Ship of the fens

Spent last night trying to work out whether and how to fit in some time with Z and family before they leave tomorrow and decided to ask them to dinner tonight. They were planning to go to Stansted Mountfitchet today, which we knew we would not have time to do, but when we phoned this morning to ask about dinner N had been overtaken by an attack of laziness 😆 – know that one well! – and decided to wait and see if we had any better ideas, so we suggested an afternoon in Ely instead.
K had a dressing up day at preschool (take a bottle for the tombola next week and in return you can wear fancy dress!) so went in as Batman – his current (and long-term) favourite character, even though he knows nothing at all about him except what he looks like 😆
Meanwhile J and I chanted some times tables. I told him he could earn an ice cream for each table he did, starting with one for Z, then K, then L and finally himself. Then he did a set of random questions to earn icecreams for the mummies 😉 He did well, although faded fast at the end – I think treating mums was less exciting than working towards his own treat 😆
Then he did some BBC literacy games on the PC while I hung out washing and sorted the car to take 7 again; L “helped” us each in turn.
We picked up N, Z and L (and enjoyed a great Canadian delicacy for lunch: peanut butter and banana sandwiches) and made our way out to Ely to visit the cathedral, known as the Ship of the Fens. The boys loved the big cannon in front of the cathedral and it was amazing to think that it had been brought all the way from Russia (captured during the Crimean) nearly 150 years ago! I had forgotten how beautiful the cathedral is; it was really special to have the chance to share it with a new friend and with the children. The highlight of the visit was seeing a hoist in action, lifting boxes from the ground floor to the first floor of the cathedral. This kept them all happy for ages while N and I admired the architecture and the lovely windows.
We decided to visit the stained glass museum rather than doing the cathedral tour, as we were a little short of time and the children were keen to see the glass and the pictures, so we climbed up a steep spiral staircase, holding onto a rather rickety handrail and then spent a happy half hour wandering round looking at beautiful pictures lit from behind to give a soft glow 😀 Many depicted stories and J and K got quite good at spotting them and working out what was going on. There were also little scenes showing how the windows were made and a glass kiln which proved to be just the right height for L to bump her head… Oh, and the museum afforded us a great view, over a sort of balcony, of the aforementioned hoist 😉
As well as the museum itself there was a stained glass shop, where we spent about as much time again. The children each chose a marble: K and Z a globe, L a fish in a ball and J wavered for so long between a red and black die (yes, a stained glass die!) and a football that in the end (after due warning) I chose for him and bought the die. This was, of course, the wrong choice 🙄 N bought a piece of stained glass to take back for her mother – to Canada via Italy. I hope it survives!

After the cathedral we met up with a friend who showed us a lovely little playground where the children were able to let off steam before the drive back – and incidentally N was able to take some great photos so the boys will be able to remember one another.
A busy day – and a busy evening, which I think will have to go in as a separate entry. I need some sleep!