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.)
I don’t travel down to London for fun all that often – mostly because after a week commuting into the city, my ideal weekend is one that doesn’t involve a train journey – but on the rare occasions that I do, I make sure to cover as much ground as possible. Yesterday, we notched up a whopping 28,000-odd steps, taking in Chinatown and Canary Wharf and several places in-between (and beyond).
I’ve long been a fan of exploring my own back yard, so when I relocated to Cambridge I wasted no time in compiling a list of places to visit in East Anglia, based on recommendations from friends, family and colleagues and features in Cambridge Edition. Bury St. Edmunds – or plain Bury to the locals – was one such place. Back in April, we spent a day exploring this bustling market town and its medieval ruins.
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.
Established in 1923, the Kent County Show has been giving visitors a taste of life in the Garden of England for the best part of a century. Featuring over four hundred exhibitors and a (mind-boggling) choice of three hundred-odd activities, there’s certainly no shortage of things to see and do here. Spread over three days in early July, this year’s show conveniently coincided with our short stay at my Grandma’s, so Grandma, Mum and I decided to venture over and make a day of it.
Glitzy Macau is Asia’s answer to Vegas, but with a sprinkling of Portuguese colonial heritage thrown in to counter the prominent gambling scene. Opulent casinos dominate the skyline – with the colossal pineapple-shaped Grand Lisboa taking centre stage – whilst traces of the colonial era can be found scattered across the Centro Histórico de Macau, a picturesque UNESCO World Heritage site.
Even though I’ve been to London countless times, there’s always something left to see – be it a museum, a café, or just an iconic viewing spot of the capital. Since I live on the opposite side of the country to Laurence, it’s also the most convenient place to meet up when we’re both home (though we’ve now gone from living 236 miles apart in the same country to living 625 miles apart with the English Channel between us, so a new city may well take London’s place as most convenient meeting spot). Rambling aside, back in July we decided to have a day trip to London incorporating a few of our favourite things: a love of all things designed by Arup (that would be Laurence), admiring vintage cameras and lunching at the Camera Museum, and taking in London’s skyline from Hampstead Heath.
If asked to name a British spa town, I suspect that for many people Bath would spring to mind. Head 200 or so miles further north and you’ll reach Harrogate, a spa town in the heart of Yorkshire which is frequently considered to be the happiest place to live in the UK. Easily accessible by train from Leeds, Harrogate is another of Britain’s gems. It’s surrounded by the Yorkshire Dales and the Nidderdale AONB, and the characterful city centre is full of boutique shops and cafés, fine architecture and sprawling green spaces.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Delamere Forest. Or perhaps not. Either way, let me introduce you to one of Cheshire’s hidden gems, which is tucked away in the Delamere countryside overlooking the Utkinton Hills. Besides visiting Chester Zoo and devoting an afternoon to making a delicious strawberry tart, I also visited Abbeywood Gardens with my mum during my post-exams long weekend at home in Chester.
Readers, meet Chester Zoo. Easily one of my favourite day trips – or, let’s face it, any sort of trip – Chester Zoo is the UK’s number one zoo, and I’m lucky enough to live right on its doorstep. After finishing exams at the end of last week, I decided to make an impromptu visit home (the first in four years of university) and this naturally entailed a trip to the zoo!