Last year, everyone laughed when an American film company thought Norfolk had mountains. The same would doubtless happen if it were said of Lincolnshire. But the county that faces Norfolk across the Wash is, to a surprising degree, defined by its hills. There's the limestone ridge that provides such a magnificent platform for Lincoln Cathedral, and which divides the city of Lincoln into uphill and downhill. Uphill Lincoln likes to think it's more sophisticated; wine bars and restaurants look down on the East Midlands industrial terraces below.
Further south in the county there's a steadfast, unchanging Englishness about the leafy villages on the road to Grantham, which have sweeping views of the plain where Lincolnshire melds into Nottinghamshire. And the Wolds in the north-east of the county offer their ups and downs, too, with Louth a genuinely striking town surrounded by some gradients rare in the east of England.
Yet despite the three-dimensional landscapes, Lincolnshire does not top everyone's holiday wish-list.
When BBC Radio Lincolnshire was recruiting staff for its launch in 1980, we hopefuls were asked to write a paper about "Lincolnshire - The Forgotten County". I knew so little about Lincolnshire that at my first interview I failed to name any town in the county apart from Lincoln. But therapy was at hand, courtesy of a pledge by the station manager that we'd fly the flag by taking the radio car along every road in Lincolnshire before we went on air; and I then spent a happy few months driving the grandly titled News Car (a Mini Metro with a tulip logo) to events all over the county.
"News" and "Lincolnshire" are not natural bedfellows, so it would be wrong to give the impression that this was a period of excitement and drama. The early Eighties national agenda of inner-city riots and royal weddings felt like they were happening on a different planet; but there were compensations in tootling down to Spalding for the 100th anniversary of the town's organ society or reporting on a controversial new speed limit in Spilsby. The truth is that Lincolnshire is a county that doesn't mug you with beauty; rather, it insinuates itself into your bloodstream with subtler attractions and some unexpected contrasts.
It may sound daft to talk about "big skies" anywhere outside Texas or Tanzania, but Lincolnshire's big skies stick in the memory, too. …