Sunday was my 24th birthday, and instead of a gift I asked Luke for a relaxing weekend away (that, and a phone case with cats on it that hasn't arrived yet.) We originally decided on the Peak District, but when the buckets of snow the sky started chucking over England started in a week before our planned trip, we decided on Lincoln instead. Luke booked us a room on Thursday, and on Friday we headed off for 4 days at the Lincoln Doubletree by Hilton.
Typically, I woke up with the start of a cold, though luckily I had my day nurse ready to combat it. We got some jobs done around the house in the morning, and headed off for the train around midday. It took about an hour to get to Lincoln from Nottingham, during which time I read Salem's Lot while Luke read through a copy of Michael Caine's biography, which I had picked up for him as a gift the day before.
When we arrived we found our hotel quickly, and as we were a little early we popped into the handmade burger company for lunch before check in. After lunch we went straight in. The hotel was very nice, they gave us warm cookies on arrival and the room itself was really comfortable - the bath was amazing and the bed was so soft it was like sleeping on a cloud. We were also right in front of the river, on a strip full of our favourite restaurants, a cinema and a Starbucks.
After getting settled in we went for a walk around the city, where I bought a hat (Lincoln is freezing) and a new bag, before stopping off for a drink in a bar called 'The Strait and Narrow' and deciding what we would do the next day. We then hung out at the hotel for a couple of hours (where we watched 'Suits' for the first time, and decided we have to watch every episode ever made when we get home) before going to Wagamama's - which was pretty awful. They forgot to bring us our order, and gave the girls next to us someone else's order before taking it off them and passing the food on to the right table about 5 minutes later. Bit gross if you ask me, but our own food was OK when it got to us.
We spent the rest of the night watching more TV, drinking hotel tea and playing a quick shooting game at the cinema.
We went to the cathedral today, via a quick stop for a full english (Luke) and poached egg on toast (me) at Patisserie Valerie. The cathedral was absolutely beautiful, and very much like the one in York that we visited last year (we seem to have a bit of a thing for old churches.) The area it was set in was absolutely beautiful too, up a very steep hill (appropriately named 'Steep Hill') it was all cobbled stones and little tea shops and was not unlike Montmarte, which of course I love, since I'm a bit obsessed with Paris. Anyway, back to the cathedral. We walked around for a while, talking about the random bits and pieces inside, while Luke did some instagramming. It was very, very pretty. My favourite part was the outdoor area, which was covered in snow, leading Luke to remark 'I bet you could have a really good snowball fight here.'
Following the cathedral we headed to a vintage tea shop we had spotted on the way up Steep Hill, where I popped my soggy shoes up against the heater as we shared a pot of tea and had something sweet to eat (me: a brownie, Luke: scones and jam) and read our books for a little while. We were the only people upstairs, and it was very relaxing. :)
We decided to do some shopping after our tea, but soon decided against it after a few stop offs, as we soon came to realise that the town centre (and subsequently the shops in it) is quite a bit smaller than we're used to. We popped into a few shops before I commented that I really wanted to try the bath, which Luke followed up by commenting that the football was about to start. After a quick stop off at Boots I had a pampering in the very relaxing bathroom whilst watching Miranda on the iPad, while Luke watched the football on TV. I think we both got what we wanted out of that agreement. It feels so indulgent to pamper in the afternoon.
In the evening, feeling very refreshed, we headed off to take part in the ghost walk. We had decided to go to Gino's for dinner beforehand (thanks to a recommendation from Rachael) but when we got there it wasn't open yet, and we would have been left with only half an hour to eat before the walk had we waited. As we hadn't eaten since breakfast we decided to pop into Dogma for a bowl of chips and a drink to tide us over, after which we had planned to go on to the Italian. We ended up getting two huge bowls of chips rather than the one tiny one we ordered since they messed up our order, which wasn't all bad.
The ghost walk was brilliant.. alongside a thing for cathedrals we also seem to be quite into ghost stories, as this isn't the first ghost walk we've been on. It was freezing cold outside and we kept ending up standing on areas covered in ice, which I thought added to the ambience (I don't think Luke agreed.) My favourite stories were of the man on a black horse riding up to the castle and demanding to be let in - which they think would have been the ghost of a man who fell to sleep on his way to give the castle a pardon for his friend, waking up to realise that his friend had just been hanged as he slept, and subsequently committing suicide due to guilt - and the tale of a man that stayed in a hotel just before Christmas (The White Hart hotel - quite a few of the stories were based there) and kept calling downstairs to complain that people were running up and down the corridor. Staff kept checking and didn't find anyone up there. He said that he could have slept through it if it weren't for the fact that they kept rattling his doorknob, trying to get in. The staff apparently told the ghost walk lady that they didn't know how to tell him that his door was one of the few in the hotel with a swipe card function, so if someone was rattling the handle they were trying to get out -not in.
We headed back to the hotel following the walk - I gave Luke the choice and he decided against stopping off for food since it was so cold out, so we picked up a take out Nando's instead.
On Sunday I turned 24! Luke (who is still 23) started the day by giving me 'something to open' - I'd asked for the weekend away for my birthday - and inside a big bag was the most chocolate I have ever seen in my life, alongside a cat magazine, which was apparently from the pets. We had some chocolate and a cup of tea as our first breakfast, and after a bit of time getting ready we headed out for breakfast number 2: a full english. I didn't really fancy mine, but ate the best bits while Luke ate his and then some of mine. He's a man that likes his breakfasts.
Our big plan for the day following our breakfast was to visit the castle. We didn't really know what to expect, but were looking forward to it anyway. We got there at around midday and stayed almost until closing time. The weather had warmed a bit and it was really quiet and beautiful in there. We sat on the bench for a bit after realising that one too many treks up Steep Hill had exhausted us, and I whipped out my camera for a picture of the view (see instax photo #1, above.) After a chat about what the castle was used for now etc, we decided to walk around the castle walls. It was really nice up there, if a bit windy. Really good views over Lincoln, and some telescopes that didn't actually work (see Luke's sad face after his 20p was swallowed, instax photo#3.) There was a museum type area in the old prison on the castle grounds, with a stuffed dog that had featured in one of the ghost stories the previous night. Spooky. We looked around that for a bit before going on the guided tour, run by a sweet old man that really knew his stuff. It was really interesting hearing about the history of the castle, and of the kings and queens that had stayed there. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the old prison, and the way in which the Victorians believed criminals could be 'cured' - through the use of 22 hours a day of solitude, one hour of prayer and one hour of silent exercise. The prayer room was still standing, so we left the tour a little earlier (just before we turned into blocks of ice) to check it out. It was pretty fascinating, rows and rows of tiny rooms, just big enough to stand up in as a preacher stood above the room and told everyone how bad they had been.
After the castle we tried shopping again, but once again ended up having afternoon baths and watching TV in the hotel for an hour. We had hot chocolates from Starbucks and after getting ready we headed out for Sunday dinner at 8ish. We were the last in and got the last two roasts, which at the time we thought was very lucky. We had planned a bar crawl following our food, but instead got ben&jerrys and headed back. The river outside our hotel had flooded and we didn't want to end up wading through dirty water to get back if it got worse. We may have gone up to the hotel bar, but about an hour after eating I started to feel a bit funny. I put it down to eating too much, and we made a few jokes about it. Turns out I had food poisoning, as I spent the rest of the night (and the next day) being sick, shivering and burning up and lying on my back with a wet towel on my face.
Not the best way to end a birthday - but I enjoyed the rest of the weekend enough to put that to one side. It's a shame we missed out on our Monday plans, but up until that point we had a really relaxing weekend - it was pretty perfect. I especially loved the ghost walk and the castle. The castle really was stunning (and Time Team were in the middle of a project there - which we found amazing since we'd accidentally ended up watching Time Team for the first time the day before.)
Thank you Luke x
(top pictures taken at the castle, bottom pictures from Luke's instagram)