a weekend in Cambridgeshire

For Christmas my husband received a ‘flying experience’ (actually he received two – and this is but the first) based at the Peterborough Business airport in Cambridgeshire and this is the weekend he chose to take it so we decided to have a weekend away in Cambridgeshire based around this booking.

Hold on a minute you may be saying…don’t you ‘live’ in Cambridgeshire and isn’t Cambridgeshire one of the least visitable counties in England; especially if you leave Cambridge and Ely out of the equation?

Yes…we do…and yes I used to think so too.

We set off on a glorious sunny Saturday morning and bimbled our way through several villages we’d never driven through before and stopped for lunch in Ramsey…we’ve never been there before either and to be honest it probably doesn’t warrant a second intentional visit as it’s not much more than a small market town with a long mainstreet recognisable as having had a waterway down it’s centre at some point in its past. We bought sandwiches and a slice of tiffin and sat on a bench in the sunshine and watched the town go slowly by. The National Trust own a bit of an abbey in Ramsey but we didn’t seek it out as it was free to visit it and the National Trust don’t give much away for free.

Early afternoon found us at a pub in Holme, having a drink (again sat in the warm April sunshine) doing dog talk with a fellow owner…. dog talk for those without dogs consists of…what’s his/her name, what sort is he/she, how old is he/she, then comes a  bit of appreciation of the other persons dog and it’s habits followed finally by the important part of the conversation when in a strange place -which is the passing on of local dog walk knowledge. She made Holme Wood, just across the road, sound so lovely that we decided not to save it for our Sunday walk but to head straight in whilst the sun was shining.

Holme Fen is said to be the largest and finest downland silver birch forest in England and it grew up following the draining of Whittlesey Mere in the mid 1800’s. It is perhaps most ‘famous’ for the ‘Holme posts’…two posts driven into the peat which between them show how much the surrounding land has shrunk with drying out over the last  165 years or so. The original post was driven into the peat until the top of it was level with the surrounding ground, the supporting wires were added in 1957 when the post became unstable.

me and a Holme post silver birch road through Holme Fen

 

It’s a lovely wood… not just birch, but ash and oak and we’ll be going back in the Autumn as there are hundreds of kinds of  fungi. I can’t believe I lived just the other side of Peterborough from this place, for a decade, and never discovered it.

Thence on to the object of my weekends desires -I’ve wanted to eat at the Dog in a Doublet since I first heard about it just after John and Della took it over and the visit has been a long time coming so they had a lot of anticipation to live up to
….and live up to it they did.
The pub itself stands overlooking an initially unprepossessing bit of Fenland, the flatness broken only by the distant brickwork chimneys at Whittlesey and the hulking great structure that is the tidal sluice and lock on the River Nene, but on a sunny warm April day it passed muster as somewhere worth travelling to and to spend the night.
Inside the pub the front half is a light, airy version of a traditional pub with some quirky dog themed artwork –
the dog theme runs throughout, from the dog treats on the bar to the dog shaped biscuits in the four upstairs B&B rooms – this is a thoroughly dog friendly place.
The restaurant in the rear of the building looked a bit drab in the daylight, with wires looping across the ceiling to tassled lampshades and mismatched chairs and tables, but come the evening the place transforms into a large but somehow cosy room adorned with fairy lights. The retro lampshades and mismatched furniture were followed by mismatched glasses….but by then we had heartily accepted the eclectic charm that is the Dog in a Doublet.
This is a relaxed restaurant  with fairly casual staff and none of the disingenuous ‘are your meals okay?’ just as you’ve stuffed your face full of food and are trying to chew and smile and nod all at once.We really liked the large open hatch through to the kitchen so you can see the dishes being put together before being whistled out of the kitchen by the chef…. no dingy bell or shouting here. The food itself was excellent…if you really need to know what we ate and what we thought about it – I’m the author of possibly some of the longest reviews on TripAdvisor and this one is here.If you get a chance – go and eat there. They charge gastro pub prices and the food is fantastic… they have a petting farm out back and the only bar snacks they sell are homemade. I can imagine how John and Della came up with the idea…but unlike me and my still hypothetical campsite and tearooms in various locations I’ve driven past…they made it happen and John has his skill as a chef to make it work.
willows by the road looking towards the Dog in a Doublet

On Sunday we had another visit to The Great Fen and listened to woodpeckers and then on to Conington for Al’s flight…whilst he looked at the tops of clouds Lucky and I sat in the car and he had a snooze and I had a read and then we went and sat on a bank full of primroses and watched little aeroplanes take off and land.
You can never have too much bimbling in a weekend so instead of  slipping onto the A1 and hurrying home we drove up off the Fens and into the rolling countryside between the A1 and the A141…stopping at Wood Walton for a drink in The Elephant and Castle which was recently taken over by a lovely chap called Sidney who originally hails from Nigeria. He admits to knowing very little about pubs but he’s keen to create something for a village in which even the mile distant church is shut down. We wished him well…his vision may not be as clear as John and Della’s at the D in a D but his enthusiasm may yet see him succeed.

 

 

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