Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Bank Holiday Visit to Peterborough

My wife Anne and I went out together on a recent Bank Holiday. One or other of us is usually too busy for that sort of thing, but this time we thought it would be nice to go somewhere interesting, but not too far away from our home in Leicester.

We decided to go to Peterborough. I know the city quite well, but Anne doesn`t.

We arrived there by train, along what is a very scenic railway line, and walked through the excellent Queensgate shopping centre. I have always felt that this is one of the best of these indoor centres, and it is made even better by the fact that it includes the city`s bus station.

When we emerged into the city centre, we found that it was awash with happy people waiting for some sort of parade. It emerged that there was to be a triumphant progress of Peterborough United Football Club, celebrating their promotion from League One as runners up to Leicester City.

Well done, the Posh. It`s quite right that their city should celebrate, but we did feel that the club would be very pleased if all these apparent supporters actually attended the matches!

We popped into one or two shops, after which the parade had still not started, and the crowds were even denser. It was very difficult to find a way through. Once we had got through, however, we found that there were indeed several men with "Security" on their jackets. They were some way away from the confusion, happily chatting and drinking coffee by a coffee stall! Anne was so impressed that she took a photo of them.

By this time, we were ourselves ready for a cup of coffee. Being pretty sure that there would be a refectory at Peterborough Cathedral, we made our way there, and didn`t find it. We did find a number of confusing signs pointing in various directions, but no refectory or any sort of tea shop.

When we enquired in the Cathedral itself, we were told that it wasn`t open because it was a Bank Holiday. It seems that not only is it deemed unnecessary to have refreshments available on such a day, it is also felt that there is no need to alter the signs, as anybody with any sense would know that it would be closed.

We did have a look around the impressive Cathedral, including the place where Catherine of Aragon is buried, and where Mary Queen of Scots was buried, having been beheaded nearby at Fotheringhay, before being moved to Westminster Abbey.

Our search for a tea shop took us around the city centre and through the Queensgate centre, before we finally settled on the Baker`s Oven. The coffee in these places is always OK.

Walking down towards the river, we strolled through a smaller shopping arcade en route to Asda, where we were confident that there would be a toilet. Indeed there was. Coming back through the arcade, we found a tea shop advertising relatively inexpensive cream teas, and decided to treat ourselves. That was a mistake.

The cream tea was acceptable, without being particularly nice. But while we were drinking our tea and chatting in a leisurely manner, one of the staff came round and announced "we are closing". We replied that we would just finish our tea and then leave, but that was not good enough. "We are closing now", we were told, "and the centre is closing".

Thoroughly annoyed by this (we could have been told before ordering that they would be closing in a few minutes), we made our way to the arcade entrance, to find that some sort of security man (they are a special breed in Peterborough) had locked the front doors. So we, and a number of other people, had to walk back to the other exit.

From here, there was no indication of how to get back to the main street, but local people were aware of the situation, and knew the best way. This involved walking across Asda`s large car park, and across a busy road, with no help for pedestrians and no directional signs.

Then we went back to Leicester. Did we have a nice time? Yes, because the Cathedral was interesting, and because it was nice to have each other`s company.

But I don`t think I will be recommending anybody to visit Peterborough if they don`t have a particular reason to go there.