The Great Lincolnshire Getaway

We are celebrating all the very best of the county now we can look ahead this summer. Our special supplement is the most comprehensive guide to the most enjoyable ways to spend your staycation.


Here in Lincolnshire we are blessed with a wonderful selection of places to visit with children. As a granny of four, Jane Keightley has first-hand experience of quite a few of them. From quirky museums and beautiful beaches to historic houses and castles we have so many to choose from but she has chosen ten of her favourites to tell you about here.

Lincoln is a wonderful place to visit with children. Apart from the places we visit, they love running up Steep Hill while granny huffs and puffs behind. Anyone who still believes the whole of Lincolnshire is flat should come and try it. It is aptly named!

Our favourite three places are Lincoln Castle, The Collection and the Museum of Lincolnshire Life.

Racing around the medieval wall walk is one of their favourite parts of their visit to the Castle. A third of a mile long and dotted with towers, some that have a grisly history and others that have beautiful views of the Lincolnshire countryside, it is truly an educational experience but one that children love. Visiting the Victorian prison in the grounds of the castle they marvel at the fact that children as young as them were locked up for the most petty crimes imaginable. The older ones love to go and see the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest.

Behind the Castle, a few streets away is the Museum of Lincolnshire Life. Housed in Victorian Barracks it is free to get in and children love it. The first time we ever went was on a Victorian themed day. My grandchildren were delighted to get hands-on experience of using a dolly tub and a very old printing press. On a normal day there is a Victorian schoolroom to explore. Shops and rooms set out like they were in days gone by. My grandson’s particular favourite was the huge tank. Lincoln was the centre of the tank building industry at one time.

Walk back down the hill to The Collection. Here there are interactive exhibits explaining the history of Lincolnshire through the centuries. For younger children there is a room full of history themed toys and they can dress up as a princess or a knight.

Belton House – near Grantham
Belton House is a place we visit very often. With a brilliant adventure playground, a maze and acres of grounds to run around in, it is a perfect place for wearing out your kids. If you have some older ones who are interested in history there are the house and the servants’ quarters to explore. There are two cafés, a shop and an inside play area. It really caters for all ages.

Burghley House – Stamford
The Garden of Surprises is in the grounds of Burghley House and is such fun especially on a hot day. You really need to go prepared as you can get quite wet as you go round. The children absolutely love it. There is something unexpected and quirky around every corner including a mirror maze and various water features. Well worth a trip.

As well as all the usual seaside attractions, Skegness has three places that we go back to again and again. Natureland is one of our favourites. Officially it is a seal sanctuary dedicated to treating ill seals and returning them back to the wild. However their collection of wildlife is on show for children and parents alike to enjoy. There are penguins, meercats and alpacas, and in the tropical house there are crocodiles, pythons, spiders and mice and even Spike the Iguana. There is also a floral palace of tropical butterflies, a pets’ corner and of course the seals!

Another place we love to visit in Skegness is the Aquarium. A great place for kids to learn about sea life, it has the Wet Lab where you can touch some of the creatures. The highlight is the Sunken Hold Aquatheatre where sharks swim about right in front of you. You can watch divers feeding them and even book to do it yourself if you are daring enough. There is a café where you can enjoy tea and cake whilst gazing out over the sea. An added bonus is a soft play area for the kids so you can enjoy your tea in peace.

For younger children you can’t beat the Fairy Dell, a sheltered series of paddling pools near the beach. It’s one of our favourite places and its free!

Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre
Better for older children, this is a fascinating museum that takes you back in time to when Grimsby was really famous for its fishing industry. Exhibits are imaginative and evocative giving a vivid picture of what life was like for trawlermen and their families. You can then visit the Ross Tiger trawler, being shown round by its ex-skipper. It’s an amazing experience and really brings it home what a hard life the fishermen had.

There are two places that we always head for on a day out in Spalding. The first is Springfield’s Adventure Land situated at the back of the shopping outlet and gardens. It includes Dino Golf, Goldie’s Gold Mine and a climbing wall. There is a miniature railway that winds its way through the trees and back again. The most popular with my grandkids is the JCB Young Drivers Zone. If it starts raining there is Springy’s beach sand and rock pool which is covered with a canopy. The food in the café is always very good.

The other place that we visit is Ayscoughfee Hall and Gardens in the centre of Spalding. A medieval hall built in 1451, it is a free museum where children can learn the history of the building and of the area by using interactive activities. Outside, the beautiful gardens are a perfect place for playing hide and seek. There is a children’s play area and aviaries of birds to look at. The café there has recently had new owners and the food is really good.

Rand Farm Park
Rand Farm Park is a great place to visit with children. There are things to do for all ages and abilities. They can meet the farm animals and bottle-feed the calves and watch a milking demonstration. There are things to do whatever the weather and the staff are so friendly. Older children love to try out archery, crazy golf and quad biking while the very young ones have play pods. All in all, a great experience even for parents and grandparents.

Normanby Hall and Go Ape
Normanby Hall offers a varied selection of things to do from treetop adventures at Go Ape to exploring the beautiful grounds of Normanby Hall. At Go Ape, which is set in the grounds with views of the deer park, there are two options you can choose from. The Treetop Challenge is for adults and older children, whereas the Treetop Adventure is for younger children.

For a more relaxing afternoon, explore Normanby Hall Country Park and grounds where you can find a land train, a Splashpad, a farming museum and Victorian Garden. There is certainly something to do for all ages.

On a visit to Boston you must not miss a trip on the Boston Belle. You can either book a cruise out to the Wash and up the River Welland where you can see basking seals, or you can go up the River Witham to Tattershall Bridge. My grandchildren think it’s a great adventure. Boston Belle has all the facilities you need and you can be under cover if need be, but most people love to sit at the front in the fresh air enjoying the views. The crew are lovely and very helpful. It’s a great experience for children and something a bit different.

Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway
The Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway is one of Britain’s oldest seaside miniature railways and has been open for over 70 years. Children will love the two-mile return journey along the coast. There are two stations, Cleethorpes Kingsway and Lakeside. Adjacent to Cleethorpes Leisure Centre and the Southern Promenade, Kingsway which is the terminus station, has a well stocked shop selling railway souvenirs including Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise.

Lakeside is the hub of the railway and is halfway along the line. Here you can find the smallest pub on the planet: The Signal Box Inn. At just 8ft x 8ft and seating four people, it offers a wide range of guest ales and ciders. There is also the Platform One Café which serves a good range of food. A trip here will suit children and adults alike. Cleethorpes Boating Lake is also nearby.

Do check websites before you visit for current Covid-19 restrictions.

Lydia Rusling, Head of Economic Development and Growth at East Lindsey District Council, reveals an action plan for economic recovery.

With the county cautiously emerging from lockdown, there is renewed hope of recovery for the city, coast and countryside as businesses look to move forward with the ‘new normal’.

Lydia Rusling, who has been actively involved in helping to boost tourism in the county since 2004 and is currently leading several economic recovery initiatives, describes the Covid-19 impact on tourism and hospitality in Lincolnshire over past few months as “devastating”.

“I can’t put into words how it made me feel. All the work that we’ve done over the years to improve the product, promote the area, and raise the profile of Lincolnshire and then all of a sudden we were saying that we don’t want people to come and visit because of the risk.”

Prior to the pandemic, 9,000 jobs in East Lindsey were supported by 4.8 million visitors annually who it is estimated spent an average of £700 million pounds.

“This is split between the traditional seaside holiday and the more natural offer around the Wolds and our wild coast,” explains Lydia. “However, when you then look at what’s happened recently, figures show that 90% of those in the tourism and hospitality sector within East Lindsey were on furlough and 3,000 jobs in the wider supply chain were under threat.”

Lydia’s team were part of the administration of business grants following the Government’s package of support which totalled £60 million in East Lindsey.

“We had the most amount of funding for businesses within Lincolnshire and had to reach out to approximately 5,000 businesses, which was huge compared to any other district within the county,” she explains.

“We got to help small businesses, as well as those in retail, tourism and hospitality. Being at that coal face was really stressful; it put it into stark reality, the impact that Covid-19 was having on the district’s businesses. Of course, that’s true across the country, but because traditionally we have so many visitors in such a short period of time, it shone a great big spotlight on the impact for us and particularly for the coast.

“It’s become acutely apparent that the coastal area has been hit hardest because it is so reliant on tourism and particularly seasonal tourism.”

Lydia says she was also struck by the impact on businesses that were intrinsically linked to tourism.

“It was so far reaching that all businesses which were connected to tourism in some way, whether it was an accountant, or a farmer who bred fish for the restaurant trade, were equally affected by the lockdown. That amplified the issue and made me realise personally how important tourism is and how we need to focus our efforts going forwards to support businesses while also being mindful of the impact to the local area.

“Even during lockdown, we received enquiries from people living in the Midlands who wanted to travel to the coast, so we need to be mindful as we come out of lockdown and into a recovery phase what the impact is not just for businesses, but for tourism on the local community.

“What I don’t want, is for it to become almost a negative connotation because of the fear the local residents may have because they see tourism as something bad, rather than something that can be supportive of jobs and of economic benefit for the area.”

Recovery steps
Lydia explains that there are currently a number of significant initiatives to not only aid recovery, but promote Lincolnshire as a whole. These include the Vital and Viable programme, which sees investment into market towns, a targeted Towns Fund and a plan for all agencies to work collectively, as well as extending the tourist season beyond the traditional summer months over the next two years.

“One of the businesses on the coast told us, ‘We’ve been banging on for years about how we should work across city, coast and countryside to encourage visitors to explore the whole of Lincolnshire’ and to me that is absolutely critical for an extended season.”

Lydia believes there will be a significant rise in domestic tourism with visitors wanting to get away for a much needed change of scene, especially somewhere where they can enjoy fresh air, space, excellent hospitality and good food.

“It’s important how we support that offer so we’re looking at how we promote Lincolnshire as a whole and work more collaboratively. There is a role for the public sector with different district councils coming together which has already started, as well as working alongside businesses which have a vested interest in promoting Lincolnshire and partners such as the county councils and local enterprise partnership.”

The Government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund, launched last year, identified towns across the UK which will benefit from £25 million investment each, including Boston, Mablethorpe, Skegness and Lincoln.

“When you think this means that it’s bringing £50m for the coast, I think that has to be a catalyst for change,” says Lydia. “Particularly for Skegness and Mablethorpe as they are in dire need of that support to regenerate and develop, not only for the people who live and work there, but also for those who visit. What better opportunity to galvanise a proper partnership to work collectively on raising the profile of Lincs for many years to come.”

Food and festivals
Lydia is also keen that the county continues to promote its natural produce, glorious heritage, far reaching outdoor space and countryside.

“We have the highest proportion of Grade 1 soil in agriculture in the whole of the UK and as the breadbasket of England, we should be making more of the food and food tourism,” she says. “That’s one of the elements that I’m working on with market towns across the East Lindsay as part of our Vital and Viable initiative, which promotes market towns such as Louth, Alford, Spilsby and Horncastle, and food would be a really strong proposition for that.”

The Vital and Viable campaign was created with the Institute of Place Management (IPM), which looked at investment into market towns and recommendations for regeneration.

“It’s around how we can improve towns to make them more attractive places for the residents to enjoy, but also to attract visitors because I’m keen to make sure there is a connection between visitors and people that live and work in the area.”

Prior to lockdown, Lydia also worked on a pilot project featuring a food and drink trail around Louth which was promoted in Lincolnshire Life’s Good Taste magazine.

“This was a test to see what the appetite for this was. We trialled it in Louth and it’s gone down really well. I would like to see us build on that across the market towns and look at how we encourage visitors to move around the county sampling food or looking at our heritage and cultural offers, or how we utilise the fact that we have all this beautiful outdoor space.”

There are also plans to develop the popular Wolds Walking Festival and expand to become the Wolds Outdoor Festival, which it is hoped will take place for the first time in spring 2021.

“To me another key part of our future promotion is local pride – discovering what is on your doorstep is so important and local residents could be your advocates. They could spread the word and promote marketing of Lincolnshire far more widely than any budget would ever accomplish. That’s why it’s important that we’re not just attracting people from outside, we’re also focused on making people appreciate and be proud of where they live.

“We understand the important role our market towns play in our local economy and attracting visitors to the area. Our aim is to work with local communities to protect, promote and preserve our market towns by keeping them thriving, clean centres which are attractive places to live, work and visit.”

Welcoming visitors
Lydia is passionate about what Lincolnshire has to offer and keen to give a shout out to the county’s many assets.

“They talk about Yorkshire being God’s county, but I think we’re a good rival. Lincolnshire’s got everything – a beautiful historic city, lots of space to enjoy the outdoors, areas of outstanding natural beauty, historic houses and beautiful gardens. Then we’ve got 50 miles of coastline with Blue Flag beaches offering not only traditional seaside family fun, but also Sites of Special Scientific Interest where you can birdwatch and see nature and seals. What more could you ask for in a county?

“Now more than ever post Covid-19, people will be evaluating where they spend their leisure time and asking themselves, ‘Do I want to spend it in an overcrowded city, or where there is space to enjoy the countryside?’”

However, although Lydia says she is confident of recovery, she cautions that now is not the time to “rest on our laurels”.

“As leaders in tourism, we’ve got a lot of responsibility to work together to raise the profile of Lincolnshire, but also to work hard in investing in what our offer is to visitors. I personally believe there is scope to not only increase visitor numbers, but also increase the spend of those visitors.

“We need to make it as easy as possible to attract people to visit, so they can go online and book a holiday which is more of a package to include not only accommodation, but tickets to the local aquarium and meal in a restaurant.”

The University of Lincoln’s International Business School’s tourism department has also been providing research support.

“Even in lockdown, they’ve been really proactive with a group of masters students who are on an international course looking at how we can tackle some of the problems of Covid-19 from a tourism perspective,” explains Lydia. “One of the elements of this study is the rise in people taking short breaks across the UK.

“What makes Lincolnshire unique is that we’ve not only got a beautiful city, open rural spaces as well as the coast, but it’s the people that make it special. Here, you’ll get a great welcome, and it’s not overcrowded so you don’t feel like you are a tourist. You can really feel at home!”

One of the most delightful things about living in the heart of the Lincolnshire Wolds is the abundance of food producers on my doorstep. We’re surrounded by a fabulous feast of food fecundity. So grab your picnic baskets and follow me, if you will, as I take you on a food trail that is sure to tickle your taste buds, as we gather all the goodies for the ultimate local produce picnic! By Dominic Franks

Most of the producers listed below either have an on-site shop or a ‘buy at the gate’ policy. Many prefer you to call ahead, particularly during these testing times but if you’re passing it’s always worth popping in to say hello and receive a little lovely Lincolnshire hospitality.

On my doorstep
Our first stop has to be the Belleau Bridge Trout Farm. I can literally walk there from my front door. The crystal clear waters of the River Eau, that feed into their fish stocks, runs down at the bottom of the track opposite our cottage and whilst they’re no longer making their fabulous trout pâté, they still provide trout for wholesalers in Grimsby and the wonderful Ginny Harrop will provide you with fresh trout if you call ahead on 01507 480406.

Up the road from the trout farm is the wonderful Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese, nestled in the little village of Ulceby, just south of the market town of Alford. They’ve been producing award-winning cheeses for over 20 years and have created a renewable-energy, bucolic haven for their 230 Holstein Friesian cows. Whilst you can’t actually pick up cheese from their gate, you can buy online and arrange delivery. Visit

Love Local
Or for something more instant you could visit the local Lincolnshire Co-op, on Church Street in Alford which not only stocks a range of Lincolnshire Poacher cheeses and butter but also a pretty decent range of other local food too. I happily mention them here as a number of local producers I spoke to whilst researching my food trail mentioned how brilliant they’ve been during the Covid-19 pandemic, providing a lifeline to local producers. There are Lincolnshire Co-ops in most market towns in the county and they all stock their ‘Love Local’ range, including succulent Grasmere Farm pork pies and sweet treats and cakes from Gadsby’s Bakery, so well worth a visit. For more information check out their website

Say cheese
If you’re a cheese fiend like me, you’ll be glad to know there’s another delicious local cheese-maker not far away. The Cote Hill Cheese Farm is over in Market Rasen. Another family run business, with marvellous Mary at the helm. Their cows roam freely across the green rolling fields of the Wolds and make for some very tasty cheese – their Cote Hill Blue is a particular favourite and makes a delicious addition to quiches, pizzas and risottos. You’re welcome to visit their on-site Cheese Shed which is open 7 days a week, or you can order via their ‘click and collect’ service on their website, for which they need two days’ notice. Visit or call Mary on 01673 828481.

Whilst we’re on cheese (and let’s face it, there can never be enough cheese) you’d be crazy not to go visit the wonderful cheesemakers over at Lymn Bank Farm in Thorpe St Peter. They have a gorgeous shop on the farm where you can pick up their signature Lymn Bank Barrel cheeses as well as sample their Nibble Nose or artisan range. It’s basically a haven for cheese-lovers – you may never leave! Check out their website for opening times:

Tasty town
Not too far from my door is the stunning market town of Louth. The capital of the Lincolnshire Wolds, it is packed to the brim with produce for our picnic basket and lots of independent grocery stores selling locally grown fruit and veg, such as Stevensons on Eastgate (01507 602293); The Cheese Shop, one of the best-stocked cheese shops I’ve ever shopped in ( or 01507 600407); and a number of wonderful butchers selling an array of local poultry, venison, pork and beef, including Lakings of Louth – – who make their own Lincolnshire Sausage rolls on site. However, if you’d like to visit a farm to see the cows before you buy, you can do no better than a visit to the lovely Amy and her cattle of Lincoln Reds at Lincoln Russet Beef just outside Louth in South Elkington. She will pack up a box of meat for you in no time, ready for delivery or collection. Visit or call 07977 476892.

Pick your own
I feel like we need a little fresh fruit for our basket, so the next stop on our food trail is the Galley Hill Fruit Farm in Saleby. It’s a pick-your-own farm that has produce from early spring through till late autumn. All kinds of soft fruits and berries as well as apples and pears. They even have a small collection of homemade jams and chutneys that are a delight. It’s a day out for me and I know my young nieces and nephews love it here too. The delight on a child’s face when they pick their first ripe strawberry is a sight to behold! Check out for what’s in season.

Traditional bakers
OK, so we’ve got an array of meats, fish, cheeses, fruits and vegetables, now we’ll need some bread to make our sandwiches and you could do no better than Myers Bakery in Horncastle. Myers have been baking the traditional Lincolnshire Plum Bread since 1901 and their bakery has been in its current location for 50 years. It’s packed full of all kinds of bread from the traditional artisan to a more basic sandwich loaf and everything in between. They also have a deli on site stocking much of the local produce mentioned in this article, so if you’re feeling super-lazy you could go there for everything and they’ll even make up your sandwiches too! Check out their website for opening times at

For dessert
To top it all off let’s complete our meal with something sweet. The award-winning Dennetts Ice Cream in Spilsby is the place to visit. They’ve been making fresh, traditional ice cream with milk from their own dairy cows since the 1920s. They have a bewildering array of over 30 flavours on sale including some that are limited edition ‘guest flavours’ that are only around whilst stocks last. They can be purchased from many stores across the county but a visit to the adorable Sweet Vanilla sweet shop in Spilsby will be a treat for the eyes as well as the stomach! Visit the website for opening times.

Of course, now we have a big basket of food we need something glorious to wash it all down with and you’re in luck. This part of the Lincolnshire Wolds also has its fair share of drink producers. We’ll start with a visit to our very own Lincolnshire Terroir in the form of Ovens Farm Vineyard. Yes, you read that right, a winery in the heart of Lincolnshire. Newly established, they are producing young wines but having won a number of awards recently they are well worth the visit where you can have a tasting along with your purchase. Calling ahead is a must but Simon is lovely and very keen to share his joy for wine. Tel: 07919 320290 or check out the website for more info, If you can’t get along for a visit, Beaumont’s Deli on Bridge Street in Louth stocks the range as does the Red Hill Farm Shop on Bailgate in Lincoln.

If it has to be gin (and when does it not?) then look no further than the epic Pin Gin from the guys at Bottomley Distillery. Set in the middle of Louth, the distillery produces not only a multi-award winning gin but they’ve also just created the county’s first and only single malt whisky! You can pick up a bottle at the distillery but while you’re there you can also book a distillery tour and tasting. Details via the website

If beer is more your thing then a visit to the county’s very own brewery, Batemans, in Wainfleet is a must. Founded in 1874 to supply local farmers, the brewery is now a well respected name on the international craft beer market. Not only can you pick up a bottle of beer or two from their range of seven but you can also take a tour of their incredible brewery and have a tasting or two. You could even stay overnight as they have a beautiful caravan and tent site on the grounds. All the details are of course on their website:

Of course, no summer picnic is complete without the obligatory bottle of cider. Just a hop, skip and a jump from Louth is the pretty little village of Skidbrooke where you can pay a visit to Skidbrooke Cyder. Not only do they make a range of traditional ciders but they also make mead and don’t forget the freshly pressed apple juice for the little ones. Call Guy or Kate on 01507 339368 to arrange a visit.

So now, as we stagger will baskets full, to a nearby field or one of the glorious beaches along the Lincolnshire coastline to lay out a picnic rug, settle down and consume our goods, we can rest assured that what we’re tucking into is the result of the efforts of all the wonderful and hard working producers we’ve met along the way on our food trail through the Lincolnshire Wolds.

The Lincolnshire coastline offers bright lights and breathtaking beauty, as well as striking contrasts season to season. Within a few miles or moments, experiences can change from stunning skylines to bustling resorts; exhilarating thrills to unspoilt beauty. Here are some of the highlights.

A natural coastline
The Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park extends from Sandilands down to Chapel St Leonards and inland incorporates the villages of Huttoft, Mumby and Hogsthorpe. The coastal trail is part of the England Coast Path, giving walkers the chance to explore the wild natural beauty and wildlife of the salt marshes, dunes and sea.

North Sea Observatory
The purpose-built marine observatory at Chapel Point, Chapel St Leonards is an iconic addition to the beachfront with panoramic windows commanding a 180-degree view along the coastline and out to sea. There are excellent all-year-round facilities for families and those enjoying a nice quiet winter walk along the beach.

Buckets and spades
Seaside towns like Skegness, Mablethorpe, Sutton on Sea and Cleethorpes attract the holiday crowds; ideal for families, they offer excellent sands and clean waters, perfect for a traditional bucket and spade holiday. Attractions include a donkey ride on Skegness seafront, the thrill of the roller coasters at Fantasy Island, Skegness or a more relaxing jaunt on the Sand Train which travels along Mablethorpe’s magnificent shoreline.

Entertaining whatever the weather
If the weather is not so kind there are plenty of indoor attractions to keep you amused. Visit the Natureland Seal Sanctuary where orphaned or injured seals washed up on the county’s beaches are cared for. On your Marques is a must for model car enthusiasts while Church Farm Museum gives a glimpse of bygone times.

Reserves and wild spaces
The Lincolnshire coastline is one of the focal points for the migration of thousands of birds from Iceland, the Arctic, Siberia and North and South America in spring, autumn and early winter. Explore wildlife reserves just a short drive from the promenades and crowds. The RSPB operates sites at RSPB Frampton Marsh and RSPB Freiston Shore. The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust manages nearly 100 reserves and wild spaces in the county encompassing habitats such as grazing marshes, ancient woodlands, reeds and meadows. Donna Nook is a sanctuary for a colony of grey seals who come ashore to give birth during late autumn. A spectacular wildlife scene which attracts thousands of onlookers each year.

And don’t forget when you come to enjoy these wonderful coastal assets, there is an excellent choice of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. You can find a wide choice at:

The hugely popular SO Festival, featuring live entertainment and events from across Europe which usually takes place on the Lincolnshire coast, unfortunately had to be postponed this year, but the organisers have worked their magic and SOfa Fest 2020 (Saturday 1st August) has been born.

A host of team members, pencils, paper and a sizeable dollop of artistic licence gave the event a name change but the fun and excitement that you know, and love, will remain the same – but from your sofa of course!

An eclectic mix of wonderful projects has been selected to delight you on 1st August. Available to view online through the festival website and social media channels, SOfa Fest 2020 will showcase the very best in Lincolnshire and international talent as well as strengthen the long-standing friendship with PASSAGE Festival, by bringing you some fabulous performances from the streets of Helsingør, Denmark too!

Preparations for SOfa Fest are well underway and Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture, the organisers, are working with over 20 fabulous arts organisations and individuals, some of which are looking for help or contributions. Do you have any lockdown memories, a good voice, love gameshows or a passion for art? Well, take a look below to see how you can get involved.
A flavour of the projects looking for participants:

Envelope/Brev, by Vessel Projects, invites people from the Lincolnshire coast to communicate in a creative way with people from Helsingør in Denmark. This is a simple creative connection through the act of sending an envelope (or brev) through the post to an unknown recipient. However, the envelope will not contain a traditional letter. Inspired by the 20th-century tradition of Air Mail, we will invite participants to create a personal map on the inside of their envelope, reflecting individual circumstances and environments.

The Choir, by Sinfonia Viva, invites singers of all abilities to join an international collaboration of singers from Helsingør, Helsingborg and East Lindsey. Practising and performing via Zoom, The Choir will perform two songs which will form part of SOfa Fest 2020.

The SOfa Festival Game Show by Feasible Ferret Theatre and Under the Bed Theatre, is a family friendly live stream gameshow which will feature three characters, live and original music with a variety of fun interactive games. Participants will watch the show live on YouTube whilst competing against seven other teams from the comfort of their own SOfa.

SOfa Dance, by Amy O’Sullivan. Amy is looking for contributors to film their ‘SOfa Dance’ ideas to help create a beautiful and meaningful dance film that captures this unique moment in time. No previous dance experience necessary.

The Butterfly Project by the Different Light Collective invites participants to design and send in their own butterflies, which will then become part of a specially created short film. The butterflies reflect the idea of being trapped and eventually released, of going from caterpillar to butterfly, whilst also representing the idea of the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – one small action here can lead to a much bigger impact elsewhere.

Emerge by Emilie Nunn will tell the stories of the local community, focusing specifically on community spirit and those individuals who have found themselves confined to their homes. These stories will accompany a series of portraits of the storytellers.

Skegness Sees/Says/Seas by Fee Griffin will take the form of poetry, a collaboration between herself and Skegness based participants. Fee will be using a combination of found text, her own experience of Skegness and contributors’ answers to three questions.

The full programme for SOfa Fest 2020 is available on the website and to take part in the above projects, please visit or for more information or contact

All of the projects are listed online with biographies and additional information.

Twitter: @sofestival
Instagram: @so_festival

Cycling has attracted a range of new enthusiasts during lockdown and Lincolnshire has a wonderful mix of leisure and distance rides with something to suit most ages and abilities. Catherine Bedford gives
her perspective on how cycling will evolve post-Covid-19.

Cycling has enjoyed a massive resurgence and become more popular than ever during lockdown. People are dusting off old bikes to enjoy the outdoors when they are taking their daily exercise, families are cycling out together and friends are going for socially-distanced bike rides together.

And now, with more people returning to work, increasing numbers of people are planning to commute by bike. This is great to avoid using public transport, but it also spares using the car, saving both money and pollution. It’s also a great way to get exercise on a regular basis.

So, where does the resurgence of cycling go from here? How is cycling likely to evolve?

Is it a short-term fad?
Once people realise the benefits of cycling, they will be happy to carry on. For a start, if you’re cycling to work, you’re getting your daily exercise in the time when you would previously have been sat on a bus or a train. This, in turn, saves you time going to the gym in the evening, freeing up time for you to spend with your loved ones.

We know exercise generally makes you feel good by raising endorphins but, when cycling, it really helps you unwind. Because you have to concentrate on the roads, you have to switch off from the niggles of your day. Thus, you can clear your head and arrive home feeling fresher and more relaxed.

With your eyes concentrating on the route and not a device or newspaper you can learn more about the local area, spy local shops and cafes that you might like to visit or find a green spot you might like to go to with family. You can also actually see seasonal changes, appreciate the beauty of nature and – depending on your route – get some good old-fashioned fresh air, all of which are great for your mental health.

What will the new cycling age mean for cycling fashion?
There is a preconception about cyclists being lycra-clad and having all the “right” gear but, as people have found when taking cycling up, you don’t need to invest in loads of stuff to get on your bike. You just need to get on and ride it!

That said, I do think that, as people cycle more there will certainly be a move towards more natural fibres. For people commuting to work, this will help ensure that they don’t arrive at work feeling – and looking – hot and sweaty. People will be far keener to wear cotton than polyester, for example. Not many bikes have chain guards, so you’ll need to make sure that you don’t wear trousers or skirts long and baggy enough to get caught in the chain.

Being out in nature means that cyclists tend to have more of a connection to the environment than they might have otherwise and an interest in sustainability. Lockdown has meant that people have become accustomed to living in fewer outfits, and I think this will persist or, I suspect, the growth of buying less but better.

Certainly, already popular is wicking fabrics, which are breathable and help to wick away sweat. You may be surprised how much wicking fabric you already own. The chances are your trendy yoga gear is fine for getting on a bike with.

I would always go for comfort over fashion but, if you want to be a fashionable cyclist, there is plenty of great, stylish fashion-wear out there and I think as people get more used to cycling as a way of life, they will find their own cycling style.

Another misconception about cycling is that it’s all about speed. If we consider the Netherlands, for example, cycling is a much more relaxed pastime. They go at sensible speeds and enjoy their surroundings as they cycle, arriving at the destination without being out of breath, sweaty or exhausted.

So, I think we will become much more like the Scandinavians in our cycling. I also suspect our style will follow suit, away from stereotypical cycling clothes towards more stylish looks. Brands such as Dashel, Hill & Ellis and Finisterre will increasingly be seen.

What about safety?
It’s important to be safe, particularly in the winter months, and being as visible as possible to other road users is essential. But, again, this doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Cyclists should ensure that they are legal and as safe as they can be while sticking within their budgets.

For example, you must have lights on your bike, this is a legal requirement. However, you could also add a light to your helmet to make you more visible to motorists, particularly drivers of 4x4s which are that much higher up. Conversely, you don’t have to be clad head-to-foot in day-glow to be seen – a high-visibility sash that you can wear over your coat, and costs as little as around £8, will still ensure you are seen.

Although helmets are not legally required, they really are extremely important for safety. If you aren’t a fan of the traditional helmet shapes, there are some nice stylish ones out there these days!

New cyclists probably haven’t realised yet that there are more routes than they would have imagined where they can cycle away from cars. There are cycle lanes to help keep you safe and there will be more as, post-Covid-19, the government is planning to invest in further infrastructure.

Will the cycling love affair end with summer?
I can see that the idea of cycling in the rain, cold and other British winter weather variables seems less appealing than summer cycling. However, it’s as simple as putting on over-trousers and a raincoat, or a fashion-forward poncho if it isn’t too windy.

On the bike, spray will be an issue for both comfort and safety. Another great reason to check out what the cycle network has to offer – check out for example. This will help you choose routes away from heavy traffic and spray.

Once you’ve started winter cycling, you’ll realise very quickly that our winters aren’t really that extreme. The exercise itself keeps you warm, plus you have the added bonus that, with all those extra calories you’re burning, you can totally justify some good, stodgy food to give you warmth and energy for your ride.

If you are one of the new or returning cyclists, I have one thing to say: Enjoy!

You can find more information about cycle holidays and routes in Lincolnshire at:,, and

Carol Emerson, owner of award-winning Elms Farm Holiday Cottages, discusses recovery plans as tourism opens its doors to holidaymakers.

Life, increased activity and bookings are finally making a welcome return to Carol and John Emerson’s unique collection of barns and stables at Elms Farm, which has been lovingly converted into nine award-winning holiday cottages at Hubbert’s Bridge in the Lincolnshire countryside near Boston.

However, with staff on furlough, the many weeks of lockdown haven’t meant the chance for these hands-on owners to simply put their feet up. During this time they have not only welcomed key workers from nearby Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital, but also families suddenly made homeless by “acts of nature”.

“Just before lockdown we had some paramedics staying at the cottages who were working at Pilgrim Hospital. Thankfully they were classed as key workers and able to stay on as hotels and other accommodation around us were closed,” says Carol, whose family run a mixed arable farm growing a range of crops including wheat, gluten free oats, oilseed rape, peas, potatoes and other vegetables.

“Another project manager working on a new renal unit being built in Boston also needed a cottage as it was important that work did not stop.”

Carol says that their cottages have been ideal for key workers who have said they felt safe being completely self-contained while working away from home.

“As lockdown hit, we also had an insurance company ring with a family who had a lightning strike on their house and needed same day accommodation. Another couple had a house flood during lockdown and also required level access/step free accommodation for an elderly family member.”

Carol admits that having key workers stay while staff have been on furlough has been challenging at times. “I’ve had to roll up my sleeves and clean cottages in between stays, plus do the laundry and office work. I can honestly say I hate ironing super king-size quilt covers, but luckily no one has complained that they don’t look as good as normal!

“I think it’s a good thing for the ‘boss’ to muck in occasionally as it makes you appreciate how hard your staff work and I also noticed some nagging issues that needed fixing.

“We have also managed a few painting and maintenance jobs around the cottages without worrying that a guest will lean up against the wet paint. I have even been out on the lawnmower – big mistake as my husband now knows I can cut the grass!”

Carol says that one of the hardest parts of lockdown has been talking to guests who have had to cancel holidays, or postpone weddings.

“Many of our regular guests have transferred their holiday to 2021, while others have had a refund. Some guests are also changing dates during July and we are moving these dates as well.

“A large part of our holiday cottage business is groups of family and friends, or extended family groups, so we understand they may have a shielded family member, or think it is too early to travel.

“It was lovely to receive flowers from one couple thanking me for the way we do business and all my help; this just goes to remind us how small our daily problems have been compared to so many people who have suffered the loss of a family member.”

Staycation trends
According to Carol, the changing trends of the staycation tourism market has seen many guests requiring shorter breaks with extended multi-generational family and carers all looking to enjoy holidays together.

Since 2004 when Carol and John decided to convert the barns and stables as a farm diversification project, Elms Farm Holiday Cottages has been developed as a peaceful retreat with two- and three-bedroom cottages which include wider doorways, and shower rooms suitable for wheelchair users. All cottages have wider doorways and step free level access with five also having wheelchair accessible wet rooms.

Carol was involved with a local fundraising group for Leonard Cheshire Homes (a local charity which supports individuals with learning disabilities to live, learn and work as independently as possible) who said they always struggled to find somewhere nice to take disabled residents on holiday. This inspired her to develop high-quality inclusive accommodation for families including guests with reduced mobility and wheelchair users without being in a clinical setting.

John also wanted an emphasis on green credentials and low energy. The conversion uses both solar energy and a wind turbine for heating, electric and hot water, low energy LED lighting plus using eco-friendly products such as sheep’s wool insulation. Both were keen to use local tradesmen and businesses for the conversion and continue to support local businesses and charities.

The venue’s Granary Barn is also popular for business meetings and weddings in particular, which have now been postponed until 2021.

“We have one couple who are hoping to have a small civil ceremony and the main wedding party next year. It has been upsetting for so many couples trying to rearrange their weddings and we have tried to help by offering like-for-like 2021 dates with no extra costs.”

Nature on the doorstep
Elms Farm Cottages, which is popular with guests visiting the nearby RSPB sites, is surrounded by more than 18 acres of grass paddocks and nature walks and each morning during lockdown Carol enjoyed watching wild deer visiting the lakes for a morning drink and grazing in the paddocks in front of the cottages. 

“It makes us realise how lucky we are in Lincolnshire to have the wide open spaces and beautiful countryside to enjoy our walks and wildlife.”

The stunning dog-friendly site currently has two lakes, wildflower areas, mown pathways for walks around native trees and hedges with seating and bird/wildlife hides, all helping to raise awareness of environmental issues, farming, field to fork and healthy living. Nature and wildlife habitat signs are dotted around the cottages and site.

The family’s commitment to their guests is reflected in the various awards and accolades they have amassed over the years. Elms Farm Cottages have a Green Tourism Silver Award and were one of the first accommodation providers in Lincolnshire to be graded under the National Accessible Scheme.

Adapting to reopening
Carol says that as a member of both Visit Lincoln and Lincolnshire Chamber, it has been reassuring to have updates, webinars and guidance around hospitality with everything from claiming business grants, to furlough of staff and re-opening.

“We have risk assessments in place for the cottages and wedding barn and I have done an online coronavirus course on awareness and taking pro-active action,” she explains. “We have had a staff training morning to go over new cleaning routines, staff concerns and the wearing of PPE, but we are so pleased that our staff are keen to come back to work.

“Visit England brought out a ‘We’re Good To Go’ campaign which we are pleased to be part of, as this shows that we have carried out all the necessary checks and have safe practices in place to reassure our guests looking to book over the summer.”

There have been a few changes since lockdown, made in preparation for reopening the cottages.

“We have fitted hand sanitiser dispensers around the cottages and put up signs on social distancing,” says Carol. “Inside the cottages we have taken out a few of the unnecessary items, such as bed cushions and magazines to help with our enhanced cleaning programme. Attention is being placed on cleaning high-touch areas, TV remotes will be in little plastic bags that can be changed between guests and all crockery and cutlery is now put through the dishwasher after each stay.”

It’s not surprising that looking ahead, Carol and John are looking forward to a holiday themselves.

“It may just have to be a weekend break in Lincolnshire,” says Carol. “I am predicting many guests will be looking for a holiday in the countryside this year. In the past week we have taken bookings for eight seven-night stays in our cottages for August, so fingers crossed normality will return.”

For more information visit

Enjoying a staycation or a day out still means you can get off the beaten track in south Lincolnshire and discover something amazing close to your doorstep.

South Kesteven is spoilt for choice for accommodation and famous attractions but many grab a passing glance as they whizz along the A1. This is the year to explore and with a wide range to suit all budgets and tastes, here are some ideas to whet your appetite.

The town’s location on vital north/south transport routes firstly for coach and horses and later railways also led to it being home to military garrisons too. These links are still crucial in the town’s development today and it still retains a strong industrial base because of the close proximity of the A1 and main East Coast line.

Top Tips for visiting Grantham
The town has some very famous sons (Isaac Newton) and daughters (Margaret Thatcher and Edith Smith) but you will have to save exploring their stories until Grantham Museum and Woolsthorpe Manor can confirm re-opening dates.

Located to the south of Grantham, just off the A1, a visit to Easton Walled Gardens has something for the whole family. The restored gardens feature glorious terraces, wildflower meadows and orchard as well as more formal settings. Easton Walled Gardens has a range of holiday cottages too, in lovely converted stone buildings on the estate – and free access for guests to roam the gardens and enjoy exclusive use when visitors have gone. Very dog friendly accommodation too!

The Engine Yard at Belvoir Castle provides a mix of retail therapy and relaxation in a heritage site close to the Castle entrance where the gardens are now open for visitors.

Be sure to purchase some Grantham Gingerbreads, a local speciality biscuit.

If you are looking for accommodation locally try glamping with a difference at Wigwam Holidays. Enjoy life on a rural, working farm – fire pit, walks and much more.

If a quintessentially English B&B is more your style, Kelling House is located in a pretty village outside Grantham where the owner, Sue Evans, is a truly English host.

For something rather different, try Molecey’s Mill, a working watermill, offering superb self-catering accommodation, fabulous grounds and art gallery attraction. Located near Market Deeping you can find out more at:

Known as ‘The finest stone town in England’, Stamford’s many elegant church spires are a prominent feature of the skyline. The Georgian layout and architecture of the historic centre have made it a favourite location for film and TV crews. The town is an ideal touring base from which to see and do so much within the area.

Top Tips for visiting Stamford
The town is visitor friendly and a shopper’s delight. Enjoy lunch or afternoon tea at this historic coaching inn.

Walk the Stamford Town Trail to take in the Georgian architectural streetscape or visit the elegant churches whose spires feature so clearly on the skyline. Find a guided tour at

The parkland, Sculpture Garden and Garden of Surprises and café are all open at Burghley House so there is lots of fresh air fun for families as well as superb Capability Brown landscaped parkland.

You can find superb accommodation at Meadow View B&B, close to the picturesque River Welland as it flows through Stamford.

The Nest Glamping offers another chance to experience nature close-up but in ultimate glamping style. This peaceful and unique setting has amazing facilities. Find out more at
The district of South Kesteven is waiting with a warm welcome, unique attractions and tranquil locations within just a few miles of your doorstep.

Boston has a well-known connection to the Mayflower Pilgrim story but lesser known is the Immingham link. A new heritage trail was launched this spring, commemorating this history.

2020 marks the 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower’s journey to the New World, which has presented Immingham with a unique opportunity to maximise its visitor offer and the town has a host of events and activities for both visitors and its residents this year.

The heritage trail takes visitors on a walk from the museum to the church, the Pilgrim Fathers Monument and Mill Lane, bringing to life local history along the way with permanent information boards and map.

The completion of the trail marks the final phase of the Pilgrims in Immingham project funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) through a LEADER project designed to support cultural and heritage activity in rural areas. The project was also part-funded by Associated British Ports.

The funding also helped to create a new permanent exhibition in the museum and a dedicated website to support the town’s heritage offer to visitors, centred on the Pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower ship in 1620.

Immingham has a number of events planned for the commemorative year, all of which will be on the website

Eat– The popular Doddington Hall Café is open offering delicious menu choices from breakfast through to lunch. The Coffee Shop provides both takeaway and table service. New for 2020 is Afternoon Tea in the charming Coach House setting of the Doddington Tea Room. All have outdoor seating for summer days.

Shop – Select from wide ranges of fresh and speciality food and drink in the award-winning Farm Shop; the Doddington Home Store will inspire your home interiors including expert advice in the Farrow & Ball Colour Studio; choose from leading brands and designers in the Doddington Country Clothing store including Schoffel, Barbour, Gant and Dubarry; the Giant Bike Shop has remained open throughout the pandemic and is here for all your summer cycling needs.

Stay – Get away for more than a day with a holiday or short break on the Doddington estate. There is a choice of self-catering cottages in beautiful settings. They offer a secure and Covid-safe environment from which to enjoy the Sculpture Exhibition, roam idyllic open spaces and explore the Lincolnshire countryside. Visit

Sculpture exhibition returns for 2020
Doddington Hall & Gardens’ popular exhibition, Sculpture at Doddington, is returning to the historic hall for a summer of art and culture. From Saturday 25th July to Sunday 6th September, visitors will be able to enjoy the works of 68 sculptors set against the backdrop of Doddington’s Elizabethan gardens.

Visitors are being asked to book tickets in advance to help the team maintain a safe number of people enjoying the exhibition.

To help visitors stay two metres apart, a safe route around the exhibition has been set up through the gardens.

Internationally and nationally acclaimed artists will have their sculptures featured at the exhibition, including leading figurative sculptor David Williams-Ellis, whose work includes a D-Day Sculpture, which was unveiled to honour the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

All sculptures that form the exhibition are for sale, with prices ranging from £60 to £60,000 so there’s something for every budget.

Curators David Waghorne and Kate McGovern have carefully selected sculptures from artists that complement each area and to provide an eclectic exhibition to suit all tastes, styles and budgets.

Sculpture at Doddington is open daily from 25th July to 6th September, between 10am and 4pm, with last entry at 3pm. In addition to Sculpture at Doddington, the main Hall is also reopening on Sundays after a period of closure. Booking recommended. Book at (Hall open Sundays only, pre-booking essential).

Explore magnificent manor houses and mansions which each have a rich history to tell. Here you will also find some of the most majestic gardens in the UK.

Burghley House, the 16th-century home of the Cecil family, stands at the edge of Stamford. The breathtaking landscapes which surround it were designed by ‘Capability’ Brown and the Gardens of Surprise will delight your senses.

On a smaller scale but no less beautiful, Doddington Hall, near Lincoln, stands much as it would have done when it was designed in 1600. The kitchen and formal gardens are a pleasure to wander all year round with highlights such as Iris Week in early June being especially popular. In 2020 the biennial Doddington Sculpture Exhibition returns with work on show in the house and gardens by local, national and internationally renowned artists from 25th July to 6th September.

You have plenty of choices for other impressive stately houses, including the fine Restoration architecture of Belton House, the grandeur of Grimsthorpe Castle or the Georgian country estate elegance of Gunby Hall. The Italian Garden at Belton was designed by Jeffry Wyatville, while Gunby Hall, a large country house near Skegness, boasts arch pergolas of fruit trees and a walled garden to the rear.

In the north of the county, Normanby Hall, a classic country house, is home to a farming museum, costume gallery, Victorian walled garden and country park.

Post WWII many large houses in Lincolnshire had fallen into disrepair and were demolished but the walled gardens of some have survived and been restored. These gardens have a magic unique to each location. Easton Walled Gardens, near Grantham, is a delight year round while offering themed events such as Sweet Pea Week during July.

The Walled Garden at Baumber is a work in progress where the rare double Victorian walls shelter such surprises as a wild swimming pond, borders of specimen plants and a woodland walk.

Gardens of delight

Walled Garden at Baumber, Horncastle – www.walledgarden

Easton Walled Gardens, Grantham –

Burghley House, Stamford –

Belton House, Grantham –

Doddington Hall, Doddington, Lincoln –

Gunby Hall, Skegness –

Belvoir Castle, Grantham –

Grimsthorpe Castle, Bourne –

You will find details of gardens open for charity in 2020 at:

Lincolnshire Life’s sister company, KM Media and Marketing, delivers a range of tourism publications across our county which can help you make the most of your Great Lincolnshire Getaway. You can pick them up for free from over 400 accommodation, attraction and hospitality venues, download some online or call us on 01522 692542 to have hard copies mailed to your home.

1. Discover Lincolnshire
This A4 guide is packed with ideas for days out, accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets from the Humber to the Wash, guides to market towns, gardens and routes for walking and cycling in the Lincolnshire countryside and much more. Download a digital edition or order a mailed copy at

2. Lincolnshire’s Natural Coast
Miles of clean, wide, sandy beaches and fascinating wildlife. This guide will give you information on access points, nature reserves and The North Sea Observatory – gateway to the coastal park.

3. Good Taste Lincolnshire
Food, drink and hospitality around the county. Dip into delicious recipes, explore Louth – Food Capital of the Lincolnshire Wolds – and meet some of the county’s finest producers.

4. Wragby Maze
Family fun in the outdoor maze. Bring your own picnic and test your skills on the putting greens, chess board or croquet lawn. While you are there don’t forget to visit the Conifer Centre.

5. The Heart of Lincolnshire Leisure Guide 2020
North Kesteven makes a great base from which to explore. The area is only an hour’s drive or less from the coast, castles, stately homes, wonderful scenery and fascinating towns.

6. Love Lincolnshire Wolds
Explore the great outdoors in this area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Walks, heritage and hospitality make this a place you will not forget.

7. Visit Lincoln City and Countryside Guide
One of the best ways to explore and appreciate the city is to take a guided tour. Discover majestic Lincoln Cathedral, admire the views from the Lincoln Castle Wall Walk and browse the many independent shops, cafes, bars and restaurants in the Cathedral quarter.

8. International Bomber Command Centre
The Bomber Command story is told through an exhibition and the Memorial Spire and Walls. Moving, inspiring and poignant, the Centre is a place of reflection, learning and reconciliation.

9. Doddington Hall and Gardens
The Elizabethan family home, which offers fabulous gardens, a tempting Farm Shop packed with local produce, a Bike Shop, Home and Country Clothing Stores as well as a Café and Restaurant. On the estate there are also holidays cottages.

Please note: Check opening times and events prior to your visit as many of these guides were published prior to Covid-19.

Independent publishers Plastic Brain Press have embraced a variety of formats, from poetry and story collections, through to spoken word events and podcasts, to showcase new voices and reflect the stranger aspects of local history and contemporary life. Lincolnshire Life spoke with them recently.

Set up in 2018 by Horncastle based author Richard Daniels, the Plastic Brain Press imprint grew out of a series of monthly live poetry readings held at The Angel Coffee House, in Lincoln. Hosted by Richard, Crash Course in Brain Surgery gave writers the opportunity to present both finished poems and works-in-progress in front of an audience, and take part in light-hearted word games.

It was through these events that Richard met University of Lincoln graduate Melody Clark, who now co-runs Plastic Brain Press. Originally f

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Calling all UK young artists!Doddington Young Sculptor Exhibition Doddington Hall and Gardens, Lincolnshire invites submissions from UK-based sculptors and 3D artists, aged under 30, for an exciting new open exhibition to be held this summer. Doddington is looking for pieces to be exhibited in the historic working Kitchen Garden, which complement the Garden and its surroundings. The Doddington Young Sculptor Exhibition will run alongside the main bi-annual Sculpture at Doddington exhibition and is an opportunity to exhibit alongside some of the finest contemporary sculptors selected from across the country and further afield. Prizes: 1st prize – £750, 2nd prize – £250Submission deadline: Sunday April 21st 2024Further details about eligibility, terms and conditions can be found at: apply, please email your submission as a PDF document to ... See MoreSee Less