A Visit to Ely

My first mistake on this trip was trusting the satnav. A year ago you wouldn’t have heard me say that, because I simply wouldn’t have used it. Since then I have gradually found myself starting to not only use it, but to trust it. This has proved to be a mistake as it has recently tried to take me up a couple of one-way streets, got me lost in Leeds twice and taken us on several strange routes, including a tour of B-road Lincolnshire.

On Friday it tried to take us to Ely by driving past and looping back,  so I switched off and asked Julia to do some map reading.

Married men reading this will probably be experiencing a chilly feeling of deja vu. In addition they will probably be watching, mesmerised, as I flirt with disaster. Fear not. I will admit that there was a touch of domestic discord surrounding navigation, but I am not stupid enough to discuss it in greater depth than that.

Anyway, I like mystery tours, and it gave us the chance to see Fen Drayton Lakes. I was hoping there would be a toilet there, and possibly a Kingfisher. Both hopes were doomed. There are feeders and viewpoints, and lots of water. Unfortunately there was too much for us to do it justice, even after I made a quick stop in a hedge to rectify the lack of toilets. Unfortunately I couldn’t rectify the lack of leaves on the hedge. Ah well…

As we were driving along the roadway to the reserve we crossed the track of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway. I’d never heard of it until I crossed it, despite it being the longest one in the world. In fact I’d never even heard of a guided busway. My sister, on the other hand, tells me not only has she heard of it, but has actually used it.

In Ely, we found a free car park with toilets. “Free” is a quality I admire in a car park, and “with toilets” is also an excellent quality. This is the Barton Road Car Park, which was in a reasonable walking distance of the Cathedral. There are others, which you can see here.

The Russian Cannon was captured in the Crimean War and presented by Queen Victoria in 1860 on the formation of the Ely Rifle Volunteers.

We decided, for various reasons (which included the price) just to  go to the Stained Glass Museum. We’ve been to the Cathedral in the past, but not to the Stained Glass Museum, and we’re on a budget. I’m thinking of posting something on this subject later. I will also post separately on the Stained Glass Museum, which was so good I want to go back to see it all again.

After the museum we wandered round town for a while, had coffee, checked out some charity shops, tried to buy some pork and took more photographs. Things weren’t great for photographs, as narrow streets and low sun cast many shadows.

The butcher’s shop is Edis of Ely, a fine old-fashioned shop with a great range of products and two walls of award certificates. The two people in the shop were more concerned with talking to a regular customer, who was obviously more interesting than I was. After waiting patiently for some time I decide enough was enough and left, so I can’t tell you if everything was as good as it looked. As they didn’t seem to notice as I left, I can only assume I was either invisible or unwelcome.

As I’ve never been there before I can’t see why I should have been unwelcome so I can only assume my diet has been effective to the point of rendering me difficult to see.

However, one of the charity shops produced an unread copy of The Cat’s Pyjamas (The Penguin Book of Cliches)for £1.50, so I’m over the moon about that.

Oliver Cromwell and his family lived here from 1636-46, though I suspect he wasn’t home much from 1642 0nwards.  What with the size of the entrance fees to the Cathedral and the spirit of Cromwell I’m beginning to feel a bit iconoclastic…



20 thoughts on “A Visit to Ely

  1. beatingthebounds

    “No, no, I meant the other left.”
    “That would be right then?”

    ‘There, we need to turn there.”
    “At the junction we just passed?”

    After our satnav mistook Norfolk for the North Sea, or vice versa, we’ve been reliant on a combination of my wife and her mobile phone. In the US this led to us trying to find the city of Washington by driving along a dirt track in Virginia.
    I exaggerate.

    Cathedral admissions charges – don’t get me started – we had a weekend in York and York Mister was top of my list of places to visit, but for 5 of us it was extortionate.

      1. beatingthebounds

        Ours died a natural death. Some sort of electronic Alzheimer’s. We were driving near Holkham, the satnav continued to give us directions but showed us as being out in the sea.

  2. Lavinia Ross

    I am sorry about the shopkeeper, Quercus. That happens here, too.

    Glad you found a handy hedge. Wrong time of year to need one though, due to lack of leaf cover. 🙂

  3. Pingback: The Stained Glass Museum – Ely | quercuscommunity

  4. clarepooley33

    I am aware that all our churches and cathedrals are in need of funds but I think any entrance fees should be voluntary. I have only been to Ely Cathedral once (about 24 years ago) when we went to a Sunday morning service. The choir was excellent and entry was free though we put money into the collection plate. I must go again sometime.
    I read maps well and for years was the navigator when we drove anywhere, here and abroad. The only times we ever went astray was when R questioned my directions which made me doubt myself. We now have a sat-nav and I can look out the window at the scenery 🙂

    1. quercuscommunity

      It’s a difficult question – I wouldn’t want to be responsible for paying the repair bills at Ely.

      Careful with the Satnav – you may end up seeing scenery you didn’t expect.


  5. tootlepedal

    Nothing is more annoying than to be ignored in a shop. I am not surprised that you left. Luckily for me Mrs T is an excellent map reader and so I have never had any need for a satnav.


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