25 September 2011--I'm off to Ely today, but first, a bit of unfinished business--I haven't happened to see
any postcards in Northampton, and friends who live or hang out in Northampton, Massachusetts will be disappointed
if they don't receive one. Walk into town and hunt for quite a while before finding any. To be fair, it might
have been easier if the tourist information office were open on a Sunday morning; nevertheless, my feeling that
this is not really a tourist town seems to be vindicated. There have been many places I've visited that I
think about returning to even while I am still there. This isn't one of them.
On the way back to the car, I pass by the church of the Holy Sepulchre, and stop for a look. The circular part of it dates from about 1100, although it has been much altered and added-to over the centuries. Unfortunately, the building is locked up (it is Sunday, isn't it?), and I have to content myself with a look around the exterior.
Leave midday and arrive in Ely midafternoon. Find a charming little town situated on a hill in the midst of a flat landscape--the Fens. This was a vast wetland long ago, Ely occupying a height of land that was then a virtual island. The conquering Normans built a great monastery in the 11th century, and today the church seems to dwarf the village itself.
My lodgings are in the center of town, above a restaurant--again I have gone for the cheapest option I could find, with predictable results. I'm normally pretty tolerant of such, but I'm still feeling draggy, a combination of the usual travel fatigue and lingering illness, or at least the effect of antibiotics, and am less inclined to be charitable. Better than the last place, anyway.
I catch the tail end of Sunday lunch at the Kings Arms, just a couple doors down, and go to have a quick look at the cathedral. It is, at first glance, an awesome edifice. The church is visible for miles across the flat surrounding landscape, and is called the Ship of the Fens.
I'll spend some more time in the cathedral tomorrow. For now, a walk down to the River Great Ouse brings me to the Cutter, where I enjoy a pint on the terrace overlooking the marina. It's a very pleasant spot.
I'm back up in the village in time to catch the warm glow of the setting sun illuminating the cathedral's western fašade. Finish the day with a few pints in the Kings Arms. I overhear the barmaid telling someone she's from northwestern Scotland, having recently moved down here with her boyfriend, who's in the military. I ask her where exactly. Lochinver. Tell her I was there last year, and ate and drank in the Caberfeidh. Turns out she worked there. She is less amazed by the possibility that she might have served me in both places than by the fact that I visited Lochinver at all.