The early morning fare to Lincoln is a bit steep so Tigger has gone ahead and I am taking a later train at the cheap rate. Setting out at 8:55, I found the traffic was still heavy so it wasn’t worth taking a bus. A 15-minute stroll gets me to Kings Cross and it is downhill all the way. I reached the station at 9:10 and checked my train, the 9:35 to Leeds. Its status was “On time”, so I went for a little walk. I returned at 9:20, at the very instant the platform was announced. For once we are given decent warning, 15 minutes. Why can’t it always be like this?
The train is fairly full so I am glad I have a reserved seat, albeit facing backwards. This train takes me only as far as Peterborough where I have 12 minutes to find and board the Lincoln train, assuming we arrive on time.
The day started grey and Tigger reports fog along the route but there’s always a chance the weather will be better in Lincoln or that our unstable climate will cause a change. As we rumble through the suburbs, the sun keeps making brave attempts to break out but is having rather a struggle to penetrate the cloud cover. As long as the rain holds off, I will be content.
I have never been to Lincoln, as far as I can remember, so I am looking forward to making its acquaintance. If I like it, there always the hope that we’ll go there on other occasions and gradually get to know it as with Sheffield, Manchester and York.
We reached Peterborough in good time for the Lincoln train. This turned out to be a single carriage. I found a nice seat with plenty of leg room at a table. Unfortunately, my tranquility was soon disturbed.
“Stinky old train, this,” said a man seating himself across the aisle from me.
I agreed and this seemed to provide permission for him to give me the benefit of his thoughts on what he was reading in the The Times. The article concerned the admission of women to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the famous institution for scarlet-coated war veterans.
I replied that I knew about this and that it seemed a good idea but he barely listened.
“I was in the navy,” he declared, “You get all sorts these days, y’know. Women, homosexuals…”
The warning lights came on in my mind…
“I was in submarines. Yes, 22 years. We had two homosexuals, but we soon got rid of them.”
He gave me a knowing look as if to enrol me in his homophobia. I wasn’t inclined to waste time arguing with a man whose frank stare revealed the entrenched and self-righteous bigot but neither was I going to listen to any more of his prejudiced cant. As he repeated his “We got rid of them”, apparently seeking my approval, I grabbed my bag and coat from the rack and moved to another seat, well out of conversational range.
At Lincoln, Tigger was waiting for me. Joyous reunion! She had already had time for a preliminary recce and took me on a tour of the more striking sights. I have to say that Lincoln is a very pretty town, one of the best I have visited. It has many historic buildings well preserved and still in use.
Tiger took me to a market, then the next and then the next one. For, yes, there are three markets here, all of them well established and lively.
For lunch we went to the High Bridge Cafe, which, as the name suggests, is actally sited on High Bridge. This lovely old bridge, built around 1160 to carry the High Street over the River Witham, is the oldest bridge in Britain to have buildings on it. This is an ideal location for the Tudor-style cafe that comprises a small shop selling coffee on the ground floor and a restaurant on the first and secong floors. We went to the top floor and were rewarded with a window table with a view on the river.
After lunch we continued our ramble and then took a bus up to the cathedral which dominates the whole town from its hill as its planners no doubt intended.
Then we went moved to Castle Hill and a picturesque street called Steep Hill. I expect you can guess why.
Walking down into the town we came upon a nice little bead shop. Two of my bracelets have broken recently and I bought some elastic yesterday in Cardiff to repair them but today decided to branch out and try making bracelets to my own design from scratch. I bought a selection of beads to supplement those from the broken bracelets and will see how it goes.
After more rambling and photography, we repaired to Caffè Nero for double espressos and a rest. At this point we decided we had done enough for one day and started back for the station. Here we found a packed train about to depart for Peterborough, the first leg of our journey home.
“I think we’ll have to stand,” said I but we bored our way through the crowd in the doorway and entered the main part of the carriage. To my pleasant surprise, two young women immediately vacated their seats and invited us to sit down.
It is worth emphasising such events at a time when the media harps on endlessly about “chavs”, “hoodies”, “lager louts” and “youth out of control”, giving the impression that all teenagers today are gormless delinquents readier to steal your wallet than to show the least courtesy.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of young people about who are intelligent and courteous but of course the media pays no heed to them, preferring to fill column inches with scandal and shock-horror. In a nutshell, “good news is no news”.
The Lincoln-Peterborough shuttle stops at a number of stations and by Sleaford enough people had disembarked to leave free seats for the remainder.
I was not looking forward to this part of the journey, especially on a packed train with little space between the seats but have to admit there is something pleasant about travelling through the countryside lit by the soft light of evening.
Hereabouts the land is quite flat. One can see for miles. Visitors from the Netherlands would feel quite at home here. Indeed, I think Dutch engineers have cooperated with the locals in the past, reclaiming land and controlling the waters.
Nearing Peterborough, our train was halted twice at signals, making us late, and as we pulled into the staton, another train drew in beside it.
“That’s our London train,” said Tigger, “and it’s not going to hang around.”
As the doors opened, we leaped out onto the platform. Fortunately, we were just opposite the bridge. In company with other anxious travellers, we charged up the stairs and down onto the platform of the London train, expecting the hear the doors close at any instant. We were opposite the first-class carriages but there was no time to worry about that and we jumped aboard and walked along to standard class. Seconds later the train began to move.
The train was packed and most seats seats were reserved but I noticed two empty table seats with reservation tickets from Leeds. I asked if the owners were around and on hearing they were not, I claimed the seats for us! We could now relax for the remainder of the journey.
Crowded trains are a feature of what we have come to call “the Friday Effect”: on Fridays large numbers of people go away or go home for the weekend and the trains are full all day but especially from lunchtime as people break away from their studies or their workplaces. Friday also seems to be a popular day on which to send us on courier runs so I expect we shall have plenty more experience of “the Friday Effect”.
For now, we were content to get home and rest from the day’s activities.