Driving through Peterborough, England, along the A47 or any of its contributory roads it would be easy to imagine that this city is nothing but a sprawling conurbation serving the many thousands of people who live and work there, with great commercial and industrial areas that look much like those of any large town or city in Britain. If that is your perception, well think again. The city itself provides some excellent shopping areas, and a beautiful cathedral which is one of the finest Norman cathedrals in England. It started its life as a monastic community in 654 AD, and became one of the most significant medieval abbeys in the country. Interestingly, it is the burial place of two queens and the scene of Civil War upheavals.
Photograph: Richard Croft
If you can tear yourself away from this magnificent building or the under-fascinating A47, Peterborough has some rather special open spaces and parks like the one we visited this afternoon. Ferry Meadows Country Park, is a huge facility that we had only previously seen in part. With acres and acres of free running space, plus permanent agility courses, and loads of excellent sniffing places as well as a nice little lake, it is a doggy paradise. And who could forget the superb dog size ice cream served at the café near to the Visitor Centre which is full of lovely bits and pieces to max out your human's credit card. The parkland is very well cared for, and on a sunny day it is the most delightful place to visit, as some of our pictures from last year show.
Perhaps the cool Easter weather and the forecast of heavy rain halted many peoples' plans to visit Ferry Meadows today, but undaunted, we set off with our eyes firmly fixed on the prize of loads of safe space for running around and having a great time. Previously, we had always confined ourselves to one area of the park, but today decided to head for the Lakeside Café and bar. 'Lakeside' sounded pretty special to us, because anywhere near water is usually very pleasant. We were not disappointed! Opposite the car park was an enormous eating place, and it appeared that they welcomed dogs inside as well as on the veranda outside.
We thought this would be an excellent space for dog watching and it was! There were loads of them around. They came in many shapes and sizes, and were all well behaved, and enjoying their afternoon out.... and the rain mostly stayed away!
The café overlooked a big lake where canoes and swan boats could be hired. A variety of drinks and cakes were available, and a few light meal options.... we helped Mum eat a cheese sandwich with some salad leaves and veggie crisps. Dolly has a real gift for staring at Mum for a taste of her food but she is very strict and makes us wait till she has finished before we get our share! Normally, it is worth the effort, but then who can resist the 'I'm starving and fading away" expression of a Dachshund?
With the food sorted out, we settled down to enjoy the rest of our afternoon, but our peace was to be disturbed as an army of people arrived, carrying massive cases which mum recognised as the sort that would hold brass band instruments. Wow! Mum looked very happy, as the local Salvation Army band arrived to cheer us all up on a dull Easter Day. She was thrilled to bits, as she loves brass bands and used to play the euphonium, and would you believe, she hummed some of the eupho parts? We get so embarrassed by her sometimes. We forgave her because we love music, and really lapped up a whole hour of this wondrous sound.
We met some lovely people, including some folk we knew but hadn't seen for years, so lots of chin wagging went on. The people were so friendly towards us, and we also met the Corps officers, who are American. We loved Rachel, who told us that when she was a little girl in the USA, she had a Dachshund! That made her pretty special in our eyes. Rachel liked us, and wanted to know our names so we were even more impressed. We had made a new international friend.
When the concert was over, we went out onto the veranda to take some more pictures of the lake before having another romp around and setting off for home.
If you are on a trip to East Anglia and pass through Peterborough, please consider taking a break there to discover some of its hidden treasures, including its public open spaces. Or why not stop off for a day or two to discover the region around the city.... there are several quaint and beautiful small towns nearby.
Whatever brings you this way, we thoroughly recommend Ferry Meadows for a day out or even just a few hours recreation.
16th April 2017