It’s spring in London. We’ve had a few days of beautiful weather. My freckles are back. I’m not chilly. The sun is out and the ground might actually dry. There’s a camellia outside my kitchen door, blooming like mad.
Sunday was the nicest day, at a sunny 16 degrees, so we decided to go to Hyde Park to soak up some rays. Half of London obviously got the same idea – it was packed! There was a lineup to get into one of the playgrounds with a sign “Playground at capacity” (have I mentioned Britain’s great love of fences? That’s a whole blog post by itself). It was a lovely, lazy day, even for Zebula, who was exhausted from the previous night (she was at a birthday sleepover. “There was a chocolate fountain!”).
So we went to Cambridge! Over two weeks ago! I should tell you about it before I forget!
Cambridge was lovely. It is very much a university town, and the parts we walked through that weren’t outright university grounds felt like university towns everywhere, but much, much older. Coffee shops, bookstores, kind of funky, but with an underlying feeling of ‘we’ve been here for hundreds of years’. It’s a nice place. The main geographical feature is, of course, the River Cam, which runs through the city. Cambridge was called Cambridge before the river Cam was called the river Cam (for real! The river was named Granta by the Saxons, and the city became known as Cambridge a little later. The river was renamed Cam to match the name. Thanks, Wikipedia!)
The University is really a collection of colleges, separate but somehow not. It’s nearly impossible to follow the river, as a large part of the riverfront in the city belongs to the various colleges, and there are fences and gates everywhere to prevent entry to ‘non-members’.
Still, it was nice to walk around. We managed to miss opening hours for most of the colleges and their chapels (PSA: don’t be a tourist in Cambridge on a Sunday), though we did get to wander around Queen’s College a bit, mostly to get onto the Mathematical Bridge. We even saw lots of students carrying around sporting equipment like tennis racquets and rugby balls. It was so wonderfully cliché!
It was hard to get a sense of what the lives of non-student Cambridgians are like – we only really visited the University parts. We ventured out to a park (Jesus Green!) for the kids to let off steam (their patience for my strong desire to see “old things” and walk around wears pretty thin eventually) and saw lots of families there, and their houses on the other side of the park. The most striking thing was the lack of ethnic diversity there. I’ve become so used to all the different cultures mingling in London that it was a shock to see a very stereotypically European-looking community, even at the university.
We’ll probably go back – a cousin of mine moved there a few days after we visited, and I’d love to go say hello, and pass on some kitchen stuff I’ve accumulated. Though time is starting to feel like it’s running out. Only about four months until we’re back home!
(Full set of Cambridge photos here)