A Visitor’s View Of Ely

Ely Online recently had a comment posted about Starbucks opening in Ely by someone who writes under the name of Mochachocolatté. Mochachocolatté is a Londoner who has been spending time in Ely and wrote an interesting oberservational piece on Ely.

The Countryside By Mochachocolatté

I’ve been spending sometime in the picturesque city of Ely, Cambridgeshire. A city because it was granted a Royal Charter due to it’s huge cathedral.
It’s an ironic city. It is in the Tory heartlands of Cambridge North, typified by traditional pubs, small country lanes, a market square and a tiny Asian population. So small, that when visiting one of these tiny pubs once, we were accosted by the friendly (yet slightly drunk) publican who asked us, “How was the wedding?”.

The story goes he believed we (who were new to this pub) had slipped out of a local Sikh man’s daughter’s wedding (appropriately named Mr Singh) for a few drinks. Mr Singh is apparantly a regular of the pub in question, the delightful Fountain which serves London Pride and went forward in 1997 as the local branch of CAMRA’s nomination for Pub of the Year.

In any case, after playing along a bit and then sadly admitting we had no idea who he was referring to (we weren’t even wearing turbans), we had a bit of a chuckle and continued with out drinks. However, the publican returned, apparantly feeling a little bit embarrassed at assuming and offered to buy us another round!

Sounds like a perfect little town.. er city, doesn’t it? But ironic, when you consider it has recently sprung up a Starbucks in the main high street. And, it’s popular. The comments on the link suggest that people have been excited about it for some time.

But what of the quaint traditional cafe, “Tea for Two”?, which is moments away from the big multinational evil corporation’s latest franchise? I didn’t hear of any objections to the change in use required for the opening of Starbucks…

The High Street is also dead, in a strange echo of the title of my first school debate. Ely is home to a huge Tesco Extra, next to the train station (incidentally bidding to sell booze to bored locals and teenagers 24 hours a day) and, for those who prefer to turn up their nose, a Waitrose.

Both of these fine establishments interestingly show up in the description page for Ely on the website of local estate agents Clark and Stewart. Ely Cathedral, billed as one of the major attractions, fails to feature.

So what other ironies? The Gaydar distance search doesn’t find that many local gays, though there is an incredibly domestic young couple that lives in town, one half of whom I’ve met. And he’s involved in the local Territorial Army branch. However, I was also invited to a Coffee Posse through OUT which obviously suggested that there were indeed an active group of gays interested in socialising.

Well, at least the local MP won’t mind them too much. In the end, James Paice was broadly for the Civil Partnership Act, though his voting record pronounces him absent for the vote, but against the “wrecking amendment” that he initially suggested he would be in favour of in an email conversation. He also voted against the removal of section 28, one of only seven Conservative MP’s to do so.

From such a Conservative background, I am surprised therefore to read a double-page spread in the local paper with a discussion item about ID cards. The local organiser for No2ID, Andrew Watson, appears to have brought this to the fore and Cambridge City Council have already passed a resolution opposing ID cards. Not too surprisingly, considering Cambridge now belongs to the Liberal Democrats, an indicator of more central sentiment.

So, a city known for its Cathedral, Tesco and Waitrose store with a fledgling, yet clearly identified homosexual community, a Starbucks and a train station with an excellent regular service to London King’s Cross in just over an hour.

But I’m still desperate for a drink in the Trash Palace and even a fag…

You can view Mochachocolatté’s Website here.

2 replies
  1. Jarvis
    Jarvis says:

    One aspect overlooked by many here is night time parking. I wanted to park in the city centre last week between 9pm, and 11:30pm.

    “That’s easy!”? I hear you cry, “It must have been empty”?, well it was… sort of. There weren’t many cars in the Broad Sreet car park, but those that were, were handbraking and wheelspinning all over the car park, being cheered on my acne faced, white shell suit wearing, Chavs! Despite that, who wants to walk thro’ Three Cups Walk at that time of night? Waitrose also features a dodgy walk through to get to town, as does the Council offices. There was no chance I was going to leave my new car in the High Street as punters pile out the pubs and commute to Zest. And not only is the Paradise Pool car park is dimly lit, it’s close to a certain infamous estate, as well as being shut off as a scene of crime 2 weeks ago!

    Shouldn’t ECDC also be addressing these issues too?

  2. Karl Bedingfield
    Karl Bedingfield says:

    Whenever I drive into Ely for an evening bevvy I always leave my car in the Barton Road car park, it is pretty well and never seems to attract any idiots. It is also a short walk to the centre.

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