Having lived in England for some time now, I have come to hang different shades of grey on different pegs. Today is SoftSilverGrey. That’s grey, dipped in a fondue of white, gooey light. And it would be as delicious if the trees were not bending over like pliant servants to a despotic wind.
You know I have a thing for pale light. I’ve beaten that drum before. But not when the wind cuts through my clothes. That’s when I cover my toes, make myself a very big cup of coffee, give myself a piece of chocolate, and burrow in.
And I write a post about another day. A Saturday. When we went for a walk around Ely. A little old town, with a big old cathedral. A short train ride away from Cambridge.
Some time ago, I took photographs of Ely covered in snow. So, now that the season has turned (or, darn well should), I thought I’d show you some of what lay under all that white.
Right in the middle of the town stands the cathedral where Colin Firth stuttered through his King’s Speech. And around the shadow of that cathedral lies a meadow with ponies and wildflowers.
The town has a little ‘courtyard’, where the bustling Saturday Market sets up its stripey stalls. Stalls with coloured pots and cured meat. Tea leaves* and table cloths.
From here, a road slides down to the River Ouse, where boats bob with flocks of greedy geese. Often, these boats are homes to artists. And come summer, they sometimes open up their little doors and turn their tiny floating room into an art gallery. You can walk in to paintings propped up on the bed, on chairs, and next to the window through which a duck peeps in.
After the cathedral, Ely’s next claim to fame might just be a tearoom called The Peacock. With it’s wall full of Wisteria, it’s sublime almond tea and the softest, moistest apple & walnut cake. All soaked in old world English charm. It even has a toilet that’s worth a queue.
Walk back up to the high street for its charity shops and coffee shops. Turn the corner to the King’s School where kids walk in with their violin cases.
All around town are dogs on a walk. And heads of white hair.
But here’s my best bit of Ely – the loveliest little bookstore, like the ones that used to be. Three floors of books, signed first-editions shelved in nooks and crannies, a charming children’s alcove, the narrowest wooden stairs, coffee table books under old oak tables, large sashed windows, and cups of tea.
Yes, it was a long walk, wasn’t it? A full day’s walk. The kind of walk that should, could, end with a fruity-savoury bread, warm out of the oven. A bread that’s sweet, and salty, and very melty-cheesy.
And I did mean to lay it all out for you. Really I did. Complete with a pot full of tea, gingham napkins and flowers on the table.
But this post has stretched so very long, I’ll have to keep it for next time. Walk you did, and bread you shall have. I promise. And it’ll be worth the wait. I promise.
I’ll have the bread baked, and recipe written. And maybe, when you take yours out of the oven, the clouds will part, and a grey day will turn sunny.
Yeah, it’s that kind of bread.
(* To the lovely girls at Samovar Tea House, if you’re reading this: I tried emailing the photographs to firstname.lastname@example.org, but they come bouncing right back. There might be something wonky there. Sorry!)