i have adventures (sometimes)

Saturday, 17 September 2011

And Lashings of Ginger Beer!

I should warn you, if you are under 13 and/or of a sensitive disposition, that this blog entry contains one naughty word. So read through your fingers so that you can cover your eyes at the right time.

Anyway, Cambridge!

The source of the well-known expression "happy as a snail in Cambridge".
Ro and I met up again in Cambridge on Wednesday. I had a longish train ride from Edinburgh via York and Stevenage, but as trains are better than coaches in every respect but price, it wasn't too painful a journey. And a baby smiled at me on the train, and we played peekaboo for days, and that was very gratifying. Babies' low standards make me feel like a highly entertaining person, and I like that.

Oh right, Cambridge. So, Ro and I found each other, and since our hosts wouldn't be home until the evening, we sat in a coffee shop with our luggage for a few hours before going out for supper at a Chinese restaurant where they seemed to understand the term "pure vegetarian". And there was much rejoicing. At last, using our ninja map-reading skills, we found our way to our anarchist vegan hosts' house.

"I think we've found them."
We had yet another late start on Thursday (because apparently we're really, really bad at mornings), and set off to go punting, because it's one of those over-priced touristy things that you just have to do while you're in Cambridge.

Needless to say, hilarity ensued.

Despite being given instructions, we were so spectacularly terrible that we were a source of great amusement for people on bridges, tour guides, other punters, their passengers, and passing ducks. At last, a punter took pity on us and gave us more detailed instructions, wherafter we almost got the hang of it, by which all I mean is that we were no longer drifting sideways across the river, but that was good enough for us. Of course, since the hire rate was so high, we refused to pay for more than an hour, which meant that by the time we got the hang of it, we had to turn around and go straight back. But we saw two colleges and at least two bridges, and that was all we wanted to do anyway, so your face.

And then flap like a duck. While leaning sideways. Unless the wind is blowing from the northeast, in which case...

I was never good at kobujutsu either.
One bad-ass motherpunter (and I stole this joke from him).
We celebrated our success with overpriced Pimms in a riverside pub, ticking yet another thing off Ro's "British stuff" list, and then headed for the museums. The Fitzwilliam Museum was in a beautiful building (Neo-Classical, according to the guidebook - not that either of us would know), but it seemed to demand rather more serious interest in serious art and artefacts than we had at our disposal.

Make that way more.
Our interest in art doesn't extend past comments like "That Jesus has a funny face!" and "What is that angel wearing?", so we didn't stay long. More interesting was the Zoology Museum, which was very old-fashioned, with little type-written labels and all sorts of skeletons and stuffed things, including Darwin's finches and some adorable critters like the Least Chipmunk (awww).

And this Giant Sloth. Scariest thing ever? I think so.
We took a look around the market square and then went home for absolutely amazing pumpkin and banana curry (I have stolen the recipe) before collapsing, totally exhausted, onto our futons.

Ro slept the sleep of the dead again, as I discovered when I tripped getting up in the morning and accidentally kicked him in the shin, and he didn't even twitch. Once we managed to get ourselves up (and I'd apologised for the mysterious bruise), we assembled veggie burgers and went off in search of adventure. We took an adventure bus again, because buses are very adventurous so shut up, and went to see Trinity College, which turned out to be closed to visitors, so we peeked in through the gate, congratulated ourselves on saving £3 each, and carried on. We'd hoped to see the original Winnie the Pooh illustrations in the library, but we went to the Disney store and saw Pooh there instead, so that was close enough.*

Then we rented bikes and went off on an awesome cycling adventure, like the Famous Five, except that there were only two of us and there weren't any smugglers... Or were there?

We cycled down to Grantchester, which luckily for us didn't involved going through the city centre, which is full of terrifying buses and equally-terrifying other cyclists. We biked merrily along a path through Grantchester Meadows, waving at the cows and the river, until we came to the Orchard Tea Garden, where we drank tea in a garden. In an orchard. I know, I was surprised too.

English scenery is so exciting.
There is nothing strange about this photo.
The tea garden.
Orchard tea at the Orchard.

Once we'd finished our tea, we found a picnic spot beside the river, where we had bags of lettuce, heaps of tomatoes and lashings of ginger beer! Except that actually we had veggie burgers. The path took us through a copse of trees where we found a large, mysterious garden, which contained such oddities as a phonebooth, a giant rabbit, and a giant frog.** We naturally assumed it was the den of smugglers, in collusion with the White Queen and Voldemort, but we sorted them out pretty quickly. Jolly good show!

We found a little nature reserve and walked through it to find Byron's pool, where Lord Byron was supposed to have swum once or twice, presumably when he wasn't too busy doing more interesting and more scandalous things, many involving women, and some a pet bear (although we assume not all at once).

Being consumptive and Romantic.
Our friend Siegfried.
Lord Byron: women want to sleep with him, men want to have a pint with him.
Blackberrying... intently.***
We made an important snack stop on the way home (Belgian dark chocolate tiffins? Yes please!), and then decided that we'd done Cambridge thoroughly enough for our liking. Punting, Pimms, tea, cycling and Romantic poets? Check, check, check, check and consumptive cough.

*Yes, Pooh purists, I understand that it really really really isn't. Please don't set me on fire.
**I'm actually not making this up. 
***Please give this photo to the doctors if these turn out not to be blackberries after all.


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