Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Another Mini adventure…….Lincoln

October 6th – my birthday – and four of us left South London and hammered round the M25, then up the M11 and A1 to get to Lincoln as quickly as we could because we were on an overnighter; Tony on an XJ6, Gordon on a Transalp, Nadine on her BMW 650ST, and me on my Hornet.

The weather was superb….blue cloudless skies, warm autumn sun, and a real pleasure to ride 200 miles up the eastern side of the UK in such conditions.  It should be made illegal NOT to ride a bike on such days. And as many of the usual car-driving - while - texting numpties seemed to have stayed home, the journey was even better.

We stayed at the Castle Hotel in the old bit of Lincoln, in the newly renovated and separate apartment, with views of the castle and the cathedral. It was so central that the interesting bits of the city were right outside our front door, which made the bit of wandering over cobbled streets to nice pubs that we did, very bearable. Mind you, we were rather rudely awoken by the Council the following morning when they decided to jet wash the park benches at 0730, but they soon finished, so that was OK. And anyway, it was different from being awoken by London traffic.

So by mid Sunday morning, and with just one of the gang nursing a bit of a sore head (nope, not me!) we set off to ride home via the fabulous and empty roads that cris cross that part of the country. The weather was still great, and there was still nobody much about,  so we had many of the roads to ourselves.

There is something really stunning about England in the autumn sun. Dark earth in freshly ploughed fields, leaves just starting to turn shades of red, gold and orange, low slung silver sun, and mist that never quite makes it above the hedgerows, all set against a clear blue sky. Lovely. And of course from a bike, you can smell the hedgerows and the fresh earth and all that other stuff that you miss from a car.

And given that I was the only one in our gang of four who hales from these shores, and it was my birthday, I decided to take the others on a satnav extravaganza of familiar place names, just to underline who spawned what in the days when the world was still flat.

So first stop was New York, a remote string of houses strewn along just one road.

Next up was Botany Bay farm, which confused Nadine somewhat as her Botany Bay is even further away from New York than this one.

Then of course there was Boston, a sizeable market town, and its stump, visible across the Fens for miles around. 

The stump is the church tower, yet the church itself is massive and more like a cathedral. It is ornate, both inside and out, and really impressive. 

There was a christening going on inside, but the place was so huge that nobody seemed to mind us trooping in and looking around while they carried on with their thing. We were quiet and polite, even if some of the kids were distracted by the tiptoeing bikers, and took more interest in us than the vicar.

What was particularly cool was the time line that somebody had put together of people who had left Boston back in the day and done stuff that achieved World prominence. Can’t remember his name, but there was a special mention of a Bostonian who had sailed with Mathew Flinders and found a few hills in Oz.

There are also many Poles and people from the Baltic States in Boston. I guess it’s on that side of the country nearest to that part of Europe and not far from ports such as Harwich, Lowestoft and Hull. And there is lots of agricultural work in that area to keep people earning.

After a walk around Boston and a quick sandwich in the sunshine, we carried on through Upper Holland and Lower Holland, both low laying small country towns in the Fens, complete with drainage ditches, canals and flood warning sirens. Don’t think we saw any windmills or pushbikes though.

Last stop of the day was Denver, just off the beaten track between a couple of bigger roads, before scooting through Cambridge and onto the M11 for the blast home. 

We didn’t have time to make it to California on this occasion, which is just up the coast a bit, but it was still a good day’s ride and amusing to upstage more famous namesakes. We covered about 500 miles/800kms on the round trip, and had a good time riding twisties and straight bits, as seeing some beautiful countryside. Just goes to show- your own backyard can be just as interesting as a far flung jaunt….