Who dares wins, so they say. Let's celebrate Mablethorpe.
Most people would pronounce the name of this Lincolnshire beach resort as MABLE-THORP, that is, 'mable' as in 'table'. But I have it on irreproachable authority that locals pronounce it MUBBLE-THORP. Or even MUBBLETHUP. My erstwhile cleaner Theresa, who had lived in Lincolnshire, knew all about it. Apparently it's the mumbling way people in that part of Lincolnshire speak. I have absolutely no reason to doubt her. Nevertheless, I was keen - when I went to Mablethorpe at the tail end of June - to test what she had said. I imagined accosting a local man or woman and asking them, 'Is this Mablethorpe?' or 'Where am I?' or 'Can you think of a local town beginning with M?' but I encountered nobody suitable. Everyone seemed to be either a visitor, or a seagull, or the type of person who might get annoyed if I questioned their accent. So the pronunciation 'Mubblethorp' must be regarded as possible, but unproven. Frustrating.
What else is there to say about this town on the bleak North Sea? Let me take you on a tour.
I approached from the north, and had a sea wall on my left, which hid the beach, and static caravans on the right, which rather set a tone from which my visit could not recover. You must understand that 'caravanning' as understood by people like me (with touring caravans that you hitch behind a car, and haul around the country) is not the same thing as hiring a static caravan that goes nowhere, and is really a chalet in all but name. Row upon row of static caravans is not a sight that turns this lady on. I do see that for many a low-income family a static caravan is a good holiday solution. In my book, it's a lot better than a tent. Some high-spec static caravans are like luxury bungalows inside, and may have lovely sun decks and beautiful surroundings. But not the ones I saw at Mablethorpe.
I parked near the town centre, in a large but tatty car park, getting the eye from a youth who was extracting cash from visitors in exchange for a ticket to park. I suppose it was official, and not just a con. He had a London look: he was much too alert and quick to be a lazy, listless local lad. How much, I asked this young man. He leered at me. I gave him the money - £2, I think it was - and wondered why he was working here, if work it was. A seasonal job, probably. He was still leering as I left Fiona to cross the road and head for the promenade. I felt unclean.
What was the first thing I saw?
Captain Jack's Adventure Golf.
No, I don't get it either. What can possibly be the connection between golf and piracy on the high seas (or the Spanish Main, come to that)? And yet I was to see another attempt to link golf and pirates at Skegness. Maybe it's a Lincolnshire thing. Maybe the owners think that anything to do with pirates will entice the youngsters in. This would all make Johnny Depp (aka Captain Jack Sparrow) turn in his grave. Or will, when he dies. Note the Jaws-type shark over the ticket shack. Surely the best thing, the most realistic thing, on display.
Close by, for golf-weary novice pirates, was a fish and chippery. Strangely, it was closed, even though this was only mid-afternoon.
It was late June. The summer. Where was everyone?
Ah, the beach. Three teenagers tried to fill it. They failed.
I walked along the almost-deserted promenade. I came here first in 1992. And again in 2003. And now in 2017. Why did I keep on coming back? It was never going to get better than this.
I admit that Mablethorpe has sand in abundance. And a noble groyne.
And notices, indicating where to find the resort's many attractions.
And helpful notices on the beach too, to assist the seething crowds. There really are people out there, humanoids anyway.
I was determined to stay cheerful.
Along the promenade was a succession of typical seaside temptations.
You could have fun here. You could also have a traditional seaside photo taken - with a he-man:
A Great Artist must have been commissioned to paint that. I wonder who it could have been. Their finest work, surely. Note that in Mablethorpe, men are tanned and muscular and have black hair. Women are lily-white, slender and blonde. (Oh well, I sort of qualified to be there)
Ah! The Lookout Cafe (that's Cafe, not Café)!
My goodness, what a view.
Next, some jolly beach huts. Rather an unusual paint job. Like rising suns. Indeed, just like the wartime Japanese flag. Banzai! Banzai! Banzai!
I wonder if anyone realised that the Japanese war-flag was being displayed?
Next, some culture. Two artistic installations. One that might have been a tile-covered glass of bacardi and coke, with a slice of lemon and a straw. Or a curious windmill. Either way, it had suffered storm damage.
And one that might have been a kind of stylised beach hut.
I suppose they were exciting when first erected.
Meanwhile the view along the promenade had subtly changed.
Ah, at last! A green space.
It was time to examine the town centre. I came across this traditional bed-and-breakfast establishment. The Leicester Guest House. It offered all the comforts of home.
There you are. The sign says 'A stay at the Leicester is just like coming home'. I dare say that's a completely justified claim. Right down to the jazzy bedspreads in the photos. It's probably better than home, in that you get a hearty breakfast, the Full English, hopefully with Lincolnshire bacon and pork sausages. It's central, and has got a decent entry on TripAdvisor. What's not to like?
Here's the road junction at the very centre of Mablethorpe, it's cultural heart.
Medieval Mablethorpe is clearly visible. And...just round the corner from Gerardo's...Las Vegas-like gaming halls:
This stretch of road must be called The Strip. I saw two women, intoxicated with the glamorous atmosphere, and dressed to kill.
Two locals went by with their dog. Somehow they resisted the temptation to go inside and work the machines.
Do you, like me, deplore the way these places abuse the word 'family' to attract custom? It's family this and family that. Most often in association with the kind of sleazy activity that ought to be discouraged wherever real families are likely to go. Take the place in the shot above. Do they hope that a complete family group, from grandparents down to babes in arms, will all pop inside and waste their cash on one-armed bandits and similar? Call me strait-laced if you will, but I regard gambling in all its forms as a dangerous addiction that hurts society. I'd close all these places down if I could.
Well, that was that. No doubt there was a Tesco or an ASDA tucked away somewhere, but otherwise I seemed to have sucked Mablethorpe dry.
In retrospect, I readily admit it had more life than Withernsea up the coast. But I don't think I'll be back. That's my personal position. Don't let me put you off. If you want sand and fish and chips, and sand and fish and chips will entirely suffice, then this is the place to go to for your hard-earned summer holiday.