Byebye Brayford

Brayford pools has been home for a week. We’ve felt safe, secure and well entertained. In fact being in Lincolnshire has felt like a holiday. Our cruising has felt more about the place and people than the waterway and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There’s a lot of Lincoln still to be explored so I’m sure we’ll be back, but during that last week I found some quirky art work

and interesting things to look at.This was what caught my eye each time we left the marina and walked into town. And of course being a posh waterfront the Brayford had a modern tall hotel on its doorstep with a cocktail bar at the top. which I had to visit, if only to snap a photo from the lofty heights. The Brayford water chimes  were a fun modern feature, and if the wind was in the right direction we could hear a pretty tinkling chime each hour from our mooring. I climbed up to the multistory car park to see it from this angle. On our last day in Lincoln, Eric’s brother Andrew and his wife Anne came to join us as we cruised back to Saxilby. We took a detour through the glory hole and back though I’m not sure I can answer the Bridges question.

Asylum comes to town

AKA the Lincoln Steampunk Festival, (Asylum is the name of the event organisers) For those not familiar with Steampunk, a dictiinary definition says it is…. “a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology”  that’s not what Eric says but I just say it’s amazing and I want to be part of it. It really does attract alsorts, way beyond the historical, it’s a culture that has many forms of expression. People travel from all over to be part of this 3 day event. And while the streets were filled with people adorned in their finery, strutting their stuff, there were lots of organised events for ticket holders only, so if this is what we saw taking over Lincoln, who knows what went on behind the drawbridge of the castle. It’s very inclusive, and quite diverse.
We thought this guy’s wheelchair was very clever with its cogs and levers.  lots of impressive looking weaponry  though I’m not sure it would see off the aliens, quite a few shoulder pets. Everyone was really keen to show off their costume, stopping to pose for photos.  We had to laugh when we saw a large police presence, I asked if they were expecting trouble from the steampunk, Oh no, there’s a football match today. Not sure the footie fans would stand a chance against the steam punk.

Lincoln’s cathedral

Lincoln’s Cathedral is a beacon for miles and miles as it towers over the fenland. In fact my sister in law, Anne,  tells me on a good day they can see it from the Peak District Moors, over 60 miles away. And as it offered a tower tour, well I just had to go climb those towers and learn it’s history and see the view.Back in the day when the Romans came to stay, they fortified Lincoln with a city wall. Although it was to later get in the way of one of the cathedrals many extension.Then the Vikings also took advantage of the river access and the deep water of Brayford Pool. As did these folk as shown in a painting hanging in one of the chapels.However it wasn’t until William the Conqueor wanted to stake his claim, and show his Norman dominance on the marauding hordes of northerners, that the catherdral and castle were built out of local stone.  It was a hugely significant seat of power and in 1215 the Magna Carter was brought here to be signed by the Bishops. Lincoln still holds one of the only 4 remaining originals in its library.

The Cathedral’s life hasn’t always been an easy one, 50 years after it was built it burnt down. It was rebuilt but in 1185 it was destroyed by an earthquake. Rebuilding wasn’t always well planned, the person responsible didn’t align the east and the West correctly so the spine along the beautiful vaulted ceiling is wonky and doesn’t meet up as it should.The tower tour takes you right up into the rafters so you can look down onto the lime mortar on the upper side of the vaulted ceiling. You don’t always realise when you look up that there’s another 30 feet of cathedral above what you see.

In 1311 a spire was added to the central tower, reaching 160m, taller than the Pyramids of Gaza. It became the tallest building in the world for over 200 years but being a wooden structure encased in lead, it was a bit heavy and in 1548 it blew down in a storm. In 1807 the north and south tower spires were removed much to the consternation of the people of Lincoln but Health and Safety was being adhered to by then.Health and safety also decreed that although we were allowed in the bell tower, the ropes had to be out of reach. The bells rest in an upright position so that the the first chime is correctly timed. Obviously there’s a huge amount that I haven’t recounted, condensing 1000 years of history into 10 minutes leaves a lot of gaps for rebellions, civil war But I recommend paying the extra to do the tour. Stained glass is always a beautiful thing to see in a cathedral, this one is known as the Bishops Eyeand the rose window opposite is the Deans EyeThis one facing West shows Revious, the monk William the conqueor put in charge of building the cathedral originally. It still contains some medieval glass, when It was a real  honour to be able to walk right in front of it on the tower tour. There is so much to see and most of it hundreds of years old, but there are some new pieces of art work on display. I particularly liked the giant swan. St Hugh of Avalon was one of the early bishops and he befriended this fearsome bird, which terrorised the people whenever St Hugh was away, but behaved like an angel whenever he was in residence.

Going down the Glory Hole

We had heard fearsome things about the Glory Hole in Lincoln, would it swallow us whole? would we be spat out alive on the other side? Would we have any paintwork left after our transit? Despite the many connotations of the phrase, no one is quite sure of the specific reason it became known as such. In the middle ages it was known as the “murder hole” due to the accumulation of debris that collected there, including dead bodies! Ian and Cherryl were more worried than us because Seren Rose is a true “Fat Boy” with a wheelhouse, which they would have to collapse to allow them through. With a close eye on the weather, cause they really didn’t want to get rained on with their roof down, Seren Rose set first. Waving goodbye to Brayford Pool and entering the River Witham.This twisting narrow passage takes us under a thriving shopping street and a magnificent medieval building which is now the home of Stokes coffee house. Ironically this awkward passage is actually called High Bridge. It has a fascinating history. Built by the Normans in the 12th century  It is England’s oldest stone bridge still in use to have occupied medieval buildings on it. Then it was our turn.First we had to pass under the modern road bridge, with its slogan “Where have you been” inscribed across It. Then we saw the hole…. It certainly looked ominous as we approached.And more like a tunnel than a bridge. We’d never have guessed what was above us. If we hadn’t walked across the bridge first. Once through the Glory Hole we breathed a sigh of relief, the only casualty being one of Seren Roses fenders, which Cherryl was able to fish out with their boat hook. Lincoln has embraced it’s waterways and tried to prettify a 20th century shopping centre with hanging baskets and a stunning millenium sculpture called Empowerment. Sadly this area has a deprived feel to it. As well as the busy shoppers and tourists, it’s sheltered walkways attract quite a number of drug addicts, homeless and unemployed people, who looked anything but empowered. My moral conscience is always troubled when I see such hopelessness. I feel so blessed and privileged to be able to live on a narrowboat the way we do. And we do bring pleasure to many,As we dutifully wave to our admirers on the next bridge.Farewell for now Lincoln, we will be back to explore the rest of this magnificent city next week.

Celebrations in Lincoln

Lincoln knew we were coming, so had laid on some entertainment.  Combining a 1940s theme and the RAFs centenary year, the town had gone vintage, packed with service personnel and folk in costume. I suspect a lot of it was the genuine article, though not all RAF or 1940s. There were quite a few Yanks over here helping the party go with a swing. There was live music, big band and swing with dancing. We were treated to a lesson on doing the Lambeth Walk at an open air tea dance.And a pipe band to help with the flingI thought Eric had taken a shine to the dancers but he had his eye on this rather fine vehicle
Ian and Cheryl fancied this one in green.While I was in stitches over the fancy bunting. And wondering where I’d be now if my nurses uniform hadn’t been the functional trousers and tunic it is today.
Of course with it being RAF weekend, we were treated to fly pasts by a Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane. Unfortunately despite the blue sky it was quite windy so they arrived earlier than advertised, which meant we didn’t get a really good view of them as we were cloistered in the cathedral quarter. Poirot and his friends offered to go and find them for us but they were enjoying the pink fizz too much. Away from the cathedral quarter there were more stalls and a display of RAF fire engines on the waterfront.Although we weren’t sure if this guy had suffered 100% burns, was the Michelin Man, Stig or wearing his uniform.In the evening, events switched venues with the party atmosphere moving to the waterfront with street food and music. The grand finale on Saturday was a firework display set off from the island in the Brayford Pool, which we got to enjoy sitting on the roof of Seren Rose with Ian Cherryl and their family, Tony and Jo. And 5 minutes afterwards it started to rain.

Mama Mia, here we go again

Not quite again as this is the first time we have been to Lincoln, but it won’t be the last. However, as we pulled into our moorings at Brayford Pool the clouds thickened and threatened. Blissfully naive we set off to pay our dues only to get drenched within seconds as the heavens opened and dumped enough rain to refill the beleaguered canals.We cowered under the trees then scampered back to the boats, to phone the harbour master who was happy for us to pay him the next day. Of course rain like that doesn’t last long but it was now damp and chilly.  As we could see the Odeon cinema on the waterfront, we decided to go and see Mama Mia HWGA, not quite as good as the first film but still a good sing along.In good spirits our movie singalong soon changed films, no prizes for guessing what our rowdy chorus line became, and that was before we’d opened the bottles. Bradford Pool is a harbour managed by the BP trust and we were to be charged £15 a night to stay. Having suffered 3 nights of mindless intimidation in Newark we were quite happy to pay for secure gated city centre moorings so we could be in the thick of it without fear of being taken advantage of by non boaters. The Cathedral providing us with an equally impressive backdrop to our mooring.

Brayford Pool was originally a natural lake that became the heart of the settlement that grew up here. Lin, meaning lake and Don meaning foot of the hill became Lindon. The Romans arrived in the first century and recognising potential when they saw it, dredged and widened the river Witham to make an inland port of quite some significance. The town and its thriving wool industry prospered, helped also by the Romans building the Foss Dyke connecting the area to the River Trent. The Romans left in the 5th century and the Vikings took over 500 years later, when Brayford acquired it’s name, Breit-ford, where the River is wide and fordable.

As the wool trade declined in the 13th century, so did Lincoln’s fortune, but in the 18th century it became an industrial trading wharf, full of warehouses, mills and malthouses, with all the accompanying businesses. But the steamboats and sailingbarges were superceeded by the railway and sadly the pool silted up. In the 1960s there were proposals to fill it in and create a car park. Thank goodness they didn’t as it’s now a thriving lively waterfront. With “parking” for boats like us.