65 Waterside, Ely, CB7 4AU
Leaving ‘the bubble’ is something that happens on the rare occasion during a Cambridge term but if the moment shall arise one cannot help but feel a sudden rebellious sensation bubbling from within. Now that I have entered the exam free realm I can venture away from the nest as much as I please, without that niggling guilty feeling pulsing in the back of my mind.
If you follow the river Cam through the countryside for exactly 17 miles you will eventually reach the town of Ely (Marathon training made me quite obsessive and sensitive about distances!). The walk is lovely and peaceful but the run is a challenging one and only recommendable for cross-country training. If you are after road training this is not the route for you! You will find too much mud, pot holes and slightly too many cows for your liking. Nevertheless, if you have a sane bone in your body you would opt to drive or hop on the train to Ely and arrive feeling fresh and ready for some optimum mooching and munching time.
Home to one of the country’s most magnificent cathedrals and Oliver Cromwell’s family home, Ely offers a historical time warp enriched with riverside views and of course many cute tearooms. My all time favourite is Peacock’s Tearoom a family run business that does not scrimp and save or cut corners. Situated along the riverside it is the perfect location to stop for a bit of refuelling whether or not the sun has got its hat on. The climbing greenery spilling over the quaint Polly Pocket style front white picket fence is no less disappointing than the food and beverages that await you inside. The only snag that spoils the view is the long queue that you may see snaking around the corner but alas good things come to those who wait! Stand your ground and you will find yourself whizzed through in a jiffy.
Inside you will find teapots galore and a menu so extensive you are left in ponder-panic mode! As well as scones and cakes you will find an array of sensational savouries. I personally always go for the soup of the day that comes with a cheese scone; the all time favourites being the sweet potato soup and the more recent carrot, lentil and bacon soup. Other lunchtime options include salads, sandwiches and toasties filled in the classic and standard way and also with more adventurous accompaniments such as the mouth-water-worthy banana, bacon and maple syrup which is next on my ‘to try’ list.
For a decent price you can also get the whole shebang and opt for an afternoon tea for one including finger sandwiches, scones and your choice of a slab of cake. In past visits I have gobbled the carrot cake, the coffee and Baileys buttercream cake, the chocolate and courgette cake and the lavender and earl grey cake. Only a few pedantic comments would be that the carrot cake was an ickle bit on the dry side for my liking and the coffee and Baileys buttercream cake lacked the taste of Baileys! The latter two flavours were sublimmmeeeee. Don’t be put of by the sound of courgette in a cake, it is good, trust me! For the chocoholics, there is the chocolate dream cream tea which comes with a chocolate scone, chocolate brownie and a hot chocolate – also on my ‘to taste’ list!
For those coming just for a cuppa, you will not be disappointed since you will find a double page spread of leafy likes to choose from. The quote placed at the bottom of the list is instantaneously relatable for anyone whose eyes light up at this extensive sight;
(I am) a hardened and shameless tea drinker…who with tea amused the evening, with tea solaced the midnight and with tea welcomed the morning – Dr Johnson
The drink list also goes back to traditions by only offering filtered coffee and no lattes or cappuccinos! For modern-day takeout caffeine junkies this may touch a sensitive nerve but panic not, the full-bodied french flavour that filters through will not leave you disappointed. For the not so inclined hot beverage drinkers Peacock’s offers homemade iced tea, milkshakes and ice-cream floats! Now that’s a blast from the past!
Despite the seemingly never-ending choice on offer, as advised on the menu, this is perhaps not the best place for vegans. In 100% agreement, no teatime is complete without milk in your tea and clotted cream on your scones.
Well, all that is left to say now is that Peacock’s Tearoom fills all the teacups and I give it a 5 teacup rating! (Please do pump up the Baileys in the coffee cake though! And that’s coming from a teetotaler!) Hop over to Ely soon and give it a go, you will not be left dissatisfied. Do try to keep your company under control though, they may freak out at the excitement!
Have a d-ELY-ghtful day!