Tag Archives: Cambridgeshire

What an English spring means

What an English spring means

The days are getting longer and lighter, which is lovely. The weather is still thoroughly English though.

Here’s Cambridge, on the bank holiday, at 18:51. Rowers turn in the sunshine and it’s all pretty idyllic.
Rowers on the Cam in bright sun

And then a few minutes later, at 19:20, the people we’re waiting for turn up and we can all go for a picnic a nice stroll a quick dash to a soggy dinner in the pub.
A narrowboat docks in pouring rain

Still a lovely weekend though, as I’m sure all present will agree.

Lodestar, Lode, Cambridgeshire

Lodestar, Lode, Cambridgeshire

Hey, we’re in England! We weren’t planning on being right here right now but one very lucky part of this diversion is that Lodestar happened in a field near us. We’ve been staying at a quirky, arty place called The Missing Sock, and Lode is a short bike ride away. Even better, Dragonette, my newest favourite band, were the finale, wrapping up the festival on Sunday night. So we had to go.

Lodestar is not a big festival. It’s actually a lot smaller than I expected, but as a result it’s very chilled. It’s like going to a park on a Sunday except there’s a decent line up of bands playing, rather than one busker with a three-song repertoire.

A small music stage under a tent awning, people sit on the grass watching

This is the main stage at Lodestar. It’s like a baby version of the tent stages at other festivals. The sound system packs a punch though, and it’s absolute bliss to be able to sit, chill and actually see the acts. Do you remember my shots from PinkPop? I mean, I loved that festival to bits, from the first poffertje to the last Green Day song, but it was pretty busy.

A crowd in front of a brightly lit stage. Dragonette are playing

That’s Dragonette on the stage. I really enjoyed their set, and joked to K that I’d written the playlist as they started with three of my favourite songs.

Crowd in front of a stage lit in white. A woman stands alone and sings.

Lodestar is tiny, and although it’s in a field in the middle of nowhere, it started packing up really early. This is Dragonette, the last song of the last set of the last night of the whole festival – and it was 8:30. We were back at the van by 9, wondering whether to go to bed early or go out or what!

We had a lovely, very relaxed day, and even ran into an old friend. I would definitely go back, take the van, and just chill in the sun for a weekend. I think it would be a real drag in the rain though, as there was no shelter. Plus, the festival is tiny, so the choice of everything is limited, particularly food. There was a Thai place, a pizza place, a burger place and what looked like a WI/school fete sandwich and bric-a-brac stall. All good options, and I love buying a book for 50p with a tea urn cup of coffee, but by 6pm, two had shut, one didn’t do anything veggie and the fourth was running out of food… If we’d had a picnic, and just been looking for beer and cake to top it up, it would have been a perfect day. As it was, I was hungry, with money to spend, not my usual festival situation at all!

Cambridge – a beautiful day

Cambridge – a beautiful day

We’re back in the UK for a few days. It’s a bit of a frantic trip, but I did have one moment of quiet. We were in Cambridge at the weekend (we’re now in Yorkshire) and I met a friend for lunch. As it was sunny, we took an improvised picnic onto Jesus Green.

A wide green grassy area with trees in the distance on a sunny day.

This is what I miss about Cambridge. Sitting on the common on a beautiful day when the whole city seems to have come out to play. You only get that in urban areas where people don’t have their own little patch of grass to sit on at home.

My friend and I are working on a shared knitting project – blanket squares – so it seems apt that we found this on the way home.

Close up shot of knitting wrapped around a lamp postA knitter or knitting group have been very busy dressing all the lamp posts in the avenue on Jesus Green. It looks amazing. It’s hard to photograph it well. I’m incredibly curious as to which knitting group did this – I knew people in several in the city, and I’d love to congratulate the folks behind it!

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey

Last weekend – you know, when it was sunny briefly, before it started hailing and blowing like the ghost of January – we went to Anglesey Abbey.

The front of Anglesey Abbey, an English manor-type building with a lot of green lawn in frontAs it was a nice day and we were mostly interested in visiting Lode Mill, we didn’t pay to go in the house but spent a happy couple of hours wandering around the gardens and climbing the ladders into the flour loft.

The gardens are enormous. We didn’t get even halfway around in the time we were there. We ‘only’ saw the rose gardens (not much out yet), the winter gardens (full of daffodils), the woods (full of rustlings and squeakings), the main lawn (significantly larger than a football field) and a few gardens which just seemed to be filling in on the way to somewhere else.

A white marble statue of a man with a beard is the backdrop to a row of bright purple hyacinthsIt was all rather lovely but I can’t imagine being responsible for maintaining so much land for no other reason than it was mine to walk in. How on earth would you manage to use every square foot every year, nevermind every day?

It’s not that I think all land should be useful – quite the contrary – but this land was so carefully sculpted and managed it was clearly designed by and for people. And that seems a bit odd, when it was created by one man, for the use of a family, but today hundreds of visitors don’t get in each others’ way.

A straight canal bordered by a footpath leading to a white building on the right and a row of tall, pale trees on the left

The milll – the white building just showing in this picture – was fascinating. It’s a watermill, and the old grinding stones and 18th or 19th century mechanisms have been restored to let it grind again. It wasn’t running the day we were there, which meant we could climb up into the lofts and look at the workings. And of course we bought a bag of flour on the way out – it makes rather good bread.

Daffodils

Daffodils

Close up of some bright yellow daffodils growing in green grassDaffodils are probably my favourite flower. I love the bright yellow cheerfulness of them and the fact that they are early spring flowers, so when I see the daffs start to come out I know the sun is on its way.

Last weekend we went to Thriplow Daffodil Weekend. The village put on a good show and people came from as far away as Liverpool, so I imagine they raised quite a lot of money for charity. Unfortunately, no one had told the daffs what was expected so they didn’t turn up! There was plenty of rain instead though…

This weekend, K and I were driving back from the watching Arsenal Ladies beat Everton and had to go near Thriplow so we decided to see if the daffs had come out. They had and it’s really quite an impressive show!

Commuting to Narnia

Commuting to Narnia

Two rows of big, old trees twine branches over a path scattered with fallen leaves.

Cambridge is pretty and it’s been pretty for a long time. It’s not a city which has to work at it any more. Walking around London, say, or Sheffield then bright, lovely spots interrupt a grey day or a dull, concrete vista like fireworks.

You don’t get that in Cambridge. The city has been carefully curated, to the point where it seems perverse to look for the beauty in a trashcan when the river or the colleges are right in front of you.

On the other hand, it’s great if you are a lazy photographer as you’ll find entrancing spots without having to wander. This avenue of trees is on Jesus Green, near the river, is one of my favourite spots – and it was part of my daily commute for several months.

I love cycling through this tunnel. I think it looks like a pathway to Narnia, perhaps because of the tall black lampposts which line the path, and I get such a thrill cycling through it on a bright, windy day.

As I was going to St Ives…

As I was going to St Ives…

A green field in Cambridgeshire with sheep grazing on it. The land is s flat that there's nothing to see in the distance and the picture is mostly blue sky

Proof that the sun does shine in this rainy country! There’s so much sky when the countryside is as flat as it is round here.

Went out to St Ives on the Guided Bus last weekend and the ride is gorgeous. The track runs along an old railway line, through some absolutely stunning countryside. As the busway is quite narrow, it’s easy to look out at the sheep in the fields and the birds on the lakes.

A return ticket only costs £4 (although return tickets are only valid on certain buses as there are two companies operating the same route) and there’s a cycle path, too, which we might have to try when the weather warms up again.