227: Whittlesey

OS Explorer map 227, Peterborough: March, Whittlesey, Chatteris & Oundle – I do not own this map, and had not visited it before starting this blog. Visited for this post 12th Sepember 2018.

As my previous post told you, this summer I moved into a new house in Cambridge with two of my friends, Vesper and Erithacus. It was unfurnished, so we did a lot of toing and froing over the first few weeks getting ourselves furniture by a variety of means – shops, stealing it from our parents, Freecycle, and, as will be featured on this post, buying it from random strangers we met on the internet.

One item that we needed to get was a dining table – for the first few weeks in the house we’d been using a folding camp table that had been living in my garage for many years. [1]

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Celebrating Erithacus getting a new job, featuring our temporary table…

In the end we bought ourselves a dining table from an advert on Gumtree – unfortunately we missed the first one we wanted, which was beautiful old carved oak, but we found another one, still a six-seater with chairs, for the low low price of £40. I had to go to collect it from the town of Whittlesey, near Peterborough, which was how I ended up in this map area!

I left Histon, where we live, at about midday, and drove to Whittlesey through villages rather than taking the A14. (I generally much prefer to drive on smaller roads if I have the time – it’s prettier, more varied, and uses less fuel, so a win-win-win really!) On the way, Maggie the Navigatrix (so I like to call my satellite navigation devide) took me on a detour down an extremely bumpy road, so that was fun, and I arrived at the house of the table-selling chap around when I expected to, which is always a bonus.

There was some trouble finding the house, since it was on an estate that was still being built, on a road which had two ends, but whose middle was not yet in existence, leading to me first spending a long time looking along the many branches of the wrong end for a house number that wasn’t there.

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The table loaded into Hilda!

The fellow in question was very pleasant; he and his partner had just moved in and the house was looking very empty; they were getting rid of their old table in order to get a new one more suited to their huge new kitchen. The highlight of the experience, though, was that they had a wonderful cat! It was huge, orange with black blobs, and very friendly – it kept nosing at us and jumping on the upside-down table as we worked on disassembling it (the table, not the cat). There was then drama as we had to make sure the cat didn’t get outside as I was carrying the table out – it’s still getting used to the new house, so wasn’t allowed out yet.

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Table tetris

After loading up the car and leaving, I went into Whittlesey’s town centre, where I obtained lunch for myself in the fine establishment that is the Royal Fish Bar (some kind of chicken, onion rings and mushy peas), and ate it sitting in my car

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I then went on a mad rush around town looking for toilets that I could use (I failed and waited until I got home), and made a stop off in the local shop, where I bought an extremely expensive cucumber at £1.50, and 7 bottles of almond milk, since they were on sale for £1 each and Erithacus and Vesper guzzle the stuff. (I also bought some gravy powder and some cheese.) It was at about this point that I received a message from Vesper asking whether I’d be home soon, since she’d lost her keys and couldn’t get into the house – alas, I had to tell her that I’d still be an hour and a half…

Getting back in the car, on the way back home a couple of exciting things happened. Firstly, I waited in a queue at the level crossing by Whittlesea railway station, which was great, because it’s one of the last few manually operated railway crossings in the country – some cheerful chap has the job of getting out of his little booth when a train is coming, closing the gates by hand, and then opening them again when it has passed. It was great!

The second pleasant occurrence was when I stopped by the side of the road to buy some pears from an honesty box. There were horses!

And I was soon back in Histon! I met Vesper on the piece of grass where she’d been waiting, on a public footpath just behind our house – she’d had a pleasant enough time sitting around reading, with an excursion to the community centre to use their toilets. We set up the table, and have been well satisfied with it since! (Well, it broke once and I had to screw a leg back on, but eh.)

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Our new table!

Previous visits

Now that I think about it, I actually have been to Peterborough before; Mother Dearest just reminded me of it. I went in 2013 or 2014 to get my passport renewed at short notice, because I had to leave soon on some trip or other. But alas, I took no photographs and remember no more details. Meh.

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[>1] That camp table is in fact very well-travelled, having been bought in 2012 for my two-month trip driving around Europe with my school friend Cabbage. We drove around 7000 miles on that trip through France, Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands, and ate at that table every night at our campsites. It’s also been with me to Wales in 2013 and Scotland in 2014.

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