Ely to London

Jon and Flint.

Jon and Flint.

Monday 4/6:

Today I met the Queen!  More on that story in just a minute.

Jon and his family took me to see the cathedral in Ely.  It was tall and magnificent, built of limestone and filled with intricate carvings, stained-glass windows and statuary.  It was like baroque music made visible.  Some of the carving is illicit, mostly due to the efforts of centuries of naughty schoolboys; one deeply-cut tag is dated 1628, the year the Vasa capsized.

  • The central domed tower (“lantern”) is wooden, designed and painted to look like stone, to reduce its weight after the original stone lantern collapsed.
  • The walls and floors of the outer halls contain many tombs, some with effigies.  Sadly, the heads and faces of most of the statues were smashed by Puritans; and we found a room filled with carved niches and platforms seemingly meant for statues that was empty.
  • A wing of the building is surrounded by scaffolding; Jon said that repairs go on eternally; and that even so, the roof leaks.  (More pictures)

effigyWe had a nice lunch in the almonry next-door, and walked thru the cathedral grounds on our way home.  The Bishop’s Palace and nearby medieval buildings  now house a private school.  There is a cannon in the park, presented by Queen Victoria after the Crimean War.  (It’s a muzzle-loader.)

ceilingJon and Shelley washed all my clothes, and charged my iPad after I found hat my converter had the wrong shape of plug.  It was like spending a night at Rivendell before the next adventure.  Jon drove me to the station and put my suitcase in the London (map) train for me.  What a good guy!

My seat-mate was a friendly young dental nurse, returning to London after an Easter visit to her family in Norfolk.  “I’m the Queen of the Trains,” she boasted, and proved it by showing me that, by staying on the train to King’s Cross instead of switching to a train to Liverpool Street as Jon and I had planned, I could walk seven blocks to the Euston underground station and have a direct ride to Waterloo–two trains in all, instead of four.  Our talk was interrupted by a conductor, whom the Queen of the Trains was unable to satisfy with her previously-used ticket; he made her buy a new one.

She adopted me for the hour, and we went on talking.  She shared that she’d studied to become a dental nurse in order to live in London; but that now she felt disillusioned.  She specializes in supporting root canal surgery at a large hospital to which dentists all over the country refer their most difficult cases.  She works with two dentists who are “severe.”  “I’ve had to learn to be very professional,” she sighed.  She lived near the Euston station; so she agreed to walk me there.  Once again the English beat even the Swedes for friendship and helpfulness.

pillarsI got confused underground, and got on a northbound train.  But I’d made a note of the name of the next southbound station.  When I heard the wrong name, I hopped off and crossed over to the real southbound train.

My room in the Tune Hotel was minuscule; an aisle, a window, a bed, and a bathroom in a booth resembling an old-fashioned photo booth.  But the bed and shower were good, and that’s all I’ll be doing in there; so I decided to be content.

I’m used to taking the stairs, but this building’s stairs defeated me.  It has two intertwined stairwells that each serve every other floor.  After a trip to the basement and another to the floor above mine, I gave up on them and used the elevator.


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