Monday, June 30, 2014

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

 The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is located adjacent to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.  On display here are examples of classic aircraft from WWII.  These aircraft are maintained in airworthy condition and can often be seen in the air over the base or as part of official activities such as the Queen's birthday celebration.

Lincolnshire, with its predominately flat terrain, was awash with planes, pilots and aircrew during the years of WWII.  It is fitting that the stories of some of the brave pilots and crew who flew in the Battle of Britain, stories of courage and sacrifice, should be told here.  As the badge of the BBMF states: Lest We Forget .
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Crest.jpg Lancaster Exhibition Area

Two Spitfires on display at BBMF.

The Hurricane on display is the last Hurricane to have entered service with the RAF. She appeared in the films Angels One Five, Reach for the Sky, The Battle of Britain and a TV series The War in the Air.

 The Lancaster bomber that is part of the flight is one of only two surviving airworthy examples with the other being in Canada.

This Dakota was built in 1942 and is equipped with  authentic period 'para seats'.  She is used in commemorative parachute drops.

History comes alive in the air.

Just a Short Update

 These impressive creatures were grazing just off the river very near where we moored for the night.  The one kept an eye on us and the other just ignored us.

I just am so impressed with the curl of the horns!  It makes me wish I had something as impressive. 

Yesterday was a very rainy day (we really haven't had many of those this summer) so I curled up with some crafty things and a couple of Poirot videos.  It made for a lovely afternoon and I actually accomplished something, too.

Today looks beautiful so we are off to explore the village of Bardney, a small hamlet on the River Witham.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mr. and Mrs. Hoover

 The moorings along the rivers are different than the moorings along the canal.  When we are on a canal we can just pull over to the side and drive in a couple of stakes or tie up to the rings or bollards provided.  When on the river, however, one must find the floating docks provided by British Waterways at certain intervals along the river.
We recently tied up for the evening and the following day at one such mooring.  And this pair of ducks have figured out the system.
They know that if you go up to the boats and "ask" that usually the nice creatures inside will feed you. 
They came morning and night and would quickly, oh so quickly, hoover up any and all food provided.  I have never seen ducks eat so quickly.  It was a race to the finish.

And, once the food was gone, they would patiently sit there and wait to see if more would be forthcoming.  After five minutes or so they would decide to take no for an answer and would wander off to swim and fend for themselves until the next feeding time.  Quite charming little things, actually.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Who Knew They Hissed Like A Snake!

Mommy and Daddy swan and the not so little signets showed up near our boat a couple of days ago.  If you Look in the first pic you see Momma's head is underwater.  In the second pic you can see the green plant matter that she has "harvested" to feed her children.

Daddy then came up to the window of the boat and the little ones tagged along.  Since this is what the swans do when they are requesting food, I decided to oblige them.

Although I didn't get a picture (I was too busy jumping back out of the way) Daddy let me know he was on guard and wouldn't take any messing around with his offspring.  His neck darted towards me and he HISSED!  It was definitely enough to convince me he meant what he said. As you can see, he remained on guard while Momma and cygnets ate.

 With one last stern look focused in my direction, Momma, children and Daddy bringing up the rear, headed off down the river.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Down the River Witham

We have left Lincoln and are traveling eastward on the River Witham through a wide valley.  We could see the towers of the Cathedral for a LONG time, reminding the peasants of an earlier age that God is always watching.

The sound of airplanes flying overhead is very common here.  Waddington Airfield is in this area and they send out AWACS (airborne early warning and control aircraft) on their mission at regular intervals.  Mike is loving the sound and sometimes the sight of the planes.  Once a pilot, always a pilot.

We passed a beautiful small Norman church in Greetwall.  The church marks the site of a medieval village of farmers and traces of their farming patterns still remain when you look carefully at the land itself.

The village of Fiskerton is now a distance from the river but was once a fishing village.  When the fens here were drained and the course of the river changed Fiskerton became a landlocked village.  However, during a flood in 1962 the water  once again reached the town, if only temporally.

Today we are moored near Woodhall Spa, located about a mile inland.  As the story goes, in 1811 they were drilling for coal and found iodine mineral water instead.  A Victorian spa town resulted.  Soaking in the waters is said to relieve the pain of arthritis.  I just might have to give it a try.

Also in Woodhall Spa is Petworth House which, during World War II, served as the officer's mess of the 617 Squadron, more commonly known as the Dam Busters.  This Squadron took part in a  top-secret Royal Air Force bombing mission in May of 1943. 
Their mission was  to fly deep into Germany, at tree top level, and destroy three dams essential to the Nazi steel industry. A  bouncing bomb that could skip across water had been developed for this purpose BUT, but to be effective, the bomb had to be dropped at very close range and very low altitude.  The raid was carried out with partial success but at a terrible cost of lives.  Fifty three of the  133 men who participated were killed, almost 40% .
 Below is a picture of the memorial to these men that was erected in Woodhall Spa.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Climb. Conquer. Collapse.

 Welcome to Lincoln, once known as Lindum when it was a Celtic settlement, then Lindum Colonia when it became a Roman town in 48 A.D..

 This is a view of an ancient and rare building as you enter the heart of the old city of Lincoln.  The arch dates from 1160.  The building was restored to its former glory in 1901 and the restaurant/coffee shop there today has been offering their wares in this location since 1902.  Mike and I shared a wonderful cheese tray there and fell in lust with the local poacher cheese.  He is off to the cheese shop to buy some as I type. :-)

 This is the other side of the bridge as we exit the tunnel created by the bridge.  This area underneath is called the glory hole.  In medieval times it was called the murder hole, for obvious reasons in those days of no street lights.  A chapel was built in 1235 and dedicated to St. Thomas a Becket on on the eastern side of the bridge and the area took on it's new name of the glory hole over time. The chapel was destroyed during the Reformation, unfortunately. 

The canal is overhung by trees as it travels through Lincoln.  It is both charming and cooling on a warm summer day.  

The picture above shows the pub across from where we are moored.  It also shows a picture of one of the boaters we met here and have been playing tourist with.  

Pete is a retired professor at UC Davis whose interest, passion is environmental science.  His wife Lesley, also of the scientific bent, has written science picture books for young children.  I hope to get some for John. 

One of the real joys of this trip is to meet new friends, exchange new conversations and enjoy a pint or two together.

Below is the Guildhall with it's arch acting as a gateway into Lincoln.  Lincoln was traditionally known for its weavers.  It was especially well known for its red and green cloth (think Robin Hood and his green clothing).

The city of Lincoln abounds with fantastic examples of 14th and 15th century buildings and Tudor half timbered buildings.  Some of the oldest buildings still in use can be found here.  They alone are worth a visit.


 The castle, perched on a STEEP hill (we walked it), was built by the forces of William the Conqueror in 1068.  It stand opposite the cathedral, also built under order of William.  To create the space for the castle, William had the 166 houses on the site torn down.  Currently, the interior of the castle is undergoing restoration and can not be visited.  Only the 6 acres of grounds are open to the public.

 The old part of the city was grouped around the Cathedral and castle.  Aptly named in medieval times Steep Hill, the very steep and cobbled streets leading you through the old part of the city have been unchanged for centuries, making them a challenge for both walkers and drivers.

 The Cathedral, third largest in Britain,  was began in 1074 under the orders of William the Conqueror.  A later fire and earthquake extensively damaged the Cathedral and only the front wall of the old Norman Cathedral remains.  The Cathedral was rebuilt in 1192 and it was then that the triple towers came into being.  The center tower collapsed in 1237, due to design and construction flaws, and had to be replaced.  The replacement was completed in 1311 and that tower and spire marked the highest spot of the Cathedral, about 525 feet high, and the highest man made structure in the world for almost 238 years.  In 1548 the center spire was blown down in a storm and was removed. It was not replaced.  In 1807 the spires of the two smaller towers were also removed.

Question:  What makes a Cathedral a Cathedral?
Answer:   It is home to the Bishop's throne.  A church that houses the Bishop's throne, or cathedra, is called, logically enough, a Cathedral.
Now you know.

The Cathedral houses a portion of an original medieval library, constructed in 1422, as well as a more modern library built in 1676 by Sir Christopher Wren of St. Paul's Cathedral fame.  Both are awe inspiring in their own ways and open to the public to view.  The ancient books and manuscripts can also be used for scholarly research by making arrangements with the Cathedral librarian.
The Cathedral (or the castle, depending on whom you talk to) houses one of the remaining 4 copies of the original Magda Carta.  Unfortunately, it is currently on loan so we were unable to view it.

These magnificent buildings are part of the cathedral close.

 Back down Steep Hill.  Down is MUCH easier than up on a warm summer day. :-)

Bonus Picture and Fact:  Below is a picture of The White Hart Inn, originally a 14th century coach inn, where Tom Hanks stayed while filming part of The DaVinci Code in Lincoln Cathedral.  The Cathedral was used as a stand in for Westminster Abbey.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day One in Lincoln

Yesterday we spent the day in Lincoln having lunch, going to the open market and the central market and visiting the charity shops looking for videos and baskets to replace boxes that are being used to store things. 

The videos are our form of evening entertainment since we have no TV.  We found quite a few "classics" yesterday that fit Mike's one pound price limit.  I did buy Out of Africa for 1.50 but that can be our little secret. :-)

The baskets fall under the adage that items in a container look neater than the same items out of a container.  To that I am adding my belief that items in an attractive container look better than items in a recycled cardboard box.  Mike says they both do the same thing, and they do, but one sure looks better than the other.  And at only 1.49 I'll be a big spender and spring for it. :-)

At the markets we found a melon for mike and some fresh cherries.  There was also some wonderful looking meat but no room for it in the freezer which is full of veg and cheese mainly.  Must work on that so that I can stock a few items to grill in this fine weather.

We had lunch at an outside table and sat near us was a couple just a little older than we are.  We struck up quite a conversation.  He used to work on submarines and they both love to travel.  Malta is one of their favorite locations so we are looking into that for a future jaunt. 

We have found it very easy to start conversations since once we say anything people know we are not locals.  I wonder how?  It's a great ice breaker.

Today we are off to play tourist at the cathedral and some of the historic buildings that are only 600 years or so old. These towns are full of living history.  Will catch you up on the historical sites tomorrow.

As they say here, toodle pip.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

From Cromwell Weir to Torksey Lock

The Trent is Britain's third largest river and the only one that flows north (for most of its course) eventually terminating at the North Sea.

The Trent becomes a tidal river just below Cromwell Weir.  While traveling along it we meandered through a large floodplain with small riverside villages.

More common to see were the cows, sheep, heron, mallards and swans that live along or in the river. 
It was a warm day when we traveled and the cows were taking advantage of the water to cool off.  We also saw one cow using the river bank, which is steep in places, to scratch the side of her face.  Cute.

We exited the Trent at Torksey lock and entered the Fossdyke canal that links the Trent to the City of Lincoln and the River Witham.

Along this tidal portion the Trent specializes in shoals that are close to the surface but unseen by the unwary boater who could find himself aground on one.  Sometimes a shoal may extend as far as halfway across the river. 

In other places there are sunken barges and even sunken islands, it is best to avoid.  That is why you pay 10 pounds for the navigational charts.  :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Newark is rightly said to be one of the most beautiful cities on the Trent.

We are currently moored on the bank opposite the tree you see at the far right in this picture.  It makes a wonderful view out our windows. 

The buildings are magnificent.  This open town square gives it a very European feel.  It reminds me of the town squares in Belgium that we saw when visiting DD1 there years ago.

Mike also liked Newark since it has a wonderful Greek restaurant where we celebrated Father's Day by thoroughly over indulging.

Now, on to the tidal portion of the Trent.  This will be a thoroughly new experience for which we had to buy a special 10 pound guide to navigate us through the obstacles.  Will talk with you on the other side.