Joe Crowley explores North Lincolnshire, scaling the heights of Lincoln Cathedral and discovering the secret life of British poet Lord Tennyson.
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Hello. Today I am on a journey through the unspoiled
and expansive landscapes of North Lincolnshire.
I'll begin my journey in the county town of Lincoln,
starting on a high as I am treated to a unique look
at the cathedral's stunning architecture.
Are you ready? The view from St Hugh!
Wow, wow, wow!
Back on firm ground, I'll head down the hill to discover
the secret life of local boy and Great British poet, Lord Tennyson.
Then, leaving Lincoln behind,
I'll travel north-east to Theddlethorpe to meet a present-day poet
in the Lincolnshire landscape that inspires him.
What an amazing contrast between this beautiful, verdant,
protected countryside, and then the threat of bombs.
I'll head over to Louth, getting hands-on, preparing the local delicacy of chine.
Before rounding off my journey at Skegness
as Billy Butlin's holiday camp celebrate their 75th anniversary.
He designed the first chalet on the back of a cigarette packet
and a legend was started.
Along the way, I'll look back at the best of the BBC's rural programmes
from this part of the world.
Welcome to Country Tracks.
Lincolnshire is one of Britain's most unspoilt landscapes.
Its vast farmlands and lack of motorways
give the county the laid-back feel of another era.
Even the main city of Lincoln bursts with historic charm
rather than the hustle and bustle of urban living.
Despite these rather tranquil surroundings,
I have an appointment that's guaranteed to set my pulse racing
halfway up the side of Lincoln Cathedral.
The cathedral dominates the skyline for miles around.
It is the third biggest cathedral in Britain and until 1549,
when its central spire collapsed,
it was the tallest building in the world.
It's recognised as one of the finest mediaeval buildings in Europe
with parts dating back as far as 1072.
But the Gothic creation that stands here today was mainly built
in the 13th century, inspired by the then Bishop of Lincoln, St Hugh.
I have been promised an audience with the man himself,
even though he's been dead for 800 years.
Works manager Carol Heidschuster has promised me all will become clear.
Am I right in thinking you are taking me to see St Hugh?
-I certainly am. He's 135 feet up.
-It's quite good you can't see the height you are - the blue mesh screens it out.
-We are about 90 feet up now. Are you ready?
-The big reveal.
-Right, here we are.
What a view!
-Stunning, isn't it?
Before we continue to the top on foot, Carol shows me
why getting up close to this elevated architecture is so essential.
When you haven't got scaffolding up, how do you know what needs work
because you can't just look at this 100 foot up, can you?
No, we have a conservator who is also an abseiler.
He's been working on this every year,
he inspects it and does detailed photographs.
Until you get up here,
-and you can physically see we have some movement in some of the pinnacles.
-A bit wobbly!
I think that graphically shows why we are here.
-Right, another one for the to-do list!
When you look at how high we are, it's easy to see that without this ongoing maintenance,
there could be terrifying consequences.
Right, are you ready? The view from St Hugh.
Wow, wow, wow!
Totally exposed up here on his own.
This is St Hugh.
I should shake his hand.
-He doesn't seem receptive. At least he's not wobbling!
So, what is wrong with him? Why does he need work?
Well, the photographs from the 1920s showed his hand complete with two fingers.
-There was a crozier here, bishop's crozier.
-That's completely gone.
-You see, all you've got is...
-It snapped off.
And the loss of detail.
If you go to his robes around the back,
you can see quite a lot of pointing.
-That's had extra concrete on top.
That's what they did in the '20s to reform the drapery
of his cloak, which would originally have been carved into it.
Now, we are at the apex of the health and safety revolution.
There are barriers everywhere you look. What would it have been like in the 1920s?
Well, there's a photograph on file.
This is Robert Godfrey, the clerk of works at the time.
He stood right there, on a box next to St Hugh.
And not a barrier in sight!
Isn't that incredible?
When this was built, originally, God, St Hugh looking over you.
Very imposing figure.
Yes, all the buildings would not have been there.
This was stood on the hill with the castle.
It must have been really impressive.
When you think St Hugh can date back that far,
the fact he's still standing at all... We have a prevailing wind,
he is taking everything that is thrown at the cathedral.
You have made an interesting point.
We are not convinced St Hugh is the original statue.
There is a view it is a late- or mid-1800s replacement.
Got you. Even so, that would give him 200 years.
Yes, still 200 years old.
-I don't think he has weathered badly when you feel the wind today.
Lashing rain, snow in the winter, freezing all the time.
-He is doing OK.
-It is our hope we will have the opportunity to carve a new one,
and that will give our carver that privilege to be able
to carve something that will be here for centuries.
Whoever carves him, St Hugh will have a place on this turret?
And we will have the original one, if we remove it,
the original one will be on display.
-Great, thanks very much. A pleasure to meet St Hugh.
St Hugh is just a tiny piece in a vast and intricate puzzle.
I am heading back to ground level to see
the skills of the cathedral's craftsman in action and get a sense of the scale of their task.
The cathedral is only one of three in the country with its own full-time restoration team.
People like stone carver Paul Ellis work behind-the-scenes
to make sure this beautiful building remains in pristine condition.
-Hello, Paul. How are you doing?
What a great place to work!
A lot of industry going on in here.
Not bad, there's worse!
What are you working on?
A capital, replacement capital, for the cathedral.
Where would you find a capital?
A capital is the transition point where an arch comes down
and meets the columns on either a doorway or window opening.
This is the sort of thing you are working on.
These are old ones that have come off the building.
They have failed, which is why they've been taken off.
And this is a new one. We have to keep it in this style.
How much variation is there within the style?
Do you have to get it spot-on?
No, there is a bit of licence to do it.
As a carver, you make it fit how you want.
-It could be sprouting this way or that way.
But you have to follow the basic form, a basic form,
but it is a bit like handwriting -
everyone will write a certain letter in a different way.
What is the little cross?
That is my mark, that is my signature.
In the old days, the head mason would have tallied up how many stones with my mark on
and paid me accordingly for them. Mine is a sign of my faith.
In the old days, they would have been various shapes,
maybe a simple cross to start with
and then the mason would pass that on to his apprentice
who might have added another line.
And then he would have passed that on to his
and the symbol could have grown in size over a couple of generations.
It is nice. The continuation of that experience and knowledge
-and lineage of stone masonry.
It is part of the craft and tradition we keep going, yes.
Guys have been doing this, like yourself, for hundreds of years.
How much has it changed in that time? This is just a fairly basic chisel, isn't it?
Yeah, a chisel and we also use mallets, that is a nylon mallet.
The only difference traditionally would be a beechwood or apple or pear mallet.
When you have three-dimensional carvings like this,
you have to see that in your head. It's a gift from the big fella.
-But you have got it.
-And it's interesting you can put the gift from the big fella back into his place!
For us, it is a privilege to be part of that building.
The masons in those days were the boys.
They built that building along with the vaulting and everything that goes with it.
All we are doing is putting plasters on it, pieces on it, to keep it going.
Don't sell yourself short, it is quite a skill,
you have to have the skills they had.
It is still a skill and we're using the same skills they had
but unfortunately, nobody wants to build in that way any more.
It is too expensive and time-consuming.
But the other hand is, that building has been there 1,000 years nearly.
There is nothing that's built nowadays that will last 1,000 years.
It has been fascinating to get an insight into the hidden workings behind this historic building.
From its iconic landmarks, to its rural landscapes,
Lincolnshire is a place of many secrets,
as Julia Bradbury found out.
Lincolnshire has a reputation
for being very flat
but it's not that flat.
I am definitely going up a hill.
It's a little hill, but it is a hill.
That's because I am in the little-visited Lincolnshire Wolds.
Come on, dear!
They are an expansive landscape of rolling chalk hills.
In fact, this is the highest spot in eastern England.
It is a giant golf ball!
Claxby radar station at the top of the Wolds
adds a touch of mystery to the place.
But I am here to delve deeper into another of Lincolnshire's unexpected wonders.
The Humber Estuary is to the north and the Wash is to the south
but nevertheless, Lincolnshire is one of the driest counties in Britain.
But in the depths of these chalk hills, lies a hidden waterworld.
And the man who knows how to find it is Richard Chadd.
-Hello, Richard. How are you?
-Fine, welcome to Lincolnshire Wolds.
-Where are we heading?
-Down a little chalk spring down here.
It's very deep, inaccessible and slightly damp.
-You'll need scruffy clothes and wellies!
-I shall put that on.
The hidden world we are off to find is a tiny chalk spring -
one of the most protected and rarest of habitats in Britain.
So, what's so special about this chalk spring?
You can see all around you the intensely managed landscape.
This one is so deep and steep,
it's probably untouched for hundreds of years, so it's been left to nature, really.
Richard is a scientist who monitors the health of these hidden springs.
-Lead the way!
'And he's got permission to show me one that is on private land.' Lots of nettles to battle through.
Absolutely, bits of hawthorn too. Watch yourself on those.
-Suddenly, we are in deep, deep foliage.
-You can see how steep it is.
-We are in the Lost Kingdom.
It gets really steep here.
Where is the ladder?
-You have to use the ivy instead.
It's getting quite cold too.
Yeah, the temperature's dropping.
You weren't kidding when you said it's steep! I am hooked in ivy. Ooh!
-Where have you brought me?!
-And here we are.
Too steep to farm, this woodland is wild and natural.
It is a landscape in miniature.
Suddenly, we've got all these ferns and lush species
you wouldn't get anywhere but in this habitat.
I can see why you love it so much.
It's fabulous. Nobody has messed with this for hundreds of years.
It's a magical place, I think.
And the reason it's here at all is this crystal clear spring water.
Feel how cold it is.
It's almost like having a remnant of the mountains in the middle of the English lowlands.
Chilled by its journey through the chalk, the water emerges
at a constant temperature in both summer and winter.
Helping the native flora like these Hart's-tongue ferns
to grow in abundance.
There's liverworts and mosses on the boulders around here.
Some of them are quite nice. This one here...
You can't quite describe the smell but it's rather nice!
What is it? It's a sort of muted mint.
That's right, sort of. It's called scented liverwort.
Never smelt anything like that before. Very fresh.
-It's not edible?
-Don't eat it.
-Not as far as I know.
-We won't try it now!
Even though it's tricky to get down here,
these little ribbons show we are not the only visitors.
What are these? People have been here.
People find this place very precious indeed for spiritual reasons.
I guess you've got the water coming out of the bones of the Earth.
They have put these things in, I don't know what they mean
but it's a precious place to somebody.
Mind yourself, because there is a waterfall just here.
It is a little one. But it is a waterfall.
When I first told somebody I found a little waterfall, they didn't believe me.
-You don't get waterfalls in Lincolnshire.
-What is the definition?
Well, within habitat survey, the definition is the water
-has to leave the rock face, which it does.
-And when it doesn't?
-It is called a chute.
Yes. It's not exactly Niagara.
-But it is something.
-It is, especially for Lincolnshire.
Julia Bradbury in one of Lincolnshire's idyllic hideaways.
Back in the county town of Lincoln, I've left the cathedral behind.
I'm taking the short stroll down the hill to the next stop on my journey.
It is fair to say Lincolnshire's most famous son is Alfred Tennyson,
the Poet Laureate to Queen Victoria until his death in 1892.
Today, he's incredibly relevant still.
He is read, studied and appreciated across the world.
Where better to learn more about him than the local library?
But this is no ordinary library.
In a labyrinth of secure corridors, high above the Harry Potters
and Daphne du Mauriers, the extraordinary private life of Lord Tennyson is laid bare.
It makes for fascinating reading.
Leading me to this hidden treasure is Grace Timmins.
What are these, original proofs?
These are some of the most interesting manuscripts we have got.
The jewel of the collection is the manuscript of In Memoriam
which is a long poem consisting of 131 lyrics
or versus that Tennyson wrote over the course of 14 or 15 years.
People don't really read it from start to finish now.
We quote it without realising.
So, things like, "It is better to have loved and lost
"than never to have loved at all" is in it.
It is perhaps the most famous line Tennyson wrote and it came to have
special significance for many people who lost loved ones,
including his royal patron, Queen Victoria, when Prince Albert died.
In fact, Victoria was so comforted by his words
that when Tennyson lost his son, she wrote him a letter of condolence
that laid bare her own feelings.
We have got a letter here from Queen Victoria.
And it's a remarkably warm letter of sympathy from Queen Victoria.
Perhaps the most telling bit is on this side, where she says,
"But I say from the depth of a heart which has suffered cruelly,
"and lost almost all it cared for and loved best."
She is really opening up.
And, as you see from the black edgings to the paper,
-she is still mourning nearly 20 years later.
-But this isn't just an official letter to the Poet Laureate.
-This is a very personal account.
But Tennyson wasn't just a great writer.
The advent of mass printing meant he was the first poet
to make real money and reach a vast audience.
His popularity made him a celebrity everyone wanted a piece of.
He was extremely well known and well loved by a very wide range of the population.
There is a very funny letter here that is from a Lucy Hindley.
No royalty in this one?
No royalty in this one. And basically, she's asking Tennyson
if he'd write a verse in honour of her dead Scotch Terrier.
"Even though I don't know you one bit, I'm going to write to you
"and ask you for a great favour."
Tennyson has a rather complex relationship
with this kind of fanbase, because on the one hand
he really rather objects to it, especially if he has to see them.
But on the other hand, he would kind of... This letter has been saved
and there are boxes and boxes of this kind of thing.
And he was quite dependent on being loved by his readers.
So, there's a two-way relationship there.
-Like celebrities like to be in sort of chat magazines.
He quite likes the limelight.
Yes. Apparently, according to one of his great friends,
he would be worried if he hadn't had letters in the post for a couple of days.
-It's an interesting conundrum which I'm sure faces many celebrities today.
In fact, there's evidence that Tennyson
actively courted his celebrity status
and his image was carefully managed in life, and death.
This catches my eye. What is this?
Well, it's a calendar for 1896, which is about four years after he died.
A great image of the venerable poet at the front
and then quotations from his work to go with every month of the year.
These aren't the only objects you've got here, are they?
What we've got in this cabinet are items that Tennyson would have used every day
and that his family have kept because they knew people might be interested in them.
-That's a self-conscious preservation.
-They could be important?
So we have his pipes, very, very well used.
His pocket watches. And a lock of his hair.
Then we get to some quite grisly things
that are associated with his death.
We've got to his last medicine cup.
Scissors off his table that were used for everything in the room after he passed away.
So, the family put a tremendous importance on the process of his death?
Yes. And it's...it's part of the.. not consciously celebrity making,
but it is kind of a great kind of honouring of
what they considered to be the genius in their midst.
-He was great, therefore we should preserve everything.
-Even his thermometer.
-And some scissors.
-Yes, exactly. Yes.
It's been great to get this glimpse into Tennyson's inner life.
He was clearly a literary genius.
But what's amazing is to discover how his poetry
touched people's lives and how his legacy was being preserved
from the very moment he died.
Back to poetry in a little bit.
But first, James Wong and some Lincolnshire turf.
It's so common, you probably don't even give it a second glance
but it's the unsung hero of the park world.
Grass is great.
You can lie on it and watch the clouds go by,
play football on it, picnic on it, and of course,
where would our sports stadia be without it?
But boy, do we treat it bad.
But where does this quantity of turf come from?
A turf farm.
Now, this isn't any old type of grass.
The grasses grown here are specifically formulated
for all sorts of use,
whether that's a polo field,
a rugby pitch or some of the finest putting greens on earth.
Each is cleverly mixed with all different types of seed
and different types of soil to match a whole number of different uses.
This farm in Lincolnshire has been growing and harvesting turf for 20 years.
It covers an area of 1,000 acres
and it's also where turf for the Ricoh Arena was first sown.
This is almost impossible to believe that it's a farm.
-It's like a living room carpet.
How do you get it to be so perfect?
Well, it all starts about 18 months ago from now.
We prepare the field with specialist implements.
We get it nice and level so that we don't have any undulations anywhere.
Then we drill the seed and there's a lot of preparation time
in-between drilling the seed and this.
But we have specialist equipment to do that.
Some real boys' toys back there.
You've got quite a few on your farm. What do those do?
One of them is a wide area mower, the one on the left there.
That can mow about ten metres wide, and then
the other machine is basically an industrial vacuum.
And that just brushes
and sucks up the clippings that we don't really need on the surface.
50% of the turf here is destined for domestic gardens.
What I really want to know is if I can tell the difference
between that and the grass that's produced for top-level sports.
So, this is our custom-grown turf product.
It's quite different to what we've seen in the other fields.
You can really see it.
Yeah. This is absolute top dollar turf, this.
This is the best turf you could possibly buy.
-It happens to be customised by the customer.
He has chosen, it's a golf course customer, he's chosen
the root zone underneath, he's chosen the grass species,
he's actually chosen how we look after it too.
It's so tight, that's what you notice. And so short.
I didn't know you could mow that short.
That's what the customer wants and that's what we give him.
-So, this is your Savile Row, bespoke suit turf?
I couldn't put it better myself.
It's developed for speed and accuracy
-and I have a golf ball here to demonstrate that.
-OK, let's go.
So, it's run smoother and faster
and it's exactly what the pro golfers want of a surface.
Yeah, because it's hard and there's no resistance.
It's so short that you have to be really precise.
It's actually about 6mm in height of cut at the moment.
By next spring, when it goes to the customer, it will be 2.5.
And growing grass that can withstand being cut so short takes a lot of scientific research.
I'm off to meet Christian Spring
at the Sports Turf Research Institute.
Here they create a patchwork of grasses,
each with a different soil type and grass species,
experimenting with combinations for every sporting need.
One of the most important tests is how the surface reacts upon impact.
For example, cricket, you want the pitch
to be as firm as you can get it.
You don't want it too wet or the ball doesn't behave
as you would like it too.
Soccer, you want a surface which isn't too soft
that it'll cut up. But you want it soft
so the player, when he falls, isn't going to get hurt.
It's a very fine balancing act that we have.
We are having to think about a compromise between all those characteristics we need
from both our playing surface or our lawn
and actually how the grass...what the grass needs to actually survive.
Who would have thought there's so much science in growing just a bit of grass?
James Wong visiting a turf farm in Lincolnshire.
I'm carrying on my Lincolnshire journey by heading out
to the rugged and remote coastline at Theddlethorpe.
With the legacy of Tennyson such a strong part of the county's identity,
it was decided that Lincolnshire should have its very own poet laureate,
someone whose job it is to create verses about life here.
I've come to meet this modern-day bard
in one of the landscapes that's inspired him.
-You're a poet laureate but not THE Poet Laureate, are you?
-What's your role exactly?
It's my job to go around Lincolnshire, meet people, see places,
write a poem every month and do workshops, readings.
-I assume you were always a poet.
-How did you apply and get this position?
There can't be many of them?
There aren't many jobs for poets, you might be shocked to find out!
No, I saw it advertised and I applied and I had an interview,
which is like a normal job interview, except you have to read a couple of poems.
And they asked me to do it, which is wonderful, I'm having a great time.
What have you written so far? What's inspired you?
It's my first month, so I've written one poem so far
and that's actually about the beach where we are now.
I was here on holiday, I was walking my dog along the beach,
and further round, it's a wildlife preserve,
lots of rare birds nesting.
I thought, it'll be beautiful, not a care in the world, wide open skies,
beautiful English countryside, and I came across a sign on the beach here.
A Ministry of Defence warning sign saying, "If you find
"something in the sand, don't touch it, run as fast as you can," or words to that effect.
I thought, what an amazing contrast between this beautiful, verdant, protected countryside,
and then the threat of bombs.
-I took this as a challenge. My first poem was about someone finding something in the sand.
I'd love to hear the poem. We are standing by the sign,
the point of inspiration, so it would be great to hear it.
Absolutely, that's the job.
It doesn't have a title because I'm not very good at titles
but it goes almost exactly like this.
At Theddlethorpe The sea goes out for miles
And England falls away beneath your feet
While concrete bunkers hidden in the dunes
Wait silently for rabbits to retreat
Amongst the drift of wood and broken shells
The path along the seaweed tide is lined with white on red official signs
That warn that there'll be no reward for things you find
One scuffing school shoe thunks on something hard
He kneels down and starts to excavate
He feels it Metal buried in the sand
One hand digs deep, then pulls He feels the weight
He stumbles on a sunken pile of kelp
Turns with his ankle Spins and sprints away
Behind him sits the lump of metal still
He knows that there'll be no reward today
He feels a burning in his throat and lungs
Imagined Spitfires cover his retreat
At Theddlethorpe the sea goes out for miles
as England falls away beneath his feet.
It was the beauty of the countryside rather than the coastline
that Matt Baker took in when he visited.
For his stroll along the lanes of Lincolnshire,
he chose some rather unusual companions.
Today, the Lincolnshire Wolds are a patchwork of arable fields
but a few centuries ago, it was livestock
and in particular sheep that dominated the landscape.
Like the Cotswolds, Lincolnshire Wolds
grew rich off the back of the booming wool trade.
In an age when there was no motorised transport,
the only way to move animals to market was to walk them there,
sometimes hundreds of miles.
For centuries, farmers relied on a network of alleyways
laid out between fields known as droving roads.
Many of them still exist today, transporting cars, not sheep.
To find out what it was like for drovers herding animals,
I'm going to re-trace a traditional route here in the Wolds.
The plan is to walk this flock of rare breed Lincoln longwools
to fresh pasture which is about three miles from here.
I've moved loads and loads of sheep around our farm up in Durham
but to drove this lot down unfamiliar roads
without my trusty sheepdog, Meg, is going to be interesting.
Now, I have enlisted the help of their owner, Mike Harrison, who is...
well, he's as itching to get going as I am.
-Plan of action, are we going into that corner?
-That's the way.
Round we go, then. Come on, girls.
Mike regularly hires his sheep out to nearby farmers to help graze their land.
Normally he'd move them the whole way by trailer
but he's going to help us turn the clock back.
First, we've got to pen them up.
-There we are, all in.
-That went well, that. First stage complete.
Are you optimistic about what we're about to do today, Mike?
-I'm up for anything.
-Yeah... THEY LAUGH
Have they ever been down these roads?
No, but I'm confident they will behave.
We need to be absolutely adamant about how many we've got.
We don't want to lose any. We're saying 15 or 16.
-Do we need to do a head count?
-I think we need to do one.
I think we should, right.
-One, two, three...
-Yeah, you count and I'll count and see what we get.
..16, 17. I got 17 as well.
It's a real honour to be droving them today,
on this land, around here and I can't wait to get going.
Now, of course, the biggest change since the days of traditional droving
is the amount of traffic out there.
Because the farm's on a busy main road, we are going to start
the whole little journey by driving as opposed to droving.
Come on, girls. Up we go!
From here, it is two miles to pastures new.
Let's get the girls out and get them settled.
Do you think they are just going to leg it?
No, no, no.
Let's find out!
I am sure they will be fine.
Nice and gentle, have a sniff.
Steady. They're off. They are off at speed.
Great. We had better catch up with them
because wherever we are going, it won't take us long.
So, we are off to a flying start.
I don't think the traditional drovers were joggers.
A lot of farms, you will find, even today, have little paddocks
strategically bought and kept along these roadways
that we use as stopping off points for these flocks as they were driven to market
or out to their summer grazing.
This is interesting because we have a car coming in front of us.
There we are, perfect. Hang on, don't go in front of the car.
There is a car coming in behind us. It's like the M25!
Good job you came along.
We are approaching the halfway point. The perfect time to stop and take a breather.
-They are keen to get their heads down.
A bit of grazing. Traditionally, a lot of all farms
had grazing down on the outmarsh, near the coast.
And this would be a traditional sight as these animals made their way
to their summer grazing and back again in autumn.
Drovers would have walked sheep across the countryside like this for hundreds of years.
In other parts of the country, all kinds of livestock from horses,
geese, turkeys and cows, would have been moved in this way.
Come on, girls. Let's keep going.
It's lovely, this. It's a lovely walk if nothing else, isn't it?
Best kept secret, this part of the world.
We are droving for just two miles today.
Once, they would have walked their animals over much greater distances,
a journey that often took days or months.
Journey's end is in sight. Just a few more yards to go.
That's it, girls.
Straight through the gateway.
There we are.
Right at the last minute we nearly lost one! Super.
-We did it, team. We did it!
Our droving is complete, in front of an audience,
what a lovely way to finish. Very nice. Look at that. They look happy, don't they?
And for the Lincoln longwools, time for a well-earned rest.
Back on my journey, I am on my way to meet a man
who is keeping a rare Lincolnshire delicacy alive.
I have headed back inland to a town called Louth
to learn about a local delicacy called chine.
Who better to teach me about it than the man who was crowned
Young Butcher of the Year?
-Pleased to meet you.
-Now, when I think butchers, Lincolnshire, I think sausages.
-But there are plenty of them here.
You are here to talk about chine. I've no idea what it even looks like.
Can you give me a butcher's crash course?
Of course, come this way and we can get kitted up and you can have a go.
Let's do it.
Right, what we got around here? Crikey!
We have the start of a Lincolnshire stuffed chine.
-This is the raw ingredient.
-Look at those fellas.
Amazing. So, what is chine, where does it come from?
It takes its name from the bone that runs down the back of the pig.
This is its backbone and we call it a chine bone.
Legend has it, it came about because the pigs in Lincolnshire
had so much fat round on the back that they could not get in.
See how difficult it is to get in this pig, let alone one with two inches of fat.
So, they thought, it is easier to go through the rib bones,
-we'll cut through there.
That created this cut here, which we call the chine.
We cut down each side here and take this chine piece out
and then it goes into the most important part of the process, which is curing.
So, a big walk-in fridge and a bucket.
In here, we have some chines that have been in there for three or four weeks...
curing. And as you see, they have changed colour, they've gone pink.
Just like bacon does because it is cured.
-Salty water, basically.
-There are a few spices and some sugar in there
but in essence, it is just salty water.
-That sits in there for three weeks.
-Three weeks, so it firms up nicely.
You can see how that is different from the raw pork product.
-That will hang up for another week to dry out
-and develop the flavour.
-What next? What will we do today?
We will take this one out today and I will show you how we turn it into a stuffed chine.
-Brilliant, let's do it.
First of all, we score into it so we have somewhere to stuff the parsley.
-That's the key, to flavour it.
-That's the key.
Whilst I do these, why don't you make a start on this one.
This is a bit of a safer job because it doesn't involve the knife!
That's for the best. I can't make a pig's ear out of it.
So, the trick is to open up the score and take some parsley
and you drop that in and give it a good push down with your fingers
because it has to get to the bottom of the pocket.
Really stuff it in. Right, even I should be able to do that. Let's give it a go.
Stuffing the parsley isn't the best job in the world. You get cold fingertips.
And Jim, I understand you have quite a prestigious award, haven't you?
Tell me what your award was.
Well, I won BBC Young Butcher of the Year in 2009, which was fantastic.
I understand there was a boat involved.
Well, they asked us to create something that was eye-catching
to stop people in the street as they walked by the butcher shop.
So, I created a longboat of lamb using the loin of lamb
which is a bit cringeworthy when you watch that now.
But the judges said if nothing else, you would have to stop and look
when you went by the shop window with it in.
That's the point. Have the lads stopped taking the mickey?
-Seriously, you are a young guy
and it's amazing you have the skills, because it is quite rare now.
Yes, butchery has now changed a lot from what it used to be.
A butcher used to know his trade from start to finish
from the slaughter through to selling in the shop.
Now it has been broken up
so you are only in charge of one section of it.
If we were doing this on a production line,
I would be trained how to score and that's easy,
you can teach that in ten minutes.
Then you'd do the stuffing, someone else put it in a bag.
Nobody has to be skilled, it doesn't take a long time to train anybody.
-So, it's the cheap and efficient way of doing it.
I wouldn't want to be the guy that does this bit
because I've lost feeling in the end of my fingers! Frozen off!
But the point is, you don't get one person with that knowledge base.
That's right and because the average age of a butcher now is 55,
it means that knowledge is in grave danger of being lost
because it's not being passed on to the next generation.
Got you. I don't mean to be a wuss but this is killing my fingers!
Can I be cheeky and come back later, because I wouldn't mind warming up my hands.
It's not the best job in the world!
-Can I get a taste?
-Let's go and try some.
Once the meat is stuffed, it is boiled for six hours to end up
as the final product that we are about to taste.
Right, hands recovering and clean again.
-This is the good bit.
-We're going to try some now.
Is this something you're keeping alive for the sake of it, or do people still eat this?
People really still eat this.
It is having a revival at the minute.
We are getting through four or five of these whole joints a week.
And we go to the County Show in June and will take 30 or 40 there.
Find someone as to stuff all those, then!
-Can I try a bit?
Traditionally, it is eaten with a splash of malt vinegar.
Or with English mustard.
-It is really good, yeah. There is a real strength to the parsley.
That's been a delightful pit stop on my journey. Thank you.
Lincolnshire is a county brimming with fantastic foods.
When Nicholas Crane headed up the case to Grimsby,
he tucked into one of the nation's favourites.
Sailing as far away as the Arctic Circle and Newfoundland,
fishermen often worked in appalling conditions but they reaped a rich harvest,
with trawler skippers being some of the best paid men in England.
These days, it is a very different picture.
Overfishing, depleted stocks
and now fish quotas have reduced the mighty fleet to only 12 vessels.
But Grimsby is a major player in the fish business.
Ahoy there, mates!
Anyone partial to Birds Eye fish fingers?
Fish fingers first made their appearance in 1955
and were considered a luxury after wartime rationing.
By the early '60s, they had firmly established their seemingly unassailable position
as the six-year-old's staple diet.
So, take a tip from Cap'n Birds Eye - give them Birds Eye fish fingers.
And Grimsby is fish finger central,
processing nearly a million tonnes of fish a year.
Although sadly, none of it is caught locally any more.
Most of it arrives in frozen blocks from as far away as Alaska.
Here at this processing plant 3,000 fish fingers
roll off the conveyor belt every minute.
At full throttle, Grimsby can batter, breadcrumb and flash fry
ten million fish fingers in a week.
The outside is cooked so fast
that the inside remains frozen.
From block to box takes only 35 minutes.
Today cod stocks are diminishing worldwide
and manufacturers are looking at new ideas and more exotic fish.
For added continental panache, Young's have even brought in a French chef,
So, we have the barramundi, which comes from the Indian Ocean,
three days old.
-That is sharp!
It has a big, ugly mouth.
-You wouldn't want to get your arm stuck down there.
And what about this guy?
This is a barracuda.
Don't point that at me! It's got big teeth.
Yes, it is a very lively fish.
Barracuda, from the Indian Ocean.
Do you think the British are going to warm to barracuda and chips?!
Possibly, you never know!
The challenge for Serge and his team is to devise a dish
that will sell as well as the trusty fish finger.
Serge clearly has aspirations for haute cuisine.
I wonder if there's a place for these
in the frozen section of the local supermarket.
What is that fish?
This is a filleted seabass, some British asparagus
and a little sauce - a reduction of shallots, wine, butter and cream.
These dishes look absolutely delicious, but one uses scallops,
the other asparagus.
Neither are really mass-produced factory fodder
for the tables of the British public.
Have you created a dish which is economical
-and which can be mass produced for a factory like this one?
-Yes, we have.
We are working at it at the moment, which is made with pollock.
Serge has come up with, wait for it...
That is the biggest fish finger I have ever seen!
'..an old recipe with a new twist.' What's inside here?
Inside, we have got some mushy peas,
which is a classic accompaniment with fish and chips.
-Do you mind if I perform an autopsy on it?
-Not at all!
-So, a batter layer on top.
-And that is the pollock, is it?
-And inside, the mushy peas.
-The mushy peas, yep.
-Can I try a bit?
-Yes, you can.
-It looks very hot.
-Yeah, I prefer those to fish fingers.
The mushy peas give some strong flavour.
It's got a nice little tang in the middle.
But what are you going to call this?
I don't know. Jumbo mushy peas fingers?!
Jumbo mushy pea finger! No, Serge, jumbo mushy pea finger!
It's not going to work! You need a good name.
-It is something we are working on.
-You have the product, you just need the name.
Nicholas Crane in the fishing port of Grimsby.
I'm heading back to the coast myself to Skegness,
a place that made seaside tourism boom.
With the growth of the railway network, by the 1870s,
people could come here by train to Skegness.
And visitors flocked for their sun, sea and sand.
In fact, it became known as the Blackpool of the East Coast.
Or, the less likely name of Nottingham by Sea.
In 1936, one man cashed in on this tide of tourism.
His name was Billy Butlin.
75 years on, the holiday camps he created still going strong.
And that is where I am heading for the final stop on my journey.
But first, for those of you planning your own British getaway,
here is the Country Tracks weather for the week ahead.
I'm on a journey
through the captivating landscapes of Lincolnshire.
I started out in the county town of Lincoln,
getting a unique view of the city's cathedral
and learning about the secret life of poet Lord Tennyson.
Heading to the coast at Theddlethorpe,
I met a modern-day poet laureate,
before travelling back inland to Louth,
getting to grips with the local delicacy of chine.
Now for my final stop
I'm back out on the east coast,
drawn by the seaside
that's been attracting tourists
since Victorian times.
Skegness, or Skeg Vegas, as I've heard it called,
was probably made most famous by Billy Butlin's 1930s holiday camps.
And this year, Butlin's is celebrating its 75th anniversary.
Looks like they weren't kidding when they said
British holidays are still bigger than ever.
And who better to tell me
how it all started than the man who now runs all this?
Resort director Chris Baron.
-Hi, Joe. Good to see you.
-Hello. Good to see YOU.
I hear you're giving me a tour. I'm guessing this might be our vehicle?
-Thought I'd make it a bit easier and bit quicker for you.
-Fantastic! This is awesome!
So, I guess the bag can go on the front.
-We've both got steering wheels. Who's actually stealing this thing?
-We'll leave that for you.
-You can go wherever you want.
-Whoo-hoo! OK, here we go, then.
Plenty of people around, very busy, but where did this all start?
It all started in the mind of one man, Billy Butlin.
He'd always had a dream of wanting to make a holiday camp.
He'd been around seaside resorts, seen B&B accommodation,
being kicked out at nine in the morning,
not allowed being back in until five at night, regardless of the weather,
and he just knew this would work.
And what was his background?
Did he have a history in holiday camps?
No, Billy was a showman
and he started out with a small hoopla stall
and then gradually built up into funfairs, and as per usual,
you have that stroke of luck that makes you, and his was cottoning onto dodgems,
taking on the concession from America,
so he ran them in the whole of the UK and Europe as well.
-He was the man who brought dodgems to this country?
It made his career - very strong in the funfair world.
And then a holiday camp.
He saw the need for it, but why Skegness, why bring it here?
It's another one of those twist of fates. He's sat in a pub in London,
he sees these two very wealthy-looking businessmen
sat around talking and wondering why they'd made so much money.
He hears that they've come from Skegness and they've got stalls there,
so he thinks, "This is the place to go."
Didn't have the faintest idea where Skegness was,
but he knew it was on a train line, came, and decided to set up a fairground.
So, his ears pricked up at that possibility?
He was always one to spot an opportunity.
I guess this wasn't a sort of aristocrat 1930s camp.
You know, this was for real people.
Yeah, this was for the working man. This was, as his later slogan became, "A week's holiday for a week's pay."
He's there at the right time as the holiday boom happens. We start to get paid holiday.
Yeah, straight after the war.
Billy was very actively campaigning for the working man
and he invited all the MPs down to Clacton
and said how important it was that they allowed holiday pay.
-He was the only man in situ who could make the benefit of that.
-What about these famous competitions?
Knobbly knees springs to mind, something Butlin's became known for.
But that's what people wanted in the '60s.
People wanted to be included in the entertainment.
Now they want entertainment brought to life,
the TVs...to be seen on the stage, so things have changed.
So, he's clearly a showman, but he's also got this sort of
practical mix of entrepreneurial and pioneering spirit, hasn't he?
He has. He designed the first chalet on the back of a cigarette packet,
that's how he started out.
He built this place with a reasonable amount of money
but not realising how much it was going to cost.
Gets halfway through it and realises the funds are going to run out
and he'll need the support of his bankers.
And he realises the easiest way is to pretend he hasn't got money worries.
So, hires a Rolls-Royce for the day and drives around his bankers,
parks it in the front car park and, hey presto, the funds are sorted.
Incredible! Are there certain traditions that stay with the Butlin's name?
The Redcoat is the obvious one, isn't it?
It started because people came,
he just thought they would automatically enjoy themselves,
but they weren't used to this environment.
He knew he needed somebody to lead them who could be easily spotted.
He sent Norman Bradford into town
to get the most brightly coloured jacket he could find,
which just so happened to be red, and a legend was started.
I feel I've now got a pretty good idea of what Butlin's is all about,
but I can't leave here without trying to follow in the footsteps
of some of the famous performers that have been here -
Jimmy Tarbuck, Des O'Connor...
I want to see if I've got what it takes to be a Redcoat.
Charlotte, what's first?
My singing, my dancing's pretty good, a few magic tricks?
Um, I know! Try and sweep this path. It needs sweeping.
There you go. I'll be back in half an hour. Good luck!
Just like when I started out on Country Tracks!
Travelling through North Lincolnshire
has been a fascinating experience.
From the celestial heights of Lincoln Cathedral
to the natural beauty of the countryside and coastline.
And all along I've found a county with a strong sense of identity,
rich in history, culture and cuisine.
No wonder, then, it's been drawing visitors back here for generations.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Joe Crowley explores North Lincolnshire. He begins his journey by scaling the heights of Lincoln's spectacular cathedral, where he comes face-to-face with the weather-worn statue of St Hugh.
Back on firm ground, he discovers the secret life of local boy and great British poet Lord Tennyson, before meeting the county's newest poet laureate in the Lincolnshire landscapes that inspire him. Joe's next stop is Louth, where he prepares the local delicacy of 'chine' with 2009 BBC Young Butcher of the Year Jim Sutcliffe.
Finally, Joe rounds off his journey beside the seaside at Skegness as Billy Butlin's holiday camps celebrate their 75th anniversary.