Lincolnshire is mind-bogglingly large and flat and rural. We don’t see much of it as the river Witham is flanked on both sides by enthusiastic embankments. The occasional lorry, a pylon, the roof of a house, a plane looping overhead. This makes journeying the length of the river an oddly isolated experience.
We leave Boston on Wednesday, hurtling our way along the straight, flat river towards Lincoln and the Roman-built Fossdyke canal. On Friday night we are joined for the weekend by Nick and Elizabeth, just in time for what will hopefully prove to be the first of many heatwaves this summer. In honour of the sun, I purchase a new pair of sandals.
Arriving in Lincoln we discover that all the contours of the county have been compressed into a single breath-taking gradient, an ascent so dizzying that metaphor and allusion were beyond those who first climbed and conquered and named it. Steep Hill transforms the citizens of the city into zombies, shuffling slowly up the slope, arms stretched out ahead in search of – railings? fresh meat? Lincolnshire sausage? – muttering portentously under their breath.
Tis indeed a fine city, complete with castle, cathedral and copy of the Magna Carta. Swans nest outside the university buildings, oblivious to the oohs and aahs of passing students, presumably not zoologists as they seem amazed by the reproductive process. I am more amazed that the swans don’t attack anyone.
In honour of the heatwave we have invested in a fine new BBQ and are subsisting on a diet of grilled everything, fresh Lincolnshire asparagus and ice cream.
And tomorrow we are off for our first foray along the tidal Trent. I am determined not to be overcome by the fear that gripped me last year when we last dipped our toe into the non tidal version of these waters. For we are veterans of the Wash. Such intrepid adventurers are not daunted by mere rivers. Even ones with massive tidal bores in spring tides. (It’s OK, folks, there are none due in May.)