We left without fanfare, a couple pulling out of the drive without a fuss. The ado was all within me, here an orchestra was in mid-flow, a crescendo of excitement, a flurry of violins, the brass instruments joining in! As we turned down the road did I spot a bagpiper wishing us farewell?!
Our first trip away for nearly two years already felt surreal and mirrored my many dreams of this moment. Days earlier it was with disbelief that the suitcases found their way down from the loft, the cool box washed and aired! My packing list was referred to repeatedly (yet how did I forget my Kindle which later resulted in a magical time surrounded by books in the local W H Smith’s!)
From afar the cathedral of Ely dominated the skyline, a glorious breathtaking sight, an architectural wonder! A constant as we approached the city and how it must have seemed a miraculous creation to the citizens nearly a thousand year ago.
Along with the cathedral the River Great Ouse is the heart of Ely and it was here we headed upon our arrival. We took a gentle stroll along the promenade of canal boats and pubs, through the park to the fields beyond. To one side the river, beauty of the natural world, to the right the regular rumble of trains, in between we walked a parallel path. The honks of swans and the hoots of trains became the backdrop to our stay. Our stay on a canal boat.
Yet time tick tocked by and now my husband picked up the pace, a short cut through the woods became a long lost way past shops and houses. Ahh … there was the Jubilee Park and its famous Eel statue. There was the goal … The Riverside Restaurant!
Masks donned we confirmed our booking and registered our arrival before being shown to our table. With only outside dining permitted we happily took a seat overlooking the river and path, safely distanced from other souls.
I picked up a menu yet found myself unable to read! A skill learned from young abandoned to this momentous occasion, the first meal from home for over a year. As my drink arrived I teared up when the food came, I cried! With joy and sadness. A joy that this was possible again with confidence, trust (& jabs!). Sadness for what we have all endured, are enduring and for some countries still overwhelmed by horrors. More than aware of the fragile nature of all our lives.
At last, it was time to check out our canal boat and even gaining entrance was an adventure, through a boatyard, along a metal walkway and across another boat. Already the front of the canal boat beckoned me to unfold the seats and table, to just absorb the peace of the water.
Inside the spaciousness was a welcome surprise, as were the chocolates and wine!
We were set!
Finally, under current restrictions, the cathedral was not open but I have visited this glorious building previously including the stunning Stained Glass Museum. You can read my post about it, An Illuminating Art, here.
For the trainspotter fans, a couple of videos of the railway traffic through Ely are available on my YouTube channel here and here.