Merry Christmas from New in Cambridge!!

Christmas wreath
Christmas wreath on my front door

Well I can hardly believe that 2018 has gone so fast and Christmas is nearly here.  I’ll be taking a break until the New Year but to the people who have been so much part of the blog and its success during its first full year of existence, I just wanted to say thank you …..

….. to everybody who has read, liked, shared, got in touch and commented on posts.  I love writing about what’s new in this city and I love hearing from you too.  Many thousands of people from 73 (yes, 73!!) countries have tuned in to the blog this year and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my words

….. to everybody who’s given me their time as I’ve interviewed them.  This city is full of interesting people doing amazing things.  It’s a privilege to have met you all and to tell your stories

…..  to Alice for inviting me to take New in Cambridge to Velvet Magazine as a monthly column.  It’s a great thing to see my words in print and to reach a whole new audience

….. to Lucy and Jack for your technical support.  Without you, the blog would look very dull indeed!

….. to my family and friends for their support and encouragement and for being my sounding boards

Wishing everybody a very happy Christmas!  See you in the New Year!!

Mistletoe from Cambridge Market
Mistletoe from Cambridge Market

 

 

Christmas shopping in Cambridge

Cambridge is a wonderful city for Christmas shopping with so many beautiful independent shops alongside the big chains.  Here’s the low down on where I’ll be shopping this Christmas ….

cracker kit cutout
Image credit: Cambridge Imprint

….. Cambridge Imprint for beautiful Christmas cards, wrapping paper, gift tags, paper chain kits and their brilliant Christmas cracker kit which comes with everything you need to make superb personalised crackers.  Just add in your own little gift and a joke (cue pained groans from my nearest and dearest!).  And you end up with a gorgeous box to keep for yourself.

www.cambridgeimprint.co.uk

Radmore shopfront
Image credit: Radmore Farm Shop

…… Radmore Farm Shop for Christmas meats, game, free range turkeys, cockerels, geese and all the trimmings from hand made sausages to home cooked ham plus Vicky’s scrumptious Christmas cakes and mince pies.  Choose your Christmas tree from the selection of top quality Nordmann Firs (which won’t drop their needles) and, even better, Ben will deliver said tree to your door.

www.radmorefarmshop.co.uk

Cambridge Cheese Company Christmas window
Image credit: Cambridge Cheese Company

…..  Cambridge Cheese Company for classic Stilton, local Cambridge Blue and beautifully kept cheeses from all over Europe.  Seasonal specials that they’ve been quietly maturing in their cellar include Gumburner (an old, very strong cheddar) and Dragon Slayer (a hard, sharp cow’s cheese).  You’ll also find panettone studded with marrons glaces, panforte, stollen, nutty toronne and plenty more Christmas deliciousness here.

www.cambridgecheese.com

Holly wreath
Holly wreath from Cambridge Market

…..  Cambridge Market for armfuls of holly and mistletoe to deck the halls, holly wreaths (lovely just as they are or add some bling with your own decorations), fresh fruit and vegetables.  At award-winning All Saint’s Garden Art and Craft Market, you’ll find a wide variety of local artists and crafts people selling hand made jewellery, ceramics and much more.  Perfect for winkling out original gifts.

www.visitcambridge.org/shopping/markets

Mistletoe from Cambridge Market
Mistletoe from Cambridge Market

This post is part of my “New in Cambridge” column in the December issue of Velvet Magazine.  Read more on http://www.velvetmag.co.uk

Christmas in Cambridge

I love this time of year.  Cambridge looks more beautiful than ever with the Christmas lights twinkling as dusk falls and I still get that child-like rush of excitement in the run up to the big day.  And I firmly believe that you’re never too old for a pantomime.  One of my fondest childhood memories is my granny treating us to the panto each year … putting on my best dress, meeting up with my cousins, munching a choc ice in the interval.

Snow White Cambridge Junction
Image credit:  Claire Haigh/WeThreeClub

I’m sure the ice cream selection, if not the jokes, will be a bit more sophisticated at the two pantomimes running in the city this year.  Cambridge Junction brings us Snow White, an original take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, with magic, music and a very shiny red apple.  Over at Cambridge Arts Theatre, Aladdin is a classic panto with dazzling costumes and spectacular dance routines.  Both productions offer a British Sign Language interpreted performance and a Relaxed performance.

www.junction.co.uk

www.cambridgeartstheatre.com

 

BALLET CENTRAL _NUCRACKER,Stratford Circus Arts Centre
Image credit:  Bill Cooper

Ballet Central are bringing their adaptation of The Nutcracker to the ADC Theatre from 13 – 15 December with performances at 2.30pm, 4.30pm and 6.30pm.  At 45 minutes long, it’s the perfect way to introduce children to this Christmas ballet with its iconic Tchaikovsky score.  Enjoy the fantasy and sparkle as Clara’s dreams come alive and she journeys to the Kingdom of Sweets, meeting her Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy along the way.

www.adctheatre.com

The North Pole ice skating

The North Pole Ice Rink returns to Parker’s Piece for the festive season, with food and drinks available at the cosy undercover Alpine Bar.  I hung up my skates long ago after an unfortunate ice rink incident which resulted in a very bruised coccyx but you’ll find me nursing a hot chocolate, maybe a mulled wine, as I watch my family twirl on the ice.  Or perhaps I’ll sneak off to have a go on the fairground rides!

www.thenorthpolecambridge.co.uk

King's College Cambridge

For me, it wouldn’t be Christmas without some yuletide singing.  Carol services in the city include Carols at Michaelhouse at 3pm and 4pm on 15 December and a traditional Carols by Candlelight at Great St Mary’s on 23 December at 6.30pm.  Possibly the most famous Christmas service of all, The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Chapel, is broadcast to millions around the world on Christmas Eve.  To get your hands on a ticket, go to the College early on Christmas Eve morning with photo ID.  Ticket distribution starts at 7am.  Or grab a mince pie, put your feet up and tune in to BBC Radio 4 for the live transmission at 3pm.

www.kings.cam.ac.uk

This post is part of my “New in Cambridge” column in the December issue of Velvet Magazine.  Read more on http://www.velvetmag.co.uk

 

What’s on in Cambridge – December 2018

There’s so much wonderful stuff going on in the city this month.  On this listing, you’ll find carol concerts, Christmas music, ballet, pantomime, Dickens and more!  Please get in touch if you know of other events that I can include here.

Holly wreath

1 – 9th    10 – 4pm  Anglian Pottery Christmas Selling Exhibition.  All Saints’ Church, Jesus Lane.  Free entry.  http://www.anglianpotters.org.uk

1st    10.30 – 4.30pm  Mill Road Winter Fair.  Facebook: Mill Road Winter Fair 2018  Read more about last year’s Mill Road Winter Fair here

1st    Cambridge Made Christmas Fair.  St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church, CB2.  Facebook: Cambridge Made Christmas Fair 2018  Read more about Cambridge Made and last year’s Christmas Fair here

1st    7.30pm  Christmas Oratorio, JS Bach.  Clare College Choir and The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.  Trinity College Chapel.  http://www.adcticketing.com

1st    7.30pm  Messiah.  Handel.  St John’s Voices and Cambridge Baroque Camerata.  St John’s College Chapel.  http://www.adcticketing.com

1st Dec – 6 Jan    Aladdin.  Cambridge Arts Theatre.  http://www.cambridgeartstheatre.com

2nd    5.30pm  Candlelit Service of music and readings for Advent.  Great St Mary’s Church  http://www.gsm.cam.ac.uk

4th    7.30pm  “The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance.”  Cambridge ghost stories for Christmas with Robert Lloyd Parry of Nunkie Productions.  Cambridge Museum of Technology, Cheddars Lane, CB5.  http://www.museumoftechnology.com  http://www.nunkie.co.uk

5th    5 – 8pm  Rowan Winter Warmer.  http://www.rowanhumberstone.co.uk  Read more about Rowan, their Winter Warmer and the upcoming “Cambridge Seen” art exhibition here

5 – 31st   Snow White.  Cambridge Junction.  http://www.junction.co.uk

7 – 8th    7.30pm  A Christmas Carol.  Adapted and performed by Martin Prest.  The Leper Chapel, Newmarket Road, CB5.  http://www.adcticketing.com

8th    3pm  In Dulci Jubilo.  Erasmus Chamber Choir and Ensemble.  Bach, Buxtehude and Bellis.  Choral preludes, motets and carols for Advent and Christmas.  St Columba’s Church, Downing Street.  Free entry.

8th    7pm  Messiah by candlelight.  Handel.  Eboracum Baroque.  Great St Mary’s Church.  In aid of Cancer Research. http://www.eboracumbaroque.co.uk

8th    7.30pm  Bernstein on Broadway.  Cambridge Philharmonic.  West Road Concert Hall  http://www.cambridgephilharmonic.com

8th    8pm   Music for Advent and Christmas.  Music by Parsons, Darke and Dove and carols for audience participation.  Fairhaven Singers.  Trinity College Chapel.  http://www.fairhavensingers.org.uk

10th    7.30pm  Mr Charles Dickens presents A Christmas Carol.  Mumford Theatre, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road.  http://www.anglia.ac.uk/mumfordtheatre

11th    7.30pm  O Holy Night.  Seasonal music, festive favourites and Christmas carols.  Choir of Jesus College.  Jesus College Chapel.  http://www.adcticketing.com

11th    7.45pm  The Soldier by Rachel Wagstaff.  A play based on the life of Rupert Brooke. In support of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  Orchard Tea Garden, Grantchester.  http://www.meshtheatre.com/tickets.html

12th    5 – 8pm  Fairtrade Christmas gift shopping evening.  Cafe Abantu, Hobson Street.  Ethical shopping with complimentary mulled wine and mince pies.  Read more about Cafe Abantu here

12th    8pm  A Ceremony of Carols.  Seasonal music for choir and harp.  Britten, Rutter, Warlock and others.  Traditional carols and contemporary settings.  Granta Chorale.  Corpus Christi College Chapel.  Raising money for Jimmy’s Night Shelter.  http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk

13 – 15th    The Nutcracker.  Ballet Central.  Adapted 45 minute performance.  ADC Theatre  http://www.adctheatre.com  Read more about this production of The Nutcracker here

15th    11am – 12 noon  Jingle All The Way.  Christmas carols, songs and fun for all the family.  Cambridge Chorale.  Great St Mary’s Church.  Tickets from http://www.adcticketing.com or on the door.

15th    3pm and 4pm  Carol Services at Michaelhouse, Trinity Street.  http://www.gsm.cam.ac.uk

15th    5pm  Welcome All Wonders.  Cantata for choir, organ and trumpet, celebrating the Christmas story.  Cambridge Chorale.  Great St Mary’s Church.  Tickets from http://www.adcticketing.com or on the door.

15th    7.30pm  Amahl and the Night Visitors (Menotti) and A Ceremony of Carols (Britten).  New Cambridge Singers.  Church of St John the Evangelist, Hills Road. http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk

16th    3.30pm and 5.30pm  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.   Prime Brass with Junior Prime Brass and choirs.  West Road Concert Hall.  http://www.adcticketing.com

18 – 22nd    Peter Pan.  Cambridge Theatre Company.  Great Hall at The Leys, CB2.  http://www.cambridgelivetrust/tickets

18 – 23rd    3pm  Nine Lessons and Images.  A Christmas Tour of the Fitzwilliam Museum.  http://www.eventbrite.co.uk (tickets at 9 Images) or email roblloydparry@hotmail.com.  50% of all ticket sales goes to Wintercomfort.

20th    6.30pm  Chesterton Community Carols.  Carols with brass band, refreshments and High Wired Circus performing a festive show.  St Andrew’s Church, Chesterton.  Free entry, collection for Wintercomfort.

23rd    6.30pm  Carols by Candlelight.  Great St Mary’s Church  http://www.gsm.cam.ac.uk

29 – 31st and 1 Jan    The Nutcracker/Swan Lake.  St Petersburg Classic Ballet.  Cambridge Corn Exchange  http://www.cornex.co.uk

IMG_20181123_140849_295.jpg

Rowan Winter Warmer and “Cambridge Seen” Art Exhibition

It’s always a pleasure to visit Rowan, the Humberstone Road based arts centre and charity for people with learning disabilities.  There’s such a friendly and purposeful atmosphere there as the student artists go about their work in small groups with tutors.  They create beautiful pieces in the wood, ceramics, print, textiles and mixed media studios, undertake many private commissions and sell their work at exhibitions and events.

Rowan Cambridge reindeers
Image credit: Rowan

Rowan Cambridge ceramic Christmas treeRowan is holding its popular annual Winter Warmer on Wednesday 5 December from 5 – 8pm.  Everybody is welcome and entry is free.  You’ll find handmade gifts and cards, wooden reindeer, wooden table displays and ceramic tree decorations to buy and you can make a gorgeous ceramic Christmas tree at the Christmas workshop.  And, of course, there’ll be mulled wine, mince pies and live music too!

Rowan Cambridge Christmas Wreaths
Image credit: Rowan

Rowan’s major fundraiser for 2019 is the “Cambridge Seen” art exhibition, happening on 9 and 10 February at Long Road Sixth Form College.  To be part of this, you can get creative and produce a piece of art work or go along to the exhibition to invest in some art.  Or indeed, you can do both!  You don’t need to be a professional artist at all … just buy a canvas from Rowan for £10 and, using whatever media you like, make a piece of art inspired by your view of Cambridge.  A bridge, a building, a landscape, your garden … there’s no limit to the possibilities.  Then when you’re done, return your completed canvas to Rowan by 1 February.  Here are a couple of artworks that have been returned to them already.

Rowan Cambridge Art Exhibition

Every penny raised from this “Cambridge Seen” exhibition will go to fund Rowan’s work.  Activities here give the students a daily routine and structure as well as helping with development of their social and communication skills, building their self-esteem and increasing their self-confidence.  There’s a real buzz as they mingle in the light, spacious communal areas at breaks and mealtimes.  All places are subsidised so there is a need for fundraising year round to make sure that this remarkable venture and its student artists can continue to thrive.

Rowan Cambridge Art Exhibition

For more details of Rowan, the Winter Warmer and the “Cambridge Seen” art exhibition, take a look at the website.

http://www.rowanhumberstone.co.uk

40 Humberstone Road, Cambridge CB4 1JG

Cambridge City Foodbank Christmas Hamper Collection

Cambridge City Foodbank opened in 2010 and helps local people, providing three days’ worth of nutritionally balanced emergency food and support to those who are referred to them in crisis.  With Christmas just around the corner, the Foodbank has launched its Christmas Hamper Collection and hopes to make up 500 hampers of quality food and products to give to families who are struggling to make ends meet.

Cambridge City Foodbank logo

Contributing to this couldn’t be easier.  Go on to the Foodbank website (details at the end of this post), register and choose one of the two hamper drop off dates.  This helps the Foodbank team with their logistical planning.  Then fill a good sized carrier bag with items from their list of suggestions.  Don’t add in any perishable or home made food and please make sure all items have a use by date of 25 December or later.  Then simply drop off your bag of goodies at the Foodbank warehouse in your registered drop-off slot.

Cambridge City Foodbank
Image: Cambridge City Foodbank

The Foodbank is, of course, supporting local people year round.  Jon Edney, Foodbank Co-ordinator, tells me that from April to September this year, there’s been a 13% increase nationally in people using foodbanks.  Here in Cambridge, the figure is a 46% increase during that period, compared to the same period last year, so the need is huge.

People can find themselves in crisis at any time for a multitude of reasons.  The Foodbank works on a voucher referral system with vouchers being issued by agencies such as Citizens Advice, housing support officers, children’s centres, health visitors, social services and some local charities.  Agencies can also help with longer term support to address issues behind the reasons for crisis.  You can exchange your voucher at your nearest Foodbank centre in the city where you’ll find a warm welcome and a chance to chat with trained volunteers.

Cambridge City Foodbank
Image: Cambridge City Foodbank

The Christmas hamper distribution arrangements are different; they are distributed through family centres rather than through the Foodbank centres.  If you are not already connected with any of the referring agencies mentioned in the paragraph above, then you can make contact about the possibility of receiving a Christmas hamper through the C3 Church at Coldham’s Lane.

Cambridge City Foodbank
Image: Cambridge City Foodbank

With the enormous increase in Foodbank use, there’s a constant need for food donations throughout the year, with collection points in supermarkets city-wide.  The Foodbank website has a list of urgently needed food items which you can also drop off at their food collection points.  Financial donations of any size, given either regularly or as one-offs, help this vital work to continue.  And maybe you could give your time …. why not consider joining the volunteer group of around 140 people who work in all sorts of roles and are the life blood of the organisation.

For more information about the work of Cambridge City Foodbank as well as details of how to get help and how to give help, check out their website.

http://www.cambridgecityfoodbank.org.uk

http://www.thec3.uk

Cambridge Literary Festival

One of the things I love most about writing for my blog and this column is the people I meet.  People who are getting on with their daily lives, have that light bulb moment and just go for it to create something wonderful in the city.  People like Cathy Moore, founder of the Cambridge Literary Festival.

Cambridge Literary Festival logo

Cathy first came to the city to read History at Newnham College and was only the second person from her Liverpool comprehensive school to make it to the University of Cambridge. She also loved English and books so after graduation, Cathy built a career in publishing before taking some time out to be with her young family.  A spell in teaching followed but Cathy returned to Cambridge and books, working part time in Waterstones and running their programme of events.  That’s where she met writer Ali Smith and as the two of them chatted about the Hay Literary Festival, they wondered why there wasn’t a similar event in Cambridge.

Cambridge Literary Festival
Image credit:  Chris Boland

Within months, Cathy had created Wordfest, doing everything herself and setting up twenty four events in three venues.  That was back in March 2003.  “There were about sixty literary festivals then”, Cathy tells me, “and now there are around four hundred in the UK, so we’re all in competition for the authors.”  Wordfest grew, events regularly sold out and initiatives like the debut writers panel made it truly a festival for writers as well as readers.  After gaining charitable status, Wordfest rebranded as Cambridge Literary Festival in 2014.  It now brings Spring and Winter festivals to the city as well as one-off events through the year and since 2017 has delivered the Wimpole History Festival in partnership with the National Trust.

These days, Cathy isn’t doing everything herself!  She and her small team have an office in Downing Place and they have strong support from patrons, media partnerships and sponsors.  A band of volunteer stewards welcomes the many thousands of festival goers and enables events to run smoothly for both authors and audiences.  More volunteers are always welcome so if you’re interested in giving your time (and enjoying some volunteer perks!), contact the team through the website.

Cambridge Literary Festival
Image credit: Chris Boland

 

Festival venues this year include several beautiful university spaces which are normally hidden from public view.  Refreshments will be available at most of these so you can grab a quick drink and a snack between events.  Heffers run a bookstall and there are author signings too.

I’m really excited for this winter’s Festival; it’s always a fun, buzzy weekend and the packed programme truly offers something for everyone, including a brand new Murder Mystery Musical from Sophie Hannah which sounds intriguing!  You’ll find details of what’s on and a booking facility through the Festival website at www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com

 

This post is part of my “New in Cambridge” column in the November issue of Velvet Magazine.  Read more on http://www.velvetmag.co.uk