I have just returned home after an enjoyable, and much-needed mini-break to Cambridge (with a brief stint in London) and I am feeling well-rested and rejuvenated. It’s the first time I’ve been to Cambridge in a few years and was the first time that I really had time to explore the city.
My visit was prompted by my desire to unwind after the end of my post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Dundee, which lined up well with my friend Ernie’s plans. He was in the area for work and wanted someone to pal around with for a few days, and I was more than happy to oblige. After all, when a fellow geek wants to spend a few days visiting libraries, museums, and institutions of knowledge and culture, it would be silly to decline!
I made my way to London on Wednesday afternoon where I settled into a hotel room near King’s Cross station for the evening. It was a bit rainy, so I opted to simply relax, knowing that the days to follow would require a great deal of walking – and even more brainpower! Then on Thursday morning, I woke up and gave myself a facial and a manicure before heading out to meet my friend who was arriving that morning.
I had a late check-out for my room, which meant that Ernie was able to freshen up after his travels and we could leave our luggage behind whilst we explored the local area a bit. As we are both kind of geeks, our first stop was the British Library. I am embarrassed to say that, despite it being so near to King’s Cross, I have never been to visit. I am so pleased that I finally got there!
After the library, we decided to walk up to St Pancreas Old Kirk. It was a bit rainy, but we were hopeful that we would be able to dry off in the church for a bit. Once we arrived, we were greeted with an unexpected cello recital. It was the last in a series of lunchtime recitals and we were both quite excited by the treat. Indeed, when we left, we were sent on our way with lots of cake (and declined offers of tea and coffee) for the train to Cambridge. Bonus!
Of course, because of the unexpected musical treat, we had to rush back to my hotel so that I could check out on time. Then we made our way to the train station where we found some sandwiches to enjoy along with the cakes for a nice little train picnic on the journey to Cambridge.
Once in Cambridge, we settled into our hotel rooms then met up for a walk around the city to orient ourselves for the rest of the trip. Thankfully, the rain let up as was walked, making for a pleasant evening of wandering around the city. In fact, we enjoyed enough of the city that I had a daily step count of 19,268 – nearly double my daily goal!
After a good night’s sleep, I met Ernie in the lobby for a full day’s sightseeing. Thanks to our reconnaissance walk around the city the night before, we knew the best way to get to where we wanted to be. In fact, we found a great shortcut on our recon-wander which meant that we were able to start the day with a visit to the Pembroke College Chapel where we got to admire the Cross of the Migrants.
Then it was onto the Fitzwilliam Museum where we enjoyed their temporary exhibit called “Feast and Fast: The art of food in Europe, 1500—1800”, in addition to their permanent displays. I was especially impressed with the elaborate sugar sculptures, as shown in the photo gallery.
From the museum, we made our way to the Mathematical Bridge at Queens’ College before making our way to King’s College Chapel where we marvelled at the design and the displays telling the history of the building. The rest of the day was spent wandering around the city, popping into the different colleges (where we were allowed) to enjoy the chapels and gardens. And at the end of the day, we went to a lecture at Darwin College as part of their Enigmas 2020 lecture series. The speaker was Dr Albert Yu-Min Lin on the topic of Archaeological Mysteries [you can watch the lecture here]. (I did say we were geeks!)
After the lecture, we went out for a big bowl of Pho before heading back to the hotel where I was able to relax and read for a bit before bed. All told, I managed 20,046 steps for the day which made me incredibly happy.
On Saturday, I started the day with a morning run on the treadmill before meeting Ernie for our final day in the city. Where Thursday and Friday seemed relatively low-key and uncrowded, Saturday was quite busy with crowds milling around everywhere. In fact, it was even busy at our first stop, the Scott Polar Research Institute. (That location was not my choice, but Ernie seemed keen on it, so I happily went along.)
After the polar museum, we made our way back to Queens’ College Chapel for an afternoon organ recital, performed by Christopher Baczkowski. I always enjoy listening to music in churches and was pleased to have yet another opportunity to do so!
From the concert, we made our way to the river for a punting tour along the River Cam. It was a wonderful way to relax and take in the views of the different colleges that make up the larger University of Cambridge system. Plus, it was nice to not have to walk for a while! Although, the walking wasn’t completely done for the day!
After punting on the river, we walked around a bit more, stopping into a couple of small churches and galleries along the way. Then we made our way back to King’s College so that we could enjoy the Evensongs. It was a real delight to hear the choral voices filling the ancient chapel, and I was so pleased to have had yet another opportunity for listening to music in a church!
I will admit that I was extremely tired by the end of the day, but I did manage enough energy for a nice dinner before heading back to my room for the evening. Between the morning run and the walking around, I managed 18,331 steps – which is probably why I had such a good night’s sleep!
After waking up on Sunday morning, I packed my bags and got ready for my journey back up to Scotland. I met Ernie in the lobby, and we made our way to the train station where he left for London to continue his travels. I then took the time to find a couple of geocaches before catching my train home.
It felt like an exceptionally long journey home, but I did manage to get back to the cottage before 6 pm – which made it easy to get an early night’s sleep. It was harder to get my steps in for the day, with a final count of a measly 10,236. Which, in fairness, is about normal for me. But I got so used to all the extra holiday steps!
Anyhow, it was good to see Ernie and to pal around for a few days. I hope that we will be able to meet up soon for more adventures! It was also good to unwind for a bit to mark the end of my job and the stress of looking for a new one! And since you, Dear Reader, missed out on the fun, here are some photos from my travels for you to enjoy.