Saharan dust leaves East Anglian spirit undimmed as the dreaded Saharan dust cloud settles on Ely

 

Residents throughout the smog hot spots of East Anglia and Norfolk woke up on Wednesday morning to find their cars splattered in sand thanks to the Saharan dust cloud that is sweeping across the UK.

Atmospheric conditions had improved by the afternoon but even in the largely flat expanse of the east Cambridgeshire countryside it was obvious how badly the distant desert's storms have affected the area, with both counties hitting the maximum “very high” [10] on the Met Office air pollution index.

From a distance, the prominent spires of Ely Cathedral remained shrouded in smog as you drove into the historic city. Typical of the stoicism on display everywhere, Mick and Martha Stevenson emerged from the 12th century Gothic monastery determined not to let it ruin their day.

“We saw all the warnings on the news this morning but it hasn’t affected us,” said Margaret. “Mick’s been promising to take me here for years so we were not going to be stopped from coming on a day trip from south Lincolnshire. There’s not a lot you can do about Saharan dust is there?”

Groups of mums walking their babies through Cherry Hill Park were not to be deterred from their daily routine either. Mother of two Jane Kelleher had just been discussing the pollution with a friend when The Independent bumped into her with her baby George.

 

“The warning that many people shouldn’t be outside does make you think, but it hasn’t stopped us from doing what we normally do, even with our babies” she said.

Pensioner Geraldine Field was relaxing on a bench in nearby Jubilee Gardens. Was it because she was struggling with the smog? “Certainly not, I’m fit and healthy,” said the 87-year-old Londoner who was visiting Ely while she is on holiday in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. “It hasn’t affected me and I haven’t thought twice about going for walks. If it did start to affect me, I think then I might stay indoors, but hopefully it will blow over before too long.”

Ely did seem pretty quiet, especially given temperatures of 21 degrees had been predicted, so perhaps much of the city’s elderly and asthmatic had followed government advice and stayed indoors. One man who was certainly missing the crowds was Geoff the ice cream man, who certainly noticed a dip in trade at his van pitched alongside the marina on the River Ouse.

“There are not many people out today that’s for sure. I only saw on the news in the morning the reason why after seeing my car covered in red dust. You can definitely sense something different is in the air, and you can feel it on your face, though I do wonder how much of it is psychological.”

After gazing up at the shrouded sky Geoff was taking no precautions with his ice cream cone boxes keeping them under tight wraps overnight. “I don’t want any foreign bodies creeping in. The smog’s definitely had an effect on the sun and on me today already though.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable