Tag Archives: Ely

What I wore for a sunny coffee date

Boden summer skirt and breton

Last week, James and I had a free morning together and headed out for a coffee date. It was a lovely sunny day in our beautiful little city. We walked around the market and then headed for coffee at The Old Fire Engine House.

The Old Fire Engine House Ely

Morning coffee there is a sweet, informal affair where you help yourself to coffee and cakes in the kitchen before finding a spot in the garden to enjoy it. In summer, it’s the perfect English cottage garden to wander in.

Boden summer skirt and denim jacket

I wore my lovely new Boden skirt – an early birthday present from my mum. I love a Boden skirt – and this one is perfect! Full, but not too short and the denim jacket stops it looking too prissy.

Boden Florence skirt Boden Florence skirt and breton stripes

What I wore:

Skirt: Boden. This print is sold out now, but there are others available in the same style.

T shirt, Boden – past season, but this is basically the same.

Jacket: New Look

Sandals: Clark’s, past season

My Week

This week has felt much less stressful than the last. James hasn’t been away, and we haven’t had too many appointments to keep. The weather’s been better too, and that always sets the tone for the week, doesn’t it? It’s not been particularly hot, but it has been sunny and that’s good enough for me!

Scented playdough

On Monday, I got creative with play dough. Tom adores the stuff – especially when it’s homemade. I thought it would be fun to play with some exciting colours and flavours this time. I used orange, lemon, peppermint and almond flavourings. Tom was thrilled when he came home from nursery and spent the whole afternoon squishing and squashing it. Keep your eyes peeled for a more detailed post coming soon!

Vintage Ladybird Art

On Tuesday, I framed these vintage Ladybird book illustrations. It really was so quick and easy – I did it while James was reading the boys their bedtime stories! And all for under £10.

Home Etc

Wednesday brought a lovely surprise. For the last month I’ve been joining in with the lovely Home Etc interiors and gardening blog hop, hosted by Jess and Caro. I was absolutely thrilled when I heard I’d been chosen as the winner of the first month! I’ve really enjoyed joining in every week so far, and it’s definitely encouraging me to be more creative. I love peeking into other people’s homes, and it’s so fun inviting people into mine. Do go and check it out – the link-up is open every Wednesday.

Old Fire House, Ely

On Thursday, James had a rare day off. We had the morning to ourselves. The sun was shining and we had a potter into town together – a very rare occurrence! We had coffee in the beautiful garden of the Old Fire Engine House – which is always such a dreamy setting. In fact, we had our low-key wedding reception there eight years ago. It was really quiet and we practically had the garden to ourselves. On such occasions you can indulge in a little fantasy of it all belonging just to you.

I also picked up this little swan in a new charity shop.


I’m a bit sad that yet another charity shop has opened in our city (they are so parasitical and impossible to shift once they’re in place – we now have seven) but this one did at least have some half decent bric-a-brac. Proper vintage things, as opposed to the usual collection of empty Waitrose potted stilton jars and ten-year-old bars of soap. It even had a whole shelf of swans (plus more spotted in the stockroom). Still, I’d rather this particular empty shop had been filled with something new and exciting. Maybe one day, it’ll be me opening my own shop – a long-held ambition.

This week I have also been wearing my new denim jacket – a spur of the moment purchase in New Look – which is perfect for this rather cool June. It’s the perfect paring with all my ditsy florals and full skirts. Bit of a bargain too at £19.99.

New Look denin jacket

On Thursday afternoon we suddenly remembered it was a school dress-up and dance day for charity on Friday. The theme? Legends. Your favourite sporting star, fictional character or the ubiquitous 100% polyester superhero. Cue last minute panicking and scrabbling around. We’re not big on superheroes in this house and the Claud the Dog costumes from Book Day weren’t quite right. Gabriel has just discovered the Harry Potter books so was keen to dress up as his new hero.

Harry Potter costume

James still had his old gown from Cambridge in the loft. We dug it out and it was perfect. In my non-Oxbridge ignorance I never knew that undergraduate gowns were special pint-sized affairs – perfect for a six-year-old! It smelt hideously musty and probably still had ancient gravy stains down it – but it had a quick go in the washing machine and survived intact. A neighbour lent us some glasses and I speed-knitted him a rather dodgy Hogwarts tie. He had a great day and now wants to change his name to Harry.

Today – Friday- James had another day off and we caught up with some mundane, but satisfying jobs. Here’s Tom having a little break whilst helping to trim our hedge…


And now it’s the weekend. Here’s to sunshine, waffles and strawberry picking….

Lizzie x

Town or country? Part one: Small town living


We spend a lot of time thinking about the best place to raise our children. For the last nine years we have lived in Ely, a small market town. Technically, it’s a city because it has a cathedral, but this is in name only. In reality, it’s a provincial market town: safe, quiet and predictable – all attributes which make it a perfect place for families to settle. But we have itchy feet.

We choose to come back here because we could only afford to buy a tiny flat in London, unless we moved a long way out. Living in London wasn’t really our long-term plan, although we did really like it. Well, I say ‘our’, really I should say ‘I’, in that James probably likes city life more than I do. Anyway, we were seduced by the idea of being able to afford a whole house with a garden, in a quiet-ish area with lots of trees and green spaces. London is an hour and ten minutes away by train – which sounds really good in theory, although in reality it’s actually quite a long commute when you factor in the extra travelling you have to do when you get to King’s Cross.


Anyway, we settled here, got jobs in the area and the years have slipped by. Everyone always says that Ely is a perfect place to raise children, and in many ways they’re right. Everything is within walking distance, which is great when you’ve got a baby in pram. There are lots and lots of cafes and tea rooms – again, great when you’ve got a baby. The shops offer a basic selection of things – everything you need, although if you want something fancy you need to go into Cambridge, half an hour away. Needless to say, there are too many charity shops.

Time for a change?

Now the children are getting a little older, I am starting to want something a little different – safe is beginning to look a little, well, boring. Living in a small town is beginning to lose its appeal and is feeling increasingly like a compromise – not as exciting as city, but not as pretty as the countryside.

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge

Is city life more exciting?

Every time I visit Cambridge and other cities, I’m struck by how vibrant and exciting everything seems. It’s busy, yes, but the variety is really exciting. I can pop into an art gallery or museum with the children, actually go to a large shop which will stock what we need, or go for an interesting walk in the many green spaces. Sadly, we couldn’t afford more than a shoebox in Cambridge – which, after London, is one of the most expensive places to live in the country.

Ely is very convenient, but beyond the basics, it’s definitely lacking in excitement. Unless you want a cup of coffee, a browse in a charity shop and a trip to Waitrose – in which case it’s perfect! The sports and leisure facilities are somewhat lacking, and there isn’t a proper cinema. If we increasingly have to leave Ely to do things like see a film, or find an interesting club or activity, then is it really worth living here?

The dream of the rural idyll

This brings me on to my other reason for dissatisfaction – the pull of the countryside. If you live in a small town you have none of the benefits of a larger city, but you still have a lot of the downsides – street lights, traffic, noise and a lack of prettiness. This partly stems from our area of the country, which is rural but in quite an industrial way (lots of tractors thundering by). If you want things to get a bit prettier, you need to move to a well-chosen village or something even more off the beaten track. I would love my children to live in a more rural area, with a view and a bigger garden.


The main problem with moving to the country would be the chance that I’d actually hate it. I’m not a big fan of driving, and I’d really miss being able to walk everywhere. And would the children thank me when they’re teenagers if we moved to a place where they had to rely on us for transport? Ely has a fantastic railway station, from which you can get just about anywhere in the country. I can see this would be amazing for a teenager. I grew up in a small town with a shaky bus service. I’d have loved a railway station on my doorstep.

So, as you can see there are so many options – my head is buzzing with them. Far too many for just one blog post! Over the coming weeks I’d like to start a regular post about this – I hope it will help me decide what I want and it might help some you too!

What do you think – are you happy with where you live, or do you have itchy feet like me?

A stormy afternoon in Ely


Today I had a rare day to myself. I had an appointment at one o’clock and I grabbed the camera on my way out. It’s very rare that I actually walk round the city I live in and just take photos. It’s usually an afterthought, snapped on my iPhone. Inspired by Tigerlilly Quinn’s Style in the City post, I’d been hoping to snap some pretty, spring-like shots of my small city, but the weather was having none of it! Ely doesn’t really scream ‘style’ either – at least not in the quirky, colourful sense. However, it does have bags of history – so, if old mossy stones float your stylistic boat, step this way…

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