Going to Ely

On Tuesday Madicken and I went to Ely. If you’ve already read her blog post about it this one won’t be much different. But I guess that’s what happens when two bloggers travel together.

Ely is a small town about an hour and a half north of London. It was very wealthy in the middle ages and then slowly turned into more or less a normal market town. It has one of the largest cathedrals in the UK, which is slightly unexpected as the town itself is a sleepy place which in some ways reminded me of my hometown and in other ways reminded me of the village in Hot Fuzz.

peacocks

Our first stop was the Peacocks tea room. You can’t really visit places like this without stopping somewhere for a cream tea.

lotta

Peacocks was great and packed to the brim with little old grey haired ladies who all gossiped loudly. Here I’m waiting excitedly for my gluten free cream tea. It was quite a nerve-wrecking moment.

sandwich

Luckily the Lotta-friendly sandwiches and scones were great. Madicken was pretty happy with her scones as well. Too bad you’re always too full to finish it all.

scones

tea

We walked around town and stumbled across a local park, which led on to the cathedral. For a while we weren’t really sure if we’d ended up on a set of Game of Thrones. It all looked pretty unreal.

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willow

madicken

This was after me noticing a cool shrubbery-thing. “Madicken go and pose”. It’s nice to have photogenic friends.

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We weren’t the only visitors in town on Tuesday. Around the city were plenty of girls with funky hair, lace skirts and stripy leggings and guys with floppy black hair and black clothes. We’d all come to Ely to see Neil Gaiman speak in the cathedral.

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gaiman

I’ve been a fan of Gaiman since I was a teenager. I found some of the Sandman books in my local library and clumsily tried to imitate Death’s make-up. I loved Neverwhere, American Gods and Anansi Boys. And I thought, these are the types of stories I want to write. Now I’m not so sure anymore. Gaiman was clearly used to speaking to an audience of around a 1000. He’s a good speaker, tells funny stories and was very relaxed reading out and answering questions from the audience.

He was promoting his latest book The ocean at the end of the lane, which apparently started out as a short story that turned into a novelette that turned into a novel. It was written for his wife Amanda Palmer and according to Gaiman, not planned out like most of his other stories. I started reading it yesterday, it’s too early to have formed much of an opinion, but so far it feels quite different to the earlier books I liked so much.

In the end we had to hurry back to our train and couldn’t stay to get my book signed. It seemed like the signing was going to go on late into the night. The full moon was out and it was the perfect end to a perfect day.

moon

After I came home Gerry got back from a day of driving fast cars around a race track south of London. He was pretty excited and couldn’t stop talking about it for about thirty minutes. Then he promptly fell asleep and my head kept buzzing with fast cars and old cathedrals and it got late and then later until I finally fell asleep.

A day at the fracking protest

On Saturday I took the train down to Balcombe to do a reportage about the protests against fracking in the area. At the weekend 2000 protesters started congregating on a campsite about a mile from the village. Several people were camping along the road leading to the campsite. They’d all come there to stop what they called one of the worst threats to our environment today.

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I got slightly lost on the narrow rural lanes.

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Luckily I spotted some police and knew I was on the right track.

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The protestors were all very polite and media savvy. After having chatted to them I walked back to Balcombe to talk to some locals. You can’t find many places which seem more like a typical sleepy English village. The town centre had a tearoom, a pub, a hairdresser and a corner shop. That seemed to be pretty much it.

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Most locals didn’t want to talk. They seemed to be tired of both media and activists. “I support fracking now” one woman said when I asked her what she thought. Although some townspeople were clearly against fracking and thought the demonstrators were doing a good thing supporting the village.

All in all it was an interesting day. I love getting out and about talking to people, seeing things for myself.

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The random things that sometimes happen in London

This morning Gerry and I walked in to the studio. About halfway there a guy with dreadlocks driving a shiny red car stops us.

“Excuse me”, he says and we get ready to give him directions. But he asks “what does it means if someone says you’re a gooseberry in a relationship”.

I’m confused, but Gerry helps him out. Apparently a gooseberry is when you’re the third wheel in a relationship, when you’re the person left out.

The man thanks us and drives off. I hope he gets his relationships sorted out.

(Although part of me can’t help wonder if this is some kind of elaborate social experiment. What if he’s driving around Hackney asking people random questions just to see how quickly they end up on social media. I’m probably over-thinking things.)