Fresh Air

FOR our own good it has been decided that we will have to stand outside in future if we want to help the Treasury and pay our tobacco tax. Between downpours, it s not too bad at the moment; the temperature is, at least, tolerable, but, come the winter, as

FOR our own good it has been decided that we will have to stand outside in future if we want to help the Treasury and pay our tobacco tax. Between downpours, it's not too bad at the moment; the temperature is, at least, tolerable, but, come the winter, as well as the coughing and wheezing, most smokers will be battling against pneumonia too. Happy days!

One place where you can actually smoke and sit down in public at the moment is the picnic site on the millennium walk beside the Lode on Mereside. Or, at least, that's the theory. In practice you either need some very substantial trousers or to be very, very careful. The area around the two benches was sprayed a few years ago and, as a result, there is no grass, just a selection of weeds. Still, they're green and cover the ground. They've also been cut recently. Unfortunately the nettles that are growing through and under the benches have been left, hence the need for substantial trousers. On one bench a whole seat has disappeared. This hardly gives a good impression of the town to passing ramblers, does it?

I HAD to go to London last week and, as I'm now pedestrianised, I used public transport. The bus was as on time as you could reasonably expect and Ely station was as windy as it ever was. To coincide with the ban everywhere else the train operator has decided to ban smoking on the whole of the station. With the permanent gale sweeping across, it's hardly likely that anyone will suffer from passive smoking, but it's always easier to ban something than make provision for it.

One thing that did catch my eye on the platform was a poster encouraging us to have a day out in an historic town served by the railway. It listed several of its attractions and made it sound like a worthwhile trip.

I don't think that they'll get too many takers, though. Most of us have been to Cambridge, already!

THERE are a couple of events in our neighbouring communities this weekend that may tempt a few people to venture a little further afield. On Saturday it's the annual Isleham Gala complete with floats, sports and the epic electric scooter race.

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On Sunday, there is the second annual Hiam Bike Show. (That's a show where motorcyclists get together, not a fenland version of the Tour de France.)

There are various classes for the trophies including "Rat" and "Street Fighter."

The rumbling and revving starts at 11am and it will cost you £3 per head.

INFO: 01353 688269.

Meanwhile, also on Sunday, at Middle Mere Farm off Mereside there is a charity ploughing match from 9am onwards. There will be an opportunity to see some classic machines doing what they do best, pulling a plough. In the evening from 7pm there is a barn dance to Green Velvet, with a barbecue and a classic vehicle show. It will cost you £2.50 each and bring a chair and your own drink. Proceeds will be split between Alzheimers Research and the Soham Museum Project.

INFO: 01353 720260.

THANK goodness the rail crash at Ely was a train moving gravel and not people. Estimates at the moment vary between three and six months before the line will be open again.

While there is no traffic it is a golden opportunity to do the minimal work needed to reinstate Soham station to the stop it used to be in the early 1960s when we would jump on there for a day out in Hunstanton. Who knows, we could even have a day in Cambridge.

WITH the amount of rain we've had recently, you'd think that all the waterways would be maintained in tip-top condition, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong! The Lode beside the Mere is a picture of weeds, rushes, lilies and general floating rubbish. In places the weed reaches from bank to bank and is holding numerous takeaway trays, twigs, branches and even a football.

The roundabout at Downfields could also do with a bit of tlc. It was once quite a picture, but now resembles a piece of land set aside that the farmer has forgotten about. As with the picnic benches, it doesn't really give much of a first impression to visitors.

Soham Town Council is getting sponsorship money from one of the town's businesses, so why aren't they spending it making the roundabout a bit presentable?

They certainly aren't spending it on keeping pedestrians dry. It's amazing how many puddles there are exactly where the kerbs are dropped so that people can get onto the path with prams or scooters.

One of the worst is on Brewhouse land opposite Eastern Avenue. With the number of mums who need to walk down there to get to the health centre you would expect their trip to be fairly easy. Not if there's been a drop or two of rain, it's not.

The piece of road near the dropped kerbs immediately becomes a large puddle making the access totally useless. Come on, highways authority, if you are going to do a job, do it properly.