The Day I Went to Cambridge and Channeled Rory Gilmore and Sidney Chambers  

Posted by Heidi

Cambridge:  the place I have always wanted to go without knowing I wanted to go there.  It is "quintessentially English" and shows up in so many of my beloved British television shows.  I took the above photo while there last summer and was tickled to see this very same view in a recent episode of Grantchester featuring clergyman sleuth, Sidney Chambers.  As the show is set in Cambridgeshire, it wasn't shocking, but it was the first episode that was almost entirely set on King's Parade, the main drag at Cambridge. Our visit to Cambridge happened on our last full day of our England coach tour.  There is so much to see and do there.  Sadly, we did not have a lot of time there.  As usual, the ever-present need to hunt down food and bathrooms dictated our course.

But first, I need to say something about Leeds.  It is where we spent the night after York in that hotel with the huge, busy elevator with the happening bar at the top of the building.  (See HERE for the story about the Snapchat proposal on said lift.) I spent a good deal of my time in Leeds feeling utterly confused.  When I had visited my parents in England in 1999, I had been told that we visited Leeds.  I have photos from that day marked LEEDS in my scrapbook (because no one keeps photos in photo albums anymore--keep up!).  But this Leeds didn't look anything like the one I remembered.  (Also, I am certain we never went this far north.  So confused!)  (Note to self:  Insert photo of The Scream here.)

Leeds is a much more modern city than York and has a huge business district.  I know because we got lost there.  I was able to take a few photos of older structures and statues, but not many.  I can say that they are very fond of The Black Prince, there (he is seated on the black horse above).  We walked from our hotel to this downtown area and encountered a Hen Party along the way. (It is the U.S. equivalent of a Bachelorette Party, but different in various ways.)  This one had a roaring 20's theme and all of the ladies, ages ranging from early 20's to late 70's, were wearing spaghetti strap dresses and fishnet stockings.  All I can say is that they looked very cold.  And, in some cases, wrinkly.  Also, I am relieved that I have never been invited to a Hen Party.  Weddings can be stressful enough without being required to traipse around town dressed like that.  And let me tell you, they were traipsing.  No public transport, cabs, or autos for them--they covered quite a bit of town on foot with me, myself and I right behind them.

We had to disembark from the coach (bus) in a car park (parking lot) that was quite a distance from my first true photo opp.  We passed some rather ordinary buildings, walked along a number of green lawns, passed by the dodgy comfort stops (public restrooms) before we arrived at my first "Cambridge" association.  We could have opted to spend our entire time in Cambridge punting on the River Cam, but there is much to be said for food and non-dodgy restrooms.    

We began our time there with a tour by our own guide, Ann.  (I probably should have brightened this photo a bit but I think, as is, it looks like a medieval Dutch-school painting.)  However, the place was chock full of people (who woulda thunk?) and I had trouble keeping up.  After 10 minutes, we were free to do our own thing, something my daughter and I are good at:  Our Own Thing.

As I said, the main thoroughfare is King's Parade, which is where we found this grasshopper (cockroach?) clock (?).  We spent a lot of time on King's Parade.  As such, we shall see this contraption again; so that you, gentle reader, may know what it is like to be there yourself; and what it is like to walk around aimlessly but rather frenzied; and to soak in a particular section of the university because you wander around aimlessly but rather frenzied in the same quarter mile, over and over and over.

We ought to discuss whom I believe this statue (above) depicts, but first, a little lesson on Cambridge.  I have to admit that it was different than I expected.  Of course, I arrived knowing a little something about these sorts of places--I've seen Gilmore Girls, after all.  But Rory's adventures at Yale don't quite convey the feeling of the sort of university that takes up most of the town and is chock full of restaurants and stores, the likes of which are interrupted by this college and that.  It was so very different than what I expected.  The statue:  I think it must be Sir Thomas More though it looks much more like Oliver Cromwell as depicted by Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall.  

Most of my photos from this visit are a bewildering jumble of King's College which is made up of quite a few different buildings which went up at different times, some of which are no longer in existence. (I failed to get a photo of those.  Mea Culpa.)

You can see a statue of Henry the 8th in this one above and this one below.

Aaaaand this one.  But wait, there's more (later on)!

If my memory serves me right (which is pretty iffy considering my memory only serves me when I bribe it with copious amounts of chocolate) this building was across the street from King's College which is the biggest, most famous college at the university.  (Another thing I did not know about Cambridge--it is a university made up of colleges.  Wha?)

I decided to go online and do some research so that I could make accurate caption comments, but then I got rather bored (i.e. it was too much work and I was tired because writing books sucks up every one of my chocolate-infused brain cells) and decided that it's not truly necessary.  (i.e. you, gentle reader, can look it all up if you are burning to know)  Instead, I have been reduced to this:  See this building at Cambridge University?  It is old.  Kids go to school here.  See the pretty bicycles?  Kids ride them to school.  See the kids ride the bikes to school.

The little bit of research I did suggests that the tall building is the chapel (I really really really liked this building as you can see from all of the photos of it) and the short long building on the left is the library.  But I read up about that yesterday so who knows if I am remembering it right.  I haven't had my chocolate yet today.

Pretty white buildings with lots of delicious trim--like cake!  Yum!

I adore everything about this photo.  I am pretty sure I was born in the wrong time, or at least, the wrong place.

Another building with King Henry the 8th standing above the door in a niche.  Apparently this is one of his talents as there are many examples of him performing this feat.

I enlarged this so as to read what it says--I'm still in the dark.  (My eyes haven't had their chocolate yet today.)

We were told that this is the very tree that dropped an apple on Newton's head.  At least, I thought that was what I was told.  When I researched photos of it, however, I decided that this can't be it.  (Piecing the photos together, I have decided that the Newton apple tree is to the right of this one, just outside of the photo's frame.  I'm not saying that someone pointed to the wrong tree.  I am also not saying that someone misinterpreted the angle of the pointed finger.  I'm just sayin' . . . )

There were many cute shops all around the colleges. One does not have to go far to buy, drink or eat pretty much anything one wants in Cambridge.  (If memory serves me right--sigh--we had Magnum Ice Cream bars for lunch that day . . .)

We were there on a weekend which, as it turns out, is a great day to run a race.  As such, we tourists were forced to remain on the sidewalk and to stay on one side of the street unless we wanted to dodge through traffic (they look pretty fast, don't they?) and jump over two rows of caution tape.   Naturally, this significantly impacted our ability to run like crazy people in order to see as much as possible.  (Okay, those who know me know that I do not run.  But I can walk really, really fast when I am after a photo or a non-dodgy bathroom.)

What a great place to have a run, though!  There is so much to see and most of the narrow little streets are sun-shaded by tall buildings.  It still would not induce me to more than walk-run, but for those who like running, I recommend that you do so here at Cambridge University.

I kind of kept expecting Queen Elizabeth the I to appear at that window.  (She didn't.)

I was so happy to snap a photo of this cup and saucer collection that, apparently, got a bit out of hand.  I was in danger of needing to display mine thusly before my husband put his foot down.  To quote him "If another cup and saucer come into this house, I'm out."  I like to think that if I had shown him this marvelous sculpture, he would have relented.  (Don't cry for me; I have smuggled in plenty of cups and saucers since the "edict".)

The variety of architectural styles here is astounding.  Loved, loved, loved it!

Such cheerful flower boxes!!  England, Ireland and Scotland are where unhappy, dry, lifeless California flower boxes run off to in order to live full and rewarding lives.  (I have postmarked letters to prove it.)

Back to King's College.  I believe these two towers are from the chapel.  Such a lovely, serene photo.

Here's what was really going on.  Such a mass of humanity.

This building is across the street from King's College, I am going to go out on a limb and trust what my memory is telling me:  It is called St. Mary's Chapel.  There is also a Peterhouse nearby, but I failed to identify it whilst I was there and so did not take its picture.  I have to say, England and Ireland is the place to find my children's names everywhere.  I was way more impressed by this than either Mary or Peter.  So it goes when your name is Heidi and even a gift shop keychain with your name on it is nary to be found.  (Heidi has become much more popular but it was so rare when I was a kid that I only met one other during my public school education years.  At the time it was almost the sole province of German Shepherds--in fact, that is when my mom decided it would be a great name for her unborn infant--when she heard someone calling their dog.) (I suppose this story would have a lot of holes in it had I grown up in Germany.)

Upon looking it up (because my photo of the white sign above is truncated, a word I learned via using yahoo email--who knew it would turn out to be so useful?) I discovered that this church is called Church of St. Mary the Great, or GSM (great St. Mary) to differentiate it from St. Mary's chapel, also known as Little Mary's. I was astounded to view a photo of this church online as it depicts a huge tower to the left of this photo.  I don't remember that.  I must have seen this before I ate my chocolatey Magnum bar.

Such fabulous detail on what feel like such small statues from the ground looking up.

The race ended and we were finally able to leave the King's Parade and search for sustenance.  But I had a motto during this trip, a rule to live by, a determination couched in no uncertain terms:  No Cath Kidston store would remain unsullied by my presence.  As such, the search for sustenance was shoved onto the back burner for the moment.

The cabinets on the left look like a toy kitchen set my sister got when I was a toddler.  So cute!  And the mugs . . .there was never any edict against mugs.  (I did not buy one of these, though.  We were only halfway through our trip and I needed an excuse to go into more Cath Kidston stores.)

I thought about chopping the people out of this photo and decided it would make it too ungainly.  Then I thought about blurring their faces, but decided it was too disrespectful.  I mean, look at them.  They both know they are going to be in this crazy woman's photo.  The gal is being classy about it but him--I just really hated to let him down by making him go away.

We were there during the day when all of the stores were open, which was a bit rare.  Often we pull into the big towns around closing time.  And yet, I think we only went into one, No--two, stores.  (How could I forget Cath Kidston already?)

Whatever that thing is, there it is again. I looked this up and failed to find information about it.  I am sure the search terms I chose--gold+clock+thingy+with+cockroach+grasshopper+creature+ Cambridge--can't be the source of my difficulty.

And here we are again at the building featured in Grantchester Season 2 episode 2, also known as Corpus Christi College (the building, not the episode.)

There was a scene of that T.V. program filmed right her in this very vestibule.  I adore watching British T.V. and being able to say (well, let's be honest--shout) "I've been there!"

NEXT:  The Victoria and Albert Museum in London

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at Thursday, May 05, 2016 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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