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On the road . . .

Travelodge - Retford Markham Moor

Off on my travels for a day or two, this time to visit the Jorvik Vikin Centre in York which I did yesterday. I’ve always wanted to. Interesting experience, and the whatever you call them - animatronic’ figures were novel, semi-lifelike humans and animals moving – slightly, doing various things and ‘talking to each’ other – sitting outside reproductions of what their houses must have looked like were useful to covey they kind of life they will have led. Can’t say I learned much, but that wasn’t the point. If I want to learn shite like that, I’ll simply renew my subscription to Look And Learn (not to be mocked - bet I know more about how tyres are made - from the collection of sap from the rubber tree to fitting them to your Ford Consul! - than you do, so take your mockery . . .

It’s also good to get up and about. I was on the point of using the phrase ‘on the road’ but it does sound a little portentous, implying I’ve got a stash of dexies in the glove comparment, a fistful of hot dollars, a small handgun and have just picked up a mysterious brunette. Sadly I’ve done none of these things. But I do like getting away on my own, even though I’m not doing an awful much.

Set off on Tuesday to get to this Travelodge, chosed because it is near Lincoln (where I shall take off to a little later) and York (where the Jorvik Centre is), though at 52 miles away, York was a little further than I thought it might be. When booking a Travelodge - exactly what I want from a hotel, clean sheets and hot water - I had looked for one inbetween Lincoln and York, and came up with Doncaster. Then I noticed this one was about £15 cheaper for two nights but kept thinking is was ‘between Lincoln and York’. (A dull piece of info? Well, pity me not yourselves, I’ve had to think it.)

Went off to a superstore in Retford - eleven miles away - to ‘get something to eat, stocked up on olives, hummus, crackers, tangerines, cheese, a bowl, a tumbler and a ‘pairing knife for my supper but then stayed in Retford anyway for two glasses of red and a bowl of penne arrabiata.

Trying to get out of Retford to get back here was a hoot. Since I had driven in and was now attempting to drive out again, workmen had closed ‘the London Road’ and no amount of following their diversion signs would let me escape sodding Retford town centre. It did get beyond a joke, I kept driving past the same bloody temporary traffic light again and again and again and didn’t have a clue why. The Google Maps directions didn’t help either cos they didn’t know London Road was closed.

It must have taken me almost an hour to get out and the only reason I did that was by setting my Google Maps for York - 50 miles due north - then following the road until I got to the A1. Then it was turn around and drive down the A1 till I reached the Travelodge.

After the Jorvik centre stopped off at a tapas bar and enjoyed three plates of tapas and three different cherries before tasking the ‘Richar III Experience in whatever gate tower (complete with portcullis) it is. Wait, I’ll take a look. Back again: the Monk Bar gatehouse, the tallest of the medieval city’s four gatehouses.

Today, it’s off to Lincoln for a mooch around. The Lincoln Chronicle - long since dead (and the then evening paper the Lincolnshire Echo is now ‘the local weekly’, things ain’t great in the wacky world of hackdom) - was my first paper so I’m off to look at 15 Kirkby St where I lived for about 15 months and the site where the old office was.

I was going to drive straight home tonight but I have since booked a oom at the Travelodge in Devizes (£44 for one night, just £3 cheaper than what I am paying here for two, but fuck it), to break the journey. The drive up from Cornwall was about six hours - though I was going slowly, I mean what’s the rush? More later.

Olivares Tapas Bar, corner of Drury Lane and Castle Hill, Lincoln – Lunch

As luck would have it my trek up Steep Hill took me to this tapas bar, and although I was – and still am – planning another Italian meal tonight in Devizes, I couldn’t resist it. Tapas and Continental food are gorgeous, we Brits – pretty much all of us – love it, bang on about it, can’t wait to go abroad to eat it, yet stick to the kind of shite we are accustomed to when we cook. OK, obviously not all of us and a great many Brits, both men and women can cook and can cook well. And there are some great British dishes and I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit it. Yet if the there is no rocketc science to preparing tapas, your average Brit could do it with his or her eyes closed, yet you rarely come across tapas bars – I have struck lucky twice. Still.

Went to 15 Kirkby St in ‘downhill’ Lincoln where I lived for about 15 months, and it and the area looked drabber and drearier than I could remember. This was, of course, 45 years ago and time is never kind, but haven’t they heard of ‘gentrification’? Really not.

The irony is that when folk think of Lincoln, they probably think of the medieval streets and houses (now shops, of course) up Steep Hill (called Steep Hill – why? Why, Joseph. Correct, because it’s fucking steep). Well, all that, as well as the nice middle-class house in the surrounding area are ‘uphil’. Downhill, meanwhile, are the rows and rows of two-up, two-down terrace houses where those not lucky enough to be related to or to have gone to school with the Bishop of Lincoln are obliged to live. In June 1974, when I moved in as a lodger to Gwynn (I think his name was) I wasn’t.

From Kirkby St to Riverside North where Lincoln Chronicle (not Lincolnshire Chronicle as I have so far been calling it) office and presses were it’s just a short walk, one I undertook every day. Sadly the presses and offices have disappeared, to be replaced by an NCP car park (watch out Buck House!) but as far as I know there are so far no plans to kill the Queen and bury her in the car park, though after listening to the lunchtime news about David Cameron’s interview on Today this morning when he admitted Liz (Brenda) had tipped him the wink and given him to understand in no uncertain terms that she was against ‘all this Scottish independence nonsense’ there might be informal talks about giving ‘that dick Cameron’ a seeing to and ‘he should seriously consider taking Samantha and their brood to the South Island in New Zealand while the going is good’.

The Green Dragon, the up on the other side of the bridge (or the end of the bridge) where the office was is now shut and the building for let and my short stroll up from Waterside North to here, near the cathedral, has made it pretty plain Lincoln has its own contingent of Baltic state EU citizens and asylum seekers as anywhere else.

The flat, horribly flat Lincolnshire drone has also lingered – well, it would – and is just as dull as it always was.

Off to Devizes in a while where I have decided to stay that night and not rush back to St Breward. It’s not that I am an old fart whose energy levels dictate that he is now obliged to interrupt his trip to the downstairs loo and do it in stages, just that I’ve got this travelling bit in my blood and although it’s not quite Maine to New Mexico, it’s still there. The only drawback about doing some more travelling is the cost of staying somewhere and it occurs to me that if I got a small camper van in which I could get my head down, the only other cost would be petrol. Look into that. See you a bit later when I had some more from Devizes.

Travelodge – Devizes.

All together now: who’s a complete prat? Why, I am. I arrived here about 30 minutes ago (now settled in) to discover that when I booked my room here last night, I bloody booked for next week. Dick! So that’s £25 up the swannee or to put it in my terms, just over three bottles of the Rioja I like and buy at whichever supermarket has it on offer. Bollocks. Now I’m off for another does of penne arrabiata. .

Bon nuit. Don’t stay up, I’ll only whinge.

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