A mere hour away from London by train lies Cambridge, not just a university as I had always thought but an entire university town. I get a little faint-hearted when I think about all of the mayhem that you could get up to living in a town that literally grew up around your university.
We’re taking advantage of a rare sunny Sunday and have ducked away to Cambridge for a day of culture, pub lunches and most importantly – Punting!
Walking through the streets of Cambridge I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed, under the title of University of Cambridge actually sits 31 colleges, the oldest of which was founded in 1284.
It’s a study of cathedral-like towers and grass squares that border the streets of Cambridge, I can’t help but compare the buildings to my beloved UTS (aka University of Technology Sydney, aka Ugliest Tower in Sydney).
Of course UTS wins ;).
We pick up a little history from a free walking tour guide who we happen to pass and it’s a rather pleasant walk as we stroll our way towards the main square. We’ve timed our visit well, the academic year has yet to begin, all of the students who would normally fill up the student housing that surrounds the colleges have yet to arrive so the streets are ours to roam as we like.
While many of the colleges are closed off to the general public we do manage to sneak into a few and marvel at the perfect squares of grass in the main courtyards. At one we even spot a guard whose only job seems to be to keep intruders off the grass! (I may have snuck one toe on just to test this).
It’s hard to tell from the angle of the photos, but all of the grass squares have a hatching pattern on them – I can’t help but theorise it’s because they’ve gone and mowed the lawn, left it for a day then gone back in a diagonal pattern to get the two different levels of grass and thus two shades of green! *laughs* Am I overthinking this?
But of course, the most important thing on a Sunday is a pub lunch! There’s no choice for me other than the Sunday Roast (guys, it even has Sunday in the name of the dish) and it’s a satisfying huge plate that arrives at our table, accompanied by an equally large Cider.
It’s actually my first time eating Yorkshire pudding, it’s a bizarre dough-ish cup of dough that does a superb job of mopping up all of the leftover gravy. I think I’m showing my utter un-englishness right here.
The others in the group have opted for the classic Fish & Chips, glorious battered gloriousness. Not really much more to be said really.
8 Bene’t Street
Cambridge, CB2 3QN
It’s when we arrive at Cam River for a spot of punting that I realise this is where all the tourists have gone! It’s chaos on the river, with boats and groups floating by in all directions.
Options range from having a nice strapping Cambridge lad punt your punt, or a cheaper self-punting option. We choose the former of course ;).
Past all of the chaos of the DIYers punting themselves in circles and around the bend, it’s suddenly all tranquil and calm. There’s something soothing about the sound of running water and we just sit back and watch the colleges go by.
The local birds do their best to charm us out of our carefully saved up scraps of Yorkshire Pudding, but in the end it’s the mother/baby combo that steals our heart and pastries.
One last glimpse of Kings College before the most important part of the day. Dinner.
The Cambridge Chop House
It feels somewhat mercenary, especially considering only an hour previous I’d been feeding their potential cousins, but after seeing the Duck Breast up on the specials board I have to order it. I think my friends agree, seeing as half the table end up ordering the same dish! Beautifully pink and all on a bed of mash, it’s perfection on a plate until I see the pork belly arrive.
Holy Pork Belly batman! Measuring a solid 10cm x 10cm at the very least, it’s a beast of a dish that the other half of the table has opted for. The bite I’ve stolen is gloriously fatty with a lovely crunch from the crackling, but just opposite me the crackling is more a disappointing rubbery chew.
A few bottles of red and a lazy stroll back to the station sees us back on our way to London. The trains are fully packed as the tourists head on out of town, it’s been a brilliant day but I can’t even begin to imagine what this town would be like once all the students are back!
The Cambridge Chophouse
1 King’s Parade
Cambridge, CB2 1SJ
Ph: +44 1223 359506