Wednesday May 3
To the pub last night - with harmonicas. But first, the detour.
The little bridge over the River Steeping is closed for repair. Bridges round here are always closing for repair. Coming from a city, I've been used to plenty of road works - but there, the volumes of traffic mean that the Councils get them done quickly. Here, it's different. Our bridge has been closed for five months already and looks set to stay closed for a while yet. No urgency... a foreman and his assistant contemplate the passing of the seasons; brewing themselves tea and cooking breakfasts on a portable stove, while work proceeds at a gentle pace. In the three years we've been here, our one lane in and out of the village has had two other closures - both of them lasting for months and each requiring us to detour along farm tracks to wherever we're going. Last night, it was just a few miles out of the way along tortuously narrow lanes - but it was dusk and the hedgrows, just bursting with blackthorn blossom, were pretty and the sight of an early-rising badger scuttling along the verge made for a pleasant drive.
The pub itself is over on the coast... in a deserted spot along a narrow lane behind the dunes. When you get to the place where you can see the green neon 'Open' sign glinting through the dark, it's always a relief. It's the very last type of venue you'd ever expect to find in a quiet rural area like this. Atmospheric, energizing - a haven for hippies and scoundrels from every generation... the most supportive, encouraging, forgiving, diverse, friendly, creative and generous people you could meet. Andy was running the bar - I could tell as soon as I got out of the car and heard his 70s punk blasting from the stereo. Tuesday night is 'Open Mike' night but it kind of depends who's there whether I play or not. So last night I didn't get to... a band from Lincoln turned up and played some kind of urban-metal-folk or whatever and so I passed the night chatting to people I knew through the noise. I haven't been in for a while.. I should go more often... 'where everybody knows your name - and they're always glad you came'. So true.
I drove home through the back lanes in case any overly-vigilant police were out patrolling. Sleepy villages with their ancient names; Hogsthorpe, Sloothby, Welton le Marsh, Gunby. Quiet places for quiet people. Burgh le Marsh Church lit up like a beacon on its ridge on the southern horizon. Just a few lights still on in the houses... they don't stay up late in Lincolnshire. Not many, anyway.
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