Saturday, 21 May 2016

May 20th & 21st Grimsby & Cleethorpes

Grimsby's Dock Tower
Can you believe it? Ten years have flown by so quickly! Back then, I was leaving after three years at a special needs college in Grimsby, Lincolnshire. Now, I have returned for a reunion as the college celebrates it's 40th anniversary (just like Strumpshaw). The only thing is, Grimsby is a long car ride from Norwich and the only person available to take me there was Mum, who has never done such a long journey on her own before and she wasn't that confident. We left Norwich on Friday morning and got to our hotel with a whole afternoon to spare without too much trouble on the way up. Mum was still in a bit of a panic of how to get around Grimsby, but with three years experience of these streets, I knew this place almost inside out.

Grimsby's Heritage Dock 
After checking in at our hotel and dropping off our bags, I took Mum on a tour of Grimsby. During my three years here, I was taught valuable independence skills and part of that was walking around the town, getting to key places that were owned by the college dotted across the town and back on my own. I ended up walking from one side of the town to the other and back nearly every day. I felt like I walked this place a thousand times and the memories came flooding back as I took Mum along parts of my old routes and to shops and landmarks that I remember fondly.

St James' Church and the Lost Fisherman memorial

I had never actually photographed Grimsby and the wildlife that lived there before. So I brought my camera for the occasion. The best place to see anything is around the docks. The area where the Grimsby Heritage Centre is, as I remember, was a great place to see shags and cormorants during the winter months. Today, apart from the gulls, ducks and pigeons, I found a bird that I don't think I've ever seen here before. Being a bird of heathland, normally singing on top of a gorse bush, I was very surprised to see this linnet singing on the roof of a supermarket in this built up environment. There wasn't a gorse bush in sight!

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Herring Gulls

Cleethorpes Pier
After taking Mum around the shopping mall and other places of interest in Grimsby, we drove down to Cleethorpes. These two towns are actually so close to each other that you may mistake them as a single town. But while Grimsby is an industrial town, Cleethorpes is a seaside resort with golden sandy beaches, a pier and plenty of entertainment facilities. I know this place well too, as I spent a year living in one of the college's houses which was located not far from Brundell Park, home to Grimsby football club. This town sits along the mouth of the Humber estuary and the tide here changes dramatically. When we got to the promenade on Friday evening, the tide was really close in to the shore and people were swimming in it...

Cleethorpes beach

Me on top of Ross Castle
Starling on the beach
House Sparrow on the beach

Carrion Crow

Cleethorpes Pier with the tide out
But this morning when we returned to Cleethorpes, the sea was a distant slither close to Yorkshire on the other side of the Humber. In its place, a vast mudflat stretched for miles. I used to love bird watching along this bit of coastline when the tide is out like this. I took Mum to a favourite spot of mine during my time here. It is a small set of salt water pools next door to the RSPB's Tetney Marshes nature reserve, a yacht club and a holiday park. Back in 2003, this was the spot I accidently nearly stepped on a rare grey phalarope, which caused it to fly away and have a group of twitchers that I was trying to reach to see what they were looking for coming after me like a slightly angry mob. I didn't see it until it was too late, I swear! This place also has access to the beach and the mudflats and today I could see several oystercatchers and a few brent geese feeding on it in the distance.

The salt pools near RSPB Tetney Marshes
Grey Heron
Little Egret
Carrion Crow on the beach
Brent Geese
Greylag at Cleethorpes' boating lake
Barnacle Geese
One of the WWII sea forts that defended the Humber
Spurn Point Lighthouse
Reunion photoshoot
It was finally time to go to the reunion at Weelsby Campus. It was great to walk around the place and to meet everyone again. I haven't been here for ten years and nothing seems to have changed much, but I was sad to hear that they had to make cuts due to a lack of funding and about half the houses they had dotted across Grimsby and Cleethorpes are no longer in their care to house students and to give them the taste of independence that they need. It was still great to see that so many former students from throughout the college's 40 years have turned up from far and wide across the UK. We all lined up in front of the college hall and had our photo taken. It was then time to go and to make the long journey back to Norwich.

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