We left Brighton about 7am with Marian driving and Jackie navigating – a route we had planned carefully several days earlier, mainly avoiding motorways once north of London and the Dartford crossing. Arrived on the outskirts of Lincoln about 11am and parked at the bottom of the town so that we would have the big walk up Steep Hill to the cathedral. Crossing a level crossing and the Fossdyke Navigation (originally a Roman canal) we know we are at the bottom of the natural gap in the north-south limestone ridge on which Lincoln stands.
A big sculpture of (perhaps) acrobats spans the Fossdyke. Near the top of Steep Hill we find, or I re-discover the Wig and Pen pub. Sample all 3 of the beers on offer but Oakham’s Citra is best. Then to the cathedral, paying to enter, but worthwhile. Best bit of sculpture though, was on the west front – much of it new.
Is that Adam and Eve having their genitals savaged (on the left)? Savage snakes do figure large for sinners. But even being rescued by God looks gruesome, with repentant sinners being hauled out of the jaws of Hell whilst God stands on the prone devil. We were all fundamentalists once, it took centuries to grow free of it.
Inside here is some beautifully bright stained glass, lots of pillars in Purbeck marble (brought all the way from the south coast about 900 years ago) and a great library designed by Christopher Wren and built, replacing the north side of the cloisters, in 1674.
In the middle of the right hand side, walking up the north aisle are Marian and Jackie. The darker columns supporting the nave arches are Purbeck marble. Notice how they appear whiter at the base, this is because rising damp has pushed salts out of the stone, discolouring and eroding the previously polished surface. When they charged us £7 or £8 to enter they did observe that the place costs several thousand a day in upkeep and maintenance.
Down the south aisle, poorly lit, was a display of knitted Lincolnshire churches. Yes – knitted churches! Humans – impossible to figure.
Then it was time to leave, driving north to the Humber Bridge and Hull where we checked into the delightful largely Georgian Kingston Theatre Hotel and strolled down the old town cobbled High Street for fish and chips and a beer or two at the Lion and Key. Had to eat early because they stop serving food at 7pm – very Hull.
Next day Jackie and Marian went to the Deep – a sort of aquarium with Earth history museum. I went for a stroll down memory lane, to the Avenues where I was brung up.
Had my tonsils out in the local hospital behind the fountain in the middle of Westbourne Avenue. There used to be 3 of these cast iron birds and mermaids fountains in the Avenues, but even when I lived there (back in the 1960s) there was never any water involved, no fountaining took place. Incidentally, Philip Larkin died in this hospital in 1985, there is a plaque on the wall of the staff carpark telling us so, part of the Larkin Trail.
Left Westbourne Avenue and wandered down Victoria Avenue to look at the main house of my youth, number 33, before walking on to the main shopping street, Newlands Avenue, where the last railway to be built in Hull passes over the road. The walk took less than 30 minutes and crossed almost the entirety of my childhood play and exploration area. There is clearly some local pride in place hereabouts, note the planting at the foot of the bridge abutments.
This last railway was ‘The Hull and Barnsley Railway’, and was completed in 1885, linking west Yorkshire with a new dock on the Humber. But it never actually got to Barnsley. It got near, to somewhere called Stairfoot apparently. ‘Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs’, as my Nan used to say when amazed, puzzled or confused. They only got permission to build the line if it was done without any level crossings, Hull was covered with them from earlier railway developments, and they were slowing down the growing road traffic. The solution was to cross urban Hull on a long embankment, and bridge the roads encountered. Next to the bridge is a little bar called Larkins Bar though it was not there in his day. Their beer mats quote his lines:
Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can’t I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?
I has a bottle of Japanese witbier to celebrate effective pitchfork use.