For our final guest post this week, I thought we’d return to the old country. Whenever anyone asks me what I miss most about England, ancient buildings are very high on the list – or more explicitly that humbling feeling of being surrounded by generations of ghosts, which Liz writes about so eloquently below. I’ve been reading Liz’s lovely blog for the longest times – it’s such a comfortable mix of family life, vintage finds, home ideas and unashamed geekery – and I knew she’d be the perfect person to take us round her home town and introduce us to a little city that deserves to be much more widely known. (By the way, that sound you hear is me howling with homesickness.)
Hello, and it's so nice to meet you all! I'm Liz and usually you can find me over at Violet Posy writing about my Home and Family. I'm very excited to be writing as a guest on Paola's blog while she's away. I thought I'd share with you one of my favourite places, the tiny City of Ely, just outside of Cambridge in the UK.
The city which isn't on the usual tourist track, it lies in the middle of what used to be a series of islands. The largest of which was the Isle of Ely. The 'Fen' or large swamp surrounding it, was drained in the seventeenth century making the water logged land, fertile farmland and the Isle finally joined the mainland.
The Cathedral is at the heart of the city and is also known as 'the Ship of the Fens' – you can see it from miles around. It started construction in 1083 under King William I and was finally finished in 1375. It is a stunning piece of architecture and when you enter it you can feel the history surrounding you. One of my favourite things to do, is to sit down in the quiet Cathedral and imagine all the people who came before, you can almost feel them, it's such an atmospheric place.
The Lantern which sits in the middle of the Cathedral, brings in light to the centre. It was handmade in wood in the 1340’s and is beautifully hand painted.
It's hard to believe looking at it's complicated construction that it’s so old. Every Christmas, I sit under it wondering if that's such a good idea to be sitting under something wooden and nearly 700 years old! But it's still standing and I'm sure it will be for another few hundred years.
However the Cathedral is not the only old building in Ely. There are buildings from pretty much every period, Tudor, Georgian, Victorian and they are all beautiful in their own way. You can wander round and see buildings which are still used as homes, workplaces and pubs which are pretty ancient. I often forget that some of the buildings are so old as they are used daily and not museums at all.
Ely is also blessed with some excellent Markets, which are held on Thursdays and Saturday's. The Farmer's Markets and Continental Markets are especially favourites of ours. The range of artisan foods – breads, cheeses and meats are amazing, and the stalls with flowers and plants are outstanding. It's impossible to go to the market without coming home with bags of yummy food and a big bunch of flowers.
Further down the hill is the old Waterside with it's fantastic Antiques Barn where we love to have a good rummage and the beauiful riverside. It's a really lovely to walk next to the river or sit for a while and watch the ducks and swams go by. You can also take a peaceful boat ride along the river to see the sites from the water – generally they also give you a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake on the boat too.
And finally no trip to Ely is complete without a stop at the award winning Peacocks Tearoom. There you can get the most amazing afternoon tea – finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and a big old slice of cake with a selection of teas from around the world. It's possibly one of my favourite places to eat in the world, and you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day if you pay it a visit!.
I hope you enjoyed my mini tour and if you’re ever near London or Cambridge pop on a train and come up and visit!
Thanks so much to Liz, to Tina for her wonderful New York insights, to Michele for her awesome photography tips and Sandra for her great tour of Vancouver. Please visit their blogs and show them some comment love, so they’re encouraged to come back and write for us again.
I hope you’ve enjoyed having something a little different on the blog over the last few days, I’ll be back with the same old nonsense on Monday.