Cambridgeshire Part Two - A visit to Ely

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After a restful night's sleep, Mike and I woke up in our beautiful bedroom at Paddocks House and made our way downstairs to breakfast. 

Somehow, the fact that we'd had such a huge dinner the night before didn't seem to interfere with our appetites one bit. No light cereals and fruit for us. Instead, eggs - fried for me, with bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes, and scrambled for Mike with smoked salmon - toast, and a couple of pastries on the side. Plus plenty of hot tea and fresh orange juice to wash it all down.

Paddocks House, Cambridgeshire - Breakfast

Paddocks House, Cambridgeshire - Breakfast

What is it about hotel breakfasts that makes them so amazingly good? 

Once we were suitably set up for the day, it was time to check out of Paddocks House and be on our way. We had our next night booked in their sister hotel, Poets House, just half an hour's drive away in Ely, and first, we wanted to explore the city, as neither of us had visited before.

Ely is one of the smallest cities in the UK and a very pretty place.

Ely, Cambridgeshire

Ely, Cambridgeshire

Ely, Cambridgeshire

Ely, Cambridgeshire
 
Probably its biggest attraction is its cathedral, which is stunning both inside and out. I'm a bit of a sucker for history, so I loved hearing about this magnificent building from the informative guides. As you might imagine with such an ancient structure, the original 11th century cathedral has been altered, expanded and improved many times over the years, with parts being added in the 1300s, a new floor in the 1700s, etc. I'll spare you the history lesson, but I will show you some pretty pictures.

Ely, Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

We decided to take the guided tour up to the top of the octagon tower in the centre of the cathedral. I was absolutely fine about this... until our guide asked if we were afraid of heights, enclosed spaces, spiral staircases and spiders! After that I was dreading it, but I really did want to see the views from the top, so I pulled myself together and pretended to be brave, in the hope that I could fool myself into believing I actually was.

Either the strategy worked, or the journey to the top wasn't as bad as our guide made out, because as we got going I was fine. In fact, I even started to enjoy it.

There were lots of different stages, with interesting things to look at along the way, like these views from the roof of the main body of the cathedral.

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

The higher we climbed, the smaller and tighter the stairways and entrances became. I'm quite little, but I honestly don't know how I fitted through this door!

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

Up in the top of the tower, it was fascinating to see and touch the huge timbers holding the whole thing together. According to our guide, they're over a thousand years old.

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

From here, we were able to open up the painted panels at the top of the tower and gaze down at the cathedral far below us.

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

Finally, we embarked on the last part of our climb, onto the roof of the tower itself. The views were spectacular. The countryside in this part of the world is quite flat, so it almost felt like we could see forever from up there.

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire
 
Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire

After admiring the view from all angles, it was time to make our careful way back down to earth again.

We thanked our guide and left the cathedral to take another stroll around the city, finishing up at the riverside. With the winter sunlight sparkling on the water, it was the perfect day to enjoy it.

Ely, Cambridgeshire

Ely, Cambridgeshire
 
Ely, Cambridgeshire

Ely, Cambridgeshire

Ely, Cambridgeshire

The afternoon was running away from us, and before we knew it, it was time for us to head back to our hotel. There was a feast waiting for us, and it wasn't going to eat itself! (The devouring of this feast will be dealt with in the third and final part of this little travel series.)

Has anyone been to Ely? And who is scared of heights, enclosed spaces, spiral staircases and spiders?!

Kate x
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Cambridgeshire Part One - Paddocks House, Newmarket

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Hello stranger! So it's been a while, but the house move is finally complete! It's so nice to have it out of the way and I'm just starting to feel settled again. It all went reasonably smoothly, apart from the power cut that happened at the exact moment we moved in, and the fact that we're still waiting for the internet that was supposed to have been connected last Friday... but I'm not going to complain! Instead, I'd much rather get back to blogging, and tell you all about the little adventure Mike and I went on earlier this month, when we took a break from all the chaos of the move and drove down to Cambridgeshire for a couple of nights away from it all.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was lucky enough to be gifted this trip. Not because my blog, but because of some other freelance writing work I do. It's safe to say we were both thrilled to to have the opportunity to bid goodbye to the packing boxes for a little while and hello to Paddocks House, our home from home for the first night.

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire

Winter 2016 OOTD featuring H&M, Topshop, Zara and Shein

Jumper, Coat - H&M, Jeans - Topshop, Boots, Bag - Zara, Scarf - Shein

This beautiful country house once belonged to Lord Byron's sister, and has the feel of a cosy but gorgeous family home, rather than a hotel - albeit one where you are waited on hand and foot! It's set in its own grounds and is a short drive from towns like Ely, Cambridge and Newmarket. So if you wanted to visit the famous university or go to the races, for example, this would be the perfect place to stay.

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire

I fell in love with the exterior. It's also very Instagram worthy, with all that black and white, so I got to work with my phone while Mike took charge of the camera. You can never have too many photos!

I couldn't wait to find out whether the inside measured up...

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire

Well, it was all right, I suppose...

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire

Grand and beautiful, yet homely at the same time, I knew I was going to like this place as soon as we stepped over the threshold. The friendly welcome we were given by the lovely staff only reinforced this feeling.

We'd arrived quite late after a long and tiring week, and had just two things on our minds - food and drink! So after checking in and being shown to our room, we quickly freshened up and headed down to the bar to check out the cocktail menu.

The bar - known as The Study - definitely continued the theme of "home from home". We sank into the comfortable sofas and both agreed that it was just like being in a friend's living room.

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - The Study

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - The Study

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - The Study

It would have been rude not to order a cocktail, don't you think?! Classic Cosmopolitan for me - I'd never actually tried one before and thought it was about time I put that right, and besides, it comes in a martini glass, which always makes me feel glamorous. (I know, I know, simple pleasures delight simple minds!) In any case it was a great choice - light, fruity and delicious. Mike went for The Corleone, which I stole a sip of and loved, despite the fact that it's a whiskey based drink and I'm most definitely not a whiskey drinker. The smokiness of it combined with the almond and orange flavours was just gorgeous. I must admit that we also enjoyed the wasabi peas served with our drinks a little too much. Those things are seriously addictive!

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire


Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire

From the soft, plush furnishings to the chilled background music and the pile of papers and magazines laid out for guests to enjoy, we could quite easily have curled up in The Study for the night, but we had a table booked for dinner, and we were starving!

So, once we had finished our drinks, we wandered through to the hotel restaurant to see what was on offer.

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - Restaurant

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - Restaurant

OOTN - H&M Dress, Happiness Boutique Necklace

The meal kicked off with soft bread rolls, sprinkled with poppy seeds and still warm from the oven. I could honestly have eaten a whole basket of these, smothered in butter and washed down with the velvety smooth red wine. The perfect combination!

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - Restaurant

Next, I went for a starter of antipasti, which, if I'm honest, I might have skipped had I known how moreish the bread rolls were going to be. Even so, this was still a lovely starter, with generous slices of chorizo and salami as well as focaccia bread with sun dried tomatoes layered inside.

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - Restaurant

For the main course, I went for seared duck and dauphinoise potatoes with spinach, pear and fig. While I wasn't crazy about the fruit, the duck was bursting with flavour, the potatoes were creamy and delicious and the spinach was cooked to perfection, so on the whole I think it's safe to say it was a hit!

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - Restaurant

By this point, I was so full that ordering the kind of dessert I usually go for - chocolate dipped in chocolate with a sprinkling of chocolate on the side - was out of the question. So instead I opted for Eton mess. This delicate combination of berries, meringues and cream hit just the right spot and was the perfect end to the meal.

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - Restaurant

Finally, with bellies full to bursting, and so relaxed by this time that we were practically asleep, we returned to our room. I always think there is something so cosy about dining at the same place you are staying - there's no effort involved in getting back, you just go upstairs to bed as though you were at home. And this was most definitely a gorgeous room to come home to - comfortable, welcoming and luxurious. I adored the black and white decor and the way the lighting and soft fabrics kept it all feeling warm.

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - Rooms

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - Rooms

And just to save the best till last, how's this for a nod to the copper trend?

Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire - Rooms

A huge, free standing bathtub in gleaming metal, gently lit from below, right there in the bedroom. For me, it was the standout feature of the whole room and as soon as I saw it, I couldn't wait to get in it, which I did, right after our meal. I can honestly say it was the fanciest bath I've ever used and I could happily have splashed around in there for hours. Definitely a great way to wind down for the night!

Bath time over, we curled up in bed, looking forward to the adventures the new day would bring.

I'll tell you all about those in the next post!

Do any of you know Cambridgeshire? And who else has bathtub envy?!

Kate x
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