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In Praise of Ely


To Ely today by bus in search of all things porcine. I do love my sausages and sadly, the most excellent ones that Beth brought back from Keswick on her last trip up there are fast running out. Tesco's "finest" simply aren't so a trip to Edis of Ely seemed like the answer.

The trip didn't start well as, by the time we were halfway to Ely on the bus, I started to feel queasy. I don't know what it is about that bus but it's not the first time I've had travel sickness going to Ely. So I hopped off at the first stop, handily outside Ely Tesco, and went to their pharmacy for a supply of Stugeron 15 for the return trip.

But after that it all went right. The walk into town, first along the river, then up through the millennium garden (featuring one of those water features I really like: big, rough hewn, rock with water gushing out of the top of it and dribbling down into a sump at the bottom) and then across the road and through the gate into and across the cathedral meadows into the cathedral close and then around the cathedral into the town.

First stop the amazing Edis of Ely. They're a pork butcher. Yes, really, that's what they do. All things pig. So I had a dozen of their best pork sausages and a dozen pork and bacon (having tried a bit of one which was on the counter for tasting purposes), plus half a dozen haslets1, a pork pie for lunch and a sausage roll (as an immediate treat).

The queue was already forming up when I arrived. When I left if was out of the door. But that's Edis on a Saturday for you. Long may they continue to be popular.

Then on to Waitrose for lardy cake2. I was on a roll. And talking of rolls I bought a granary roll from a stall on the market to go with that pork pie.

By now I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. I'd got everything I intended and still had over half an hour to spare before the bus home so I bought a cup of coffee off a market stall and sat at one of their tables for a while watching the world go by while I drank it. Ely seemed lovely that morning. Unlike Cambridge it wasn't a mass of tourists: the people there were local and going about their business, stopping for a chat, pausing to browse the market stalls, and buying odd things. A child burst into tears on the merry-go-round and had to be rescued by its mother. A pair of pugs barked manically at a collie who stoically ignored them. The coffee shop owner continued to joke with customers.

So I finished my coffee and wandered around the market one last time, pausing to chat to the woman on the Ely Gin stall about the boom in designer gins, and then was heading out when I spotted a sign for another butcher half hidden behind the stalls. Bent and Cornwall Quality Meats were also selling sausages and a little cheaper then Edis for their Cumberland, which looked rather good at first glance: recognisable lumps of meat and fat and well herbed. They were also marked as made in store so I grabbed a pack of them3 for £6 (I could have had two for £10) and added them to the rucksack.

I thought this would be the final act of the drama so I headed for the bus stop and, having checked the time, popped around to the cathedral again to take a photo with my phone4. Outside the cathedral there were three people with a trestle table and a sign reading "Free Tea". I paused, caught like a rabbit in the headlights.

"Would you like a tea?" they asked, "it's free".

I declined, explaining that I'd just had a, paid for, coffee in Ely but I asked them why they were giving away tea. Apparently it was god's fault5 but I listened politely and accepted a little leaflet and then we moved on to chatting about how lovely Ely was and how happy I was with the results of my shopping.

And with that I headed back for the bus stop and the bus home for I was indeed most content.

  1. Essentially a small brick of sausagemeat.
  2. So yet more pork product as it's 14% lard. I used to love lardy cake when I was a kid but it's a regional dish (like the haslet) that you only really get in or near pig country (we lived in north Hampshire and there's lots of pigs next door in Wiltshire) so until Waitrose started stocking it I'd not had it for decades and even now Waitrose is on the wrong side of town.
  3. 14 sausages it turned out, so I froze 12 in packs of three and had the other two for supper tonight - and very fine they were too.
  4. My only regret today was not taking my camera, but when I set off it was raining quite hard. Of course by the time I arrived in Ely it had stopped and the weather continued to improve through the day.
  5. I'm simplifying things somewhat.

Tags: food, religion Written 01/11/14
File Name:FLV_2014-11-01_10-41-45.jpg
File Size:649KB
Exposure Time:0.00111s
F Number:f/2.4
Focal Length:4mm
Date/Time Taken:2014-11-01 10:41:45
Location:0° 15' 46" E,   52° 23' 57" N

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