As winter rolls in...
All this time overseas and I rarely speak of what has so easily become home. Cambridge is a fabulous little city. The English believe it shouldn't be called a city due to its lack of a cathedral (a vital box you used to have to tick if you were to call your town a city) but we wont pause for too long on that thought.
Cambridge - for those of you not familiar with the area - is situated pretty much in the heart of East Anglia in its own county (Cambridgehire). We are a 45 minute train ride north of London and only 30 minutes from Stansted airport which gives me all the benefits of easy to reach hustle n bustle as well as a great international transport network. What more can a girl ask for?
The city is situated on the river Cam (hence the name) and is most well-known for its University and its Boat Race (and indirectly the friendly competitiveness with 'rival' university city Oxford). Rowing is a local pasttime and a great way to get a completely different view of the area. However if you only visit for a short time most people would recommend hiring a punt and seeing the sights that way. I would recommend this to you with 2 additions: Champagne and Strawberries. Or Pimms and lemonade if you prefer!
Cambridge is also 'The City of Cycles'. Popular myth has it that almost everyone in Cambridge owns a stolen bike - not that they necessarily stole it themselves, more likely they bought it from a mate who got it cheap from a bloke 'with connections' - but considering the number of bikes that get nicked every week I'm going to guess that there is some truth to the tale. Because East Anglia is 'Fen land' its almost completely flat which means that biking everywhere is fairly fuss free and with most of the centre of the city being pedestrian-only riding a bike is much more convenient than having a car.
There are 4 main commons: Jesus Green, Parkers Piece, Midsummer Common and the Mill. Each has its popluar uses and summer is definitely the time to make the most of them. Midsummer common hosts the strawberry fair and countless amusement fairs and a circus or two each year; Jesus green is where students and locals alike go to play football and tennis and skate and muck about; Parkers Piece plays host to pretty much anything slightly more high brow than would feature on Midsummer common as well as being the playing fields for Parkside School (and great for snow fights in winter); and The Mill is a great drinking space. In the middle of summer its either strewn with comatose bodies or plastic cups and disposable BBQ's. Its also a good space to watch novice punters fall off their punts (my 'tip of the week').
There are many good eateries including a LOAD of pizza places and wine bars. There are 3 cinemas as well as a bowling alley and various pool halls if you like that kind of thing. The local nightclubs are good fun after a drink or two and the whole area is absolutely stuffed with fantastic pubs in which to enjoy a Sunday lunch or a romantic meal any time you fancy.
The architecture of the city never fails to please me. Due to several big building projects there has been a lot of archaeological digs going on which I've taken the opportunity to poke my nose into whenever I can. If you like churches then Great St Marys is worth a stop - go up the tower for a brilliant view of the city. The colleges of the university are brilliant. There is so much more to them than impressive walls and court yards - being invited to dine at any of them is well worth the experience. The May Balls (held in June) are brilliant and the tickets always go quickly despite being priced up to £500 and I can say that they are more than worth the money.
If you come during winter - especially around halloween - you can do Ghost Walks and scare yourself silly (if you like that kind of thing). Or else you can enjoy the splendour of this centuries old town in the heat of summer idly wandering from bar to bar, cafe to cafe, common to common (via the market square) and just soak it all up as you go.
So now I've done this advertisement, you should come and visit.