A Good Day Out

I had set an alarm for 6:00am and that did in fact work, but a Carer also made sure I was awake. I began my day as usual and was ready in good time. I sent greetings to a few folk as always, but it had to be a short message this time before I went down for my breakfast and tablets. We were all ready at the planned time and we made our way onto the little bus we would be going on for our trip out. I was interested to see what route we might take, but it was soon clear we would go east and over to Peterborough, then north to Boston and east once again to our destination, Skegness. Having worked for British Telecom in their Peterborough Telephone Area, I knew the general locations of telephone exchanges and main buildings in that area. I couldn’t tell you now where all of them were, but I still recall many! So we made our way along the A47 and were soon on the outskirts of Peterborough. Then it was up the A16 past Crowland and Spalding to Boston, where we turned right onto the A52 to Skegness. Our bus driver, with his customary sense of humour, joked about us having “a quick drive along the sea front and then heading home!”. He made sure we knew he was joking. We parked up and all began a slow, easy walk towards the beach. One inmate was in a wheelchair and the Carers, including the bus driver, took turns in pushing that. We were all kept together, there were several Carers and it was neatly done. It was a glorious, sunny day to be at the seaside, beside the sea! When it became clear we all needed a rest, a nearby cafe was visited and that suited me. Soft drinks were organised, I got my usual black tea with one sugar and it was just right. I noticed that we were near to the lifeboat station, so I took a photo of that.

Skegness Lifeboat Station.

This lifeboat station is now located on Skegness seafront. This area of the British coastline is characterised by many shoals as well as constantly changing sandbanks, many of which lie between the town and the East Dudgeon Lightship. The building dates from 1990 and was the first in the British Isles constructed especially for a Mersey-class lifeboat. The boathouse also accommodates an inshore lifeboat and a souvenir shop. But the first lifeboat service in Skegness was organised by the Lincolnshire Coast Shipwreck Association who placed a lifeboat at the Gibraltar Point coastguard station. In 1859 the lifeboat and boathouse was moved from Gibraltar Point to a position in Skegness, among sand dunes to a location now called Lifeboat Avenue. The station was taken under the control of the RNLI in 1864 who had a new boathouse constructed. The location of this first RNLI station was close to the original station but is now a privately owned dwelling. The RNLI built another boathouse in 1892, located on South Parade in Skegness to the south of the clock tower. This boathouse had access doors for the lifeboat at either end of the building and there was also a watch room constructed on the first floor. This station was in use until 1990 when it was sold to a private buyer. The RNLI placed an inshore lifeboat (ILB) at Skegness in May 1964. The ILB was kept in a small house close to the main beach until it was moved in 1990 to the new lifeboat station on the Tower Esplanade. Then in 1990 it was decided that offshore health and safety cover for this area of the Lincolnshire coast would be greatly improved with the placing of a Mersey-class all-weather lifeboat at Skegness. To accommodate the new lifeboat a new, purpose-made station was constructed for the Mersey-class lifeboat on the Tower Esplanade. The ILB was placed within the same building as well as improved crew and equipment facilities. The place also included a souvenir shop to help with branch fund raising. Then on 20 May 2016, the Skegness ‘D’-class lifeboat, RNLB ‘Peterborough Beer Festival IV’ was taking part in a search for a missing person when a fire started on board. The fire spread rapidly, and after issuing a mayday call, the crew abandoned the vessel, swimming 200-yards (180 metres) to shore whilst the lifeboat sank. The RNLI started recovery operations, but the damage was severe. In May 2017, the Shannon-class ‘Joel and April Grunnill’ officially replaced the Mersey-class ‘Lincolnshire Poacher’. The new lifeboat cost £2.2 million, she was launched at Poole on 9 September 2016, then delivered to Skegness on 28 January 2017 and officially named on 27 May 2017. Funding came from the legacy of Joel Grunnill and a donation from his cousin April Grunnill, both of whom had been volunteers with the station. In 2019, D-class lifeboat ‘The Holland Family’ was donated by Robert Holland, in honour of his parents and wider family, who have been long-term volunteers at the station.

Now, back to our visit. After a break we all walked on a bit more and onto the beach. I had never walked on soft sand whilst using a walking stick, it took some getting used to! A few inmates wanted to go down to the water’s edge, so naturally some Carers went with them whilst the rest of us, inmates and Carers, sat watching. After a while they returned and we went to a nearby fish & chip place, food was organised and a further drink. My scalp was getting a bit sunburned but I got a hat. The cost of everything was all sorted by the Care Home. As you might expect at this popular seaside town, there were donkey rides and a few inmates wanted photos of themselves next to the donkeys, though nobody was allowed to have a ride. I must say that the people managing the donkeys were very accommodating and there were no difficulties. The donkeys travelled in a specially designed lorry and our bus driver jokingly said about going home in the back of that! Nobody wanted to though… So we slowly headed back towards the shops, but by now my legs were giving out, this was the furthest I had walked in a good few years, so I sat on a low wall and chatted to the bus driver. Meanwhile the other inmates, again accompanied by Carers, had a look in a few shops. At no time were any of us left unattended, but with one person in a wheelchair and another using a walking frame, also some were looking at different things along the way, it took a while to keep us all together. So at times, to the Carers it must have felt like they were herding cats! But it all went well. A further walk resulted in an ice cream each and I sat chatting to some other people who were also there for the day. Then it was a visit to facilities and a return to the bus. It was now 3:30pm or so, which I thought was good. We had a fairly easy journey back, a friend of mine had sent me a text earlier saying they wished it would rain and sure enough it did, as we were between Skegness and Boston. We had just missed it! Our route back to Leicester was exactly the the reverse of the way we had come, via Boston and Spalding, so once we got as far as Peterborough to me that meant we were almost back! The driver had estimated to be at the Care Home for 6:15pm and that is exactly when we arrived. I returned to my room and was warmly greeted by a Carer who asked how the day had been. I told him it had been great, I’d enjoyed it but my legs were aching now as I’d not walked that far or for so long in a few years, having been first in hospital and then in Care Homes for over two years. I’d also had to learn to walk again over those two years and now I was doing so, aided by a single stick instead of a walking frame. I had been out in the big wide world again, mixing with people, something I hadn’t done for quite a while. I think we can sometimes forget that aspect of life. So for me it was a bit emotional, but I had done it. I’d had a good day out.

This week…
A short, ‘fun’ version of the above:
Escape Attempt No. 300.
The other day I and a few others finally managed to get out. We even made it to Skegness. I thought we had fooled a few Carers into coming with us, but they were too clever. They stayed with us, made sure we were fed and watered in the sunshine then brought us back. My scalp got a bit sunburned but I got a hat. At times it was difficult for the Carers, I think they must have thought they were herding cats! I was tired, my legs ached afterwards but I’m glad I made the effort. It was a good day out.

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