My older lad James is recovering from being locked in a Sheffield flat for 6 months by  taking bracing walks round the Fens with me.

I’d like to think I was planning trips to Corfu with my mates at his age, but the truth is rather different; I was taking a bus to Peterborough to buy the Pet Shop Boys “Please” on tape at 21.

He was happy to join me in the Padnal Fen beyond Ely, in mysterious Prickwillow.

Excitingly uses the 2019 Ely southern bypass

Here’s where I abruptly stopped the car. “Find me something to blog about” I demanded.

Quiet start

The greatest gift a father can give their child is the ability to extract blogworthy material in a two street village of 440 souls in the middle of nowhere.


Sadly not a literal sign

With no pub.

Nothing here” said James.

I reminded him my readers are VERY easily pleased.

Oh, that’s an ugly house“.

Housebuilding, the Robert Wyatt follow-up to Shipbuilding

There’s another one !

Obligatory thatch, even on weird futuristic houses

Oooh, ancient petrol pumps“, I added, warming to the task.


There then followed a heartwarming father and son discussion, just like in the Cat Stevens/Boyzone song, about cars and girls planning policy in East Cambridgeshire.

It seems that anything goes in Prickwillow, which as a tourist strapline could work.

A veritable smorgasbord of housing styles in this old farming village that could be a set for Grand Designs, where people build their dream house for a budget of £130k (actual spend £2.7m).

Out of character, if Prickwillow had character

But it works.  There’s nothing worse than a village all in character with itself.

We walked a little bit of the Hereward Way toward Middle Fen Bank, pointing out exciting features like trees and telegraph poles.

The Old Plough half a mile away

“Look” I said, pointing at Wiki. “There’s a museum here”.

James was doubtful, more so because the walk to the Pumping Engine coincided with the arrival of ominous clouds.

But James has an enquiring mind, and warmed to the task of finding redeeming features.

The phone box had decided that books were surplus to requirements, and what was needed was a tribute to key workers with floral hat.

Nice hat

Three churches had become one, the parish church and strict Baptists succumbing to housing or Brunning & Price or whatever.

Weeds closing in

At the bridge over the River Lark it all gets a bit bucolic.

The Story of the Fens was The Mighty Wah’s less successful follow-up in ’82

And the museum turns out to be massive, bigger than Ely’s own.

Who would possibly come out here ?” said James.  Some people tick pubs, son.

£3.50, or £5 on event days

Back in the tiny heart of the village we stopped to admire the jets setting off from Mildenhall, and the classic exterior of the only licensed premises (unless someone very shy has opened a micro and not told Ely CAMRA).

Hiam S&SC – home of line dancing

It probably serves Draught Bass and Cloudwater DIPA. I may never know.

Anyway, here’s what you could have had;


James and I, satisfied with our morning’s work, headed into Ely for an artisanal ice on the grass outside the cathedral.



      1. Judging from the list the Pubcurmudgeon posted on Manchester it is going to be hard to know what is and isn’t open.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I think that’s my favourite post of all time. What a weird place. Great setting for a modern horror movie. And that petrol station photo has to be from an album cover from a 1980s East Anglian country rock band (apart from the car that you artfully photoshopped).

    Keep up the good work and don’t get distracted by these new fangled pubs.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Boris says the pubs can open at 6am tomorrow. – so I assume you’ll be making an early start?

    Looking forward to your first re-opened pub post by breakfast time…I\ll get up early… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Quite an interesting place there Martin. If I were there and saw some of those houses I’m not sure what I would think as they don’t seem typical for an area like that.

    Like yourself, can’t wait for tomorrow to get back to the pubs. Really looking forward to it

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “Prickwillow” really does sound like a village name invented for a TV show, with the intention of mocking villages that are saddled with unfortunate names.

    I did smile at this: “I was taking a bus to Peterborough to buy the Pet Shop Boys “Please” on tape at 21.” Me, I wasn’t a big Pet Shop Boys guy I must say, but man the sheer effort we all had to make in those days for a new album or even just a new song. In high school I often walked more than four miles round trip to the nearest record store just to get a new dose of music. You know how it was in those days: a new Depeche Mode song, or some such thing, that you paid good money for without even having *heard* the thing!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve got happy memories of buying the 12″ of the new Thomas Dolby song, having never heard it before, and being delighted to come home and find that this thing called “She Blinded Me with Science” was a pretty good song. 🙂


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