Guest Blog Post | Expedition Cambridge

After another bout of our usual planning, we managed to get diaries aligned and with that Expedition Cambridge was on. A mix of sightseeing, chilling, food and drink beckoned with Richard acting as tour guide of his home city. The weather on the Friday when I travelled did not bode well, but it proved us wrong as the weather was dry, sunny for the most part, the breeze being most welcome, apart from it pulling down Richard's new sun canopy. Kindly the next-door neighbours retrieved it before any damage was done to both Patsy and the canopy.

In our planning, I had one main request and that was to see the Cambridge of the locals, often that gives you a real feel for a place and I was not disappointed. After a lovely evening meal on the Friday at the local pub/restaurant, we were ready bright and early Saturday to start exploring. I was then treated to a tour of places where Trev and Richard had grown up, gone to school, started work and so on. It was a real trip down memory lane for Richard and there were one or two surprises for him since he was last living there. Perhaps most notable was where his Mum and Dad had lived and the current owners, somehow, had managed to build a new detached house in the side garden. It was certainly narrow and really needed a second glance to see, yes it was separate and not simply an extension.

We also took time out to visit the Madingley American Cemetery, I have a good number of American relations so was as much a visit for them as for me. It is small compared with the American ones on the near continent, however it was a site of tranquil reflection and some beautiful mosaics and glass plaques of each of the States.

We then moved onto Grantchester, a place obviously famous for the TV series of the same name, perhaps less so as the home of Jeffrey Archer. We were headed to a place in the village called The Orchard Tea Garden,  I was pleased to hear that this was a new place for Richard too. By now the sun was high and it was indeed warm. It was a very pleasant place, as you will see from the website it has a rather illustrious history following its planting in the late 18thC. A Cambridge University student’s tradition of taking afternoon tea in rural locations, saw the orchard being added to the growing list of places. From famous poet Rupert Brooke, author Virginia Wolf to more recent times, Stephen Hawking and HRH Prince Charles have all graced the Orchard Tea Garden. It is most certainly worth a visit and as they say, take time to relax, think your own thoughts and chat with friends is a delight in our fast-paced days.

20190720_131346Throughout the orchard were scattered groups of deckchairs under the trees, the trees being full of ripening apples. It is fair to say a knowing glance passed between us and we opted instead to sit on the nice wooden benches under the umbrellas. A potential embarrassing episode had been neatly avoided in the getting in and out of the deckchairs! A lovely lunch of freshly made baguettes and cooling drinks went down a treat and enabled us to people watch, as it was busy with people seeking lunch and a cool shady place. We then decided to amble down to the side of the River Granta across the cricket field, thankfully no match on, so we were not target practice. It was a very pleasant sunny afternoon and we treated ourselves to an ice cream on the way back to the car.WP_20160320_14_23_36_Pro

Our next stop was Ely, a visit to the Cathedral, which is certainly impressive, particularly the tower and its octagonal shape; why this is built like this we were to learn later during the river trip - operated by Liberty Belle Cruises. Ely is very quiet and picturesque, the waymarked walk from the car park to the riverside passed through some pleasant park areas and cooling under the tree’s walkways. Richard had been on the boat trip with Trev some time ago and they had really enjoyed it. A quick drink at the Riverside Bar and Kitchen,  by the boarding point and we were off. The views were excellent, and we saw herons and truly massive swans. There were a couple of Dutch, flat bottomed sailing ships moored up and you could only imagine the skill and timing DSC_0043required to get them across the North Sea. Of course, there was the usual piece of history as to how Ely got its name, through the catching and sale of Eels. Not a delicacy I was tempted to try. It was lovely to see Ely from that angle including how close the railway line is through the city. The reason for the unusual shaped tower in the Cathedral was one day in the 14thC, a massive rumbling started in the city and many people feared for their lives as the previous square shaped tower collapsed into the cathedral. The resulting octagonal shape enabled the very tall tower to be rebuilt and its continued presence a testament to their forethought.

Tonight's dinner was at a very picturesque pub and restaurant in the nearby village of Fulbourn at The White Hart, very olde worlde and we both opted for the Wagyu burgers, we were not disappointed as we both agreed they were some of the nicest ones we had eaten for some time. Richard continued to grow his Ale Archive, strictly in terms of research of course! A slice of home-made cake and drinks marked the end of a most enjoyable day.

DSC_0079Of course, you cannot visit a place like Cambridge and not do a bit of strictly tourist sightseeing, so Sunday morning beckoned, a quick cuppa and we opted for the Park and Ride nearby the site into the city.

We spent several very interesting hours ambling around looking at the various colleges, parks and the river, far too many to mention individually but all equally good. Some highlights were the end of the London to Cambridge bike ride, admiring the fitness DSC_0087required to take part in such a race. Christ College has recently had the coat of arms and shields re gilded and painted which shone brightly in the sun,  It was very busy, as you would expect, and we had coffee in the lovely Agora @ The Copper Kettle café overlooking Kings College entrance,  to catch our breath.

Another memorable sight was the Corpus Clock, a rather strange mix of a gold cymbal, a fiery dragon like creature and piercing blue lights gifted to Corpus Christi college in 2008.

We had so enjoyed our coffee we decided to return to the same café for our lunch and a well-earned sit down. By now it was early afternoon and the city was hot and stuffed full of tourists.

We both agreed that we were overdue a chance to sit and relax back at the site. On the way back we had a quick drive round the massive site of Addenbrooke’s and the new Papworth Hospital. A strange place to sightsee you might think but I worked in the NHS for many years and so a bit of a ‘busman's holiday’. It’s an amazing sight and the amount of building still going on, particularly for the research centre, is phenomenal. Batteries recharged, dinner time at the nearby pub ended another fabulous day.

The following day was, sadly, departure day for me. For my part, I had a fabulous weekend, full of fun and excellent company. Thanks, Richard, for all you did.

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