My final birthday celebration was a weekend away in Cambridge which was all researched and booked by my beautiful daughter – thank you Lara, it was wonderful.
I had never been to Cambridge before which is why Lara chose to take me. I want to go again! It is a beautiful City and one small enough so you can walk around it. It is steeped in history and full of beautiful architecture, shops and eateries. Quite the perfect weekend destination.
We arrived early Saturday morning, checked in to our hotel and headed off for brunch. At a cafe called Sticky Beaks I had a latte and Bircher Muesli which is what Lara had too.
This picture sums up Cambridge for me; bicycles, pale yellow stone buildings and beautiful gates leading in to extraordinary places of learning.
There are bicycles everywhere. How refreshing to see that they can be padlocked to railings and left on streets here. Plus there are parking sites for bikes too. Other Cities should take note and copy. This is the view inside the little Round Church. One of many churches open to the public.People have lived here since at least Roman times and the history here is breathtaking.
Of course the most famous thing about Cambridge is the University and you are allowed to look inside many of the colleges. This is one of the flower borders inside Magadelene College. The formal dining room at Magdalene was set up for a dinner.I loved the architecture in this and many other colleges.
We continued walking towards Castle Hill and we realised we were in for a treat. Once a year Castle Hill hosts an open day and it was this Saturday.
Inside the curved building to the right of the Car Park sign is a Nuclear Bunker! We stepped through the very thick door to see what was inside. I remember CND very clearly and went on quite a few marches myself in the 1970s so I found it fascinating to be reminded of a time many people, such as my own children, know nothing about. The bunker is today owned by Cambridge County Council who store archaeological finds here such as the Roman coins Harvey was allowed to touch and was quite fascinated by. Archaeological finds are stored here and in a salt mine in Cheshire! We continued wandering around. This is the cute little St.Peter’s Church.
Inside it is tiny and very spartan.We went to Kettle’s Yard, looked round the art gallery and the walked up to Kettle’s Yard House which was the home of Jim Ede, who was the Curator of the Tate in London.
Jim collected art and opened his house up once a week to exhibit it. He was well known for simple displays of objects such as these pebbles. Unfortunately no one told Harvey NOT to play with the pebbles. Oops! Hopefully no harm was done.
This simple and quite bare house was one of my favourite places I visited in Cambridge. The house felt very calm and peaceful and I loved the light and the simplicity here. This old bathroom reminded me of a few from my childhood! I have come home with an urge to paint it all white and remove the last few carpets to display floorboards.
Time for lunch. Knowing we were out for a special dinner we popped in to Cote for a main course only.
When in Rome ….. or even in a French restaurant in Cambridge …. Pernod and Cassis. Roast chicken in mushroom sauce with frites and salad. Yummy. We went to visit more University Colleges in the afternoon. This beautiful building is part of St.John’s College. The sculptures are so good they look almost lifelike. How very talented some people are to create such beautiful objects. Unfortunately Trinity College was closed to the public so we had to make do with admiring the door way. We learned today that the statue of Henry VIII is holding a wooden chair leg ! Apparently he was originally holding a Sceptre but some students climbed up and replaced it with a bicycle pump. After about a year the College decided it was not very respectful so replaced it with a wooden chair leg! Another college I really wanted to visit was King’s.
King’s College was open and the chapel was not only open but a large group of 200 choristers were practising. I was delighted. I love choral music and to hear it in such an extraordinary place was very wonderful and quite emotional.
I could have sat here all afternoon.
It is very hard to capture the scale and beauty of this amazing place. How did they build this in the 15th and 16th Centuries? I can spot 2 familiar little faces here 🙂 I managed, for the sake of my children, to tear myself away! This is two sides of the large square that form part King’s college, the chapel being one of the sides.
This is the chapel seen from the outside and you can see how small the people look as they walk beside it. Big is not always beautiful but it is at King’s Cambridge. This is the view of King’s and Clare colleges from one of the bridges over the River Cam and to the left is a field of cows! It gives an idea of how majestic and magnificent the college buildings must have appeared as they rose above the surrounding fields when they were first built. This is the Corpus clock outside Corpus Christi College in the City centre. It was reveled by Stephen Hawking in 2008. The three concentric rings display the seconds, minutes and hours by a backlit blue light. If I understood it correctly, it is quarter past four. Time for a drink. The next item on our itinerary was a beer in The Eagle, the pub where Crick and Watson discussed the structure of DNA as they were realising what they were studying and where they first announced their discovery. The Eagle was built in 1667.Cheers 🙂
In the evening we had one of the most extraordinary meals I have ever had. We went to a Michelin starred restaurant – Alimentum. The location was not great as it was on a main road about 20 minutes from our hotel so we had to take a taxi rather then walk. I was not a huge fan of the decor either – a bit red and black and urban for my liking. But oh my goodness !!!!!! The food was extraordinary.
We began with a complimentary salt and vinegar popcorn with cheesey puffs (they had a fancy name but I can’t remember it!). I have drunk many cocktails in my time and this was definitely one of the best and I love, love, loved the presentation. It was a smokey Bourbon with an orange twist, pecans and maple syrup. A- MAZE-ING! Next was some home baked bread. They were very attentive to Harvey’s dairy intolerance and he had different bread (ours had some milk) and oil to dip his in to instead of butter. A complimentary amuse bouche of carrot veloutee with coriander ice-cream (exceptionally good) and caramelised carrots). Harvey was served a mini grouse burger with cute mushrooms.My starter was Quail with pak choi, lime, broccoli and peanuts. My least favourite dish but still enjoyable.
This was brilliant. Pistachio glazed halibut on creamed cabbage with butternut puree and other bits and pieces. Blimey, I won’t earn my living by being a restaurant critic will I? It looked beautiful and every mouthful was a pleasure. I could have eaten this dish again and again. This was another complimentary dish and I am really struggling to remember what was in this. I remember a pineapple chip and some yogurt ice-cream. It was good but I forget what the waiter said it was. I think the Bourbon and wine had rendered me fairly senseless by then. This was very intriguing. The bit that looks like cling film was apple jelly. Underneath were blackberries, hazelnuts and apple semi-freddo. It was very small but perfectly formed. There are 2 tables here which look in to a window in to the kitchen. Some people may not like that but we enjoyed it and I was particularly fascinated. We had an early booking so were one of the first to get through our menu so quite soon worked out when they were preparing our dishes. It was fascinating watching it come together. Well done Lara – that was a fantastic meal. Expensive but very memorable and enjoyable so worth it.
This is such a long post I am going to blog about Sunday’s fun tomorrow!