Get out and about In Lincoln
Hey, hey, here comes summer and with it, talk of holidays and adventures and jetting off abroad.
Not me, sadly, everyone else.
I should take a break from social media during July and August because I find myself staring wistfully at friends’ holiday snaps, as they sit by a Spanish pool, with their toes dangling off the end of a sunbed.
I can’t help it - I get holiday envy. It’s a thing. Well, it is for me, mostly because my husband refuses to get on a plane and I don’t want to take the kids abroad without him.
We once compromised by taking a family cruise around the Mediterranean only to discover I get seasick.
So now, I either opt to spend a week vomiting, or I stay at home. Hmmm...
Instead, I have learned to count my blessings and enjoy the attractions on my doorstep.
‘Staycationing’ or at least not venturing too far from home has its perks and, if we have a run of good weather, I can feel slightly smug about not having spent £4,000 seeking out the sunshine in Majorca. It rains there, too. Or so I have heard...
Whether you choose to take a picnic to the park, head to the coast, experience an adrenalin hit at one of the theme parks or have a barbecue in the back garden, when the sun shines on this green and pleasant land of ours, there is nowhere finer.
Plus, we live in an amazing city. Yes, Lincoln has its problems - parking is on the pricey side, the high street is looking a bit sparse on the shopping front and there is the issue of the erm, unsavoury types in the underpass but get past those niggles and there is plenty on offer for families.
Here are a few of my favourite things to do in the city.
1. Unlike York, Lincoln isn’t on an obvious tourist trail, despite having similar attractions to York. York has a castle. We have a castle. York has an impressive minster but we’ve got a cathedral (voted the best cathedral in the UK, no less). We don’t have dungeons and we don’t have a Jorvik Viking Centre but we do have The Collection Museum which is free to enter, the Museum of Lincolnshire Life and the Usher Gallery. During the summer holidays, all three venues put on weekly events and workshops, many of which are free, or cost just a couple of quid to attend. I’m waiting for the return of T-Rex to The Collection for the next Night at the Museum extravaganza. I reckon my four-year-old will scream his head off (with delight, I hope).
2. In need of a cultural fix? Take the family along for one of the guided tours at Lincoln Castle. Having moved here 17 years ago, I only recently got around to taking a tour of the castle and prison with my children. It was brilliant – educational and engaging for all ages. My 12-year-old was fascinated by some of the more gruesome tales about the demise of the prisoners in Lincoln’s Victorian Prison and she went ‘ghost-hunting’ with her dad in the Separatist Chapel, the only one of its kind remaining in the world, also housed inside the prison.
3. Seriously, how can anyone not enjoy spending time in Lincoln’s Cultural Quarter? The Bailgate is one of my favourite places to wander around, looking at the unique boutiques and shops. I like to grab a coffee and a slice of cake from Stokes at The Lawn and let the children explore the John Dawber Gardens, often overlooked, just behind the play area near the car park. Even climbing Steep Hill can be fun if you challenge your family to a race to the top (not recommended for those with weak ankles, or angina).
4. If you have family and friends living nearby and they are happy to babysit, why not leave your children in their care and book into one of the city’s hotels for a night? If anything goes dreadfully wrong (an emergency situation like your four-year-old has left his favourite teddy at home and won’t settle without it at his nan’s), you can rectify the problem and get back to the hotel in time for a nightcap.
If you are looking for a city break, The Tower Hotel, which is just a short walk from the castle and the Bailgate area, is placed second on Trip Advisor, with reviewers raving about their stay. I can vouch for Washingborough Hall hotel currently ranked Number One on the same website if you want an elegant-yet-laidback, country manor vibe. Mr C and I stayed there recently. We sipped a couple of rhubarb gin and tonics on the terrace, ate an a la carte meal in the restaurant and fell into a bed that was as wide as our bedroom at home. I’d like to say I managed to get a lie-in but it seems my body-clock is set to school run hours for the rest of my life. Still, the hotel is highly recommended and you can even take your dog if you don’t want to take the kids.
5. The outdoor pool at Jubilee Park in Woodhall Spa may be heaving on a hot sunny day but it would be the same poolside at Hotel Sol Don Pablo in Torremolinos. Woodhall Spa is 40-minutes away and honestly, once you’ve laid down your towel and slapped on some suncream, it’s as good as any Spanish lido.
6. If you book an all-inclusive break, one of the main perks is not having to cook – so why not gift yourself a night off and take the family out for a meal? You can eat your way around the world right here in Lincoln. Go Italian at Bar Unico in the city centre (they serve more gelato flavours than you can shake a lollipop stick at), have a Greek Odyssey at Mezze Houseor for something more exotic, try the Oriental flavours of Ethan’s Japanese Steak House, located just off the A46.
If you have never been, I promise your children will be talking about the three-foot-high flames and flying prawns long after they have finished their teppanyaki.
Holiday abroad you say? Not for me. I’d rather be a tourist in beautiful Lincoln (unless, that is, someone offers to whisk me away to a five-star hotel in Bora Bora with a luxury spa, infinity pool and views of the Pacific Ocean).
A girl can dream...