Saturday, 20 July 2019

Sunny Fenland!

A small group visit to the Isle of Ely by train


A recent group trip to Ely, suggested by one of the travellers on the Jewellery Quarter visit a few months ago, only took a small number of participants, a universally available date being hard to find at this time of year, but those who went had a really good day. No rain this time, and quite a lot of sunshine. We began a little later than we usually do, taking the 10:00 train direct from Stamford to Ely, a journey of well under an hour but to a completely different world. The train was on time and the ride smooth; although we did not have reserved seats we were able to find seats together easily enough, and once the train left Peterborough we enjoyed the view across the fens, looking out for Ely Cathedral in the distance. Soon we enjoyed the classic experience of curving around the city and watching the changing shape of the cathedral above the trees, with a final view across the marina as well prepared to leave the train.

We walked down to the riverside from the station and found mooring for the excursion boat. The service times were not posted but there was a note inviting a telephone call for information, so I rang and was told the next departure would be in about ten minutes. We went off for coffee, thinking the following departure might be better - for everyone wanted coffee! Boats operate every half-hour. I have taken the river trip before so after coffee and cake I left the others to enjoy their cruise and set off to do some things of my own, starting with a cycle, toy and model shop where I bought a couple of things for my next railway modelling project, a Swiss Alpine layout which would be quite different from anything I've ever built before. I then went to the Ely Museum in the former gaol building, well worth a visit, but it is to close for a while this autumn for improvement works, so bear this in mind if you want to copy this trip! I met one of the others for "lunch", which following the cake of the morning consisted of just a couple of pints of ale ... and then I had some work to do for my religious order while they went off and visited some of the other attractions that the city of Ely has to offer. If you want somewhere to go on a summer day, I can thoroughly recommend this little city with its history, charming streets, grand cathedral (with its unique lantern roof) and river. It is so easy to reach from anywhere by train, too.

The Riverside Inn:
More of a restaurant than a pub
Two of us met again by chance and went for afternoon tea at the cathedral tea shop - tea and cream scones are a very reasonable price here, and excellent quality. All of us then attended Choral Evensong at the cathedral: during the summer the cathedral's own choir is on holiday but the services that week were sung by a visiting choir from Tucson, Arizona and this was beautifully done. We then set off for dinner together by the riverside. Normally I have pre-booked the evening meal for group outings, but with such a small group I thought it was safe to chance finding a table as the fancy took us, and we decided to go for fish and chips at The Riverside Inn, with a bottle of house white wine between us. The others had ice-cream, too, but after a cream tea I did not feel the need to join them!

And so to the train home, and during this otherwise uneventful trip back it transpired that the postponed trip to Canterbury might happen this autumn - see the Come with me! page for rudimentary information. We happened for some reason to start talking about aircraft and fell into conversation with a young Portuguese resident of Peterborough sitting near us who is modeller of vintage aeroplanes. A great thing about train travel is the people you meet - and even on a short journey entirely in ones own country it is possible to meet some very diverse and interesting people. Travel broadens the horizons if not the mind, and nowhere more so than in the fens.

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