13 December 2010

A day trip to Cambridge

This was my first visit to Cambridge and I went with few expectations and any I had were shattered by the initial walk up to the city centre from the station.

The areas around stations tend to be grim and Victorian for obvious historical and economic reasons and Cambridge is no different. I had no reason to expect it to be otherwise but I guess that I did.

It's a good mile before Cambridge starts to look like Cambridge should look when the first of the colleges comes in to view.

The transformation is sudden, dramatic and very welcome. Walking stops being a chore necessary for transportation and becomes a delightful way to flow past architecture and nature.

The centre of Cambridge is surprisingly small, particularly when compared to the long walk to get to it, and before you know it you hit the river which forms the border on the North and West sides.

A tempting path pulls you along the river, thick with punts waiting for warmer days, towards the flat open space of Jesus Green somewhat where bored and disdainful avenues of trees pay scant attention to the walkers below.

Back in the city there are more old buildings to discover and cafes to sit in when the legs get tired and the siren call of coffee triumphs.

Rested, there's time to explore the rest of the city, not that that takes long.

The colleges blur in to a succession of quadrangles and chapels conjuring up memories of a Gormenghast that somehow seems more real than the city before you.

Behind the colleges lie fields and the A1134 that takes the traffic around the city and brings the coach parties to it. King's College seems to be their destination probably because its the one college we all recognise from Christmas tv and that CD of carols that we all have.

Bridges stretch their claws across the Cam as if anchoring the city to the rest of England. One day they will snap and return Cambridge to the dimension from which it was magicked. Hopefully the station and the road to it will go too.

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