Kings Lynn to Ely

Exhaustion is definitely starting to take hold, not because the days are so terribly long or arduous, but because there’s been so many of them. Three and a half weeks of nearly constantly moving (other than the couple of days in Oban and Hutton where we still travelled but stayed in the same digs overnight) is hard, always covering new ground, different terrain, differing traffic – today’s been nearly all trucks and lorries, as opposed to last Thursday where we hardly saw any! – and almost always a different bed each night. At least we’ve always known where that bed would be, so that’s something! This morning we left Kings Lynn after a wonderful night’s sleep, we had a few less than ones, but we did feel refreshed today. We opted to start the day with a proper breakfast, sorry, no pictures, didn’t last long enough, and began our journey. First through Hunstanton and Old Hunstanton, then over towards Fakenham where we were stuck behind a senior driver who was hell bent on travelling at 25mph and break for each and every gnat and its family, bless him. Drove me bonkers though. From there we went more or less straight to Ely and its cathedral, and yes, we do seem to have a fascination for them at the moment, but only because we keep missing the castles!

To be completely honest, after yesterday with Lincoln Cathedral, Ely left me feeling rather bored, uninspired and if we’d actually paid, thoroughly ripped off, thank goodness then we didn’t! When we arrived we spent a generous 10 minutes driving the streets near the cathedral looking for a park, wound up in Kings Ely and its staff car park before returning to the main road and a spot that happened to open up for me only a few hundred yards from the main doors. Once parked we ambled up the paved footpaths, dodging the hordes and hordes of school children – most of the CBD is actually various buildings of their school campus – and found ourselves standing in the main foyer area staring at the huge wooden doors. Looking at them casually it’s hard to see that at the bottom of the left door is a small passenger door, which is unlocked and you enter there, but what stumped us was the overwhelming sense of ‘we have a special service on today, so visitors aren’t welcome’. There’s a popular quote from Game of Thrones involving Maud the guard and Lord Tyrion which goes along the lines of ‘no gold, please leave’ (or words to that effect), and that’s essentially how we felt. We passed through the small door anyway, walking right into an impromptu prayer session and waited quietly. Had a quick sticky-beak around whilst gauging the entry cost. The fee is the same as Lincoln’s for the record, but honestly, I wouldn’t bother. It may once have been a religious house, but I think the tenant left, because there wasn’t a single redeeming feature in the place. The ceiling’s painted, that was nice, the grounds outside are pretty, but the stonework is average, the fittings standard, and the size? Blah. If you have money to burn, want to kill some time, go for it, but don’t waste your time otherwise, go somewhere else and avoid the school kiddies!

What was more interesting lies 7 miles north of Cambridge, a small farmland museum and abbey. Denny Abbey has a really fantastic history, a Roman settlement, Medieval causeway, monastic buildings from life as a monastery – to two different orders – then as an Abbey with a semi-famous financial supporter – she instated an order of the Poor Clares to the site – and eventually it became a farmhouse before taking on its current life as a social history English Heritage site. I won’t go into all the details, but if you’re near Cambridge and can make the time, do, the abbey building is lovely, the education/restoration work is brilliant and includes a timeline of the changes that were made, who made them etc, stretching all the way through the first part of the abbey. Also attached to the old buildings is the Farmland Museum, we didn’t pop into that as we’ve visited several other ‘open air museums’ of a similar kind, but I’m sure it would be an exceptional example of Norfolk farming, given how much work and detail has gone into making Denny Abbey so alive – pretty impressive for a building that’s been a ruin for years and years.

Tonight we’re staying outside Ely, ready to push east tomorrow where we’re catching up with more family and hopefully a spot of dinner cooking (after another visit to the Toby Carvery, yay!). It’s hard to believe that tomorrow marks 4 weeks since we left Oz, it feels like years ago, which also means our days of touring are rapidly running out and soon we’ll be on holidays properly, and I can’t wait, but I’m not telling you where that is just yet, you’ll have to wait, just like me!