This afternoon I walked up from Skegness along the promenade. The beach is wide and empty, and the wind turbines planted out at sea (I counted 53 of them) look slightly surreal. With Easter weekend approaching the British weather has been slung into reverse; last week it was 24 degrees in eastern Scotland, the hottest March day on record, and this morning there was 10 inches of snow on the ground. Some think the snow will come south. Right now it is raining hard, which will please some people, if not me. The Lincolnshire fields are very dry, and farmers are increasingly concerned about their crops. Many fields of cauliflower, potato and cabbage are parched.
Aside from fickle weather, for many people the coming Easter weekend has also been thrown into confusion by a rumoured strike by drivers of petrol tankers. A few days ago, a government minister advised the public to go and fill up their cars, and perhaps even store petrol in their houses. The result of this has been long queues at the petrol stations, many of which -- because of the extra demand -- have since run out of supplies. Politicians of all stripes have been capitalizing on the muddle, though nobody dare tell the truth and accuse the public of behaving like lemmings. The Anchor Inn in Friskney, where I paused yesterday, has caught the mood of the moment by hanging a sign outside its front door: "Beer shortage soon! Please panic buy".
Near Boston the other day I found a suitable stick -- perhaps a discarded tent pole -- with which to keep angry farm dogs at bay. A few have snarled angrily at me, but thus far I haven't had to use my new weapon. As I plod along, I tap the ground with it, and consequently it is becoming worn down and thus is becoming fractionally shorter day by day. It may be half its original length by the time I get to Edinburgh.
Yesterday a large black dog jumped out and accosted me. I raised my stick in alarm, but it turned out to be extremely docile. I stopped to chat with its owner, a middle aged farmer in a cloth cap, mutton chop whiskers and bundles of long grey hair who looked as if he had stepped straight out of a Thomas Hardy novel. He seemed to be looking after a scrapyard of old farm machinery; all around there were dozens of ancient, rusting combine harvesters and so on, some of them in the hedges. I asked him whether it was a tractors' graveyard. He seemed slightly offended by my question. "No, no, can't call it a graveyard. And it's too good for scrap," he said in his deep Lincoln accent. "So what will become of all this?" I asked, pointing to the silent, derelict farm equipment. "Don't know really," he replied wistfully, and then after a few moments added, "but it will 'appen". I found this enigmatic remark quite uplifting.