Victoria's Day in Cambridge

Several years ago, some friends and I spent two weeks in residence at Worcester College, Oxford, for a course on “English Country Houses.”  It was a marvelous experience, and it put me on a list of Oxford Alums asked every year or so for a contribution to the University.  Hmmm.

Worcester College, Oxford University

Nevertheless, I was anxious to see Cambridge, almost as good as studying there (NOT!).  After all, it’s the other half of Oxbridge, that most English of all mash-ups! So after two nights and one full day in London, we trotted off to King’s Cross Station for a train to Cambridge, a trip of just about an hour. I use the term “trotted” loosely.  Ed was limping from his sore foot, but he was game to proceed. 

Cambridge City Hotel

On arrival, we checked into the Cambridge City Hotel, right in the middle of the colleges, museums and shopping streets of this lively city.  Cambridge was full of talk about the impending Royal Birth — the first Prince or Princess of Cambridge in many a year.  Our taxi driver was one nay-sayer however.  She said she could not care less about the Royals.  But she admitted she was almost the only one in Cambridge who felt that way.

Atop the on-off bus

Our first gambit was to take the on-off bus around the city. It was another warm, sunny, even hot day, and I insisted on climbing the stairs to the open seats where I could see everything and listen on the earphones to the recorded commentary.  Ed muttered, but finally, one step at a time, hauled himself painfully to the top. Muttering.

Beautiful Views in every direction

Quaint and picturesque

King’s College Chapel

Eventually we arrived at the Fitzwilliam Museum, for which I had a definite yearning.  Ed sighed and followed me off the bus and into the building.  I promised to limit my wanderings and to keep an eye out for benches!

Fitzwilliam Museum
The Elegant Entrance Hall
Ed on one of the benches
A familiar Regency Portrait, of Nicolas-Pierre Tiolier, c. 1817
by French painter Francois-Edouard Picot (1786-1868)

Gallery Two
Gallery Three
I could have stayed here for days, but creature comforts beckoned and we had sighted Brown’s, a lovely restaurant almost directly across the street, so I bid the marvelous museum good bye and accompanied the suffering hubby to the watering-hole.   
Braised Pig’s Cheeks?
We  settled for something far less adventurous, but quite delicious.  And after a reasonable rest, we rode the bus around the town to return to our hotel.  Soon, I was ready to set off alone, but Ed gamely came along, almost as eager as I was to get a closer view of the colleges on foot through the central city streets which were mostly pedestrian-only zones.
No cars, but lots of bicycles to watch for
Punting on the Cam
A market in the central square
Great St. Mary’s Church, the center of Cambridge
Gonville and Caius College, est. 1348

Cam River swan and her teen-age brood
Trinity College, est. 1546
Trinity library, Sir Christopher Wren, architect
At some point in the above wanderings around the various colleges and shop-lined streets of Cambridge, Ed found a chair or a bench and some ease from his painful steps.  I don’t think I sat down until we returned to the hotel — at which point, I believe we both collapsed.
After all, tomorrow was another day, Scarlett, and we had another excursion — to see Houghton Revisited, the exhibition and estate of Houghton Hall.  Reports to come.
Houghton Hall, Norfolk

Leave a Reply