A Wet Bank Holiday in Ely – How Much?

Now urgently needing to do some washing, and hence needing a shore line, on Saturday afternoon we’d approached Cathedral Marina on the Ely waterfront with a view to temporary moorings plus a hook-up for a couple of nights, starting on the Sunday. Most marinas, and even home counties Thames locks charge about £10 a night for the privilege, even if Pyrford Marina, the nearest marina to the Captain’s home rips you off for nearly twice that. The Cathedral Marina boss said “Sure, no problem”, but fortunately we asked the price before agreeing to anything. When he said “£30 a night” we said “HOW MUCH???”, to which he replied “Well, this is  Ely”. With nowhere else around nearer than several days cruising, we decided we could do all we needed to do in 24 hours, and with a wet weekend forecast reckoned we’d probably find somewhere back out on the waterfront on the Bank Holiday Monday.

As expected for August Bank Holiday, Sunday dawned wet and miserable, and we pootled back down the river for a couple of hundred yards and were shown into a slot in the marina. A 40ft pontoon for a 58ft boat is hardly ideal, and listening to our grumbling about the cost, the boss’ sidekick took our credit card, put his finger to his lips, said “Shhhh…” and seemingly charged the card “only” £20. Hope he doesn’t get into trouble. Strangely, the marina’s annual mooring charges aren’t nearly so outrageous, given its position pretty much in the middle of a lovely city.

It poured with rain all Sunday. but while the washing machine was whirring away we managed a trip to the cook’s favourite emporium for supplies, and – bringing back memories of the first mate’s choral singing childhood – went to sung Evensong in the cathedral. The huge building is just astonishing, the acoustics just wonderful. The choir weren’t quite up to the professional bunch we saw at Peterborough, but more than up to the task. And suitably uplifted, we went back out into the pouring rain, and a boat load of wet washing.

Bank Holiday Monday dawned just as dull and wet, and we were kind of glad we weren’t camping at  Towersey or Shrewsbury Folk Festivals for the weekend. Finishing off the chores and stuff, just before lunch we left the marina, and unsurprisingly did indeed find a perfect mooring just outside the marina entrance. Where had all the fair-weather boaters gone – the whole Ely waterfront was pretty well deserted.

The afternoon was spent wandering around what appeared from the outside to be an smallish antique shop in an old building just 100 yards from the boat. However, it proved to be the Antique Road Show equivalent of Dr Who’s Tardis, with over 70 dealers stalls spread over three floors. Total sensory overload, dozens of visitors, it was all too much to take in.

Even in the evening, when the weather had improved a bit, there was no-one around, and the waterfront restaurants were pretty empty, so we had no trouble finding somewhere to eat. Think everyone had given up on the Bank Holiday somewhat earlier.

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