28 September 2011--The alarm goes off at 8:30. I shut it off and roll over. Laze around a while, goof off online....
I have an email from the other B&B, admitting fault, apologizing, and offering to make up the difference if I've paid more
for a room than their rate. Well, if I'd known that, I'd have booked the Hilton. Write back that I'm fine with the rate
I'm paying, but I'm not getting breakfast, and could stand a full English. [I will not hear from them again.]
It's 11:00 when I finally get out, stopping for coffee and a muffin at a Costa on the waterfront. Can't quite shake the low-level tension headache at the base of my skull. Nice sunny day, but it's too warm--over 80°F (27°C), I'd guess, and I'm overdressed. I think I'd feel better with a little chill in the air.
Push up the Steep Hill and find a very charming upper town, certainly tourist-friendly, but at the same time a real place where people live and work. Over to my right, the cathedral dominates the neighborhood; the castle lurks behind the houses to the left. I wander around for a while, taking note of the remnants of the Roman town, most notably the Newport Arch, reputedly the only Roman arch in the world still open to traffic, although a delivery truck nearly took it out in 1964. There are also various bits of Roman walls around.
I pay my way into the cathedral and latch onto a tour. Usually I'm content to wander around on my own, but I should do this more often--I learn quite a lot, about Lincoln Cathedral in particular and about big British churches generally. The Norman church, begun in 1072, was victim to an extraordinary series of disasters. A fire in 1141 destroyed the roof, prompting a major reconstruction. Then an earthquake brought most of the structure down in 1185. Much of what we now see is what was then begun under the direction of the bishop (and later Saint) Hugh. The style was gothic, with pointed arches and flying buttresses. The new techniques allowed for larger windows, notably the Dean's Eye and the Bishop's Eye, in the north and south transepts; but evidently there was some miscalculation, for the central tower collapsed in 1237. The new tower was built to 271 feet and topped with a wooden spire that reputedly reached to 525 feet (a figure widely accepted but not fully verified). This made Lincoln Cathedral the tallest building in the world, until the spire fell in a storm in 1548.
The cathedral's most famous artifact, perhaps, is the Lincoln Imp, a small gargoyle sitting atop a column in the choir. Legend has it that the Imp was sent by Satan to do mischief, and subsequently turned to stone by an angel. The Imp has become a symbol of the city, its image ubiquitous. The cathedral gift shop is full of Lincoln Imp refrigerator magnets and the like.
Lincoln Cathedral is an absolutely magnificent edifice. I couldn't begin to try to rank the churches I've seen in the UK, but this surely stands at the top of the list with such as Durham, Salisbury, Ely, and York.
My plan was to visit the castle after the cathedral, but I'm already feeling wiped out. Retire instead to the Strugglers Inn, an interesting-looking pub I passed by earlier. Marvelous place, handsome, with a good range of well-kept beer and very friendly locals. Wish I'd known to come here last night. I have a couple of pints and then return to the B&B for a nap. Up after dark, fairly late dinner at an Italian restaurant near the castle, then another pint or three at the Strugglers. Today was a short day, but I still have tomorrow here.