Last Saturday the husband and I went to Lincoln, and I have to say I think it is the best small town in England. It isn't much advertised, and not in Rick Steves' guide books. We wouldn't have probably found it at all had our B&B host, Derek, not mentioned it when we first came to Loughborough.
It was an hour-and-a-half train ride from Loughborough, and when we arrived, we stepped out of the station directly into town center. Christmas decorations have already been hung, and the town was buzzing with Christmas shoppers, much to Ryan's dismay. He always complains about the early onset of Christmas stuff in America, but at least there we have Halloween and Thanksgiving as mild buffers. After bonfire, the English push straight on to Christmas. It is a huge deal here, the average British family spending 950 pounds on gifts!
But I digress. We made our way through the hustle and bustle, crossing over a lovely canal with swans being fed by old men. We made our way up the aptly named "Steep Hill" (worse than Seattle, I swear!) the walk could only be justified by what lay ahead: a huge cathedral and even bigger castle built by William the Conquerer. The castle's attractions were not terribly well kept, but it does hold one of the few original Magna Cartas. Probably the best site at the castle is the walk around the outer wall, which offers amazing views of the town, countryside, and cathedral.
The cathedral dates from the 12th century and was used as a double for Westminster Abbey in the film "The DaVinci Code." They had a fairly interesting tour about the history of the cathedral (I swear God wants it destroyed because its burned down like 3 times, been hit with earthquakes, and had towers collapse! Sounds like something out of Monty Python). They also had set aside room in the chapter house to display some of the props from the movie, and of course, there were lots of brochures about how Dan Brown is a liar and against Christianity and whatnot. I read the novel on our trans-Atlantic flight, and I thought it was mostly entertaining, but kind of pedantic, and his "facts" were far-fetched.
On our return, Ryan and I rented "The DaVinci Code" and it was a very bad film. All logic points that it should be very good-- great actors, locations, based on a best-seller, but the suspense didn't translate very well at all. Also, the parts of the novel they did change were for the worse. But it was cool to say "we've been there" and notice all the different parts of Lincoln cathedral.