Published: August 19th 2012August 11th 2012
It just doesn't seem possible to rest my feet here, there is always places to go, people to see, sleep to not get. I'm starting to think people are lying about the weather here in England; so far it has been at least 22degrees everyday and really really humid! So being another beautiful day in England we decided to go punting in Cambridge.
Cambridge is about 1 hour from Biggleswade, but instead of driving all the way into the main town we drove to a Park and Ride and took a bus into the centre. I've heard of Oxford being beautiful (and I'm sure to see it one day) but Cambridge will be pretty hard to beat. Apparently the weekends are always busy in the summer and there is always a market in the centre. This proved to be quite entertaining when there was a protest staged outside a clothing stall because they apparently sold animal fur products....ironically the guy leading the protest was wearing leather boots.....not too smart. People are pretty forthcoming with their opinion here and instead of just ignoring the protesters and carrying on with their day random people were yelling at them and carrying on. The
lady who owned the store had to put up tarps to prevent her clothes being ruined with paint....so while we got out the popcorn the police turned up....interesting times.
Anywho when we first got there we walked down some streets which were very cute and quaint, cobble stone roads etc, but very nice botique shops, obviously quite a la de da area, so we had cornish pasty to fit in! ha. Once we got to the centre of town we were faced with massive steples and detailed buildings. Seemed our idea of punting on the river wasn't unique and there were heaps of people that thought it sounded like a good idea too. We were approached by a guy selling punting rides for 20 pound per person!.....we said no and amazingly the price reduced dramatically to 4 people for 45 pound....what barginers we are. While we were waiting for our booking we came across St Mary's Church which is within the main centre and had a look around. While this was a nice enough church, it was nothing on St Pauls in London of course and quite different in structure, not quite so extravagent.
When we were ready
for punting our 'tour guide' took us down to the river and we were lucky enough to lose half our group who decided they needed the toilet and so pretty much got a whole punt to ourselves! Now you can hire punts and 'do it yourself' but these are narrower....and therefore tippable.....and I don't know if it is as easy as it looks! Infact the river is deeper than I thought, the oar is quite a few metres long and pretty much disappears as you row down the river. The other thing is there are bridges......low, hard stone bridges....and you are standing on a punt......the chances of being knocked off the boat are reasonably high....so just get someone that knows what they are doing to do it for you! So as we lay back on our punt we learned all about the history of each college as we rowed on by (avoiding those who opted to 'do it themselves' along the way.....avoiding is also classified as colliding in Cambridge.....it was ok, we were bigger!). I didn't know that Cambridge University is actually the 'umbrella' for the 31 Colleges in the area. Puting down the river St Johns College and Trinity
College are on opposite sides of the river and are arch rivals. St Johns College is huge and the entrance gate is perfectly symetrical apart from the eagle above it which is turned away from Trinity "shunning " it. The other strange thing was it has a clock tower with no clock. Legend has it that Trinity College beat them to building the clock tower and so St Johns weren't allowed to put a clock face on. Our punt guide pointed out holes in the St Johns building that lined the river. Apparently these are swan traps...the Queen is the only one allowed to eat swan, so when she feels the need these were used to satisfy her taste....hmmm we didn't get a taste test. There are heaps of bridges crossing the river, one in particular was a pretty one called the Bridge of Sighs inspired by bridges in Venice. Puntign along gives you a good view of the buildings from a different angle, one of which was Kings College Chapel which our guide told us was a must see in Cambridge. So we did!
Anna and Gareth met up with us and it was only 1/2 hour on
the train from London, so no wonder it's so busy as a day out for people. The Kings College Chapel didn't disappoint. The ceiling had so much detail it was incredible. There was also a display on how they erected the building and guide on how the vaulting works.....do not try this at home, the roof is bound to collapse on you. Moving outside gave access to the courtyard of the College which was lined with more huge impressive buildings. We managed to find a way to walk along the river bank with out paying ( each College owns the gardens lining the river bank and you have to pay to gain access) so managed to see the Trinity College Library. The building is designed with a court yard on the bottom so if the river flooded the books didn't have to be moved. The library is on the second floor. It houses historical books like original shakespere scripts and the original Winnie the Pooh!
As well as the historical side of things, Cambridge would be a great place for a shopping spree. There are heaps of high street shops to keep me happy and so I will go
back with a bigger wallet.
There are more photos below