Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Transport rant

Market Rasen station - I think someone must have been having a bonfire
I am coming up for my first year at Market Rasen.  I do love it, and I am deeply in love with the countryside, but I am beginning to get really rather cross about certain things.  I chose my house, which is five minutes from the train station, because I have children in their teens and twenties with friends and family around the country, and I wanted it to be easy for them to get to see them.  I also had hopes that we'd be able to get jobs in Lincoln, which is the nearest big town.

While I was able to commute back and forth down the Metropolitan Line to Aldgate every day in London without a problem - and find about 15 other ways of getting there if there were problems on that line, there are only two ways of getting to Lincoln on public transport:  there are three trains in the early morning, or a bus once an hour.

However, despite the fact that one's best chance of being able to get a job is in Lincoln, if you're wanting an office or shop job with normal opening hours, there's not much public transport to help.  The 6.22 will get you to Lincoln at about twenty to seven.  Pretty early for a 9-5 day.  The 7.39 will get you there at around 8am - again pretty early for a 9-5 day, but wait, there's quite a good chance that you won't get on the train at all.  Having come from Grimsby, and being a single carriage train, there is every chance that you may fail not only to get a seat but to get on the train at all.

The situation is just as parlous on the way home.  So if you were lucky enough to get a job working 9-5 in an office somewhere in Lincoln, you'd have every chance of having to spend at least the first hour of the day kicking your heels in a cafe somewhere, and the last hour too.  And if you don't manage to get on the 7.39am train?  You'll be waiting two and a bit hours for the 9.55am! 

I had no conception of the difficulty of living in a small town if you don't drive.  It is true my son does drive, but he's in University at different times every day, and some days has to leave at 6am to do a shift at BBC radio Lincolnshire.  It would not be an easy option.

What annoys me the most is the lack of any understanding that this is a problem locally. The new local plan calls for new housing to be built all over the area, with hardly a mention of the inadquate public transport provision *anywhere*.  I plastered the plan with my objections to this fact, but the other members of the Market Rasen Rail Users Group tell me there is very little interest in the poor train service locally.  In fact the representative from the Country Council left before the service on the Market Rasen line was discussed. 

You can't even go into Lincoln for a film or a meal, if you don't own a car and don't want to shell out £40 each way for taxis.  The trains stop before 9pm and the buses earlier.

It's annoying that the people in authority point to the line as it is and decide that there's no demand for an increase in services... and that the local train line, East Midlands, and the government can't make up their minds who is responsible for the level of service contracted to East Midlands - or who is empowered to change that.

I realise that a rural and less populated area such as this pat of Lincolnshire can't justify the sorts of high level of public transport I am used to in London... but this level of service doesn't even reach a basic baseline.  It's appalling.  And listening to the huge number of trains which pass through the station without stopping -feeling themeven, as the floor and ornaments rattle - is just adding insult to injury.

If people could rely on a good and frequent service to Lincoln, I can guarantee that it would be used.  How to prove that in absence of the service, I do not know.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

At home with the cold callers

There's nothing guaranteed to get my blood boiling quicker than a cold caller, most especially one who seems to be running a scam.  Since I moved to Lincolnshire I have noticed a distinct increase in the sorts of PPI, you've had an accident, how's your loft insulation? calls.  I'm not at all clear how these work, but when challenged for company names and details the callers invariably ring off.

I'm registered with the telephone preference service, and I regularly report people who call me repeatedly.  One would have thought that BT or other providers might be able to tell if a company is operating a somewhat dodgy operation:  if they are making dozens of phone calls and choosing to withhold their number, I would have thought that technology had advanced far enough for BT to be able to isolate the number and run some checks on the company.

One company which didn't withhold their number was Charter Legal, who have phoned me more than once despite my pointing out I am registered with the telephone preference service, and despite promising to remove me.  They appear to be offering some sort of ringfence to protect your assets against the government - at least that was what I understood from their cold caller girl.  Their website actually states the opposite.

In general, though, the companies which do this sort of cold calling are virtually indistinguishable from the bogus callers who claim to be policemen with your credit card details or Government researchers wanting to know if you have claimed your pension rights/PPI repayment etc.  I'd ban it, and put fines in place for those who carry on.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Goltho: the enclosure where marigolds grow

There's an official walk through the Limewoods and around Goltho which I found online, but which claims to be seven or over nine kilometres (depending on the route chosen).  We were mostly interested in the deserted mediaeval village which once clustered around Goltho church, which appears at the end of the official walk, and so we decided to do just the end of the walk.

Unfortunately the map is a poor one, which doesn't reflect what is found on the ground, nor do I think it is right about the distance - we walked for a good 40 minutes from the Wragby Market Place carpark, which is where you are instructed to leave your car, to reverse the end of the walk and get to Goltho church.  It would have been possible to drive to the place where the footpath takes one across the field, and cut that walk by 30 minutes.  I wouldn't say the walk from the market place to the footpath is particularly beautiful or interesting, although parking might be a problem.

So, from the Market Place, we walked down Bardney Road until we passed the Wragby maze and conifer centre, and then turned right and walked until we had passed the bend in the road.  It was a lovely autumn day.

Crossing the ploughed field using the unploughed grassy path, the wind was high but the weather was warm and sunny and it was exhiliarating, rather than cold.  We climbed a small path, crossed a bridge and then followed the track of the public right away straight across another field... not knowing that the site of a motte and bailey castle was buried in the field to the left of our pathway across to the church, which is clearly seen on Google Earth.

Goltho was founded in the Roman period, it is believed, was inhabited in the Anglo Saxon period and really flourished around the 12th century.  However, poor harvests in the 15th century led to its abandonment.  It can't have been completely abandoned then, as some of the gravestones in the churchyard date from the 19th century, but there is precious else to record the village as it used to be.

 I love the paradox of the name... Goltho sounds like the name of a village in Mordor, as Eelco remarked, but "the enclosure where marigolds grow" sounds romantic and pretty.  There were no marigolds today.

Strangely wikipedia says that the church was founded in 1530, by the Grantham family of Goltho Hall, although they say the village was deserted in the 15th century.  There is little to see nowadays, although the countryside is stunning.  Parts of the church including the roof were destroyed by fire in 2013, the most likely cause being a lightning strike. 

I think we will need to make a return journey to see the village properly and also the Limewoods nearby.  We were on our way to a celebration lunch, and the table was booked for one o'clock, and so we tried our best to take the most direct route back to Wragby.  Even so, I had to ask my sons to walk on ahead and get the car, as I knew that I was slowing the whole party down and we'd miss our booking.  We had a lovely meal at the Ivy in Wragby and then returned home via the Sunnyside Up farm shop in Tealby.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Parchment fan

I went for a quick look in the charity shops this afternoon.  I found a couple of display cases for pipes, which I bought for John's collection of clay pipes, from the Salvation Army, and a rather wonderful parchment fan in the Age UK shop.

It is pierced, gilded and painted with coloured inks.  It looks old to me, and some of the coloured inks on the parchment are faded, but I can find very little aboout parchment fans online that isn't modern.  I've emailed the V and A to see what they can tell me, and will have to wait and see.  Meanwhile, here's a picture.

Market Rasen: blue bin blues

I saw someone piling a vast quantity of plastic into their blue bin this morning.  Sheet plastic isn't recyclable and shouldn't go in the blue bin.  Now, having moved from another area, where the rules are different, I'm the first to admit that it can be difficult to work out what goes in which bin.  But I'm very unclear about the etiquette if one sees a neighbour filling the recycling bin with non recyclables.  Do I rush out and tell him, like a busybody?  Or would that be the neighbourly thing to do?  Too late, I've missed my chance and he's gone inside again.

I only recently learned that to be a good recycler, you should ensure that card and foil isn't contaminated with food residue, and bottles are properly washed out and clean.   You shouldn't just toss that shampoo bottle into the recycling bin - wash it out first.  And if there are food particles adhering to that pizza box, put it in the black bin and not the blue.

Recycling in Market Rasen is very different from Hillingdon Borough.  They accept aerosols, tetrapaks, plastics marked 1 and 2, as well as the normal glass, card, paper and tins and cans.  I discovered that they have a handy A-Z guide that tells you which bin to put things in.

They also have a recycling centre on the industrial estate, which takes a lot of stuff in addition - textiles, batteries, oil, soil, wood, gas cylinders, with very helpful staff (although they guard their always largely empty staff car park aggressively). 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Restaurant review: The Advocate Arms, Market Rasen

Normally when I have dined somewhere, I come home and post a review on Trip Advisor.  I'm not doing that this time - I'm really fed up with them since they allowed someone to use my BT email address to set up an account and seem to be unwilling to fix that.  So I'm going to write my review here.

The Advocate Arms has a slightly forbidding exterior, mainly caused by the weird single person revolving door which propels you into a no man's land: in front of the bar, between the restaurant and the cafe, not sure which way is up.  I've been here a few times now, so we know where things are.

We were asked to go and have a drink at the bar before being taken to our table, something that several of the restaurants in Market Rasen seem to like to ask patrons to do.  It always seems a bit odd to me... in London most restaurants (unless you are having to wait for a table to be free)
will take your drinks order when you are at the table and have the menu.  We sat in the bar and ordered a drink, but had to move to our table almost the second our drinks were delivered.

The restaurant was a bit warm and sticky, and the busiest I have ever seen it.  Despite this, the service was spot on, with waiters and waitresses appearing at regular intervals.  The food was delicious.  I ordered the citrus-cured sea trout as a starter, my companion the marinated duck breast and both were very well presented and tasted gorgeous. 

As a main course I chose the roast chicken supreme, which was delightful.  It was presented on a bed of Lincolnshire Poacher potato, with parma ham crisps and buttered green vegetables and I savoured every mouthful.  My companion had the calves liver, which was very good indeed, he reported.

For pudding we both chose the Strawberry and Champagne panna cotta, which came with sorbet and strawberry terrine and little meringue buttons.  It was perfect, it enhanced the delicate flavours of the fruit and wasn 't too sweet.  I loved it.  With two aperitifs, a bottle of prosecco, a bottle of sparkling mineral water and two coffees, the whole meal came to around £60.  The Advocate have a special offer on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday which is a bargain at £13.95 for two courses or £16.95 for three.

If I have any complaint at all, it's a tiny nit-picking one:  the restaurant uses local produce which it labels as "Lincolnshire" this and that.  If they are as careful about sourcing their ingredients as the food preparation indicates, it would be nice to have more detail about where the meat and fish come from, on the menu.

Other than that, it was an extremely enjoyable meal, at a bargain price -what more could you want? For Trip advisor one usually marks a restaurant out of five, and I have no hesitation in awarding the Advocate five stars for my meal this evening. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cleethorpes beachcombing

I haven't blogged a lot here recently because I have been south, and I had catching up to do, and I've had house guests.  Kate has only been here this week, and it has been lovely to have her here.  She's going back today.

The weather hasn't been great while she's been with me - mostly wet and windy - but the weather forecast was for better weather yesterday afternoon, and so we decided to go to Cleethorpes.  It gave her a chance to play the games on the pier and me a chance to beachcomb.

Ali drove us to Cleethorpes and because we had stopped off for petrol on our way, the SATNAV took us the scenic route through the countryside at Tealby and Binbrook and Waltham, which was lovely, although the sky seemed to become more threatening and not less as we aproached the coast.

We were all three of us hungry by the time we got there at 2.30pm, as we'd not had lunch and some of us hadn't had breakfast either, and so we stopped at Steele's Corner House for something to eat before we hit the beach.  It was lovely, although the experience was rather like stepping back into the 1950s, with uniformed waitresses, and an old fashioned feel to the decor and food.  It was gorgeous though.  I had the best crab salad I've had since my grandfather died.

We set off for the pier, but it really wasn't beach weather, with the sand whipping up a mini sandstorm from time to time as I beachcombed.  Although there seemed to be a deposit line along the beach in places, in many places the shells and wood had been redistributed by some sort of mechanical operation - I think they may have skimmed or bulldozed the sand. 

This made it a lot less satisfying to beachcomb, but I stuck with it, and got some driftwood, a few shells and a lot of wood and sea washed coaly stuff.  I've read that there is a submerged forest off the coast of Cleethorpes, and it is true that a lot of the wood is dark and very smooth.  But some of the "wood" may be coal dropped from ships I suppose.

It's weird how different beaches are - Cleethorpes has a lot of medium sized tellins in pairs, especially pink ones, and paired cockle shells... but no sea washed glass.  In fact I picked up quite a lot of sharp glass before realizings that I wasn't going to be able to carry all the glass from the beach.  Most sandy beaches will seawash the glass into smooth shapes which are etched by the action of the sea, but I haven't found any properly smooth sea glass on this beack - at the most it may be slightly cloudy, but still with sharpish ends and points.  I think this may be why the shells retain their definition and stay in pairs too.

Ali and Kate had fun on the pier, winning hundreds of tickets which translated to a bouncy egg and a tiny teddy figurine, but they'd had fun, and I had fun, even if the beachcombing was disappointing and the weather a bt grim.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The old gas works house

My house used to be the old gas works house, the place where the manager for the gasworks lived until the end of the 1960s.  I've been trying to find out as much as I can about the history of the house since I moved in, but it is tricky - both the numbering for the street and the name of the house has changed a few times in the course of 164 years.

At the auction last week I bought an aerial view of the town which was a still from a Grimsby Evening Telegraph.  I'm not sure of the date, but it shows my house, the garden before the end of it was sold off, and the Gasometer.  It isn't where I was told it used to be (at this time, anyway).  It seems to be where the doctor's surgery around the corner is.  The area beside the house which is now filled with a row of houses, seems to have been barren and fronted with a hoarding.

There have actually only been three private owners of the house, despite its age.  The Market Rasen Gas and Lighting company built it, and the companies which owned it changed names fairly regularly over the course of the years until gas was nationalized and the house became one of the assets.  Then in the late sixties, the house was sold into private ownership and between them and me there are only the people I bought it from.

I thought that Market Rasen was a relatively new town, as most of the visible architecture in the town is Victorian, which certainly seems to have been the most prosperous time for the town.  I remember a friend telling me that there is a very curious division in Totnes of the new town and the old town, with the much older houses having survived in the poor end of town because they couldn't afford to replace them, while the old houses in the rich end of town were all torn down and replaced.  Maybe that's what went on here:  the town became prosperous int he 1850s and so all the buildings were replaced in short order. 

Of course, I know there are some much older buildings in and around Market Rasen, but a lot of what can be seen dates from then.  However, I've discovered that there were roman potteries in Market Rasen, and anglo-saxon gold has been found in fields near the town.  It's curious to me that the town barely seems to have grown in all the time since it was founded, whereas other towns around the wolds have expanded. 

I need to see if I can find information about what was here before the 1850s... although it is likely that the street was called something different, as I presume the name Chapel Street came from the building of the massive Methodist chapel in 1852. 

Sunshine and showers at home in Market Rasen

It's been a funny day - first wet and windy and then sunny and warm and then back to dark and showery again.  I've got rid of a load of old tiles which were clogging up the washroom, all the old paint tins left by the previous occupant and some miscellaneous metal supports which could have gone to the metal dealer, but life's too short frankly.  They're all gone.

Catching a sunny period, I put the vegetable peelings in the compost bin and then planted up the herbs I got from the Mr Big market last weekend - mint, lovage, oregano and chives in one planter and tangerine sage, coriander and parsley in the other.

I've started pulling up the wild geranium in the front garden as it is taking over the place, and trimming back the holly, and intended to go on with that, but it started raining again.  This is April's showery weather arriving halfway through May....

I received my book about permaculture yesterday and bought a book on organic gardening in the Lincolnshire Cats shop during the week.  I think the weather is just right for a cup of tea and to read them and plan out my course of action with the garden.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Auction day in Market Rasen

It's auction day in Market Rasen today, at Perkins George Mawer in the High Street.  John and I went to the preview yesterday and looked at a few lots that we were interested in.  There was a big variety of stuff there, both fine art and antiques and junk.  We went around and marked the things we were interested in, and then collaborated on a limit for each of the items.  He's there this morning, bidding on things for both of us.

Antiques and secondhand furniture always seem very expensive when you are buying, and very cheap when selling.  Looking around the auction room, there were a few things I'd have bought if the price was right... but I know I would get carried away, so I'm keeping away from the auction.

Hemswell and Hemswell Cliff

Hemswell May Fair
I forgot to blog about our visit to Hemswell on Monday, for the traditional May fair.  Hemswell is one of only three villages in the country to have a permanent maypole.  I was surprised to see it was in the middle of the road at a crossroads, but this was apparently a traditional spot for a maypole after the restoration of the monarchy in the 17th century.

Different places have different traditions, and I am used to the southern tradition that the maypole should be specially erected on the commonland.  Still, the maypole in Hemswell was dressed with coloured ribbons and the children about to dance around it were dressed as Victorian children, which in keeping with the 19th century date for the maypole in the village.

Hemswell is a domesday town, and the population hardly seems to have changed.  At just over 300 people, I think the whole village was out in force at the fair.  We bought a few books and I bought a patchwork bag made out of upholstery fabric scraps, which I like a lot.  The weather wasn't great but it was dry and there was a great atmosphere at the Fair.

There was a delay to the starting of the maypole dancing as there were more children than ribbons, a problem which we left the village to resolve as we drove to Hemswell Cliff.  Once an RAF camp and decommissioned in 1967, it has become a trading centre with a lot of antiques shops of the type very common in Lincolnshire, where different dealers all have a room or cabinet to sell from the shop.

Having driven through Hemswell Village and around a lot of unmarked roads in our search for Hemswell antique centres, I can tell you that the postcode is  DN21 5TJ.

We looked around the Canberra antiques centre, and Thomas bought a knife to add to his sword and knife collection.  He also found a gun he'd rather like if anyone has an odd £700 to spare.  He enjoyed posing with it anyway....

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Watkinson Clay Pipe Factory in Market Rasen

George Spencer Watkinson was the builder of the Market Rasen Clay pipe factory, which he built in 1843.  The factory made clay smoking pipes in a variety of designs and was very successful from the 1840s to 1893, when the introduction of wooden pipes began to make clay pipes obsolete. 

What makes the Watkinson factory unique is that George Spencer Watkinson's son of the same name, made a journal of his memories of the factory, including a number of naive sketches of the processes in the making of clay pipes.  In general, there is very little known or written about the operation of clay pipe factories, and so to have the record made by George Spencer Watkinson junior is very special.  The illustrations from his journal are not of good quality, but they offer more information for the Market Rasen factory than can be found anywhere else.  A short biography of George Spencer Watkinson junior and some copies of his illustrations are included in the booklet Market Rasen in the eighteen fifties.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, clay pipes were provided by pubs to their clientele.  The customers would break off the end of the pipe, and then fill it with tobacco and smoke it, returning it to the pipe stand for the next person to use.  Thus it is that clay pipes are usually discovered with short or none existent stems, even when the bowls survive.  They were disposable.

Each clay pipe factory would produce their own designs, sometimes with the name of the manufacturer or the place where they were made, inscribed on the pipes.  Some of the pipes made at Market Rasen are plain, but many of them have "Watkinson - Rasen" or "Market Raisin" or "Market Rasen"  on them.

Some of the decorated designs show a trophy, maybe a racing trophy?  Others show acorns and oak leaves, or geometric designs.  Some of the rarest are anti-slavery pipes, showing a slave in chains on one side, and Liberty, a standing female in Greek dress, on the reverse.

Anderby Creek

Anderby Creek
I've wanted to visit Anderby Creek since I first saw some people raving about how lovely it is.  Yesterday the weather was a bit changeable in Market Rasen - I gardened until it started to rain on me - and the prediction was for good weather on the coast around Mablethorpe and Skegness, and so I persuaded Ali to drive me out to Anderby Creek.

The journey was lovely - one of the most picturesque roads through the wolds to Louth and then a country road to Alford and through some pretty villages with fairytale thatched cottages to Anderby Creek.  The SATNAV postcode wasn't on the website for the Creek, but I found it on a guide to beaches and it took us straight to the little carpark.  It's PE24 5XT.

Anderby Creek is a small unspoilt beach which has sand dunes behind and some houses, but none of the razmatazz of Skegness or Cleethorpes.  There is a public loo in the carpark which was clean and serviceable, and there are a row of little shops although they were all closed when we arrived.

The beach is reached by way of a steep slope and then is delightful, sandy with a bit of coarser sand in a band before it becomes fine sand again.  The tide was going out when we arrived, but I started beachcombing along the layer of deposits which had been left by the departing tide.  I found some driftwood, some smooth pebbles, and lots and lots of tiny tiny shells... in far greater quantity than I have ever found elsewhere.  There were tiny cockles, but not in great quantity, tiny whelks and winkles in large quantity and more scallops and cowries than I have ever found on an English beach.

Although there were smooth pebbles and bits of shell which had been smoothed by the sea, I didn't find any ceramic or glass.  I can't tell if that is because the beach is so clean, or because someone else had got there first.  There were a few people about - a couple of sea canoeists, a couple of people walking the beach with dogs, but generally it was quiet and the sun was warm and I had a fantastic time collecting tiny shells, a few pebbles and some driftwood.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cleethorpes and shells

As a southerner, the names in this part of the country sometimes sound odd to me: Scunthorpe, Skegness, Cleethorpes all have a bit of a foreign sound.  The Viking heritage of the counties which formed part of the Danegeld is apparent in some of the place names all around the county.

I adore beachcombing, and I have quite a bit of experience around the beaches of the southwest, and hardly any experience in the north east, and so I was delighted when a trip to pick up curtains and a rug in Grimsby made it possible to visit the beach at Cleethorpes, which is just about half an hour's drive from Market Rasen.

There's the same seaside town vibe in the centre of the town, with amusements and fish and chip shops everywhere, but if you drive up the seafront to the car parking at the leisure centre, the beach is quiet and deserted at this time of year.  It's a sandy beach, an when the tide is out, it's a long (wet) walk to the sea, with the bracing winds from the east.  But I loved it.

I beachcombed along the beach while my sons walked back to town to buy some chips and look at the shops.  I found a lot of winkle and whelk shells, some necklace shells, tiny cockle shells, and lots and lots of pink tellin.  There is a good guide to identifying British sea shells here.

Some of my Cleethorpes fnds

On a second visit, I found a lot of driftwood, more tellin shells, and noticed the things I don't find here that I have found in other places... no sandwashed glass, the edges of the glass on the beach are still sharp... very little ceramic, no fragments of large cockle shells smoothed by the sea either, although as you can see from the above picture, I did find quantities of the lily-like centres from whelks.  For anyone who wants tiny tellin and cockle shells to decorate something, it's a fantastic place to collect.

The roads and Lincolnshire Airfields

Photo copyright John Firth, licenced under creative commons licence
When we first moved to Lincolnshire, I was amazed by the curves in the roads.  A road will be straight for some distance and then suddenly take a right hand bend, followed by another right hand bend in the opposite direction.  It's what seems to attract bikers from all over the country to Market Rasen (particularly Willingham Woods on Wednesdays and at the weekends).

John was told that the strange road layout was due to the airfields that were built in the second world war.  I found some defunct airfields on a map, and thought that would account for one or two of the sharp bends, but surely not all of them? I was a bit sceptical about this explanation, I must admit.

However, on a visit to Horncastle recently, we had a lovely tea in the Bridge teashop there, and saw a map showing all of the airfields that were in use during the war - and there were dozens all over Lincolnshire - 46 according to Patrick Otter, who has written a book on the subject, although there were also dummy airfields and secret airfields which may not be included in that number.  The teashop sells maps which show the position of all the airfields... and I don't seem to be able to find a link to that online.  I have found this list.

Many of the airfields have been dug up and returned to their original state as farmland, but there are some which still exist and others which are now derelict but remain. Certainly there is a growing body of work for family historians who are interested in the subject because a member of their family served in the RAF during the war.  Patrick Otter's book seems to be a good starting poin.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bitingly cold Horncastle

We made our second visit to Horncastle this weekend.  It's about half an hour's drive from Market Rasen (turn left at Wragby) and is a town full of antique shops, the odd book shop and all the usual charity and other shops.

We started at the end of town which we haven't visited before and quickly ended up lost in the maze which is the Lincoln Co-op building.  It is an antique shop which has been sorted out inside, so that all the thumbles are together, the glasses, the LPs, the pictures, the salt and pepper cellars, the jugs, even.

The place is piled high with stuff, so much stuff that you can't really take in how much stuff there is.  And then there's outside... the place where antique crockery goes to die.  It definitely has the atmosphere of the porcelain graveyard about it, and once again, it is almost impossible to take in the massive amount of stuff.

I picked up a few bits and pieces, a little bottle with a metal lid, a glass bottle with no stopper and a couple of boxes.

We moved on to Bunnies, which is a fantastic stripped pine shop on the bridge.  We bought a few things on our last visit, and I fell for a hanging rack and several other pieces.  We love it there!  I'm sitting next to the bookcase I bought last time.

We had decided not to penetrate one of the other shops which has a lot of junk and a few better pieces, but I spotted a chair in the window and had to look at it.  I love it *so* much.  I think it may be the work of Edgar Wood, who was an arts and crafts architect.

It was very chilly in the wind, and so we were happy to stop off at a nicely warm West Street Books. We went "through the wardrobe into Narnia" which is where their cut-price books lie hidden.  I got several really interesting books about old houses and interiors and was very happy with our haul on our return home.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Market Day

The first Saturday of the month is a special market day for Market Rasen and so, despite the cold and wet weather, we went along to show our support for the market.  From what I have read, there is sometimes a theme for the special markets, but currently there wasn't any information that I could find to explain what the market was going to be.

It was wet and windy and pretty horrible as we left the house.  My daughter is up from London for a few days to celebrate her birthday next week and came with us.  I wasn't sure that *any* of the market stalls would actually have set up in the weather.
 We found a few stalls had braved the miserable day, and bought a dozen eggs from Mr Plewes of Beasthorpe Farm, boxes of double yolkers which were delicious when my daughter and I ate them for brunch on our return from town.

We asked (as ignorant townies) how he could be sure they were double-yolked, and he told us that he could see using a light whether an egg held a single or double yolk.

We moved on to the lovely pork butcher's across the market place, where the lovely man from Redhill Farm was selling pork pies, bacon and ham among other things.  We bought a pork pie and some of the ham, which was also eaten for brunch, along with mushrooms from the vegetable stall.

Among the other stalls we saw were the aforementioned fruit and vegetable stall, an artisan bread stall, a handmade toiletries stall, lingerie stall, flower stall, garden ornaments, bird food and pet requisites, hog roast stall.  Here's hoping for better weather for next month's special market!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Lincs Links page

This is a page I will try to keep updated with links for places or activities in Lincolnshire.

Market Rasen
The Market Rasen Mail is here.  It publishes local news and information.

Market Rasen history
There is a site for Market Rasen's heritage tour here.

Middle Rasen
There is a community website for Middle Rasen here.

Farm shopping

Going to farm shops is something that's normally been restricted to holidays and occasional trips to the country, but there is a wonderful farm shop between Market Rasen and Tealby which we are now visiting regularly, called Sunnyside Up. 

We first visited on the day we moved into our house at Market Rasen, when the wind was high and the Grimsby Fish van was in the car park, which is normal for a Friday (outside the holiday period).  The farm shop has a lot to offer, having a vegetable shed, butchers, cheese counter and a lot else inside.

We've quickly become devoted to Cote Hill Blue, a wonderful soft blue cheese made with unpasturized milk, and to Lincolnshire Poacher, a very strong hard cheese somewhere between cheddar and Parmesan.  At times when the cheese shops run short of these (before Christmas), the farm shop still had them, as did the greengrocers in Market Rasen.

Yesterday, after a cup of coffee and a teacake in the restaurant, we bought a boned and rolled cockerel for New Year's Day dinner, and a round of Cote Hill Blue, as well as a few naughty but nice cut-price items from the shop and a sack of King Edwards.  It's a lot more fun and satisfying than a trip to the supermarket.  This pictures are from our previous visit, at the beginning of December, when the Grimsby van was there.

Vintage everywhere

I've been a bit busy since we moved here at the beginning of December, but I have been taking photographs and noticing when I see something worth blogging, and so I am playing catch-up with a few posts about places I visited before Christmas.

One of the noticeable things about Lincolnshire is that there are good charity shops everywhere, and many of them have a vintage and collectable section which has been separate from the rest.  I first came across this in Louth, where the Sue Ryder foundation shop has a whole floor devoted to Vintage and collectable above the charity shop there.  There are also a number of specialist shops which have an interest for the vintage collector.   One of the nicest I've visited was Mr Bojangles in Lincoln, which has an eclectic mix of clothing and household items, along with uniforms and the odd guitar. 

We spotted the sign leading away from Steep Hill in Lincoln and investigated the shop, where we found the proprietor a little disgruntled by a letter he'd received from the council asking him to remove his sign from Steep Hill.  As it was that very sign which had led us to the shop, we could understand why this had upset him, and agreed that it was most definitely not an eyesore or in the way of pedestrians. 

There are a lot of charity shops with vintage sections on the way up Steep Hill, which is aptly named - fortunately most of the charity shops seem to be at the bottom end.  There are several shops with Vintage in them, as well as the Dickensian antique shop, which only accepts cash and has glass cases filled with interesting artefacts.  I arrived just before Christmas hoping to buy something I had seen on a previous visit, but as luck would have it, the buyer before me bought that.  I did find some nice coins and a clay pipe though.  For a vintage collector, Lincoln is certainly worth a visit.

Arriving at the future

My shadow and Ali's on the sands of Skegness
The first of January is a good day to begin a new blog about a new home in a new place.  On November 22 we officially moved, but actually went into limbo in a lovely holiday cottage in Tealby.  On December 5 we moved into our new house in Market Rasen, but it was rather surreal:  I had bought most of the contents along with the house, and my possessions weren't delivered until December 18... and so I began with the feeling that I was squatting in someone else's holiday home.  It was decidedly odd.

Also odd was moving into not just the home, or the furniture belonging to someone else, but the detritus of their lives too... although there had been weeks between acceptance of our offer and the actual move, there were still boxes and boxes of stuff that nobody could have wanted - boxes of cardboard, boxes of magazines, boxes of all sorts of stuff.

John is moving to his own house in a few weeks, but is living with me in the meantime.  He has made so many trips to the local tip that the workers think he is one of them.  They have been suspicious of the vast amount of boxes of boxes he has had to dispose of, but accepted that these were in a domestic dwelling (as indeed they were).  They're pretty sharp at the tip in New Year's Green Lane, in Hillingdon, but the Market Rasen tip is very strict.  They want to make sure you put things in the right place, and will open up bags and boxes to ensure that's the case.

The last time I went to the tip, before Christmas, I admired the extensive Christmas decorations.  John said that when he had done the same the men at the tip had exclaimed that this was nothing - their display had been much more impressive before the storm... but the wind had played havoc with the decorations.

With a short foray home for Christmas, we have been unpacking boxes for ages, and are still neck deep in them in the sitting room.  I need some bookcases, but in the meantime plan to store the many boxes of books.

I have yet to change anything dignificant about the house, we've moved furniture and added beds, but have basically left everything as it is for the moment.  We're just getting to grips with the changes that the move brings.

The first shock for me, was the fact that nearly everything closes at 3.30pm, every day.  Early closing is still a thing in Lincolnshire, when shops close at lunchtime, but the shops close early every day by Southern standards.  People still go out and do their shopping in the morning, stopping to chat in little clusters up and down the high street, like escapees from Mapp and Lucia.  They have marketing baskets.  They know and talk to each other. It's weird to someone like me, used to shopping anonymously in Uxbridge, only meeting someone I know once in a blue moon.

There are markets in Market Rasen, but very small, just three or four stalls, one of which is invariably a greengrocer and another of which is usually a florist.  There are bigger markets elsewhere, and I have a list of them, as the market day varies from place to place, as does the early closing day.

The second surprise was that so many of the houses still have open fires.  Coming from a smokeless zone in London, it is a shock to see that people still have coal fires and that the supermarkets sell bags of coal and firelighters and kindling.  Walk down the street on a winter's evening and you will see a curl of smoke from many chimneys, including our own now that we have had the courage to light the fire.

It must be forty years since I lit a proper fire, and so I had forgotten much of the lore I learned from my mother.  I still remember making paper spills with her and laying the fire though - so interfered with Ali's way of setting it up, learned from YouTube.  We got a good fire going, and I began to remember things about my childhood - being warm in front and cold behind, watching the flames dance and being lost in thought, the mess and ashes when it was all over.

I searched far and wide for a place to live, and had no paticular reason to move to Market Rasen except that it fitted my criteria of having good transport links (in theory) and having all the facilities required within walking distance.  It meets those admirably, with doctor and dentist five minutes down the road, big supermarket and station around the corner, and banks, post offices and shops five minute's walk away.  I know a lot about my family history and despite information on all lines going back hundreds of years, I don't think I have any ancestors in Lincolnshire. 

However, the third thing that has surprised me is how much I love Lincolnshire and the countryside around it.  I love it fiercely, in a way I never have Middlesex, which is where I have lived most of my life.  I've occasionally felt an affection for London in a similar way, but never with the depth of feeling that I have felt for Lincolnshire.  I love all of it - the flatness of the land between Market Rasen and Lincoln, the soft rolling hills between Market Rasen and Louth, the sands of Skegness, the beauty of Lincoln, the woods around Market Rasen, the town and its quirky buildings, like the massive Methodist church along from our house.

I've been astonished by how much Lincolnshire has to offer that I never knew - and surprised that I got to this point in my life without having explored anything about it.  All I knew before we came here was that Lincolnshire is rather flat and still has a lot of agriculture - but there's so much more to it than that!  It has an interesting history, beautiful places, lovely food, friendly and lovely people, and a lot of unique businesses making and selling things in shops you don't find all over the country.

I decided to start a new blog... I'll carry on posting to my other blogs, but when I want to write something about Lincolnshire or related to our new life here, this is where I will blog it.