While the North will always have my heart, Cambridge is a rather nice place to call home, for the time being at least. I can’t quite believe how fast time is passing; days, weeks and months have slipped by, punctuated by train rides, café trips and baking sessions. I’ve finally got my bearings, figured out how to dodge the over-eager students pitching punting tours and found a handful of cafés which can be relied upon for a decent hot chocolate and a wedge of cake. Six months have been and gone, and I’ve decided it’s high time for a wee update on life ‘Down South’ . . .
Or, more accurately, ‘Discovering the Clearance Section in Heffers’, since that is the best thing that happened to me since acquiring a library card at Cambridge Central Library. While I can’t justify spending £7.99 on a book that I’ll devour in two days, I will happily pick up a £1 or £2 paperback from Heffers every now and again. I’m a very picky reader, but I’m yet to be disappointed by my choices from the bargain boxes. I particularly enjoyed MJ McGrath’s The Bone Seeker, a mystery set in the High Arctic, and Tatiana de Rosnay’s La Mémoire des Murs, which told the unnerving tale of a woman haunted by the fact her new apartment was once the scene of a grisly murder. Harry Potter et la Coupe de Feu should need no introduction . . .
Since relocating to Cambridge, I’ve seen a lot more of my family – that is, the members of my family that live in the south – than I would usually, which has been absolutely lovely. Back in October, Laurence and I spent an enjoyable afternoon at the Ely Apple Festival with my cousins, drinking hot apple juice, attempting to peel the longest continuous strand of apple peel and munching any free samples that came our way. The Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift and Food Fair was another highlight, and an event that I highly recommend attending if you’re in the area. Just before Christmas, my uncle kindly took us both on a (free) guided tour of Christ’s, St. John’s and King’s Colleges, bringing our tally of colleges visited to eight.
Having spent half my life learning French, I’m keen to ensure those efforts don’t go straight down la toilette now that I’m back in England. Enter, The Cambridge French Social Meetup Group. I do what I can to keep the language ticking over by watching series (including Marseille and La Mante), listening to music, reading books and the like, but there’s no substitute for practising the spoken word with native speakers over a drink or two down the pub.
Exploring Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Cambridge University Botanic Garden is considerably smaller than Lyon’s Parc de la Tête d’Or, but it’s still an enjoyable place to while away an hour or two (and a great means of escaping the hordes of tourists which descend on the city centre). The Cambridge Apple Festival in October saw us munch our way through twenty-plus samples of unusual varieties of apple, including King of the Pippins, Mutsu and Rosemary Russet. Orchids 2018, which took place more recently, was a cracker of an exhibition – and that’s coming from someone who’s a serial sneezer around flowers.
Commuting with Great Northern
Great Northern – or should that be Late Northern? – makes France’s SNCF look punctual. I usually find myself filing two or three delay repay claims a week, and even if there’s no claim to be had, you can rest assured that they’ll still be running a few minutes behind schedule. Fortunately, Customer Services at Cambridge Station are on hand to keep commuters entertained with their whiteboard of illustrated jokes. (What did the volcano say to its partner? I lava you, was the Valentine’s special.)
Trekking to Tesco
I can think of only one reason for owning a car in Cambridge, and that is for going supermarket shopping. I can tell you from experience that spending the bulk of your Friday night trekking across town to Tesco (and back again with rucksacks and reusable bags full of shopping) is the definition of not fun. On the upside, at least we’ve learnt the art of the two-week shop.
Six Months in Six Photos
I’ve been busy (re)learning how to ride a bike over the past few months, so a few cycle rides around Cambridgeshire are in the pipeline. (St. Ives is a likely candidate, as there’s a Tom’s Cakes there . . . and we all know how much I love a good slice of cake.) While the sun gets its act together, I’m also planning on making the most of the many free museums, as I’ve only visited the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettle’s Yard thus far.