Ahh Skegness. That eastern seaside town of Lincolnshire. Home to Butlins holiday resort, amusement arcades, cold wind & plenty of sweets stalls. The beginning of March isn’t exactly the most ideal time to visit a coastal town – seeing as it’s still pretty frigid – but we’re troopers and spend-thrift, so an off-peak mini break was just up our alley. Also: my birthday made an excellent excuse to get away. My birthday was also an excellent excuse to justify the foods I ate all weekend.
About a 2 hours drive NE of Leicester, I started the day off right with my standard toast & coffee breakfast, then promptly settled into “birthday-weekend-indulgence” (BWI) with a packet of crisps while we stopped to get petrol. Roughly halfway into our journey we both noticed that there seemed to be an abnormal amount cars headed in the opposite direction, while behind & in front of us there hadn’t been a car for several miles. An odd observance, on which we surmised that Skegness had perhaps caught fire, was infected by a zombie plague, or just so boring that people were leaving first chance they got. As it turned out, neither of those scenarios were accurate.
Our charming little B&B was a 10 minute walk from the town centre / main area of attractions. The Sunningdale (www.sunningdalehotel.net) was just one of hundreds of guesthouses on offer in this town, as it is a major tourist destination during the warmer, summer months. And by tourists, I’m talking about other people from Britain. Skegness is also a pretty happening place on the weekends, a haven for stag-dos & hen-nights. It is like the Las Vegas of England, but on a much smaller scale. And with less nudity. Shout out to our hosts who upgraded us from the standard double room to the family room “because it was available and just sitting empty.” Score one for an en-suite bathroom! Score two for extra space!
It was pretty overcast all weekend, with the odd sunny spell in between rainy periods. The wind was absolutely icy, blowing in off the water. To quote the town slogan: “Skegness is so bracing!” Indeed. The flouncy chap pictured above is The Jolly Fisherman – town mascot, prancing around the beaches of Skegness. I think I went into just about every shop to try and find a postcard with his image, but apparently that’s asking too much. There were tea towels, car decals, fridge magnets & ash trays – no postcards. I settled for a postcard of a donkey wearing a scarf on the beach. Close enough.
The lure of the arcades proved too much for us, with all the lights & bells & whistles & flashing strobes. Let’s just take a look turned into do you have another 10p? Where’s the change machine? The major arcades are along the promenade, each being a few floors high & crammed full with sensory overload. I’d say the main appeal is that 90% of the games are between 5p – 50p; and if you’re smart (as we were) you’ll find games that will always guarantee a win (no matter how small), instead of just sucking your money out your pocket. We decided to put 20p in a machine just for kicks and then when it spit out several prize tickets…well, we couldn’t not keep going. So 2 hours later…a carefully folded wad of tickets got fed into the counting machine, giving us a ticket slip to take to the prize desk, where we selected various items from a large selection of (let’s be honest) pretty crumby prizes – think Poundland or Dollarstore. Basically not worth the money we spent. But a little wooden sailboat made a cute souvenir of our trip.
I’d say it’s incredibly easy to get sucked in with all the gaming options available; the most prominent machines were the “penny pushers” where you drop in 1p or 2p and it lands on a shelf and another shelf pushes forward to try and knock them off. These machines were filled with pennies. These were also the machines where you’d see questionable looking seniors with stacks of coins dropping them in faster than they can blink. Calm down grandma. Also on feature: claw machines, video arcade machines, bowling, mini-cafes & Bingo. Very easy to spend a crap-ton of money without realizing it, but we spent about £15 between us, which seems quite reasonable considering.
I need to make a side note about the Bingo, if I may. Everytime we walked past one arcade, Bingo was on, & a speaker projected the Bingo caller to the the outside world. HIS. VOICE. WAS. AMAZING. I would honestly just stop for a moment a revel in the lilting tone: Number two…Scooby-doo, I number two. Red thirty-four…come & knock on my door. Literally – I’m not joking – this was probably my favourite thing of the trip.
Skegness had a newly built aquarium, which was pretty snazzy. Although Adham was disappointed that the advertised sharks were not at least 6 feet long & raging. (To be fair, that was just his interpretation of the “shark tank”, so he has no one to blame there). Glad to report that the fish were all looking good, doing their fish thing. They’re very hypnotic to watch. Yeah…I’m not sure what else to say here, I mean, they’re fish…just look at these pictures.
I’d like to point out picture 6, which I came upon by accident. The aquarium hosts kid’s birthday parties & this sign gets taken into the main tank with some of the divers who put on a little show. I was on the upper viewing level, which looks down into the tank and saw the divers getting prepped on the walkway. I had a few seconds to snap this, before they changed the name on the sign.
The other, older water related attraction of Skegness is Natureland Seal Sanctuary, which rescues, rehabilitates & releases injured seals. It’s a pretty dated establishment, with no real sense of continuity or flow between exhibits. Even though it’s not a massive place, I felt a bit lost wandering around, as there was no clear direction in which to go. I like order and structure in my attractions. It’s also mostly outside, which was a real downer because nobody wants to stand there in the sporadic horizontal rain. In addition to seals, the sanctuary also houses penguins, birds & butterflies, farm animals, reptiles, meerkats, fish. As far as I’m aware, the other residents are healthy, so they’re just there to beef things up.
There was a tank for adult seals nearly ready to be released back into the wild & they all bobbed up out of the water as soon as we came through the entrance into the grounds. Their shiny heads & beady eyes & curious stares – pretty cute. But even MORE CUTE were the baby seals! A group of them were held in a low, inclined pool, filled at one end with shallow water. Wow, seals stink like fish. But their cute fatness made up for their odour. Most of them were just wallowing in the sun, occasionally barking or snapping half-heartedly at each other. The sleepy ones opened their eyes when they sensed us standing there & then followed us with their gaze when we started walking off. I think they thought we were going to feed them. I really wanted to reach in and just roll one around like a barrel, but the sign said they can bite.
The most recently rescued seals are kept in an inclosed viewing chamber, in separate cubicles & then rotated to the outside enclosure for injured seals, so that they get sunlight & fresh air. They were mostly suffering from exhaustion or flipper wounds & their eyes looked so sad. I also discovered that seals kind of freak me out because their eyes are just black pits & they will look directly into your eyes, like they’re stealing your soul & they won’t look away.
I bought a small bag of pellets to feed the farm animals, but as it was raining they all took cover inside their enclosure except for 2 greedy goats, who I just let eat directly from the bag because I couldn’t be bothered to wash my hands after.
Now I’d like to enlighten you with my BWI, if only to prove that you too can eat a (somewhat) unbalanced diet over 3 days & still be fine:
- Full English breakfast X 2
- Ice-cream X 1 (+ a bit I stole off Adham)
- Ice-cream sundae
- Various sweets & chocolate
- Pub curry dinner
- Pub fish & chips X 2
- A bag of crisps…or two
As I type, I realize that the lack of vegetables is rather alarming; however, there were beans with breakfast, so that probably counts & I did eat fruit for lunch. Also, I would not recommend a chip shop dinner two days in a row because that just puts you off eating fish & chips for a while.
Listen To: 50 Sniffs – fish chips & donkey ridez (skegness summer holiday)