One of the things I love most about writing this blog is hearing people’s stories when I meet them. Everyone has a tale to tell from their journey through life … it might be funny, shocking or sad and it’s often a story of perseverance in the face of adversity. So I was intrigued when True Stories Told Live Cambridge came up on my social media and I met compere Nick Barraclough to find out more.
Now retired from a career as a musician, radio producer and documentary maker, Nick was invited by a friend to tell a story at True Stories Told Live in Hampstead several years ago. It was a small gathering in a tiny room but Nick was hooked. So he brought True Stories Told Live to Cambridge, initially holding sessions at The Punter, moving to the NCI Club in Holland Street as the word spread and audience numbers swelled. There’s an event every couple of months, attended by around 100 people who listen to 6 stories, one told by Nick as compere and one of which is a story set to music.
Each storyteller narrates a personal tale which can be funny, serious or even harrowing. Nick tells me, “Their story needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end and something has to happen.” Each storytelling slot is 10 minutes maximum and stories must be told without reading from a script (although it’s fine to have bullet point notes!). “The audience is always really supportive and engaged,” Nick comments, “and many of our future ‘turns’ are recruited from the audience. It can seem daunting but we give help and advice on how to frame your story and once people have done it once, they always want to do it again.”
The next True Stories Told Live Cambridge is on Wednesday 24 April at the NCI Club, Holland Street. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start and the evening finishes by 9.30pm. It’s a free event but you’ll need to pay £2 for temporary club membership and you can enjoy drinks from the bar as stories unfold through the evening.
For more information, take a look at the True Stories Told Live Cambridge Facebook page, through which you can also get in touch with the team if you’ve got a story of your own that needs to be told!
Theresa Feetenby is a woman on a mission. In fact, I don’t know when she sleeps! Originally from Birmingham, this Cambridge mum of two works full time at Addenbrookes Hospital, is a Beaver Scout leader and volunteers with Cambridge 105 Radio. And now she’s masterminding a new scheme in Cambridge … Pay It Forward Vouchers.
Theresa feels compelled to find a way to help the the city’s homeless and people in need. Like many, over the years she had given money to those begging on the streets before switching to buying food for them. She knew of the suspended coffee scheme where people can leave money for a person in need to get a hot drink but she wanted to go beyond that and contacted Cambridge cafes to see what might work. Theresa also particularly likes the concept of people paying forward kindness to others through this scheme.
It’s early days but at the time of writing, five cafes and two stalls in Cambridge Market have joined the project. Early adopters include Black Cat Cafe on Mill Road, La Latina Bustaurante and Kingwraps Foodstall. Theresa gives each business personalised vouchers and posters and publicises their involvement on social media.
You can then buy a voucher from the cafe or stall and either leave it there for distribution by a volunteer or take it to give directly to someone in need. There’s advice about getting off the street printed on the back of each voucher although these vouchers are not only for the homeless. As Theresa comments, there are many people in the city who are in need and/or vulnerably housed who can benefit from the scheme.
Several Cambridge organisations have already got behind Pay It Forward including Streetaid, who have sponsored voucher printing, Wintercomfort, Romsey Mill and Cambridge Homeless Outreach Project. Theresa is keen to get more cafes and volunteers on board and to grow the scheme so that vouchers can be exchanged for toiletries and sanitary products. She’s making a website, would like to create an App and hopes to sell vouchers online.
Things are moving quickly for Pay It Forward Vouchers so if you’d like to get involved and spread some kindness around this city of ours, keep an eye on their social media for the latest news and developments.
Zero waste shopping has come to Cambridge, brought to us by Full Circle Shop, the brainchild of Johanna, Emma and Paul, three friends who bonded over their mutual love of our planet. When they couldn’t find an eco shop in the city, the ecologist, the bioinformatician and the engineer put their heads together and decided to start one themselves. Product ranges include items that are plastic free, reusable, sustainable, ethical and free from animal products.
They’ve been selling from their stall on Cambridge Market since the end of last year and you’ll find them there on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Full Circle Shop also pops up at repair cafes and community markets around Cambridge and they’re looking forward to being part of local summer events like Strawberry Fair and Arbury Carnival, where they’ll be helping with eco friendly activities in the Kids Zone.
So what will you find at Full Circle Shop? Several brands of soap, deodorant and solid shampoos, including a range from Cambridge’s own Zero Waste Path Shop, toothpaste, Dent tabs, bamboo toothbrushes and shaving kits.
Laundry needs are well catered for with soapnut shells and I love the Guppyfriend Washing Bag, a clever invention that prevents plastic fibres from getting into the water via your washing machine. Add in soy wax reusable wraps, bamboo straws and cutlery, insulated reusable drinks cups and the prettiest upcycled fabric wrap and it’s easy to see how making a few simple changes can help us move to a lower impact lifestyle and tread a little more lightly on our planet.
Full Circle Shop is also a member of Terracycle so you can drop off your empty crisp and biscuit packets, toothpaste tubes and used plastic toothbrushes for recycling.
Emma, Paul and Johanna have big plans for the future. They’d like to supply wholefoods such as lentils, pulses, beans, nuts, dried fruit, flour, grains, oils and vinegars so customers can refill their own containers. Full Circle Shop is currently crowdfunding with a target of £13,000 so they can invest in food stock, dispensers and a food storage facility as well as developing their website for online sales. Achieving a stretch target of £21,000 would enable the team to be mobile across Cambridgeshire, bringing their shop out in an electric van so customers can buy and collect orders without coming in to the city.
Emma tells me, “We’ve received such positive feedback for Full Circle Shop. People really want to make a change.” For more on Full Circle Shop’s ethos and product lines as well as their future plans and their crowdfunder, which runs until 17 April, take a look at the website.
Spring has sprung and the sun is shining! There’s plenty happening in the city and I’ll update this listing through the month so do check back when you can. Please get in touch if you know of an event that I could add in here!
5th 7.30pm Dining in the Dark. Identify key ingredients of your starter and dessert while blindfolded. Fundraiser for Cam Sight. The Red Lion, Hinxton. http://www.camsight.org.uk Read more about Cam Sight here
6th 10am – 1pm Family Saturday – Nature Weaving. Have fun, play and weave amazing creations using natural material from the Garden. Free event. Cambridge University Botanic Garden. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
6th 12 noon – 3pm The Leper Chapel Opening. A chance to see inside one of the oldest buildings in Cambridge. The Chapel is not usually open to the public. Free entry, donations appreciated. Cambridge Past, Present and Future. The Leper Chapel, off Newmarket Road. FB: @CambridgePFF
6th 7.30pm Movie Music Spectacular. Cambridge Wind Band. West Road Concert Hall. In support of Arthur Rank Hospice Charity. http://www.adcticketing.com
6 – 22nd April Easter Trail. Pick up a free trail from the Ticket Office, go on a springtime adventure and collect an Easter prize at the end. Drop in, self led trail. Cambridge University Botanic Garden. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
8th 7.30 – 10pm Louise Jordan – The Hard Way. One woman performance of live music and theatre charting the rise of a working class suffragette. St Barnabas Centre, Mill Road. http://www.cambridgefolkclub.co.uk
9th 2 – 4pm Printing Workshop for 8 – 12 year olds. Design your own T shirt to take home with you. Booking required. Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street. http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
10th 7 – 8.30pm Personal medicines: all in your genes? Talk from Cafe Sci Cambridge. Espresso Library, East Road. FB @cafescicambridge
11th 1 – 3pm What can art do? Explore environmental activism for 13 – 19 year olds. Free, booking required. Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street. http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
12th 10am – 1pm Cambridge Jobs Fair. Speak with potential employers face to face (don’t forget to bring your CV!). The Guildhall, Market Square. http://www.thejobfairs.co.uk
13th 1.30 – 4pm Toy Swap. Bring toys to swap. Also a pilot books (fiction/children) and clothes (women/children) swap plus Full Circle, Cambridge’s own zero waste shop, will be there. Free event. Storey’s Field Centre, Eddington Avenue, CB3 1AA http://www.atoyslifeandbeyond Read more about Full Circle Shop here
13th 5pm “Waste Not, Want Not: How to live zero waste and plastic-free”. Talk by Full Circle Shop. Free entry, donations welcome. Stir Cafe, Chesterton Road. FB @FullCircleShopUK Read more about Full Circle Shop here
14th 12 – 4pm Studio Sunday. Art making workshops for families with children of all ages. Free, drop in. Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street. http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
19 – 20th 10am – 5pm Botanical Days. A botanical themed event and pop up shop from Cultivate Gardens with refreshments by Caffiend. Hope Street Yard, off Mill Road. http://www.cultivategardens.co.uk
19 – 22nd 12 – 4pm Action Drawing. Drawing activities inspired by the Oscar Murillo Violent Amnesia exhibition. Free, drop in. Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street. http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
28th 2 – 3.30pm Writers in Conversation. Jill Dawson in conversation with Dame Gillian Beer. Stapleford Granary, CB22. Literature Cambridge. http://www.literaturecambridge.co.uk Read more about Literature Cambridge here
From cosy cafes to fine dining restaurants, we are lucky to have a wealth of places to eat delicious food here in Cambridge. Now Cambridge BID is celebrating our foodie scene in the city’s first Restaurant Week which runs from 1 – 7 April. Cafes and restaurants will be offering menus at £5, £10 or £15, giving you a chance to try their food and experience their ambience. It’s a great opportunity to check out a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try and to discover new styles of cuisine.
Taking part in Restaurant Week couldn’t be simpler. Go to the website (details at the end of this post) for info on the places that are participating. Just click on the restaurant or cafe of your choice to check out their offer and download a voucher which you can print out or show on your phone when you get there. For some restaurants, advance booking is recommended.
I caught up with a couple of old friends of this blog who are taking part in Restaurant Week to find out how they’ve been getting on since I wrote about them as they opened.
Over in the Grafton Centre, Alex and Regis Crepy are delighted that Amelie Flammekeuche continues to grow in popularity with customers of all ages. Cambridge has embraced this novel French fire bread and Alex hopes that their offer of any flammekeuche on the menu plus an Amelie Golden Ale for £10 will introduce the delights of flammekeuche to new people. (If you haven’t tried it yet, trust me, flammekeuche is VERY good!) Amelie has held a top position in the Trip Advisor rankings since shortly after opening in August last year and they have big plans for the future. To read more of the Amelie story, click here
Cafe Abantu has been open for just over a year in Hobson Street and owner Wendy Slade tells me they haven’t looked back since moving into the city centre. Abantu is popular with students, locals, tourists and a dedicated band of regulars. You’ll find Fairtrade, soil association approved organic coffee, delicious home made cakes and a menu which changes daily. Following their successful vegan and Fairtrade special events, Wendy is planning a South African supper club, so keep an eye on their social media for details of that. Wendy hopes that Restaurant Week will encourage people to explore beyond the main streets and discover indies. Abantu will be offering lunch, a slice of cake and tea or coffee for £10. To read more of the Cafe Abantu story, click here
And finally, when you take part in Restaurant Week, not only will you eat well, you also have the chance to win a £100 Love Cambridge Gift Card which can be spent in over 200 locations across the city. Simply redeem an offer in one of the participating restaurants, then share your experience with a photo on social media using the hashtag #LoveCambridgeRestaurantWeek
Cambridge Home + Garden Show returns to the Guildhall over the weekend of 30 – 31 March, bringing inspiration, advice and the best in home and garden design from local businesses to local customers.
This event is the brainchild of Jennifer Chong, who’s been working in interior design in the city since she moved here eight years ago. Having set up her own interior design project management company, she discovered so many wonderful local businesses, mostly independents. Realising that there was no regional design fair in East Anglia to showcase all this talent, Jennifer decided to make it happen and held a very successful one day fair at the Guildhall in September 2017.
This year’s Show features a huge range of exhibitors from furniture makers to fabric suppliers and products from flooring to futons. You’ll find new and established businesses of all types and for all budgets. Most are independents ….. any non-indies must show Jennifer that they have a passion for their product or service and offer beautifully made goods as well as excellent customer service.
A programme of drop in talks held throughout the weekend features creatives speaking about their journeys and businesses and covers a multitude of topics from smart home technology to garden design to clearing clutter.
A new feature for this year’s Show is a programme of workshops which include “Creating a Colour Wheel” and “Lampshade Making”. There are limited spaces so pre-book your workshop place through the website (details at the end of this post).
Event sponsor Novi will be running a pop up cafe offering hot and cold drinks, snacks and cakes. Main sponsor Cambridge Classics will be creating a living room set on the main stage to showcase their bespoke handmade windows, doors, shutters and stained glass alongside flooring and fabrics from Art of Flooring and The Cambridge Fabric Company.
If you’d like personalised guidance with your home or garden project, there’s the opportunity to meet with a local design professional for a free 30 minute consultation at the Show. Simply submit your design query via the website in advance and you’ll be contacted to arrange a consultation.
Entry to the Cambridge Home + Garden Show is free. You can just come along to the Guildhall on the day or you can pre-register on the website where you’ll also find the full exhibitor listing as well as details of the talks and workshops programme.
The Box Office is now open for Cambridge Literary Festival which runs from 5 – 7 April, bringing together novelists, scientists, politicians, broadcasters, campaigners and thinkers in lively conversation and engaged debate.
You’ll find a wealth of new fiction, world literature, memoir and more as well as a fabulous children’s programme which includes “Happy Birthday, Elmer!”, an interactive story time to celebrate everybody’s favourite multicoloured elephant.
From the New Statesman Debate, “This house believes identity politics is an impediment to progress”, to afternoon tea at the University Arms Hotel with broadcaster and author Jenni Murray, the Spring Festival has something for everyone.