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Town mouse ventures out of the city

By Clive Aslet

Town mouse ventures out of the city

Clive adventures out of town to the Isle of Wight and Ely

I have been Small-Town Mouse over the past week. Having taken the Lymington ferry over to the Isle of Wight, I ate a small bowl of spaghetti in the garden of The George Hotel, next to the castle in Yarmouth, and was in heaven. The George was originally built as a house by Sir Robert Holmes, a 17th-century governor, solely, it was said, to entertain Charles II. Holmes's image can be seen in the church.

A sea captain, he had captured a ship carrying both a statue of Louis XIV in Roman dress and its sculptor. It was complete except for the head; Holmes had his own noggin attached instead of the French king's. Perhaps appropriately, it looks as if he's wearing a sou'wester: Yarmouth is a yachty place. Another day, I looked into the Old Fire Engine House at Ely, remembered from my Cambridge days.

The old furniture and apple blossom spread its usual balm, which, after a journey across the Fens, was much needed. Overtaking niftily, I incurred the displeasure of a large lorry, which then pursued me, careering around roundabouts and flashing its lights. Steven Spielberg's thriller Duel starts in much the same way. Town Mouse scuttled back to the safety of the metropolis, feeling he had seen enough of Ratty's ‘Wide World'.

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