Passage of time: Lincoln
Three stints of Lincolnshire living (amounting to about eight years in total) make Lincoln a hometown from the past. On Saturdays decades ago there’d be family shopping for fruit and veg at the market, maybe a hot dog by the Cornhill (now the location for a Big Screen) and the occasional browse inside the packed toy shop, transformed now into a Waterstone’s book shop. Walk across the plaza in front of the Central Market opposite Waterside these summer days – and you’ll find a beach!
In those decades past reading was about library visits to the children’s section and discovering the wonderful world of children’s picture books. You could take a pushchair into the local village library and all was sweetness and light… but the day young Cal Son showed he had legs that walked – and walked them towards bookshelves and stretched out toddler hands to touch books – was the day the librarian lost her sunny smile, and lost a regular borrower too. The Lincoln city library, however, with its more enlightened staff, allowed babes to crawl, toddlers to toddle and children to handle books… Now the Lincoln landscape has a new library. Did eyes ever spy this warehouse in those long ago days, hidden as it was behind the High Street? Today it is a striking building, the Lincoln University library, an old building sensitively adapted to modern use.
Another new place for readers in Lincoln is the Book Stop cafe, about half way up Steep Hill. Munch lunch and browse the bookshelves in a vault. “Do you have a loo?” Boatwif asked one of the counter staff in this cafe.
“Sorry, no, we’re not allowed to, this building is a thousand years old and can’t be adapted.” Such helpful directions were given to a nearby facility that both members of the Cleddau crew left, duly returned and enjoyed pleasant refreshment among the bookshelves, Morning from Peer Gynt the background muzak.
Of course you don’t need books to read your way around Lincoln. There are frequent signs indicating Roman and Norman Lincoln as well as a blue plaque commemorating Chad Varah, known by many as the founder of the Samaritans.
High above the bustle of the High Street and the boats in Brayford Pool is the Cathedral, daunting in size and imposing in scale. See the Lincoln Tour bus dwarfed by the West Front. Wherever you look there is elaborate decorative detail. Started over nine hundred years ago this building has been an inspiration and a focus for generations of Lincolnshire folk. Conservation of the gothic exterior is ongoing: here the cleaned statuettes reveal an array of demonic figures.
Further round the massive building, past an elaborate south-facing door, was a surprise, Madonna and Child, placed here during Catholic times maybe? Look closer at the stonework and you can see the effect of acid rain and wind erosion.
Uphill Lincoln is a draw for tourists: delightful buildings, designer shops, cobbled streets, snatched views of castle battlements and ancient city gateways – and now you can take a guided tour by horse and carriage.
Back downhill it is busy. Remember those days of driving down High Street and getting a double stoppage? There used to be two railway lines that crossed the road and held up the traffic. St Mark’s Station has gone now, reinvented as a retail area.
Time passes in a blink, from pre-Roman times to today, from last week to this. How times change – ate lunch at the old Ritz Cinema, now a Weatherspoons, on Tuesday; saw a film, Boyhood, at the spanking new Odeon on Sunday…
Tomorrow, Thursday, the boating resumes. The fleet is remustered and Cleddau, Tentatrice and Chouette will head along the Roman-cut Fossdyke to Torksey – and the River Trent.