I (some-what) recently went to Grantham, in Lincolnshire, about 1.5 hours North of Leicester. There is a stately home nearby – Belton House – & I was due for a National Trust visit.
As a town, Grantham itself is pretty unremarkable. I arrived earlier than I needed to, because I wanted to have a wander around the place; as it was Easter weekend, many places were closed or shut at bizarre times. And to be honest there is not a whole lot to see in the town itself. Grantham would make a good base if you were travelling around to the outskirts, as there are several points of interest.
The tourist information centre was just inside some building, which looked to be the local theatre. And it was just pamphlets on the wall. There were a lot of pamphlets for places that were no where near Grantham. There were also no pamphlets for Belton House, which I found surprising since it’s boasted as one of Grantham’s ‘nearby’ attractions.
The museum was small but it was trying really hard, so I give it that. And I did learn some things, such as: Margaret Thatcher was born in Grantham; Sir Isaac Newton was born just outside of & educated in Grantham; the first woman police officer in the UK – Edith Smith – was from Grantham.
In my ambling took me to:
- The building where Newton went to school.
- The Beehive Inn, which dates back to the early 1800s & has a ‘living sign’ – a real beehive with bees.
- St. Wulfram’s Church, which has the highest spire of any medieval church in the UK, at 282 feet. It was closed, so I couldn’t go in.
- Margaret Thatcher’s birthplace which is now a chiropractor’s office.
My B&B – The Red House – was excellent value for money. I had a really spacious basement room, with a really good mattress. There was an Asda just down the road, so I was able to pick up some food-to-go for dinner & eat in the comfort of my room while watching nature documentaries on the telly.
So…it’s now Easter Sunday & nothing is open. And I did not take that into account. I wanted to pick up a few bits for dinner before heading to Belton House. I should have done that yesterday because Asda is closed. As is Lidl. As were the other few shops I passed by. I finally came across a petrol station & got some pot noodles. I don’t anticipate wanting to wander around later on, trying to find a restaurant that is open.
Belton House was an hour walk from Grantham – just a straight line there – through some semi-country surroundings. I’m certain there is a bus that goes along the road, but I never saw one. Sunday – probably not running. Ah well, because it was quite nice out, albeit slightly cloudy.
Located in the teeny-tiny village of Belton, the grounds itself are quite expansive, comprising of a deer park (of course), assorted manicured gardens, wooded paths, green lawns, a ‘lake’ (aka, large pond), a church & the house. I had a while to kill before the house opened, so I was able to wander through the gardens at a leisurely pace.
It was in my wanderings that I noticed that everyone was sporting little circular stickers on their jackets. Huh, that’s strange. Then in looking at the pamphlet that I was given with my admission ticket, I see: “ensure your admission sticker is visible at all times.” Wait, what? I have a ticket, but not a sticker. Why wasn’t I given a sticker? Should I walk back to the entrance & get one? Should I just keep going? Will I be allowed in the house? Ok, keep cool. Act natural. If you are questioned, just act surprised & pretend it fell off. Or…wait! There is a sticker on the ground, slightly crinkled, but it’s still good. I smoothed it onto my jacket. There…but why do some people have different colour stickers? Oh god! I’ll bet they indicate the type of entry one has paid. What does green mean? Green: I’m good to go? Green: full price? Green: a member of the National Trust? Huhnnnnn…..
Well, nobody razzed me, so I was able to relax once I got inside the house. There are two floors open to the public, but there is no direction to follow, so it was a bit disjointed with people going all different ways. Many of the rooms featured marble finishes…or did they? No! They did not! It was all wood, painted for a marble effect. The Chinese Bedroom was quite interesting as it was edged in bamboo…or was it? No! It was not! It was oak, painted for a bamboo effect. And the pale greeny-yellow wallpaper, which I found quite nice? Originally pink. This place is out of control.
I was able to snag one of the last spaces available for the below stairs tours; even though it is included in the entry fee, you still have to book a spot, which is a bit weird. Roy took us around the rooms, which were cold & dull & musty compared to upstairs; he was full of information about the life of a servant. It was very Downton Abbey.
On the walk back to Grantham I was wishing I hadn’t worn boots because my feet were killing me. The weather had been dithering between rain, sun, light rain, no rain, cloud, sun & I didn’t want to pack an extra pair of shoes for such a short amount of time. It sprinkled off & on all day with intermittent sun & only really rained as I neared back into Grantham. Oh my god, I have blisters on my feet. On the actual soles of my feet. How has that even happened? This hurts so bad. I am hobbling around.
How am I going to get to the train station? It is only a 15 minute walk, but can I even do it? A night of not moving has somewhat alleviated my pain. I plaster my wounds, wrap toilet roll around my feet, put on two pairs of socks & manage to squeeze my feet into my boots. I will leave with plenty of time & take it slow. Looking back, I realize that there seems to be a pattern involving extensive walking and then wanting to cut off my legs / feet. I will never learn.