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Rough Guide to.... the picturesque, drug-free Lincolnshire market town of Boston > Rough Guides > Rough Guide to Boston

One of the great joys of following a football team is the chance to travel to new places, see new people, experience new stadiums, drink new ales, eat good food and watch good football. Well, that’s the theory.

The reality is frequently somewhat different. The reality is really about enduring a nine hour traffic jam on a filthy bus driven by a blind alcoholic, surrounded by people who might well have emerged from the nearest funny farm climbing over the seats and making a mess in the on-board toilet.

And that's just getting to the game. By far the worst part is actually arriving at your destination. We've all suffered that horrible sickness in the pits of our stomachs as the coach enters an area of such terrifying urban deprivation that you start praying aloud to any god that happens to be listening to take you away, or at least send some kind of sign that the rubble is merely a satellite ghetto of the cultured metropolis awaiting for you at the end of your trip. But then suddenly the brakes screech and the driver is barking at you to 'get the living fuck off the motherfucking bus' – aaaand relax! You’ve arrived.

But it doesn't have to be this way, which is why impsTALK has taken time out of its very, very busy schedule of watching ESPN Classic to give you all the advice and guidance you need to make sure that your trip to Boston, Lincolnshire, is both slightly less horrifying than it might be - AND non-fatal to boot. Don't say we're not setting our sights high with this.

Getting there by road 
QUESTION: On 19 January 2006, NASA launched a space probe called New Horizons. Ahead of it lay a 4.7 billion mile, nine and a half year trek to Pluto. On the same day, Mike Dobson, a plumber living in Boston, attempted to make the one and half mile round trip to ASDA to purchase a cucumber and a pint of semi-skimmed milk. Who do you think will reach their destination first?

ANSWER: (Hint: it’s not Mike).

NASA’s probe has already sailed past Mars. It's already zipped through Jupiter's back yard. But Mike, at this precise moment, is still sat in a traffic jam down Sleaford Road wondering what’s causing the hold up. Little does he realise that the cause is actually, er, Boston’s roads.

Many people often joke that they can drive from Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, Bangkok, Lima, Perth - or any other local city - and find that their journey time is doubled merely by attempting to circumnavigate Liquorpond Street. But it’s actually true. Visiting fans are frequently caught out on their trips to Boston when they fail to allow three hours for the last 500 metres down John Adams Way, the dual carriageway that neatly bisects the town centre.

But that's the least of your worries, because merely getting to Boston can be a tortuous task in itself. Lincolnshire's roads have been explicitly designed to kill as many people as possible through an innovate combination of temptingly flat, straight stretches of asphalt, a dearth of dual carriageways, slow moving lines of agricultural and holiday traffic and an above average number of fat exhaust-tastic boy racers. And that’s before you even factor in the deep drains that run parallel to most major trunk roads. So even if you do manage to swerve to avoid the carnage of an unfolding pileup in front of you, all that’s likely to happen is that your car will sail through the air only to slam into water, flip over, sink and condemn you to a slow, painful death struggling to escape your vehicle in a hopeless tangle of seatbelt. Still, on a brighter well, there isn't really one.

Most people will, at some stage, approach Boston on the A52, which is the road connecting Boston with Grantham and, further along, Nottingham. The A52 is a lethal road, clogged by caravans, combine harvesters, mentalists on motorbikes, nutters in tractors and Skegness-bound coach trips. Designed to simply prevent you getting to where you want to go, the road is almost entirely single carriageway in Lincolnshire, meaning it's inevitable you will at some point be stuck behind a lorry or some other slow moving vehicle. On impsTALK's most recent trip, for example, we found ourselves behind a mobile crane, two caravans, a water tanker (a water tanker? I mean, come on) and - and this is the best bit - a HOUSE on a lorry. Not a mobile caravan. A big wooden house.

If you survive the A52 and don't suffer an aneurysm through sheer frustration, you will eventually reach the outskirts of Boston. Or best advice is to simply ditch your car at this point and hike the remainder of the journey on foot. It’ll be quicker, cheaper and you won’t have your tyres slashed.

Parking at the ground is permit only, so don't try it. But you won't find parking terribly difficult. Check out our fantastical Windows Live - parking guide thingy instead. It's cranky.

Getting there by rail
If you decide to skip the delights of the A52, you may opt to take a more leisurely route to Boston: train. Good luck.

Ah. The romance of rail. Where else in the world can you be mugged by a teenage gang of feral sociopaths, stabbed in the head by a mentalist because you may or may not have looked at his missus, bum-violated in the toilets by an escaped sex offender and be forced, practically at gunpoint, to part with £875.42p for the privilege? Nowhere! Well, apart from Hull, but we can pretend, as most people do, that Hull doesn't exist. And in parts of London you really are forced cough up at gunpoint, especially if you're wearing a coat and are surrounded by CO19 officers. But we digress. Transport in Britain is a nightmare. Frankly, it was probably easier to do Workington away in the Bronze Age.

Unless you're travelling to Boston from Skegness, and if you need our help with that one you really need to seek immediate execution, a train journey to Boston will almost certainly mean getting first to Nottingham and changing there to catch the Nottingham-Skegness crawler service.

This is perhaps one of the more desperate rail journeys in the world. Operated by East Midlands Trains, the service runs along a section of track plagued so badly by metal fatigue that an attempt to run an actual train along it (i.e not one of the green square things) resulted in the rails simply falling to pieces.

The lack of investment in basic infrastructure - and we're guessing rails are pretty important to trains - tells you everything you need to know about this particular service. Essentially, if a green square thing were to fly off a section of cracked rail and submerge itself in a drain, there's not going to be the same kind post-Hatfield wailing and gnashing of teeth.


Will this collection of shitpuppets be any better than the last collection of shitpuppets?

She's a beauty! A green thing sits at Grantham station. If the wind is blowing the right way, these bad boys can sometimes exceed 31mph

At the time of writing, the trains depart from platform two at Nottingham station. Platform two is located as far from the main building as it is possible to go, and it's only when you arrive to catch the train that you realise why. Put in simple terms, the passengers are the kind of people who think a holiday in Skegness is an acceptable way to spend their leisure time. And they don't own cars. The sort of people, in other words, who want to go to Skegness and - get this! - who do not own a caravan. You may have thought this was impossible, but there, on platform two, it is an everyday fact of life.

If there are any seats on the train, and in summer you may struggle, make sure you avoid sitting next to the customary Nottingham family comprising eight moronic kids, an obese mother telling each child in turn to 'saddahn ya little fucker or I'll crush yer fuckin' skull' and a comatose grandmother, high on morphine and awaiting the blissful sweet release of death. If you DO sit next to the family, and there is one on every single service, you too will soon be praying for immediate death to take you to a better, and presumably much quieter place. Unless you have a one-way ticket to Hell, in which case you'll end up dumped by Satan himself outside the Isaac Newton Shopping Centre in, yep, Grantham.

Nine hours later, depending on a number of variables, you may or may not arrive in Boston. Head immediately to The Eagle pub and drink yourself silly. You deserve it.

Useful links: East Midlands Trains - timetable

The town
If you’re not hit by a volley of bricks, broken bottles and used condoms the moment you step off the bus or out of your car, well done: you’re not in Hereford. You're in Boston!

Let's be honest. Boston gets a bad press. But then where in the Midlands doesn't these days? If it's not people shooting each other in Nottingham, it's twelve-toed, boss-eyed freaks touching their sisters in Grantham, fucking chickens in, well, Grantham, or eating babies in, er, well yes, that'll be Grantham again.

And if you believe what you read in the papers, people who live in the isolated market town of Boston, Lincolnshire are frightening monsters: twelve fingered, earth-trembling, 400-stone gravy-sweating shaven-headed BNP-voting fascists who are lucky have lived beyond the age of three hours and who make their living by boiling hapless Polish migrant workers in large vats and selling them on as bars of soap to supermarkets in Mexico. And they do all of this while moaning about a bypass, or lack thereof.

Feeling down? Life not going to plan? Wife and kids fecked off? Penniless? Visit the Stump!

It is, of course, utter nonsense. They sell the soap in China. And the bit about Grantham is mostly true. But look, we're not going to pretend Boston is an exciting place to visit. It isn't particularly vibrant. The shopping is awful. The night life is dogshit, and frequently bloody. But there are worse places to work and live. Salton City, perhaps. And Grantham.

Things to see and do

Boston is a town full of suprises. Many of them unpleasant, true, but scratch beneath the surface and you'll discover a vibrant, diverse community rich in sauce- sorry, history.

Boston is small, but if you find yourself in town with time to kill before kick-off, there are ways to occupy your time that don't involve picking fights with locals or trying abduct children from Central Park (we're watching you, Barrow).

You could visit the Saturday Market, a big church, a tower with wings, a non-existent seaside or a local RAF base. You could visit the Guildhall Museum - if it ever reopens. You might wish to take in some culture at Blackfriars Theatre.

Or you could go and trespass on the port and watch drunk Swedish captains stagger back onto their grain ships with Latvian prostitutes.

Indeed, there's so much to do you'll have to remember not to miss the match!

The Stump
Built in 702BC or something daft like that, the Stump resembles some kind of medieval skyscraper that towers over not just the town of Boston but the surrounding twenty miles.

Although it is no longer possible to climb to the very top of the tower, the balcony half way up is of sufficient height to attract the kind of suicidal depressive who can’t be bothered to drive the ten miles to Tattershall Castle for the more picturesque ‘head-first death plunge into the two-foot deep moat’ finale. If the unfortunate jumper happens to land on the grass bank of the Witham, they tend to leave a human-shaped dent that becomes a ghoulish attraction for local school kids. And impsTALK.

If, however, you'd just rather hold off the death dive until you've at least witnessed Boston v Burscough, you can climb up to the balcony for a couple of quid to enjoy the view. They say on a clear day you can see Denmark. Although they might have said Lincoln.

Links: Parish of Boston

The Wash
A casual glance at a map, and the layers of seagull excrement caking roofs in the town, might suggest that Boston is located relatively close to the sea. The presence of a port, tide times in the paper and the unmistakable whiff of saltwater in the air all lend weight to this popular misconception.

A short drive to that bit on the map where green defers to blue, however, reveals nothing like the shimmering emerald expanse of water, dotted by rolling waves, windsurfers and swimmers you might expect to find. There isn’t even a promenade of Mafia-owned amusement arcades. No, what you’ll actually unearth is a vast, post-apocalyptic landscape of thick mud, creeks, sandbanks and rusting ship carcasses – all being strafed to crap by supersonic RAF jets.

The Wash

You'll be immediately struck by the desolation. The silence is stunning. It is almost as if you have arrived at the end of the world. And in many ways, you have.

The sea itself will be a barely visible glint far away on the distant horizon. Should you attempt to try and walk to it, one of two things will happen. You will either get caught out by the tide and drown, or you will stumble into a huge pit of quicksand and bombed by the RAF as you flash your torch for help.

Still, on a brighter note there are, apparently, ample opportunities to watch animals with wings flying about. Some of them are presumably 'rare' and 'endangered', if that’s the kind of thing that gets you going.

Plane spotting
Spend any length of time in Boston and you’ll be struck by the number of RAF jets buzzing overhead. It’s a plane spotter’s paradise, and should you so wish there are ample opportunities to spy on the latest military aviation technology at RAF Coningsby. Which isn’t far from Tattershall castle if you then fancy topping yourself. And when we say ‘latest’ we really do mean it.

A few years ago, for example, Boston was shaken by what sounded like a huge explosion. The blast roared around the town, rattling window panes, causing townsfolk to flinch and family pets to mess the carpet. The cause was a mystery. There were no reports of a fire. No planned blasting. And Tony Crane was twinkle toed Owls academy player. Wasn’t him. There was only one logical explanation. It must have been a sonic boom caused by an RAF jet.

“Er, what sonic boom?” an RAF spokesman said when questioned. “No idea what you’re talking about.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t anything to do with the plane that looked suspiciously like a top secret Eurofighter flying about?” Bostonians asked, this being the time the jet was shrouded in secrecy.

“Eurowhatyousaynow?” replied the RAF. “Probably just a weather balloon. A cloud, even.”

Unconvincing. Not that the locals cared much. Bear in mind that this is the county where a random old bloke thought a Tornado flying over his house ‘sounded funny’, so he called RAF Waddington to tell them the plane was kaput. When the RAF engineers stopped laughing at him, he convinced them to at least look at the jet. When they examined the engine, the RAF discovered a fault with a turbine blade so serious that the jet was in imminent danger of dropping from the sky with the vertical grace of a Paul Ellender clearance. Bonkers.

Where to stuff your poxy little mouth hole

In Boston, your choice of eatery is likely to be determined by which local establishment has not been condemned by shocked Health and Safety officials rather than by any scale of quality, and the list of cafes, restaurants and snack bars that fail to keep their rats in check is growing daily.

The traditional pre-match food in Boston is, unsurprisingly, fish and chips, and if that's what you're looking for there are really only two destinations.

Tates, in the town centre, was once voted 'Chippie of the Year' by Yorkshire TV, and they celebrated by hanging a banner outside their building for the next decade. If you can stomach the queuing, it's the best bet.

Otherwise, head for Eagles. It's across the road from York Street and although the quality has varied over the years it generally remains a very good vendor of battered fishy corpses.

Eagles: chips and fish

Where to drown your poxy little drinky hole
One great thing about Boston is that all the town centre pubs are within walking distance of the ground, meaning you have a large selection of potential venues to choose from. Obviously, some are better than others.

Handily placed just two minutes from the railway station, and highly recommended by impsTALK, a good place to start would be The Eagle. It's part of the Tynemill chain, so a decent selection of well kept real ales is assured.

The Ship Tavern (Custom House Lane, Boston, PE21 6HH) is across John Adams Way, a five minute walk from the ground and keeps a decent pint of Batemans.

The Coach and Horses (86 Main Ridge, Boston, PE21 6SY) is an even shorter walk from the ground, about 54 seconds, although its proximity to York Street ensures it gets a little crowded on matchdays. You might like that.

Or you could just pop into the Sportsbar. Ignoring the large projection screen for a moment, you might be forgiven for thinking you'd walked onto the set of Life On Mars. It is certainly stuck in a timewarp and is in desperate need of refurbishment, or perhaps even demolition. The bar is generally welcoming to away fans, given that it is home to the hard-core United fans, most of whom are well into their second century and have long since given up feeling any kind of antipathy to visiting supporters. As with most places, the Sportsbar is now an infinitely better place to have a pint with the introduction of the smoking ban, although a major negative is the lack of Batemans, or any real ale, behind the bar.

Links: impsTALK's interactivisation Windows Live map thingy of pubs and stuff

In the vicinity... Skegness

If your ideal night out is lying unconscious, face-down in a pool of rancid Barcadi Breezer-saturated vomit in the middle of a preposterously dreadful nightclub playing Bonkers Vol 1 thru 52 at 3.30am, surrounded by violent bigots fighting 300-pound bouncers, you will be delighted to learn that Skegness is a mere 45 minutes up the road.

Skegness is a popular destination for Bostonians who feel the curious need to marry their liver-melting alcohol consumption with a revolting combination of tacky, run-down mudflat resort and parochial Lincolnshire market town.

Put simply, no-one should ever go to Skegness. Not even the train from Boston wants to go there, the track forging stubbornly north until steering eastwards, sharply and reluctantly, at the last possible moment.

Look at it! I mean, just look at it!

Skegness is perhaps best summed up by its pier, a pitiful structure mortally wounded in a storm years ago and yet never repaired. It barely reaches the beach, let alone the sea, poking half-heartedly from land with an almost apologetic shrugging-of-the-shoulders; a shameless statement of hopeless underachievement. That's Skeggy.

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