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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 . . .
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.
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.