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Spalding in General

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      05.04.2006 14:22
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      A Lincolnshire market town with many points of interest

      Why has no one ever written about Spalding, I wonder? Well, I suppose you could argue that there are probably some very sound reasons why that might be the case. Most of you have not only never been there, a good proportion of you will never even have heard of it - it's a bit out of the way, shall we say. OK so if you stand at the edge of town with a telescope and look into the distance you may just spot the beaten track. Lincolnshire is not blessed with great transport links. Spalding does have a railway station with a reasonably good service to Peterborough and Lincoln though. As long as you don't want to travel on a Sunday. It's shut then. Not really selling this yet, am I? Stick with me, there are plenty of great things for you to discover if you make the effort, trust me - it's a lovely little town.

      **Shopping**

      The town centre is quaint and pedestrianised with plenty of free or cheap parking and it’s a great place to spend a couple of hours. It’s beginning to suffer a little from the old ‘every high street looks exactly the same’ syndrome, but there are still plenty of interesting little shops to discover - in particular two very nice department stores that are a bit of a throw back to a lost age! The town centre also has a nice range of pubs, coffee shops and take aways to refuel.

      To be honest, however, the town centre is not the main shopping attraction for visitors to Spalding any more - most head to the North side of the town to the Springfields shopping centre - it’s one of those outlet shopping places on a slightly smaller scale than some of the more famous ones. But the same idea - mostly clothes shops (the M&S Outlet is good), a toy shop, a bookshop, garden centre etc. If you’ve got kids in tow it’s good because it’s got a soft play area for when they’ve just had enough of being dragged round the shops. The gardens are worth a look - they are all designed by famous garden designers - but they’re a bit modern and ‘clever’ for my taste I have to say.

      One tip I would give you is that the car parking charges there get rather steep after an hour or two. From Easter to October there's a water taxi service which runs from the town centre out there which is worth a try - makes it part of the day at least!

      **Other Attractions**

      If you’re into garden centres, head a couple of miles further north and you’ll find Baytree - the daddy of all garden centres - it’s massive and comes with an owl centre, restaurant, play centre and bowling alley. And if you go at Christmas the Santa’s grotto is a half day outing in itself, not forgetting the real live reindeer!

      Another real gem that I’d recommend is Ayscoughfee Gardens in the town centre - they are really nice, landscaped, traditional gardens (no Charlie Dimmock here!) with OAPs on the bowling greens, a cafe and a play area. A really relaxing way to spend an afternoon - and it’s free!

      Spalding has nightclubs. Not really qualified to comment. I know there's one called Merlins that looks a bit lively. Sorry, not a comprehensive review!

      It has a swimming pool, which I can comment upon. It's not great, but it does have a main pool, a baby pool and a diving pool, which is more than some, but to be honest it could do with a bit of TLC. Pools are few and far between in Lincolnshire though, so you take what you can get!

      **The big claim to fame**

      Yes, Spalding does have one and for good reason, and this is why you may have heard of it - for one weekend at the end of April / beginning of May each year people head to Spalding from not just all over the country, but all over the world for the Spalding Flower Parade and it certainly is well worth a look. Set amongst a whole weekend of events, on the Saturday is a huge parade of floats and marching bands through the town starting and finishing at Springfields - it really is an amazing celebration of the local bulb and flower industry. The area’s called South Holland in fact because of the similarity to Holland itself. See, even a trivia fact thrown in for free - what more could you ask!
      Hope that's of some interest anyway. More info available from www.spalding.org.uk which is an unexciting but comprehensive guide to the local area.

      Thanks for reading!

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