As the world slowly started to bloom, my inner traveller self began to get restless. I wanted to explore somewhere new without jumping on a plane or travelling the lengths and breaths of the country. As I searched the web for ‘attractions near me’ that had feasible public transports, nothing seemed to emerge. Then, on a train back from my home town, I saw it. My new destination. It whizzed on by past the window but I know that’s where I wanted to go: Ely.
The following weekend, I recruited a friend or two and dragged them to this picturesque cathedral city to wile away the day. We jumped onto a train from Royston and then changed train at Cambridge onto an Ely-bound service. Direct trains do run from Ely to London, but make sure to travel during quieter times. Including our train change, the whole journey took in the region of 40 minutes. When we arrived at Ely train station, we followed the deep blue one way stickers out towards the exit. Then, we meandered down to the riverside.
We already had one local site an in mind, the Peacock Tearooms. This traditional English tearoom was recommend as a must by one of our very close friends and it didn’t disappoint. It started life in 2004 inside the family’s own home. The business has now expanded and taken over the family’s kitchen and hall. They’ve even added their own B&B suites, which look so quaint and homely.
When we arrived, there was a small queue (the tearoom doesn’t take bookings, so turn up and try!). The wait wasn’t very long at all and the staff were very attentive. They had all the necessary Covid-19 restrictions in place such as hand sanitiser, track and trace and everyone was keeping their distance.
Once we’d jumped through these necessary hoops, we opted for a table inside. I wasn’t quite sure where to look first as I sat down. The tearoom was filled with homely touches. Cupboards were lined with books all about tea, shelves were filled with tea cups, tea tins and other pieces of bric-a-brac. Dry flowers hung from the ceiling with an argon oven and smog fridge tucked into the corner behind me. The tables were covered in perspex sheets with the menus popped underneath, it was a quirky touch and made the menu a conversation piece rather than a lonely scroll through a PDF.
The menu is packed full of sumptumous cream teas, heart-pumping coffees, and flavourful teas. As this was a birthday treat, I opted for the Peacocktail (try saying that five times faster). It’s the tearooms own recipe and contains gin, vodka, iced tea and a few other bits and bobs. The cocktails were also garnished with strawberries – yum! I’d love to head back and try one of their afternoon set teas. The website lists a choice of four and I already have my eye on the Peacocks Pink Perfection.
From the tearoom, we headed on over to Ely Cathedral via Ely market. This outdoor market was open and vibrant. It was joyous to see so many people peering over stalls, whilst staying safe. I meandered on over to a stall called Oriolo. A boutique of handcrafted jewellery and other accessories. The stall had an abundance of hand sanitiser to allow customers to try on rings. Now, I’ve been on the look out for some silver rings (particularly one with a turquoise stone or Celtic knots), so when I saw that they had a 2 for £30 deal on, I knew I had to nab some. I’d recommend shopping with your eyes and sanitise your hands before you find the right size. And yes reader, I bought two.
From there, we wound our way around the outside of Ely Cathedral. It’s a vast structure that dominates Ely’s skyline. The cathedral’s octagonal lantern tower is classed as one of the medieval wonders of the world. The cathedral is now open for visitors and tickets can be booked online, we decided to simply to walk around the perimeter of the cathedral, which is still a treat in itself.
I can only imagine how Ely would look in the heat of the summer with bright light shining through its markets and across its skylines. Until I can head back, my imagination will have to do. If you’re planning a trip to the east of England, maybe make Ely a pit-stop for a pint or two on the river at least.
Things I’d earmarked for my next trip: