Steam and a Rainbow

We were happy to awake to sunshine this morning and without bothering to stop for breakfast, made straight for Liverpool Street station aboard a 214 that turned up right on cue. While Tigger joined the queue for tickets, I crossed the station concourse to the Upper Crust stall and bought baguettes and coffee.

A view from Station 'X'
A view from Station ‘X’

We boarded the 09:58 Cambridge train, though we are not going to Cambridge. In fact, at the time of writing I do not know where we are going and Tigger is waiting to see how long it will be before I guess our destination.

And this is where we went
And this is where we went

We have consumed our baguettes and coffee and now have to wait patiently to arrive at “station X”.


We left the train at Great Chesterford. I didn’t guess where we were going because I had never been here before. It is quite a small village and usually would not detain us for very long but today it is celebrating the Great Chesterford Steam-up, an annual event.

A stall selling hand-crafted goods
A stall selling hand-crafted goods

There were stalls selling local produce and handmade goods and also a small fairground.

A small fairground
A small fairground

Above all, there were steam engines of every kind from water pumps to traction engines. There was a great range of sizes too: some engines were so huge that they required two people to operate them;

Red traction engine Black steam traction engine
Examples of large steam engines

and others were quite small and resembled toys, although they ran beautifully.

Small steam engine Small steam engine
A couple of the smaller steam engines

There were other curious contraptions like this Dutch mechanical organ with moving figures.

Dutch mechanical organ
Dutch mechanical organ

Not all the machines were steam-powered. There was a wonderful display of older motor vehicles, all in perfect working order, as far as I could see. Among them was this beautiful Austin Seven Ruby,

Austin Seven Ruby
Austin Seven Ruby

and this 1932 Morris Commercial R Type van.

1932 Morris commercial van
1932 Morris commercial van

There is quite a large church and next to it the old vicarage which declares itself to date from 1672.

The Old Vicarage
The Old Vicarage

I liked this rather severe looking lion-faced door-knocker.

Severe-looking lion door-knocker
Severe-looking lion door-knocker

It was amusing to see all the steam-engine enthusiasts sitting next to their running machines and chatting to one another. Behind this leisure in the sunshine, however, lies much hard work in restoring and maintaining these complex but strangely beautiful engines.

Complex but strangely beautiful
Complex but strangely beautiful

Much as there was to see, by about 12:30 we felt the urge to move on. We had an idea of a good place to go to for lunch but that would require another train tide. Accordingly, we returned to the small station and boarded a train for the university city of Cambridge, which we reached around 1:20 pm.

King's College, Cambridge
King’s College, Cambridge

Cambridge is not only a city of university colleges but also of bicycles. Bicycles are ridden – and parked – everywhere.

Cambridge bicycles
Cambridge bicycles

We were making for the famous Rainbow Cafe, purveyors of an amazing range of vegetarian and vegan food. On arriving, we found a queue for tables, unfortunately, but as it is Saturday and in view of the renown of the place, this is hardly surprising. We were eventually assigned a table for two at the foot of the staircase.

The Rainbow Cafe from our corner by the stairs
The Rainbow Cafe from our corner by the stairs

In the afternoon we visited the wonderful treasure house of art, antiques and archaeological specimens whose imposing front entrance is pictured below, the Fitzwilliam Museum.

The Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum

If, as you stand in the porch, you look up, you see this magnificent ceiling.

Ceiling under the porch
Porch ceiling

We in fact entered by the side entrance under the haughty gaze of a pair of guardian lions.

One of the guardian lions
One of the guardian lions

Photography is not allowed in the inner part of the museum. I am not sure whether that is a good or bad thing because there is so much there that if I were allowed to take photos I would go into overdrive!

Window arches in the entrance hall
Window arches in the entrance hall

The building itself is so richly and beautifully made that it is an exhibit in its own right. Photography is allowed in the entrance hall where the photos above and below were taken.

Reclining figure
Reclining figure

Tigger was keen on going for a bus ride, even though the sky was looking stormy. We took a bus to Arbury and then… took a bus back again!

Cambridge station clock
Cambridge station clock

It seemed good to now take a train back to London and we returned to the station where we soon boarded a service to Liverpool Street. My final photo of the day was this shot of illuminated office towers near Liverpool Street station with the Gherkin peering between them.

Office blocks and Gherkin from Liverpool Street
Office blocks and Gherkin from Liverpool Street

Copyright © 2010 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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5 Responses to Steam and a Rainbow

  1. AEJ says:

    The Old Vicarage doesn’t look very old! They’re doing an amazing job keeping it maintained. I’m jealous of all the vegetarian restaurants you have access to. Down here it’s just meat, meat, and then more meat. And if you are lucky enough to get a vegetable, it will probably be fried.

    • SilverTiger says:

      I agree that the Old Vicarage doesn’t like the usual preserved 1600s building. It has probably been altered several times during its history.

      Most restaurants, cafes and pubs have vegetarian items on the menu these days. Those that serve only vegetarian food are rarer but tend to do a good trade if their quality is good.

      We found it much harder to find food without meat and fish during the Bilbao trip as practically everything contained one or either or both of these. It made us realize how fortunate we are here.

  2. WOL says:

    I love how a short journey takes you to some interesting place, with lovely scenery on the way. You have relatively inexpensive train service to practically everywhere and bus service too. Here if you want to go anywhere, you either have to fly or drive. You can easily put 100,000 miles on a car before you’ve got it paid for. Very short-sighted of people here to let the passenger train service go to pot. We’re paying the price for it now. Do you and Tigger trade off chosing destinations for your days out?

    • SilverTiger says:

      I agree that we are relatively well off here as far as public transport is concerned. (I am saying that on a day when the tube drivers are on strike!) On the whole, it works pretty well with some glaring exceptions.

      In the past, the railway network was allowed to fall into a bad condition until a number of accidents resulting in injuries and even deaths prompted the government to step in. We have endured several years of service interruptions owing to engineering works and buses replacing trains at certain times. Things are slowly improving, I think.

      Bus services across the country range from excellent to poor – and examples of the latter were discovered in Norfolk, as recounted.

      Altogether, the picture is fairly good though for longer journeys you need to plan carefully. Even so, if the government is serious about getting people out of their cars, I think it needs to do a lot more to improve public transport.

    • SilverTiger says:

      Do you and Tigger trade off chosing destinations for your days out?

      Sometimes Tigger asks me where I would like to go or maybe presents a choice of destinations. Usually though, we just set off and I go where she leads because she is never stuck for an idea and knows that I like to be surprised.

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