Friday, November 13, 2015

Letters from a Golden English Autumn, Part 3: Cambridge walks

October 1.

So we are safely in Cambridge, and the driving part of my trip is over (except for returning the car tomorrow). After a beautiful home cooked Lancastrian hot pot dinner, I'm now tucked up for a much needed night's rest.

(Morning)  The most beautiful morning in Cambridge, crisp and sunny. Jan's in bed with a cold and I'm wandering the town on my own; it’s nice to be staying near Newnham College, with tree lined streets and elegant homes, and the trees turning golden in the sunshine. My own cold is quite gone, and am full of energy though walking on these concrete cobbly streets one must be careful. There, now I’ve finished my cappuccino at the Caffe Nero opposite Kings College... 

Had a lovely stroll around Cambridge, the market, one or two colleges, then went to Michaelhouse (a restaurant at a church) for a good cooked breakfast, eggs, sausages etc. 

The Market

Flowers near the Fitzwilliam

Breakfast at Michaelhouse

Then made my way to the Fitzwilliam Museum and had one of those exalted visits, seeing the Ruskin collection of Turners. 

A Venetian Turner

"Young Man Reclining on the Downs" (Theodore Carvelle d'Abgny, 1798-1871)

Then it was time to deal with retuning the car. I was downright scared at the prospect of having to actually drive through the winding and busy streets of Cambridge alone. It's odd, because I am as good at maneuvering a vehicle as ever; reflexes, peripheral vision, are fine. But I can't do operations like read six signs while at a roundabout, I naturally slow down, whereupon the other drivers start honking and glaring, which is horribly unnerving. Basically I can only drive in a city like Cambridge with someone to tell me where to turn. If only I could use a SatNav - but I still haven't been able to figure them out. To get to the Cambridge car return, I wrote out a sheet of directions by hand, but after about the fourth or fifth direction, I did something wrong...didn't make a “dog leg turn” (as Jan later told me), and it was irremediable. Found myself trapped in a maze of one way streets crammed with crowds, bicycles, trucks, traffic. And impossible to just pull over - no such thing. With no idea what to do I continued straight on and found myself near Kings which is only for buses, and got honked! Then I saw a street that I remembered from my walk, knew it went straight back to the house, and I turned into it. Got back safely, but was absolutely done with trying to get to the car place; I simply called them up and told them I could NOT do it and they must come to get me!  They were kind, amused and rather proud of their city, to think that I could drive from Edinburgh to Liverpool etc but be defeated by Cambridge! They sent a nice girl and boy to pick up the car, arriving in 20 minutes. Yay Enterprise! 

Then as the day was so gorgeous I strolled into town again for a sausage roll and cream tea at Fitzbilly's, very nice.

Fitzbilly's scone and clotted cream

Friday Oct. 2

My Grantchester walk.  After cappuccino and croissants at a student place, Jan walked me as far as Newnham Village (so pretty) and went back to rest, while I walked on to Grantchester on my own, which was very exciting and beautiful, taking pictures all the way, past cows and pheasants and swans, the beautiful meadows and river, in that golden light. At last I reached The Orchard (it's about 2 miles each way I reckon). 

Flowers in Newnham Village

Shop in Newnham village

 I found that as long as I was at the Cambridge edge of Newnham, on concrete and cobbles, I walked rather slowly and painfully. But as soon as I was on the path in the meadows, on springy turf, suddenly I was able to take good long hiking strides with no discomfort whatever. Cement’s the culprit.  Well, at The Orchard with no one to witness my piggishness I ordered a ton of food:  a huge Ploughman's lunch, cheddar, Brie, Stilton, crisp crusted hunks of bread, Branston pickle chutney and pickled onions, with fresh Cambridge apple juice! Not to mention a Victoria sponge and tea, all enjoyed sitting under beautiful ripening apple trees. Finished off the meal by picking a few wild blackberries.    

On the way to Grantchester

Family and dog watch a punter

The Orchard

Ripe apples hanging on the trees

Under the apple trees

The Ploughman's lunch - a feast!

Closeup of the most perfect Victoria sponge of the trip

Delicious blackberries

Grantchester cows

Little white Grantchester cow

On the way back...

 I had to walk back quickly, as I was meeting Pam, a member of the Girls Own list, back in town at three. I made the walk back in an hour, the concrete soreness returning by then! But Pam and I had a delightful chat at the Caffe Nero, and then visited our favorite Haunted Bookshop, and bought the odd book or two. As a novice Chaletian it was nice for me to have Pam tell me her favorites, and warn me off the lesser ones. I wound up buying Carola Storms the Chalet School, The Coming of Age of the Chalet school, The Highland Twins and The Rivals. Also The White Riders by Monica Edwards and The Vicarage Children in Skye by Lorna Hill. Then I staggered back to Jan's for a rest!  Clara and the darling little boys arrived around 7 for family dinner, which was very homey.

Me and Pam at The Haunted Bookshop

We stayed until closing!

Newnham College cat


Unknown said...

Gorgeous photos, Diana! The flowers, blackberries, and clotted cream are so pretty, and that last photo of the path is stunning. I do enjoy following you around on your travels.

Diana Birchall said...

Thank you so much, Sarah! Blogging and sharing really enhances the enjoyment.