Wednesday July 21, 2004
I fancied a change of shopping venue today, so we tried Horncastle for the first time. Strange little town. Appealing and repelling all at the same time. Lots of secondhand and antique shops, which is fun, and lots of eating places, which ought to be fun. Except that, for the first time in Lincolnshire, we didn’t find them at all welcoming.
One was so dingy, smelly and dirty that we walked straight through to the ‘courtyard’, thinking that at least there the air would be fresh, only to find that it’s actually nothing more than a shabby brick-walled enclosure underneath the extractors from the kitchens. We carried on walking.
The second was filled with an ill-smelling haze from the deep fat friers in the back kitchen. We got as far as the front door on that one before turning round and walking on. Shame, because Graham had expressed an urgent need for scampi and chips, and this was the only place that purported to serve it.
At another, purporting to be a carvery and grill, we were greeted by a stern faced catering management-type woman dressed in a black business suit.
“Do you want food?” she demanded.
“Well, yes,” I said.
She glared at her wristwatch. “I suppose there’s just about enough time before we stop serving.”
It was half-past one, and the place was well populated with people eating lunch.
I took a deep breath. Not a pleasant task when undertaken in an overwhelming stench of over-cooked cabbage.
“I don’t think we’ll bother, then.”
Outside, Graham said: “What is the matter with this place?”
“I think it’s been touristed to death.”
“You may be right there, chooky-boots. Let’s have a snack in one of the tea rooms and beat a hasty retreat.”
Which is what we did. I think we’re likely to do Horncastle again but, unless it’s well out of season, we’ll take a packed lunch.
Oh, I’m sure that there’s a splendid eatery lurking somewhere in Horncastle, just waiting to be found. And, if there is, we’ll find it. But you can’t help judging a place on first impressions and there seemed to be no effort spared in Horncastle today to make a bad one.