June 28

    Our electrical problem has not resolved itself, and we have found no one to help us out with the many suggestions we have received via the internet. But Rover’s engine charges the house batteries while we drive and when we’re in a campground the little battery charger we bought does its thing, so between them we have enough power . . . provided that we run the refrigerator on LP and don’t use the microwave or the oven. (Eating dinner out also helps a lot.) We found that sitting in Cambridge for two nights didn’t drain the batteries either, so we are feeling more confident about finishing the trip by limping along this way.  

    We made one of our strangest visits yet to an estate called Calke Abbey. It is owned by the National Trust, who made the decision not to restore it to some pristine earlier era but rather to show it to the public just as it was received: in a declining state. The eccentric family that owned it had collected odd things; worse yet, they never threw anything out, but instead, when a room was full of someone’s collection of something or another, merely shut the door and moved on to other rooms. The only restoration that the Trust undertook was to keep the place from deteriorating further. So they fixed the leaking roof, for example, but left the peeling paint on the ceiling and the curling paper on the walls. It was quite an unusual property, out of the way and requiring a one-way mile-long paved drive amid the sheep still grazing on the estate. It was one of our favorites.


    When we left Calke Abbey, we drove east to a campground outside Peterborough. But when we drove into the city on Sunday morning, intending to worship at the cathedral, we were unable to find a place to park: every lot had a height restriction barrier. In addition, there was at least one large boot sale (flea market) going on in the center of the city, and traffic was very busy, So we gave up--our first real defeat--shook the dust from our sandals, and drove on to Cambridge.

    We had reserved the campground in Cambridge for two nights, but it was too early in the day to go there, so we headed for a Park and Ride that we had checked out on the internet  beforehand. The website had assured us that motorhomes were allowed there.

    Can you tell where this is going? Sure enough: when we arrived, down a narrow little entrance road, there was the height restriction barrier (again!); also a bus lane that threatened “rising bollards” should we dare proceed; and of course no alternative way to back out. So Susan walked/ran a couple hundred yards around hedges to the bus station to find out how to get in or out or park. She was assured that the bollards would not in fact rise to smite our black water tank, so we drove in . . . and survived. Fortunately, during all this time no bus had appeared behind us to demand the use of his lane. So we parked, took the bus into the city, walked to the train station, and for £8 round trip for two (about $13) we took the train to Ely and went to their wonderful cathedral instead of Peterborough’s. It was yet another amazing site.


Then we took the train back to Cambridge, caught the Park-and-Ride bus to where Rover awaited, bollard-free, and drove to the campground.

    The weather has turned very warm and humid, so we spent an uncomfortable day in Cambridge. The city was very easily accessible on the city bus from the campground. Bicycles are everywhere. Almost all the streets are marked for bike paths. It is really flat here: when we took the tourist bus, we were told that the nearest mountains to the east are in Russia. The tour took us to the American Military Cemetery and all around the 31 colleges that make up the University. Then in the afternoon we visited a few, including the beautiful Christ Chapel at King’s College with its fan-vaulted ceiling.


Cambridge really is a lovely city. We exhausted ourselves in the heat and treated ourselves to dinner out again.

    There was a little rain overnight to cool things off and again the next day on our way to Bury St. Edmonds. We found a very tight place to park in a shopping center and walked a few blocks to the Theatre Royal. This is another Georgian-era theatre, but unlike Richmond's this one has been refurbished, not restored, because it is regularly used today. It is actually owned by the Greene Brewery across the street that once used it to store barrels of beer when the theatre was in decline during the first half of the 1900s. Now it is under the care of the National Trust. We had a great detailed tour taking us onstage, backstage, under the stage and into the boxes and balconies. While we were there we could hear rain pounding on the roof, and when we came back to the lobby to leave, we found its floor flooded--the lobby is several steps down from the street level--and water was continuing to pour in. From the way the staff was dealing with the problem, it was clear that this was a very unusual occurrence. We waited for a few minutes for the rain to let up and then walked back to Rover. Even with rain coats and an umbrella, we were soaked by the time we got back, but the rain had cleared most shoppers out of the parking lot so we had no problem leaving. We are staying in a small rural campground a few miles out of town and we were glad to find a gravel site waiting for us instead of very wet and spongy grass.