Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Wedding Presence - Part 2

Lolas on Trinity Bridge, Crowland, August 2014

Day 2

The first thing to happen on Day 2 was the bleep of a text message to Lola II, telling her that the glider flight had to be cancelled because of high winds. The flight couldn't be rearranged within the time available, so we had to abandon that plan, and after a breakfast of porridge we went to Kings Lynn instead.
Learning Point 5: Lynn Regis is very attractive and houses are very cheap (if you come from London). e.g. a 2 bed house for £86,000 ... and yes, by Lynn Regis I mean Kings Lynn but the old name is in my opinion much better.
Lolas I and II viewed through an archway
Learning Point 6: Shops and streets in Lynn Regis seemed to "tell it like it is". No messing about with streets imaginatively called "Saturday Market Place" and "Tuesday Market Place" and shops called "The Flower Shop", "The Tile Shop" and "High Street Hairdressers".
I think we all liked Kings Lynn, even though it wasn't very busy because of the fairly cold and windy day. The town is beautiful and has a good number of old and historic buildings, some dating back to the time when it was an important Hanseatic port, trading with Germany and Baltic states. We followed a walking trail around town, but the highlight was definitely a detour into a Polish shop where we discovered curd cheese ice creams
Learning Point 7: Frozen Cream Cheese makes a wonderful snack and can be found in Eastern European supermarkets across Lynn Regis (though not in London it appears).
Lunch was in an establishment that was quite posh, but Mr M's starter of beignets was still frozen in the middle, and no response was forthcoming from the kitchen when we mentioned it. I can't complain about my roast dinner, and Lola II's meat platter looked lovely, but they didn't get a tip. We walked about some more, and discovered that Captain Vancouver came from Kings Lynn and went on to have a bit of Canada named after him. Tea was in a converted warehouse, but more disappointment - there was no chocolate cake left, nor chocolate biscuits. Kings Lynn - you let us down. Although you partly made up for it by supplying those fantastic Polish ice creams.

Real bandstand and three drawings
Bandstand in The Walks park, Kings Lynn, August 2014
We did find a lovely park to walk through in the afternoon, with a bandstand and a band playing. The weather was just warm enough for us to sit down to listen, and Mr M distributed cards and pens, requiring each of us to draw a picture of the bandstand. The results are here, and I have blurred the respective authors' signatures. What do you think? Can you guess the respective artists?

Last noteworthy event of the day was the toast. Mr M had discovered a contraption designed to allow toast to be made on a camp stove, and was determined to try it. On the first day we had no bread, but now it received its maiden flight, and was a dismal failure. The bread warmed, and the toasting contraption went a lovely colour as hot metal things do, but we couldn't call it toast. Ever resourceful, Mr M 'adapted' it to remove much of the heat protection, and it operated much more successfully. My personal view is that camping is a time when we are relieved of the duties of toasting and frying, in the same way as we are unable to watch TV or sit in an armchair. Raw food and boiling will do for me. But respect for the effort.

Mr M also has quite a passion for wild food. He returned from a short walk with plums and blackberries that he had foraged.

Day 3

After having spent a couple of days in towns, we thought to make a change we would either do a walk or visit a garden. Walking was problematic - we hadn't brought maps, and anyway you may remember that the terrain was incredibly flat. Not a hummock in sight, let alone a hill or a cliff or even a slope. Walking would be easy, but views would be mainly sky, and the coastline was not reported to be very interesting. We could see lots of sky from wherever we happened to go, so we settled on a garden, and chose Peckover House, which turned out to be in Wisbech.

The house and garden do not open in the morning, so we stopped off in the town to buy provisions for a picnic lunch, and happened to come across an old-fashioned butcher's shop, with classic tiling and glass-fronted cabinets, selling all manner of cooked meat products as well as the raw stuff. Haslet, faggots, pies and cooked joints were on display and the butchers were most helpful in cutting each choice into three so it could be shared later. It was all delicious. Definitely a highlight of the trip.
Learning Point 8: There is a wonderful butchers in Wisbech on the Market Square (G W Frank) and we thoroughly recommend their local dishes (which I have forgotten the name of already).
The garden was beautiful, and the house interesting - from the Regency period with lots of relevant information inside as well as artefacts. It had been used as a bank when the owner's business extended into banking before reverting back to a family home. There was a very chatty attendant in one of the main rooms who showed us how one of the four curved doors in each (rounded) corner of the room was purely for decorative purposes, as the house had squared-off corners and behind the door was a small space between the square, brick, exterior shell and the curved interior wall.

The house and garden had been donated to the National Trust when its last occupant died, but the entire house contents had been auctioned off at the time, so it has been re-furnished with some original period items and some replica pieces. They had done quite a good job, but seeing an item and knowing it wasn't the one that had originally stood there was a bit of a shame.

Close up of centre of pink flower

After the obligatory tea and cake, we stopped off in a local pub for a drink before letting Mr M out of the car - his eagle eyes had spotted some more roadside blackberries, so he was up for some more foraging. He returned to the campsite in time for a pasta dinner followed by jelly and custard.
Learning Point 9: While picking blackberries, a lot of people seem to pull off the A17 at the road to Gedney Broadgate and wait for other people to pull in and then hand things over to them before driving off.
Our breakfasts included porridge & prunes, baked beans & meatballs (different breakfasts) and a dodgy attempt to make toast that resulted in, as far as I’m concerned, dry bread and a wasted gas canister. Our other dinner was pasta, tomato and cheese with obligatory olives, since I forgot to put them in the Moroccan chicken. Dessert that night was sugar-free jelly and custard, Lola I’s contribution to the gourmet adventure. She is clearly a classy camper with creative choices.
The campsite was fairly empty, but there was still a small party of three women, who had noticed that my tent was festooned with labels indicating that it had been at Cambridge Folk Festival several times. They invited us over to their spot for social singing, and they had even requisitioned wood and a fire pit to sit around. There was very little singing, but they were congenial company - two Scots and one originally Dutch but resident in Scotland. I heard the full story about Lola II's music group and the original composition they commissioned from a real life composer. It's worth a blog post of its own, you'll have to ask her.

Day 4

Last day, and we treated ourselves to a cooked breakfast at a cafe, then set off for Spalding to see whether there are any bulk flower outlets - there weren't. We wandered about a bit, found some more Polish cheese ice creams, eventually reaching the river and walking through some local gardens that had an sign warning of restrictions on anti-social behaviour in three languages. We thought about taking a trip on the river boat or watching a film, but the timings didn't work out.

Then we thought it would be nice to find a country pub for lunch, but because of the big breakfasts and the morning snacks we weren't that hungry. While we were discussing the situation by the river, one of the river boats arrived to let off its passengers, and I thought I'd ask the captain for a recommendation, and he gave us some directions out of town. He also argued (incorrectly) that jam and marmalade do constitute one portion of our 5-a-day, so I have lost all faith in Captains' knowledge of healthy eating. As I write this, I wonder why I ever thought they had any?
Learning Point 10: The river trip boat captain in Spalding is very knowledgeable and confirmed to Lola I that marmalade does count as a portion of fruit and veg. On the basis of this sound advice, we took his recommendation on where to eat. And got lost.
Yellow roses in front of the Abbey tower
Crowland Abbey, August 2014
We headed off in the vague direction indicated by the idiot Captain, found no country pub but ended up in a village called Crowland, which happens to have the remains of a very large abbey. We were welcomed inside by Arthur, who introduced himself as a volunteer guide, and showed us around both inside and outside the abbey. 
Learning Point 11: It can be quite good getting lost as this meant we discovered the wonderful village of Crowland which has an Abbey (part in ruins), a lovely tea shop and, best of all, the remains of a bridge with three walkways which meet in the middle. This bridge was over the junction of two rivers which have now dried up or now run underground. Strangely, they have a small alley/street called "Thames Tunnel" and it is very cheap (2 bed flat £78,000).
Crowland (or Croyland) Abbey was founded in 701 in memory of St Guthlac, a monk who became a hermit - in those days the Fens were more watery, and Crowland was an island. Although much water was drained from the Fens, in the 14th century there were still rivers through the town where now there are none. For this reason, the marvellous three-way Trinity Bridge now stands on dry land near the main road junction in the middle of town. It was one of the best features of the town, on a par with the lovely tea shop where we eventually had lunch before heading off in different directions to go home.

The last word goes to Lola II:
I love camping.
Mr M and Lola II sitting with their stove outside their tent


  1. Oyy there ... There be no need for salty comments about us sea- and river-faring folk. We cap'ns does a full holds worth of learning 'bout food and stuff like scurvy and the 'portance of fruit. As the good cap'n Jack of the caribbean said "if et looks like et has pieces of fruit eyn it, if et tastes like a fruit and has the name of a fruit on the jar, it probably is a fruit"

  2. Oyy there ... There be no need for salty comments about us sea- and river-faring folk. We cap'ns does a full holds worth of learning 'bout food and stuff like scurvy and the 'portance of fruit. As the good cap'n Jack of the caribbean said "if et looks like et has pieces of fruit eyn it, if et tastes like a fruit and has the name of a fruit on the jar, it probably is a fruit"

    1. Good Cap'n Jack of the Caribbean is also an idiot. It's jam, not fruit, says Cap'n Lola of Leamington Spa.


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