Sunday 19 February 2017

A party in a brewery!

It has been more difficult to organise than popular culture would suggest, but I have managed to arrange a "booze up" in a brewery. Well, it is really a tour of the Grainstore Brewery premises but the package does include unlimited ale with the light meal afterwards, limited only by our need to catch the last train home ... and be allowed to board it.

This is the first of what I hope will be a revival of the railtours I have arranged for the people of All Saints, Stamford and their families and friends and which readers of the blog may have seen in the past. It takes place this Tuesday evening, 21st February, and you will be able to follow our progress on the usual Twitter feed @mwtrips, perhaps with your own pint of a Grainstore Ale to hand! We shall gather at Stamford station in time for the 18:05 train towards Birmingham; the brewery is in Oakham, just one station away from home in Stamford, and is immediately adjacent to the rail station, so access by train could not be easier.

Previous outings have been to Ely, York and Lincoln, and I am hoping to arrange trips to Canterbury, Spalding and Wainfleet in the not-too-distant future.

Wednesday 15 February 2017

In search of Neptune

We had reached a crisis with our domestic tables policy: not a crisis as the news media tend to use the word, but a proper crisis in the sense that a decision was required. One of our tables was in almost permanent use holding up my model railway, the other (a) did not really suit our current or immediate future homes, (b) was old and tatty and (c) was not long enough for big family occasions unless the other could be got out from under the model railway - which was increasingly difficult as the layout grew heavier and I grew older. A very good, very extendable (and very expensive) table which would answer all these points was available to order from John Lewis in Peterborough but they did not actually have one on display. The manufacturer, Neptune, however, had a showroom in Bury St Edmunds ...

So began the plan for a one-day adventure in Suffolk. Train times were sought, maps consulted and Trip Advisor consulted for restaurants. The allocated day dawned bright and sunny, which made for a perfect day out.

Our connecting train from Ely to Bury St Edmunds
Our local train service would take us to Ely where we could change for Bury, although the service to Bury is only currently every two hours, so we had to plan when to leave. There is another service between Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge, where our local train also call, so I planned a mini-tour entailing going via the shorter route from Ely to Bury and returning via Cambridge. Fares, especially with our Senior Railcards and off-peak, were very reasonable, all the trains ran to time and apart form having to stand between Cambridge and Ely on the way back were very comfortable. The station at Bury St Edmunds is on the edge of the town centre and quite convenient for our purposes.

Walking from the station through the streets I managed to purchase a pair of jeans before very long and then following the map on my iPhone found the Neptune furniture showroom, recently adapted from a disused factory. We greatly enjoyed looking at everything, our choice of table was confirmed and we planned to spend far more than we could ever afford on a refitted kitchen when we retire - a plan that would rely on us winning the pools.

A town square with cathedral beyond. This was once a main
Lunch was a disappointment: we had found a top class restaurant on Trip Advisor, looked at its website and decided to treat ourselves to a special lunch only to find that it was closed for a week for redecoration - a detail their website did not mention. So we had a very nice, but rather more workaday lunch at the Cathedral which we wanted to visit anyway. We had visited St Edmundsbury Cathedral before, but it has only recently been completed and we had not seen it since its completion. We then spent a little while looking at the fascinating town centre and further shops, but there were no further bargains to match my jeans ...

And so back to the station for the train to Cambridge, thence home. We changed trains at Cambridge in the peak hour, so it was not surprising that I had to stand for a while, but the crowds soon thin out at Ely and it was not a significant problem.