Saturday, 3 May 2014

Eel Day in Ely

The stars of the show - some of Ely's eels
The Isle of Ely owes much of its fortune to eels: before the Fens were drained eel fishing in the marshy waterways was a major activity. The city celebrates its slithery history in the annual Eel Festival which has been running for ten years now.
It's a weekend of family fun and a food and drink festival that has more than just jellied eels on offer.
Moored hard by the Jubilee Park we had a front row seat for the fun and games which started with an Eel Day parade through the city. Let's just say that wasn't quite the Notting Hill Carnival but the rest of the day's events did rather better.
Novinka Folkskaband playing folk and ska and more
A local samba band, clay eel making for the kids, the 'world eel throwing' championships (with toy eels I hasten to add), the very entertaining Novinka Folkskaband and – my favourite – the RATS. That's short for the Re-enacting Ancient Times Society which is basically a gang of blokes who enjoy wearing a variety of costumes from various days-of-yore and bashing seven sorts of sod out of each other with a variety of implements before retiring to the pub and quaffing - to judge by their proportions - numerous pints of days-of-yore ale. Oh, and their girlfriends who stand around looking demure but ever so slightly bored in maiden's outfits.
Today the RATS were 12th century knights doing battle practice and they did genuinely bash each other quite painfully at times.
The RATS do battle before heading for ye ale house
The Ely waterfront moorings were, not surprisingly, full with a variety of boats including a couple of smart Dutch barges and a trio of narrowboats moored up triple-breasted.

Fine collection of boats on the waterfront

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