From London to Lincolnshire: Part One – From City Commuting to Country Cycling

Hello friends. It’s been a while. I’m going to blame it on dodgy Internet connections which meant I struggled to find a private space to write for about a year. But I’m back and ready to fill you in!

I have recently moved “home” to Lincolnshire from London and as a teacher I have kind of a luxury in that I have the six week summer break to settle in to my new place, refamiliarise myself with the way of life “up here” and generally relax before the September madness begins.

One way I decided to get acquainted with my new adopted city of Lincoln and the surrounding area was to get out on my bike to explore. I found a cycle route called the Water Railway, so called because the tracks follow what used to be a railway between Lincoln and Boston, which seems to have been finally closed around 1980 (although don’t quote me on that… I’m no expert). If you do the whole thing from Lincoln to Boston, you will cycle 31 miles – not something I think I could achieve even if I wanted to. Luckily there are many stopping points along the way and I decided to choose Bardney as mine, which is 9 miles from Lincoln, making it an 18 mile round trip (and slightly more to get back to my house which, I might add, is right at the top of the hill near the Cathedral).

I started the main route from Waterside South and it was pretty straightforward… all you have to do is follow the path. It runs alongside the River Witham and is more or less flat, perfect after navigating some of the steep streets of Lincoln to get there. Along the Water Railway there are also many places to stop and rest, as well as historical signs, some of which I read, and some of which I just cycled past as I was keen to get to my destination. However it would be good to take more time over it if you were particularly interested; there was information about each place along the path (including Washingborough, Fiskerton Fen, the Five Mile Bridge, Bardney Lock) as well as information about the old stations and ferries that would travel along the river to Boston (taking six hours each way – according to one of the signs I took the time to read).

It was a great place to see wildlife and, along the way, I saw (in no particular order): a hedgehog, a heron, some swans, cows, possibly a kestrel, some martins, dragon flies… this might not seem that special but it was to me, after cycling to work in London and not seeing anything natural (except perhaps an urban fox if you’re lucky).

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There were also several artistic sculptures and pieces along the path which I suppose are there to add interest, as it could otherwise get quite dull; after all, you are more or less cycling miles along what seems to be a straight and relatively even path. One of my favourites was some metal cows, and when I passed it on the way back, there were real cows on the opposite bank.

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One of the most interesting parts of my venture along the Water Railway was my stop in Bardney, particularly at Bardney Tearooms. I admit, I really didn’t know much about Bardney before I cycled there, but I knew I would find a cafe there to stop at. What I didn’t know was that Bardney Tearooms appears to be housed in the old station building and there are what seems to be the original station signage on the front and the old gate which would have been opened out at the level crossing. Inside, the tearooms were very quaint and had a kind of 1940s feel (possibly there was some wartime memorabilia but I might be making that up).

 

 

After stopping there for a cheeky ice cream I decided to head back to Lincoln. I found it somewhat easier on the way back as I had more of an idea of the distances involved, but I was also cycling into the wind which made it harder. Finally, when I came off the Water Railway at Waterside South, I had the ascent to the Cathedral Quarter and admittedly, there was one street where I got off and pushed (but according to the map, the gradient was more than 1 in 7, if you know what that means)!

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After being used to cycling in London alongside the traffic, it was really nice to get out into the open and cycle for a long stretch. In London I would always cycle with a high-vis jacket and helmet and I’m not going to stop doing that as I think they keep me safe, however at points I did feel a bit silly wearing it all, because you could probably get away with not doing that on the country paths. The advantage of London is that it has properly marked cycle paths and I was worried initially that it wouldn’t be as safe in Lincoln, however to my pleasant surprise, some of the busier roads had off-road cycle paths and crossings that you can cycle over when the light goes green. At Bardney Tearooms I also picked up a detailed map of Lincoln which has a key for each road according to its safety for cyclists.

So hopefully before I return to school in September, I will get another chance to try out a cycle path in Lincoln. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and I look forward to writing many more now that I have Internet 🙂

A Photo Collection

I’ve had a draft of this post written for a while, but for some reason I could never find the ‘right’ time to post it. It’s a collection of photos from home, Tattershall, the village where I moved to at the age of nine, and where my parents still live. Because I’ve been studying and working abroad, I still haven’t really moved out of my parents’ home (like a lot of people in their 20s these days!) and it’s somewhere that me, my brother and sisters always come back to.

When I’m back in Tattershall, one of my favourite things is to take my dog for a walk in the fields, by the castle and the church.  Here, it feels like you have completely left the village behind – in fact, when it’s quiet, you could be the only person in the world. It is a vast, open area of fenland, made up of ditches, high grass banks and lakes.

I first started regularly walking my dog there when I was in a period of unemployment which lasted for several months. Getting outside with my dog felt like a relief and an escape from the tedious and depressing situation of constant job applications and rejections. I enjoyed getting in touch with the nature around me. I saw a beauty in the place that I had found hard to see when I was a teenager growing up there. The fens of Lincolnshire can look bleak and dreary, but they can also look striking, open, and, in a unique way, beautiful. It’s all about perception. In my photos, I tried to capture the beauty that I saw. Over a year, I captured Tattershall in all seasons and weathers. It never seemed to look the same.

I am currently in Tattershall and just today, I took my dog for a walk in the September sunshine. We were making the most of the sun and late summer warmth while we still have it. In a week or so, I will be moving away from Tattershall to start a PGCE course in London. So, before I go, it seems like the right time to post this photo collection. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

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Acclimatising

Location map of Great Britain and Ireland, wit...
From sunny Spain to not-so-sunny Britain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I haven’t been writing as regularly as I would have liked, but in the last two weeks I have gone through a mega upheaval as I left sunny Spain to return (in what is intended to be a permanent move) to the UK. Following this was a 5-day placement volunteering in a British primary school, a requirement before I start the PGCE course in September. I am also trying to move back in to a room which is too small for all the things I have acquired over the last few years whilst I have been moving around from place to place. Knowing that I will be moving away again soon (to London), I am currently living out of two suitcases and trying desperately to clear out what I can to make life easier for the impending move Down South. Meanwhile I am also adjusting to the British summer weather i.e. severe lack of sunshine (the things that haven’t moved from my suitcase at all are my summery clothes, open-toed sandals – don’t actually know when I’ll be using them again if this ‘wettest-summer-on-record’ continues!) I’ve even brought out my cardies, slippers and jeans – things that two weeks ago would have broken me out in a sweat just thinking about.

Still, as ‘Life is Beautiful’ is all about appreciating the positive things in life, there is a lot to celebrate about the move back to England. No more constant smothering myself in sun cream. No more jokes about being a ‘gamba’ (prawn) for my pale-but-goes-red-in-the-sun British skin. No more massacring the Spanish language every time I open my mouth. I’ve been reunited with my favourite British foods (Yorkshire Puddings have never tasted so good!) I’m back in my tiny but peaceful Lincolnshire village. And most importantly I’m close to my family and friends, and I’m back where I feel happy and comfortable.

A traditional Sunday roast: roast beef, vegeta...
Happily reunited with British food! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally, I feel that I can’t finish the post without a brief comment on the 5-day primary school placement. After nearly two years experience working with children of various other nationalities, I was interested to see what it would be like teaching British kids. And I was surprised to find that it is pretty much exactly the same, except for the fact they understand everything you say (which actually freaked me out a bit!) I got asked the same questions as I usually do by foreign kids: Do you have a boyfriend? and by the same kid two days later, You mean, you still don’t have a boyfriend?!, and even, most surprisingly, Which country do you come from? (!)

So, after that placement, my work is over until September, and it’s time to relax and enjoy the summer. There’s lots coming up: a trip to London to see Wicked, a much-needed massage and facial, flat hunting in London, and the Olympics… Watch this space 🙂