Cambridge in the Spring

We left our Heathrow hotel again on the Piccadilly underground line to Kings Cross Station, where we hopped on a train to Cambridge. The train was very comfortable with lots of luggage room.

We once again stayed at the Ibis Cambridge Hotel, which is located directly beside the train station. This convenience of the hotel is excellent, although the rooms are quite small. They are however designed with typical Ibis efficiency.

We were of course very excited to see Kristin and met her after her class at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School.

We then spent a bit of time enjoying the sunshine with some of Kristin’s classmates outside one of their favourite pubs before heading to dinner at the Bedouin, a North African restaurant. Dinner was excellent – Bev had lamb, Harvey – seafood and Kristin – chicken.

On Friday, after a lovely breakfast at the Cafe Abantu, Kris took us on a tour of the ‘Big Three’ of the colleges. The University of Cambridge has 31 colleges. Every student belongs to a College. This is not related to your area of study – they are made up of students from all faculties. Most Colleges either do not allow visitors or charge an admission fee, but Kristin was able to take us freely in.

King’s, St John’s and Trinity Colleges are three of the richest colleges, with architecture to match their wealth. Trinity is the wealthiest of the individual colleges with published assets worth £1.3b.

King’s College was founded in 1441 by Henry VI.

It has a world famous chapel and choir and the Christmas Eve service from King’s is broadcast to millions around the globe. The fan vaulting of the Chapel ceiling, completed in 1515, is the glory of the building. The dark oak screen which houses the organ was a gift of Henry VIII and bears his initials and those of his Queen at that time, Anne Boleyn.

St John’s College was established in 1511 by the executors of the foundress, Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII. The grounds include the charming Bridge of Sighs, a covered bridge connecting New Court and Third Court.

Trinity College was established in 1546 by Henry VIII, combining Michaelhouse and King’s Hall. Isaac Newton, one of the greatest of all physical scientists, completed his most important mathematical and scientific work at the college.

We also stopped in at Little St Mary’s Church, with it’s garden cemetery.

It was a nice spring day in Cambridge (although not the summery weather they had been experiencing) so we decided to take a walk through the countryside to the quaint village of Grantchester, about 3 km south of Cambridge. We stopped in at the Green Man pub for lunch and a pint.

On return to Cambridge, we took a break at Kristin’s Clare Hall College house and then met a number of her classmates at the Punters Pub, before dinner at the Gardenia. They are such an amazing group of young adults, so accomplished and worldly, but also so friendly and fun-loving. It was wonderful to get to know this ‘family’ that Kris has become part of!

Saturday threatened to be a rainy day, although we actually only encountered a few sprinkles in the evening on our way back to the hotel. We decided to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum, which is located directly across from the business school.

The Fitzwilliam Museum is the art and antiquities Museum of the University of Cambridge. Founded in 1816, the museum includes one of the best collections of antiquities and modern art in western Europe. With over half a million objects and artworks in its collections, the displays in the museum explore world history and art from antiquity to the present. We found the scale of museum to be more to our liking than the great expanse of the British Museum and thoroughly enjoyed the visit. Also, once again, an amazing collection to view with no admission fee.

We wandered a bit more around Cambridge, had tea at Fitzbillies, and then stopped in at such venerable landmarks as Boots the Chemist and Primark Department Store, for some necessary purchases. It was by then pub time again and we met a group of Kristin’s friends (who by now were thinking we must be here to stay) at the Anchor Pub. Located on the RiverCam, it was here that Pink Floyd played their first public gig. We followed up our drinks with excellent pizza for dinner at Franco Manca.

On Sunday, Kristin had a number of commitments (including dodgeball & rugby practices and a formal dinner for individuals interviewing for entry to next year’s program), and Harvey & I headed out on a day trip. We took a short train ride to Ely. Ely is a lovely little town – but the main attraction is the Ely Cathedral.

The history of the Cathedral dates back to 673 when Etheldreda, a Saxon Queen, established a monastery on the site. The Normans started construction of the Cathedral in 1081 and the North and South Transepts from that time are still standing. The Normans completed their construction in 1189.

In 1322 the Central Tower collapsed during the night – it was promptly replaced by the Octagon Tower. We took an Octagon Tower tour, which led us up a number of tiny spiral staircases with stops within and culminating on the roof of the Tower. It was fascinating to see how the Tower was constructed and to imagine how this occurred in the 14th century. At one of the stops, the Angel doors are opened and you can peer down into the Cathedral.

The Cathedral also offers a tour of the taller West Tower (we didn’t take this one). This tower dates from the 13th and 14th centuries and stands 215 feet high.

The Cathedral was beautiful and I would recommend a visit to anyone in the area.

Leaving Ely, we took the train to the next stop on the line – Littleport. Littleport would not be a stop on most people’s itineraries and I wouldn’t recommend adding it. However, it was the area that Harvey’s grandparents emigrated from and we felt that we should pay a visit. We walked into the sleepy town and looked around but couldn’t find anything that sparked our interest. However, we can say that we have been there. 🙂

On return to Cambridge we had dinner at the Old Train Station Pub – the burgers were good after a nice day in the country.

Monday morning, we had time for breakfast with Kris and then it was off to the train and the next stop in our trip. More later…..

Cheers,

Bev & Harv

3 thoughts on “Cambridge in the Spring

  1. Pingback: UK – Recommendations & Tips | A Long and Winding Journey

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