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.

Straight on the Fossdyke

Once we’d come through the lock at Torskey we back onto canal waters. Anchor away, aerial down and life jackets back in their bag. The Fossdyke Navigation is thought to have been built in 120AD by the Romans, making it the oldest canal still in use in Britain. It was built to link Lincoln and the River Witham with the great River Trent.  It felt safe and comforting at first, although in true Roman fashion, straight for mile and mile and mile. And with this being the Lincolnshire fens, the countryside is low lying and flat so prone to flooding hence the levees either side of us which also meant very little change in scenery. We did however see two Braidbar boats, Essence, No 94, has a mooring here. And No 102, Up Spirits who we didn’t manage to speak to as we were both manouvering as we passed. And this boat, which although had a certain design flare, we could tell from it’s livery that it was definitely not a Braidbar.  We’d been advised that Saxilby was a nice place to moor. And we have to agree it was, we stayed a few days here, and had a steady stream of neighbours in all shapes and sizes. Some only stayed a few hours, just long enough to nip up to the chippy and take advantage of the picnic tables to enjoy lunch. We chatted to everyone, especially as I’d taken the opportunity to sit outside with my spinning, always a good conversation starter. We struck up what was to become a good friendship with Cherryl and Ian. (Yes two Cheryls… one with 2 Rs one with only 1…) They have a beautiful dutch style barge with a wheelhouse perfect for socialising. We did have to confess to a degree of boat envy. Seren Rose is not Ian and Cherryls first boat. They’d already spent many years cruising the whole system on their narrowboat, and now they are now looking at exploring new waters. Maybe one day we will do similar. Their enthusiasm and zest for life is infectious, and like us, even though they have lived this life for many years, each day is still an adventure. As we were both going in the same direction we shared this next bit of our adventures together. While we were in Saxilby, Eric took advantage of seeing a physio who’s consulting rooms were opposite our mooring. He’s had a painful shoulder for quite a while and she confirmed it was a frozen shoulder. He’s got a long list of exercises to do, but although it’s improving already it could be a slow process. We loved the stonework on the frontage.Travelling in convoy with Ian and Cherryl we headed off towards Lincoln.It wasn’t long before the cathedral came into view, promising us an exciting weekend ahead.