May Recommendations: 5 Quick Things in the North of England

Since I’ve been on one of my occasional trips to the northern part of England to see friends and family, I thought I’d use it for one of my even more occasional ‘recommendation’ posts. So then here are five things which have been worthwhile whilst I’ve been back in Blightly.

Live Football Game – despite HD TV and all that, it’s actually worth getting yourself a ticket to a real, live football game in my opinion, even if you aren’t a true fan. My old local team, Grimsby, are now in the Blue Square Bet league (the league below the real leagues if you like) but I went along to see them lose to Altrincham, with a less than impressive performance, but as ever, the atmosphere and the fan commentary is where the real value for money is. The pie and cup of tea were pretty good too.

Rand Farm – If like me you have young children, and you’re looking for a day out, it’s probably worth a trip down to Rand Farm. It’s a working farm which lets the kids get up close to all the usual farmyard animals, as well as handling and feeding some of the smaller ones. Another bonus is the generously sized adventure playground with trampolines, which kept the female side of the clan happy for quite a while. Also, the food isn’t too expensive, and actually tasted pretty good too.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park – If you want something a little more artistic, I can heartily recommend the YSP. It’s a massive open country park, interspersed with various sculptures and seats, along with dedicated indoor gallery spaces, and is well worth a visit if you’re passing on the M1 or M62. The current installation when I was there was by Jaume Plensa, which was well worth the time. For me, it’s perhaps akin to the Hakone Open Air Art Museum, depending on which venue is more obscure to you!

Louth – North Lincolnshire is an area dotted with old market towns. Louth is one on the A16, being in easy reach of Lincoln if you happen to end up there. It’s got all the small streets and buildings, with decent architecture and tea houses that you’d expect of a market town, and of course a worthwhile church to look around. Wednesday is the main market day, so if you do go that day prepare to battle for parking spaces, and good luck with baby cars. We decided to do lunch at Melanie’s, which was recommended by a couple of people and was very good, and sources all of it’s meat and produce locally. I recommend the venison sausages.

On the way back to the car though, we also found the Gobstopper Sweet Shop, which sold all manner of ‘old fashioned’ sweets, which meant I could stock up on hard liquorice, granular sherbet and even liquorice wood!

KLM and City Hopper – For the last few years I’ve returned to the UK via KLM from Tokyo, stopping off in Schiphol (Amsterdam). I do this mainly because it’s easier for me to get to my family’s house more quickly from Humberside Airport even with the stop in Schiphol, than flying in to London and trying the train or even car to the north. KLM is not the best carrier, being somewhat erratic, but prices are OK, and that stop in Amsterdam also gives you the flexibility to use one of their CityHopper flights to most larger cities in Europe, and to a lot of smaller airports (such as Humberside!).