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Life in Lincolnshire Part 1

Updated: Mar 21

An introductory essay to discuss why Lincolnshire is such a fabulous place to live and play, from huge history, long beaches and lots of hidden secrets and gems most counties could only dream of!

I was sitting in the warm June sunshine with blackbirds taking raisins from near my feet and I started to think and realise how much I love Lincolnshire. I never thought about it before, but with Lancaster Bombers overhead and tractors on the drive, homegrown you get to thinking! I sat sipping home grown blackcurrant juice chilled with frozen raspberries, all from the garden last Autumn, as the warm scents of roses, sweet peas and honeysuckles swirl together to make a very heady floral scent, carried along on the normally cursed, cooling East wind. Everything in my traditional cottage garden is in full flower, with people sometimes stopping to take photos of the front garden. The constant, conscience care I gave my roses over winter has given a blooming display I have always dreamt of (except for the wretched black spot, so hard to control organically!).

Amidst a backdrop of Palladian delphiniums the lupins are still giving a grand late display, mixed with king spires of foxgloves also starting to show their age, both sure signs we're heading for mid-summer. We have a resident pheasant and his two lady friends who are now permanent features of the garden, with their own feeding and drinking station.

The placidity of the calm day was suddenly broken by chaos as a

thunderous vibration caused all the angry sparrows to stop their shouting to look at the disturbance. Blackbirds scattered as the rumbling increased until a shadow was cast over the page of the book I was reading! Looking around I saw another reason to love Lincolnshire!

It was harvest time in the meadow and the HUGE farm machinery was squeezing down our drive, which is the only entrance to the natural meadow at the back of our garden. It takes them three days of coming and going with all manner of machinery to cut, fluff (probably not the correct farmy term!), bale and take away huge organic hay bales. This year the meadow has been so beautiful, I have never seen it full of so many wildflowers. As strong winds rustle crispy, dry stalks lifting warm scents of summer and dust

from the ground, it carries the sound of nature's breath coming and going in time with the cooling wind on my face. I spent a lot of time in the meadow just watching the wind move through the grasses as the chaffinches and blue tits sang in the hedgerows whilst looking at all the colours and how they changed when clouds scurried the odd shadow over the land.

If you live in Lincolnshire there is an understanding that at any point there could be a huge bit of farm machinery on the roads and during harvest time they are so busy it feels like there's more farm machinery on the road than anything else, You hear them harvesting with the pea machine through the night and moving harvested bales to storage at all hours. The tractors, combines and farm vehicles are one of the key reasons life in Lincolnshire has a slower pace allowing the beauty of our surroundings to be

noticed and appreciated. Lincolnshire is the second largest county but has just the eighteenth largest county population meaning we have lots of space and a sparse population! Perfick!
The meadow has been harvested about 5-7 weeks earlier than usual. We had a lot of rain in Spring so the grasses had already reached shoulder height. Being part of this little meadows year is so special. It used to belong to our cottage which is why our drive is its only access. Once a year a local farmer mows and harvests the premium hay and it is always a big event. The tractors are enormous and barely make the turn onto our drive. The driver's cab goes past level with our stairs window and you can feel the weight

of the vehicle as it sidles past. Their driving skills are off the charts especially when you watch them negotiate our beehives at the meadows edge. Talking of driving skills, I worked as a courier in Lincolnshire for sixteen years and so have extensive knowledge of the bottom half which includes The Fens and The Marshes and have met some amazing people.

There are very few main 'A' roads except for of course the Great North Road, or as it's known today the A1, which has always been a main arterial road from London to York, famous for Dick Turpin and his highwaymen. Dick Turpin apparently stayed in Long Sutton (near Holbeach) for six months, back in the day! With few main roads and year-round farm machinery moving around the county can be quite slow, but what's the rush? People rarely 'pass through' the heart of Lincolnshire other than on the A1

which skims the western edge. There is The Humber on the northern edge, the North Sea on the east and The Wash to the south and so Lincolnshire has been allowed to remain untainted by modernity, especially as its primary industries have always been agricultural
and fisheries. The Port of Boston had riches to rival London during its golden age of

wool trading and is still busy today with imports of Scandinavian wood and seafoods. Grimsby and Immingham are both busy fishing ports and of course don't forget the fifty miles of beaches adding a really valuable contribution to Britain's tourist industry, with over 100,000 annual holidaymakers staying for a week each summer! Lincolnshire has been allowed to retain the old rural values only possible where old values are still practised. This is a land of old family names that have grown vegetables for many generations,

where offices are preserved as little time capsules and there was a reluctance to convert to modern technologies. I delivered for a little company that still used ledgers in 2001 with not a computer in sight and I was most fortunate to regularly deliver to an old farming family. They showed me a room they had preserved from the late-1800s after the passing

of a much loved patriarch, wood-panelled walls, and old gas lamps with books and pictures of the time. It was stunning and quite remarkable. This little room preserved a tiny bit of the past for this family, it was personal and private but they were happy for me to see it, as they knew I would appreciate the nostalgia of it.

Lincolnshire folk are very proud of their history. Many times whilst delivering parcels I would learn little snippets of

history. The long straight bit of A16 at Sutterton running into Boston from the south was built over the old railway line, and the last train to use it was the Flying Scotsman! How cool is that?

Lincolnshire has the BIGGEST history and it wasn't until I started to research for this piece
that I realised just how big its past is. And it's fabulous stuff, Vikings, Romans, very famous scientists and politicians. Christopher Wren designed the cathedral library and William The Conqueror built Lincoln Castle. Just the other day the Lancaster made a flyby over all of Lincolnshire to commemorate RAF Squadron no 617 of 1943, better known as the Dambusters. He dipped his wing over our meadow as he circled the village and it certainly instilled a nostalgic feeling and was the initial inspiration for this

research. All of Lincolnshire's wealth comes from its heritage of agriculture, a love for the land and knowledge preserved through the secrets of deep rural countryside scattered with quintessential market towns. It may have a big history, but it also has the important

small traditions which continue today. The little village of Heckington holds the title for the Largest Village Show which can trace its origins back 900 years and today is a two day celebration of everything Lincolnshire, from the flower tent, old farming demonstrations, living history, animal displays, horse classes and traditional crafts.

Cat's Punky Stuff is SO Lincolnshire. The land itself inspires me with its colours and seasons, and our little cottage has a

garden where nature itself dictates what will grow where. I'm just the caretaker offering water, weeding and deadheading when needed. I even use a product of the land, lavender, in many of my crafts. I make with traditional crafting skills as many Lincolnshire folks

before me, taking pride in trying to keep a Victorian-style home and garden and having values misplaced in many. How many folks have seen the deer, bats, pheasants and whole array of birdlife that will so easily accept you as part of their environment if you move about in harmony with the garden? We have had blackbirds that are hand-tame, they even taught us by sitting staring at us on the bird table outside the kitchen window when they wanted a mealworm! Acceptance by the pheasant and

blackbirds really is humbling, grounding and it puts a whole new spin on things. Lincolnshire is brilliant, it's quiet, quaint, quirky, arty and certainly crafty!

Solstice Blessings to everybunny!.


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