Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Wasted day

We spent a pleasant morning checking out some nooks of Norwich missed on earlier days. East Anglia definitely has some of my favourite English towns: Bury-St-Edmonds, Ely, Cambridge, Aldeburgh/Snape and Norwich.

Our next stop was to be King's Lynn, which was not a long drive, so I opted for taking a more circuitous route along the coast before our 3.30 check-in. Cromer was a brief stop - a resort town with much more appeal than Great Yarmouth but without the sophistication of towns below Southwold. It reminded me a little of Sydney's Manly or Melbourne's St. Kilda with its windy dilapidation.

The day started to go a bit sour at King's Lynn. The proprietor of the only pet-friendly hotel there pulled a quicky and was going to provide me with a smaller room at a higher rate than had been booked. She maintained that the booking call was recorded and that she had given me the correct details. I kept asking to hear this recording, and she kept dissembling - the recording an obvious bluff. I left.

I've stayed in about 15-20 B&B/guesthouse/hotels in the last few months and this only the 2nd to change the agreed rate. At least I had the chance to pull out of this one: the other(my first night stay in Dolgellau) did it at check-out. Both were notably tiny rooms priced higher than comparable establishments.

We did have a small problem: tonight's accommodation. I was following a north-westerly path through Lincolnshire to get back to Wigan. Pet-friendly accommodation was much rarer in Lincolnsire than in Norfolk and Suffolk. Luckily the only listed place near Boston had a vacancy and that was just an hour away.

The day went a bit sourer when my debit card was declined at check-in. I called my US-based card issuer, who after a very-long and expensive £30 phone-call (that cut-out towards the end as my pay-as-you-go balance was wiped out), informed me that they have a policy of declining every 4th foreign-exchange transaction even though it was taking place within a few hundred miles of my billing address. Thanks guys.

I used an alternate card to secure the room and drove into Boston to sort out our dinners. Boston is an old market-town, grown up beside a river and a very big square. Unlike its namesake across the Atlantic, it has not aged well, and even the presence of Spooky's Piercing Parlour under the shadow of the local church spire was not enough to give it an appealing atmosphere. That atmosphere may have been blown away by the UK's only 8-sailed windmill on the northern side of the river.

Booked in for next two nights in Lincoln.

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