18 August 2013

Plus Ça Change: A Return to Cambridge

I can hardly believe it's been two years since my last visit to Cambridge, but since Dr E moved to Australia, I don't really know anyone there. It's a shame because on a lovely summer Saturday, it's a lovely place to be. Yesterday was more autumnal, but it was nice to be back. I was meeting some friends and former colleagues for lunch, but I had half an hour to kill first, so I decided to re-caffeinate. When I lived in Cambridge, there weren't any decent independent espresso bars, but the internets pointed me in the direction of Hot Numbers, just off Mill Road, which I'll review in full soon. Spoiler alert: I was impressed.

Hot Numbers Coffee on Gwydir Street.

Suitably buzzing, I headed for The Emperor on Hills Road. It's not the best pub in a city where there is a lot of competition, but it was fine and served the purpose of providing a venue for three old friends to catch up.

Unfortunately, as I walked into the city centre, the heavens opened and I had left my umbrella at home in favour of my sunglasses. Error. It did stop raining before I reached an umbrella vendor, though, so it could have been worse. Cambridge has a nice little market most days, but I headed for a shop called Ark, just off the market square, which sells girly gifts and homewares. They were playing the same "stereotypical French music" compilation CD as they were on my last visit, several years ago. The song really does remain the same. They also had a nice collection of Italian leather purses, iPad cases and bags in a range of colours. No prizes for guessing which colour I picked.

I then decided to take my new camera for a walk through some of the colleges, flashing my alumni card to gain free entry. King's wasn't as busy as I was expecting; perhaps the rain was putting people off.

King's College Chapel.

I walked along The Backs to my alma mater, St John's. After four years of living in college, I still find myself avoiding walking on grass wherever I go. The ducks, however, remained unconcerned as they paraded in front of New Court.

Meanwhile, the punt-naming committee have made fast work of ensuring that HRH Prince George has a vessel in his honour. And of course, the punt tour guides' stories about the "history" of the university and its colleges were just as inaccurate as the last time I heard them.

After leaving John's, I had another walk around the shops and then headed back to the station, admiring the many colourful front doors on the leafy streets in that part of town.

Front-door porn.

Things I miss about Cambridge:

  • The peace and quiet, and lack of smoking.
  • Walking through my old college and along The Backs.
  • The excellent selection of pubs.
  • Lakeland.

Things I don't miss about Cambridge:
  • The lack of 3G.
  • The killer cyclists.
  • The über-persistent punt-tour touts.
  • The wind (did you know that there are no mountains between Cambridge and Siberia?)

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