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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Outing To Cambridge

Our holiday continues. We are making the most of the warm weather again and this time, we had a trip out to Cambridge. We have been there on a few occasions, but not for a couple of years. We had to put petrol in the car at the Shell station in Grafton Street and then drove away from Milton Keynes, going towards Bedford past the Amazon distribution centre near the M1 junction at Ridgemont. The recently opened stretch of dual carriageway between the M1 and going towards Bedford and eventually the A1 at the Blackcat Roundabout means you no longer go into Bedford at all as it joins up with the Bedford bypass and it takes no more than 20-30 minutes to reach Bedford and then a further 20 minutes or so to reach the A1 and off near St Neots and on towards Cambridge. We soon reached the park-and-ride carpark at Madingley and boarded the bus which took us into the centre of Cambridge. Another relatively short journey and it's so much easier to use the park-and-ride rather than negotiating the centre of Cambridge, looking for a parking space, the frustration that causes, getting stuck in traffic (which, incidentally was quite heavy.) and in the end saving time and money (the cost of a return ticket was £6, not too expensive considering the speed of the journey and the time we spent in the centre of Cambridge.) We got off on Bridge Street, near the Round Church and the walked towards the Market Square and King's Parade. We found a Marks and Spencer's and bought crisps , drink and sandwiches and Carol wanted a coffee so we found a Cafe Nero and bought a take-out latte and then we went off to find somewhere to devour our food and in the end sat on a step in a side-street. I'm surprised there are no more benches that we could have sat on, but never mind. Adequately refreshed we walked to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Trumpington Street and browsed in one of the galleries and looked at some very familiar Pre-Raphaelite paintings which I have only ever seen in books. Also, another favourite painter of mine, Sir Stanley Spencer.
We stood looking at one painting and then a lady, who was viewing the same painting asked us about it. We had a long conversation and it turned out that she was also a teacher, like Carol. She was from Canada, and we then discovered she'd come to England to work with her husband and was working in a school in Milton Keynes and lived only a short distance from where we lived. It seemed quite a coincidence that we should go all the way to Cambridge and then bump into someone who lived only a short distance from us but who worked in another school and was also a teacher! Carol has also worked with several teachers over the past year who came originally from Canada (for example, Kendra, who stayed with us briefly before she moved into her own accommodation.) Just shows what a small world it is.)

We wandered through so more of the galleries before leaving the museum and walking back along Trumpington Street and the centre of Cambridge. Carol suggested we buy some ice cream, which we got from a street vendor and we sat and ate it on the low wall near one of the collages on King's Parade. The place was absolutely teeming with tourists. Cambridge is quite obviously one of the many and various stops that tourists come to when they visit this country.

The Chronophage at Corpus Christi

Carol had said she wanted to see the special clock which is at one of the colleges along King's Parade. We saw it a couple of years ago when we visited Cambridge when we'd been to the botanic garden. It had only recently been installed and we saw it on the local BBC television news programme 'Look East.'It is on the corner of Benet Street, on the outside of Corpus Christi college. It's a large golden clock which has a strange but quite hideous grasshopper-like insect balanced on the top which is made of metal and acts as the escape mechanism and seems to be clawing away time as it moves along. It had crowds of tourists in front of it, making it difficult to see clearly. Mostly Japanese tourists who seemed eager to photograph the thing with either their mobile phones or cameras. It took me some considerable time and effort to get a decent shot as a lot of children would insist on sitting on the sill of the window it was behind. But I eventually managed to get the photograph I wanted.

As much as we love Cambridge, and we've visited quite a few times over the past couple of years, there is one thing that annoys us above all other things. It's those people who throng the main tourist streets, particularly along King's Parade, touting punting trips. We were approached by several as we walked along, minding our own business. These 'trips' aren't cheap, around £20-£30 a time. I'm not sure how exactly they work, but presumably you are taken for a trip, in a punt, controlled (if that's the right word.) by a student or other person, along the Granta or Camb (I'm not sure which name the same river has in the centre of Cambridge. Presumably the Cam. I think it becomes the Granta outside the City.) But to say 'no' to one such tout and then be constantly assaulted (pardon the expression. But it does seem a bit like an assault.) by several more is just too much. Something should be done about it. I think if I, for one, wish to take a punting trip along the river I have a right to choose when I do this, and not be bombarded by these people. The local authority should do something about it, as it's extremely annoying.
We continued on and walked back to Bridge Street to await the arrival of the next bus which would take his back to the park-and-ride car park and our car. 
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