Ely, Cambridge

On our way back up North from the Essex coast we decided to break the journey up with a city we have never visited before but that has the most amazing cathedral. It is also the third smallest city in the UK with a population of just 15,102.

Ely is a cathedral city located approximately 15 miles from Cambridge, is built on a 23-square-mile (60 km2Kimmeridge Clay island, which at 85 feet (26 m) is the highest land in the fens.  An abbey was first built on the site of the current cathedral in 673 AD. We were keen to explore this beautiful little city.

We headed straight for the famous cathedral and approached it from the back via some beautiful gardens where we stopped for a pot of tea and cake. The Almonry restaurant has tearooms, that was the original almonry belonging to the cathedral and now hosts a stunning arched restaurant that would make a glorious venue for a wedding reception.

The Almonry’s café also impressed us with a wide range of cakes including some that were vegan and gluten free too. Soya milk was also an available option for a latte. We enjoyed our mid-morning cakes in their floral English garden accompanied by some local ducks that had swooped in to take advantage of the bowl of water left out for thirsty dogs.

After our pit stop we headed through a little gate in the stonewall and towards Ely cathedral. Inside we were blown away by its sheer size and elaborate stain glass windows within the many little chapels inside. For those with more time to explore, than we had, the cathedral is also home to the Museum of Stained Glass which is accessible within one of the turrets.

Interestingly we discovered after we left the cathedral that my husbands late-Grandfather as a vicar had been based at Ely Cathedral during the Second World War where apparently he had had a birds eye view of the Blitz unfolding in London from the top of Ely Cathedral’s tower. We were disappointed on hearing this that we hadn’t plumped for the tower tour at the cathedral so it is now on our list for a second visit!

More information on Ely can be found here http://www.visitely.org.uk

Details about Ely cathedral are here http://www.elycathedral.org

Florence – The City that celebrates the art of living well

After our binge on culture and trek around the amazing city of Florence we stopped for a glass of Chianti in the sun by the river Arno in a little bar called “Il Borro Tuscan Bistro” that served it’s family’s own produced wine.

A quick refresh and outfit change at the hotel then our “Happy Hour” glass of prosecco and we were off to our Valentine’s evening dinner. We discovered one of the restaurant highlights of our trip was the amazing Sesto on Arno, situated at the top of the Westin Excelsior hotel. The views were breathtakingly amazing as was the delicious food.

We were welcomed with cheeky prosecco cocktails that had adorable fruit birds perched on them. We enjoyed a fabulous bottle of Chianti wine. The 4 course menu with appetisers was delicious especially the desserts that were the highlight. The refresher course pre-dessert consisted of a champagne sorbet and mango coulis that had been sealed in a permeable pouch that made it resemble an egg yolk served with a meringue wafer. Hubby’s dessert was a white chocolate ball filled with strawberry and raspberry ice cream with fresh berries. My dairy-free dessert was an amazingly exotic fruit salad with raspberry sorbet and meringue pieces.

We ate a special set menu for Valentine’s but the restaurant regularly offers dinner tasting menus from 92 euros a head and lunchtime set menu for just 30 euros.

A walk along the Arno River followed by a nightcap cocktail in famous Harry’s bar finished off a wonderfully amazing Valentine’s evening.

Links to restaurants are –

http://www.ilborrotuscanbistro.it/?lang=en

http://www.sestoonarno.com/en

http://www.harrysbarfirenze.com