Day Three in the UK welcomed a search for a good English fish and chips shop, which brought us to Cleethorpes. Cleethorpes is a seaside town that Andy says used to be a popular holiday destination but “has now fallen by the wayside.” Locals, too, talked to us about this and said several mom-and-pop businesses went under because they could not compete with big-box stores. In fact — they said — parking lots like this used to be rammed full of cars and stores flooded with people. However, now — this day — the lot was half empty and several buildings stood abandoned.
A bicyclist sped by though, giving me a glimpse into what Cleethorpes was before. I imagined another time where kids ran with balloons and melting popsicles, lovers walked hand-in-hand while leaning on one another’s shoulders, and puppies pulled owners on leashes. But not all is lost for Cleethorpes — There is a hint of that energy still and it was there we headed where game shops, boutiques, book and antique stores, more stretched on a sidewalk.
His family joked that the area was not as pretty as it had been and it made me wonder what they saw because when I looked, baskets of flowers were spilling above our heads and classic buildings stretched proud of its past.On a side street, a historic church found people waiting patiently for a bus while others walked quickly past.
Meanwhile at the shore, more people were seen. True, maybe fewer there once had been during a summer not too long ago, but there were people — busy carrying beach chairs and tents, coolers, toting children. Several even risked the chilly sea to swim and splash (which seemed crazy to me as the water was freezing; however, Andy said there is no bounds to what the English will do if presented a sunny day).
Here, we popped by an ice cream shop and took our treats on the pier where we looked into the horizon at an estuary and more English land. I stood longer though, squinting harder, hoping to a distant Netherlands.
Before long, we headed in the opposite direction back to Andy’s parents house. The windows were down in the car and the wind ran through our hair and I remember thinking, “To all those that think England never sees sun and has only rain, I wish you could be here now . . . ”