Advent Windows

It’s December. On the quiet residential streets off Cambridge’s Mill Road, fairy lights twinkle in the windows.

So far, so ordinary.

Look a little closer, though, and you’ll see that these fairy lights frame festive scenes: nine ladies – their skirts delicate paper snowflakes – dancing; children ice-skating, snow swirling around them; a scene from The Nutcracker with the Mouse King holding his sword aloft; reindeer flying above King’s College Chapel.

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Exploring Wimpole Estate

Last week was emotionally draining. A trip to Wimpole Estate was the perfect pick-me-up; the tonic to flat-hunting tedium and work woes.

Ring, ring. Long time, no see, 07:15. We’d been hoping for a lie in, but the mid-morning slots had already filled up. We ended up booking our timed-entry tickets for 09:30-10:00. (Once you’re in, you’re free to stay until closing time.)

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Ready, Steady, Ride: Recent Bike Rides in East Anglia

When I first moved to Cambridge, I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. I wobbled. I panicked. I fell off (more than once). I got back on again.

Fast-forward: it’s March 2020, and exercise is one of only four ‘reasonable excuses’ for leaving the house. Cambridge emptied: first of students, then of cars. Laurence and I couldn’t resist taking to the clear roads on our bikes. We’ve found new routes (some of which have become go-to rides), discovered picturesque villages and spotted adorable baby animals, clocking up 982km in the process.

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Pedal Power: Cycling from Cambridge to St. Ives

Rewind to last summer: searing heat, endless sunny days (a stark contrast to the grey days and downpours this year). Sun’s out, bikes out. Destination: St. Ives. Cripes, that’s a long way, I hear you say. Fear not: I’m talking about St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, here, which is only 20-odd kilometres away from Cambridge on the world’s longest guided busway. (Yes, that is St. Ives’ claim to fame.)

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How to Spend a Weekend in Cambridge

When you think of Cambridge, two things probably spring to mind: punting and colleges. Sure, The Backs is the waterway equivalent of the M1 on a busy summer’s day and every other attraction is either a college or owned by one, but there’s more than enough to keep you busy here for a day or two. Whilst Cambridge is an expensive place to live (there’s no two ways about that), it doesn’t have to be an expensive place to visit. Here’s my itinerary for anyone looking to visit Cambridge on the cheap.

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Escape to the Countryside: Grantchester Meadows

I couldn’t settle in Cambridge for good; for one thing, owning a house would never be more than a pipe dream, but for another, it’s distinctly lacking in mountains, in hills even, in dirt tracks and trails, all things which make me feel at home. But, I digress. Today, I’d like to take you on a virtual walk to Grantchester, a quaint village to the south of Cambridge, home to chocolate-box cottages, a medieval church and more pubs per capita than most other settlements of its size.

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An A-Z of Cambridge

Believe it or not (and I can’t – where has the time gone?!), I’ve been living in Cambridge for almost a year. Over the past ten months, I’ve eaten my way round the city’s cafés, had more scoops of gelato than I care to admit to, taken advantage of the many free events and explored the local area. I’ve been plotting this post for a while, umming and ahing over which places merited a spot, and it required a hefty amount of creative thinking at times to fill in some of the letters (without resorting to college after college after . . . well, you get the idea). Without further ado, here’s an A-Z of Cambridge, featuring some well-known landmarks and some lesser-known gems.

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Café Crawling in Cambridge

Cambridge has independent cafés in abundance, and I’ve spent a good deal of time over the last few months trying them out and establishing which ones are set to be firm favourites over the course of my time here. Whether you’re craving cake or have a fondness for flapjack, there’s sure to be a café on this list with something that will tickle your taste buds . . .

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Cambridge University Botanic Garden: Orchids 2018

Just a couple of weeks before the ‘Beast from the East’ swept across the UK, our boiler broke down. (Looking back, it was rather good timing, as being without heat last week would have been much worse, but at the time it felt anything but.) Spending a day shivering on our sofa wasn’t all that appealing, so we ventured out to the Glasshouse Range at Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

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Let There Be Light: e-Luminate, Cambridge

Over the years, I’ve seen a fair number of cities bathed in light, transformed by vibrantly-coloured installations. I remember travelling up to Blackpool for The Illuminations as a child, lights snaking for miles along the front. Years later, I stood in Millennium Square, alone, mesmerised by Light Night Leeds. Since then I’ve seen light shows in Bern, Lyon, London and, now, Cambridge. I didn’t expect much from e-Luminate, but I was quickly surprised by just how good a show my current hometown put on.

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