazillian slum or shanty-town. In summer the inhabitants doubtless follow much the same occupations (drugs, violence and indiscriminate breeding). There is a “camera obscura” on the promenade, the better to be able to watch the huge vessels driftying by – probably en route to or from the River Humber – carrying cars, oil and, these days no doubt, Syrian refugees in their holds.

As John Masefield once observed... 'Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack, Butting through the Channel in the mad March days, With a cargo of Tyne coal, Road-rails, pig-lead, Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays. ...'
As John Masefield once observed… ‘Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays. …’

What to do in a closed sea-side town while waiting for a mechanical pronouncement? Take a few photographs, of course. All in all, the time actually passed very quickly, and my initial desperate need for micturition was forgotten (proving that it is more of a psychosomatic than a plumbing need).

What to do? Why, choose bench, of course, and gaze out towards
What to do? Why, choose bench, of course, and gaze out towards “Abroad”. This one was ideally suited.

The problem with the Bugatti? Apparently a dodgy connection in the wiring that, once identified, was then kindly remade by a small solderer’s large apprentice and all was then well, with a price tag of a mere pony for the whole job (‘scuse the Cocker-knee slang for twenty-five knicker, or approximately £25, whatever that is in guineas).

Do dogs need windbreaks? I suppose that it depends upon their diet.
Do dogs need windbreaks? I suppose that it depends upon their diet.
Man and dog looking at the sea, with seagulls approaching.
Man and dog looking at the sea, with seagulls approaching.

13 Comments

  1. Toffeeapple says:

    It is a shame that your repair could not have been carried out in Scarborough, where I was last weekend, since not only was everything open but it seemed to be a thriving town with a lovely beach and the sum shone too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Toffeeapple says:

      Clearly, I meant that the sun shone…

      Like

      1. Scarborough generates a lot of revenue for the council, something to do with Scarborough Fair, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme I believe…

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Toffeeapple says:

          And possibly Simon and Garfunkel?

          Liked by 1 person

  2. When I lived in Stamford (Lincs) years ago, I took the family to Mablethorpe via Louth (Lincs) where I got a puncture and had to call into a nearby garage there to have it repaired (so I still had a spare tyre for emergencies).
    Spent a fortune in Mablethorpe on car parking, fish n chips, ice cream, amusements and toilet fees 😱
    On the return journey (the same day), I got another puncture at Louth, went to same nearby garage and got it repaired (Were those sharp objects scattered on the road by that garage I wonder 🤔)
    Needless to say I have never been back to either since!
    BTW, are the North Sea oil rigs still visible from the beach?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I forgot to look for the rigs! I was too busy shambling around town and keeping out of the wind. When you say you took the family to Mablethorpe, did you bring them back again? 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Late 1970’s
        Even I couldn’t abandon that kind of terror and havoc on Mablethorpe 😄😄😄

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Britain and its beaches – splendid post Mister. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankee kindly, sir! It’s actually quite a nice little seaside town, just a bit tired…

      Like

      1. There is a somewhat morbid charm to thrdr tired seaside towns. A niche market that should never be under estimated. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Aaron David says:

    Maybe he could open a grotty guest house? Lenny Godber’s looking for digs

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Aaron David says:

    Reggie Perrin on a bike! Whatever next?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reggie there was a little bit nervous, swerving at the surf several times before choosing his point of entry. I like to think of him now as being not so much dead and buried at sea but in Holland, opening his chain of Grot Shops. Grotte Showpe, widt grotte for buyen.

      Liked by 1 person

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