Sights and sounds of Ely
Thursday 12th August: A day moored up at Ely
Though now at 7pm the sun is shining brightly, this has been a rare occurrence today. At best grey cloud, at worst very heavy rain – and all degrees of leaky skies in between.
We walked up to the Cathedral, via the rural route through the grounds, past hedges and slopes, horses and trees. You come across curiosities in this place, like the florally enhanced bike outside a teashop or the eel, a recent sculpture, symbolic of the city’s “eel island” past, tiny houses overshadowed by the cathedral towers, Puritan figures standing outside Cromwell’s family house (now the Tourist Information Centre), seven surf board paddlers, six on boards and one in the water.
In the cathedral we joined a tour part way through but it gave us a far better appreciation of the wonders of this vast building. References to monks, nuns, the Reformation and the Victorians were frequent; and even the earthquake that brought down a transept got a mention. Statues are few (blame Oliver Cromwell’s men) but the new Mary in the Lady Chapel (the largest such in England) is very striking – and controversial in some quarters. While in the Lady Chapel a choir was in rehearsal for a lunch-time concert. They were Scola Davidica of Utrecht, in residence for the week. The sound they were producing was magnificent. I heard them again later, at Evensong, held in the choir, the service sung in impeccable English with only the anthem in what I assume was Dutch. The conclusion of the service was marked by the most powerful thundering organ piece, sound that penetrated every cell of the body.
Other sights of the day: busy market stalls in the market place, three floors of books in a wonderful bookshop (!), smoky chimneys on a Dutch barge and a wooden cruiser (is it that cold?), freight trains carrying containers from Felixstowe and minerals from March, and, somewhat depressingly, coffee cups in a pottery range I know my youngest sister had, at least in the early stages of her married life, and maybe still has, but they were tucked in a corner of a three storey antiques warehouse. There is something rather chilling and disappointing about familiar domestic items being regarded as antiques! Next door to the warehouse however, was a glorious art gallery showing “Rapunzel”, art created by a female firefighter, fascinating exhibits in all sorts of media. Rapunzel? Hair /a hosepipe strung down from a fire station hose drying tower…
Chief Engineer spent time this afternoon on numerical calculations. Result: apparently we should have 63% fuel left by the time we cruise through Stanground at Peterborough (the depth critical lock) and are likely to be at 51% when we reach Oundle to refuel. Tomorrow to the Denver Complex, the tide should be about right by 1230 so it’s an early start from here. Next report (maybe) from the Middle Level…