This was to be another courier run when the document would be available only at the last minute. The plan was to have it brought to us by motorcycle at the station just prior to our departure. As the deadline for delivery is midday, it is important to avoid slip-ups.
We reached King’s Cross at about 8:10. A telephone call to base revealed that the package was ready and would now be sent to us. We were to wait on the corner of York Way, in front of McDonald’s.
I bought porridge from the small Camden Food Co shop and ate mine sitting on a bench. Tigger, busy watching for the motorcycle, preferred to keep hers until she was safely aboard her train with the package.
We knew the bike would come via Gray’s Inn Road so we watched the traffic coming across the junction from there, cars, vans, lorries, bicycles, motorcycles. You fix on a likely candidate and watch as it roars up the road, disappearing from sight…
Eventually, I spotted a scruffy, bearded individual on a motorcycle with his visor raised. He was waiting at the lights. When they changed and he came across, I saw he had a large bag slung across his shoulders. He stopped on the other side of the road and looked about blankly. I pointed him out to Tigger who recognized him as one of couriers used by the firm. He still didn’t see us, despite our waving and shouting. We ran across York Way, dodging the traffic.
It was now 8:50 and Tigger made a dash for the 8:52 train. I went with her although I was not travelling until 9:45. That was for the usual reason: I have to pay for my ticket and fares are much cheaper after 9:30.
Having seen Tigger off, I had 50 minutes to wait for my train. I could stand around in the cold, go for a walk, sit in somewhere such as a cafe, or… I jumped in a 73 bus and went home. I had time to say hello to Freya, catch up with messages from Tigger and then leave again. Even so that was preferable to waiting around in the cold.
When I reached King’s Cross, my train was already waiting and I could go aboard and sit in the warm.
As I write, we are speeding along the track to today’s destination, the ancient and prestigious university town of Cambridge. We have a good day for the trip: even though it is cold, the conditions are dry and bright, despite a cloudy sky. The colours of the countryside are muted but autumn colours add variety to the scene. There is even a hint of blue sky in places.
I could of course have stayed at home in the warm, read an interesting book and made coffee. With Freya for company, that would have been snug and pleasant, but as the sun breaks through the clouds to gild the countryside with delicate golden light, this seems definitely the place to be.
My train was faster than Tigger’s and she just made it back to the station from the delivery address as I arrived. We straightaway boarded bus number 1 and got off in Chesterton Road, where the above photos were taken. Our intention was to visit the Cambridge County and Folk Museum.
The Folk Museum occupies what was once the White Horse pub which also served as the house of the publican and his family. The museum is therefore arranged as a set of rooms, starting with the Bar and continuing with the domestic parts, such as the kitchen and parlour.
On the credit side, firstly, admission is inexpensive and I would say that a visit is well worth the small fee; secondly, photography is allowed without formality. Credit should also be given to the richness of the collection of objects.
The failing, we found, was in the relative paucity of labelling and other information. There is a leaflet that provides an overall guide to the museum and some of the exhibits are labelled and explained but many are not, including what look to be some of the most interesting. More work on this is needed.
The building has three floors and it is fun exploring them all, though you have to take care on the steep staircase.
The children’s domain was right at the top of the house and it is here that we find a collection of toys…
… and a dolls’ house. Unlike some museums, where the toys are “mint and boxed”, those here have a used and played-with appearance which, to me at least, makes them more appealing.
A little more grown-up, perhaps, is this Victorian sampler dated 1854.
It’s worth having a look at the courtyard too because, apart from its pleasant feel, it also contains some interesting objects, such as this pump
and these architectural components that look as if they come from a church of monastery. (In both cases, labelling would help.)
From the museum, walked back into town, and crossed the river Cam. A popular pastime here in fine weather is sailing in punts – flat-bottomed boats propelled with poles. Punts can be hired and there are also guided tours, for example along the Cambridge Backs, a section of the river where the land along the banks is entirely owned by several famous colleges which turn their backs to the water.
Cambridge is famous for its many historic and often very beautiful buildings.
Many of the most ancient, most striking and most beautifully designed buildings are those belonging to the various colleges that together form the University of Cambridge. The typical pattern is a gatehouse giving entrance to an open court or quadrangle, around which rooms are arranged. An example is King’s College, founded in 1441 by Henry VI. The gatehouse dates from 1824-8. It also possesses a world-famous chapel.
We passed by the open-air market, which is located on Market Hill and is overlooked by the bunker-like Guildhall. At this point we realized it was getting late and was time for lunch.
If you have read about our other trips to Cambridge, you will not be surprised to know that we were intending to lunch in the Rainbow vegetarian cafe.
The Rainbow occupies a basement and is reached via this picturesque alley. Its food is purely vegetarian and it is known for the fascinating variety of often exotic-sounding dishes on its menu. It is apt to be busy and sometimes you have to queue to get in. Luckily, we were early and found a table straightaway.
For once, I was disappointed with my lunch. The soup was fine but the Kerala Curry, though well cooked and accompanied by a crisp, fresh salad, was bland, not an adjective you would normally apply to curry. Tigger was happy with her food, however, and we will return next time we go to Cambridge.
After lunch, we went back and explored the market and then went around the shops. That may not sound a very exciting activity but on a cold day, and especially when the shops are making an effort for Christmas, it’s probably the sensible thing to do.
The Lion Yard shopping centre was decorated with a cohort of winged beings, presumably angels. I found these rather sinister because of their strangely elongated limbs.
After this, we decided we had done enough for the day and returned to the station. The train was late and stopped, so it seemed, at every station between Cambridge and Liverpool Street, so that the journey began to feel interminable. I dozed off at one point and this helped!
Cambridge is a beautiful and interesting city. Summer is a good time to visit but I think it holds delights for the visitor at any time of year. With another courier run successfully completed, we had every reason to feel content with our day.