Strike and Robin head to the seaside town of Skegness in the hopes of finding and interviewing Steven Douthwaite, a witness who took almost a year to find.
“They arrived in the small seaside town at eleven, leaving the Land Rover in a car park beside Skegness Bowl, an enormous red-walled seafront bowling alley.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 64
“Strike could smell and taste the sea as he got out of the car, and turned instinctively toward it, but the ocean was invisible from where he stood. Instead he found himself looking at a manmade waterway of a murky green, along which a laughing young woman and her boyfriend were pedaling a dinghy-sized boat.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 64
Here’s an overhead shot of where they parked. You can see the green waterway winding along on the right hand side of the photo.
Here are shots of both ends of the waterway where boats are available to rent.
“’The Savoy,’ said Strike, smirking as he read the names of the larger hotels, whose upper windows could surely see the distant sea. ‘The Quorn.’ ‘The Chatsworth.’”
“’Don’t jeer,’ said Robin. ‘I used to love coming to Skegness when I was a kid.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 64
Steven Douthwaite runs a bed and breakfast with his wife Donna called the Allardice. Strike and Robin sit outside at the Jubilee Carvery and Café where they have a nice view of the Allardice on Scarborough Avenue.
“They paused on the corner, beside an enormous mock Tudor hotel which boasted the Jubilee Carvery and Café. Early morning drinkers of both beer and coffee were sitting at outside tables, enjoying the sunshine.”
“’Perfect place to keep an eye out,’ said Strike, pointing at one of these pavement tables. ‘I could use a cup of tea.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 64
The Allardice “stood in a row of eight tall red buildings, several of which had been converted into small boarding houses and had similar scalloped PVC awnings over the entrances. Spotless white net curtains hung at almost every window.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 64
While the Allardice is a fictional B&B, these red brick buildings with white curtains are located right across the street from the Jubilee and fit the description very well.
Strike sat facing the Allardice on Scarborough Avenue, while Robin sat facing Grand Parade, “a wide street that ran along the seafront.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 64
“The sea was blocked from her view by the wide, multicolored frontage of the entrance to Skegness Pier, which advertised, the optimistically named Hollywood Bar and Diner.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 64
It doesn’t take long before they spot Douthwaite and follow him to the Allardice where together they interview him along with his very upset wife, Donna.
It definitely needs to be pointed out that during this interview, we see the lovely swan imagery reappearing in the form of towels “the shape of kissing swans on the maroon bedspread…” Troubled Blood, Chapter 64
Possibly something like the photo below.
“’I’m hungry,’ Strike announced, once they stepped down onto the sunny pavement outside the Allardice.’”
“’Let’s get some fish and chips,’ said Robin.’”
“’Now you’re talking,’ said Strike enthusiastically, as they headed off toward the end of Scarborough Avenue.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
They turn right onto Grand Parade in search of food.
They pass Funland, “which was full of beeping and flashing video games, claw machines and coin-operated mechanical horses for children to ride.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
“The entrance to a well-maintained park on their right was ablaze with petunias.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
“Ahead, on an island in the middle of a traffic island, stood a sixty-foot-high clock tower of brick and stone, with a faintly Gothic appearance, and faces like a miniature Big Ben.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
“’Exactly how many chippies has Skegness got?’ Strike asked, as they came to a halt on the busy intersection beside the clock tower. They were standing right beside two establishments which had tables spilling out onto the pavement…’”
“’I never counted,’ said Robin. ‘I was always more interested in the donkeys.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
“’…Shall we try here?’ she asked, pointing at the nearest free table, which was pistachio green and belonged to Tony’s Chippy (“We Sell on Quality not Price”).’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
Robin headed up to the counter to order. “After a minute or so, looking forward to his chips and enjoying the feeling of sun on his back, Strike became aware that he was still watching Robin, and fixed his eyes instead on a fluttering mass just above him.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
“Even though the top of the yellow railings separating Tony’s from Harry Ramsbottom’s had been fitted with fine spikes to stop birds landing on them, a handful of speckled starlings were doing just that, delicately poised between the needles, and balanced in the iron circles just below them, waiting for the chance to swoop on an abandoned chip.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
Robin orders mushy peas with her fish and teases Strike about being a “Soft Southerner” when he agrees that he wouldn’t have wanted any.
“The greaseproof paper in which the trays of chips were wrapped was printed with old pages of the Mirror newspaper.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
Here is where we get the first glimpse of Strike singing ‘The Song of the Western Men’ which you can listen to here.
Robin looks out towards the fairgrounds, where she thinks about her childhood and the fact that she’ll be turning thirty soon.
“’Well, you’re getting no sympathy from me,’ he said. ‘I’ll be forty the month after.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
“A long stretch of fairground rides on the other side of the road hid the sea from her sight. The seats of the distant Ferris wheel were enclosed in casings shaped like pastel-colored hot-air balloons.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
Here’s a close up of the Ferris wheel.
As they ate their fish and chips, they discussed the Bamborough case and people’s ability to change. When Robin commented that she believed she’d changed, Strike responded with, “’Yeah. But you’re exceptional, aren’t you?’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
They eventually head off in search of cigarettes for Strike and “…find themselves facing what Strike mentally categorized as ‘acres of tat.’ As far as the eye could see were racks of merchandise laid out on the pavement: beach balls, keyrings, cheap jewelry, sunglasses, buckets of candyfloss, fudge and plush toys.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
“’Look at that,’ said Robin suddenly, pointing to her right. A bright yellow sign read: Your Life Within Your Hands. On the dark glass of the door below was written: Palm Reader. Clairvoyant, along with a circular chart, all twelve signs of the zodiac represented by the glyphs around a central sun.’”
“‘Fuck’s sake,’ muttered Strike, and they walked on, Robin smiling to herself.'” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
“Waiting to be served, Strike was seized by a sudden, quixotic impulse (stimulated no doubt by the gaudy color all around him, but the sunshine and sticks of rock, the rattle and clang of amusement arcade and a stomach full of some of the best fish and chips he’d ever eaten) to buy Robin a toy donkey. He came to his sense almost before the idea had formed: what was he, a kid on a daytime date with his first girlfriend?” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
Before they left for home, Strike wants to see the sea claiming, “’It’s wrong, being by the sea without actually laying eyes on it.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
“They passed a fountain with a statue in the middle of the Jolly Fisherman, that rotund, bearded sailor skipping along in high wind, who’d been used on posters advertising Skegness for nearly a century, and progressed across a smooth paved area toward the beach.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
Following their path, this is likely the exact spot where they stop to look at the sea, where Strike thinks of Joan and where the chapter closes with this great line:
“’No donkeys,’ said Strike, glancing back over his shoulder at the beach.’”
“’Never mind,’ said Robin kindly. ‘I think you’d have been a bit heavy.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 65
Find Skegness on the map below: