We have had a wonderful couple of weeks in the UK - the sun has been shining, temperatures rising, people undressing (not always a good thing) across commmons and parks throughout London and other parts of the UK hit by this "heatwave". The pasty white giving way to the sunburnt and the misty commons are inundated with the mass gathering of humanity soaking up as much Vitamin D as is humanly possible before the dream disappears and it's back to grey, cold and rain.
To take advantage of the more clement weather and to share it with friends it was time for a trip to Cambridge with Astrid who I met in India to visit Bruce (yep ... also India). Astrid and I decided to do a day trip so it was off to Kings Cross Station for an (on-time) train and a quick 45 min trip north. Bruce was waiting for us at the station and walked us to our first point of call ... the bike hire shop. Now I admit I approached the whole bike thing with some trepidation as just a week before I had done a biking afternoon (well ... hour or so) in Kent
and found it uncomfortable and kind of awkward. However, Cambridge has a number of advantages over Kent, 1 it is flat, 2 it is flat and 3 ... I asked for a bike with a nice wide comfy seat for my nice wide comfy butt! Problem solved!
First stop was a ride through Cambridge to Bruce's flat overlooking a big green leafy park ... which given the weather was in the process of being filled ... then time to tour! Cambridge is beautiful, flat (cannot be stated too often), bike friendly and not that big so Bruce took us on a loop of the city. The Colleges take it in turns to be open on weekends and usually charge a fee, but as Bruce is a card carrying University contractor it means he was able to flash his card to bypass the queues and the usual fee for entry.
We peeked inside Trinity College, wandered at will through Clare College, including Fellows Garden which is a lovely quiet space usually reserved for the elite (we tried to lower the tone), strolled through St Johns to the beautiful Bridge of Sighs and saved the jewel in the crown for
last. Kings College is pretty darn impressive, but their Chapel is stunning! Not only is it enormous, with a fabulous vaulted ceiling, but every wall is actually a stained glass window so the light pours in from every angle making it feels light and airy. The Chapel itself dates back to the 1500's to Henry VI day (not too shabby!) and at the and is actively used to this day, it even has it's own Ruebens
... eat your heart out Oxford!
Given it was too beautiful a day to spend it all traipsing through colleges and the River Cam was looking a little busy punting wise (plus Bruce who was nominated to 'punt' decided it was too much hard work!), we went on a leisurely 12 mile cycle beside the River. It is a beautiful, flat (yes it does keep coming up doesn't it) ride along the river, which to be fair feels more like a canal than a proper river. It's all very neat and ordered with locks at various places for the canal/river boats to change level. All the way along there are other cyclists, runners (mad) and people strolling. Add to that on the water
you have rowers rowing and canal boats boating ... very traditional English countryside ... a right jolly adventure! In fact, my only criticism would be of the enthusiastic and unchecked growth of nettles on both side of a quite narrow path. The path isn't quite wide enough for 2 bikes to pass without some scooting over to the side, and when that happens it can lead to nettles against bare skin and the realisation that nettles really do sting!
Eventually we reached a little place called Water Bridge, which seems to consist of pretty much a Pub and water ... no beach though. After 6 strenous miles (that's 13ish kms people!) and a rather dodgy stomach, Bruce and Astrid relaxed on the grass while I made use of the pub. Apparently giving up coffee, cigs, eating healthily and doing more excercise - all in one week - didn't agree with my body. I won't go into graphic details, but let's just say its an unpleasant memory that will stay with me for years! To think Asia and India didn't get me down but Cambridge almost floored me!
Luckily I'm a good recoverer so we were able to be
on our way to ride back along the path before deviating across the river via a lock (they have these funky little rails to push the bike up), through the fields, over gates to our late afternoon relaxation point ... The Plough pub. My recovery complete it was beer all round (well Astrid had a shandy!) and a nice hour sitting, chatting and watching boats and rowers go by on the river.
Back on the bikes (more fields, etc) then back on the path into Cambridge with a brief deviation to meet some cows who were grazing happily in public parkland just outside the town Centre before some phaffing around and an early evening train back to London. Happy days and I'm all inspired and will be travelling up again in the next month or two to do the Cambridge to Ely (also very flat) bike ride with Bruce - that one's 18 mile each way!
Tot: 2.226s; Tpl: 0.057s; cc: 19; qc: 105; dbt: 0.0558s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb