Eco Living Festival Cambridge returns to Lion Yard Shopping Centre on 6 July with a pop up Eco Lifestyle Advice Centre where there’ll be talks, workshops and masterclasses aimed at helping us make simple, practical choices and changes to create a lower impact on the planet and to achieve a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Festival Founder, Caroline-Shaheera Asante, spent her early childhood at her grandparents’ pineapple plantation in Guyana, growing up just naturally living a sustainable and zero waste lifestyle. Post university in Canada, Caroline built a TV and radio career at the BBC but a trip to the Caribbean for a family reunion in 2014 was to change her path.
Stunned by the evidence of climate change in action, by the coastal erosion, the destruction of mangrove forests and the amount of plastic debris on the beaches, Caroline returned home and took an MSc in Sustainability and Environmental Science at Anglia Ruskin University here in Cambridge. Caroline started to work on the idea of creating an Eco Living Festival so when David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 natural history series, screened in 2017, brought the conversation about plastic pollution to the fore and spurred a zero waste movement around the world, she went ahead with the first Festival in September last year. The success of this inaugural event has led to Lion Yard Shopping Centre once again providing retail space for the pop up and to the involvement of new supporters, including Anglian Water.
This year’s Eco Living Festival theme is “How to Achieve a Low-Impact or Zero Waste Lifestyle @Home – Bathroom and Kitchen Eco-Hack.” Eco beauty workshops include making your own fresh cleansers and kids’ bath bombs with Lush and there’ll be talks on simple product swaps you can make to prevent environmental pollution. See how crisp packets, sweet wrappers and garden compost bags can be turned into Eco Bricks and learn vintage zero waste kitchen skills as you make food wrap, cleaning products and other household essentials the way our grandparents used to. All the events are free, some are drop-in and some need pre-registration.
In what promises to be a very eye catching display on the upper atrium of Lion Yard Shopping Centre, eco fashion designer Linda Thomas will create the Ocean Waste Dresses Installation featuring four dresses made from waste found in the sea and along the shoreline, including surf bodyboards and old “ghost” fishing nets.
To read more about Eco Living Festival Cambridge and to make bookings, take a look at the website.
Cambridge Museum of Technology is set to reopen to the public on 7 June, following a major redevelopment funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England. I went to meet Morgan Bell, Assistant Curator, for a peek behind the scenes ahead of opening day.
It’s not hard to find the Museum … just look for the 53 metre tall chimney that dominates the skyline at Riverside. This chimney and the Victorian buildings that cluster round it formed a sewage pumping station where the city’s household rubbish was burned to create steam to fuel engines that pumped the city’s sewage out to a treatment plant in Milton. Prior to this, sewage had discharged into the River Cam, causing cholera outbreaks, so this wonderful Victorian engineering transformed public health in Cambridge. The pumping station was decommissioned in 1968, at which point a group of local campaigners saved it from demolition and turned the buildings into a museum.
Post this renovation, you’ll find improved visitor facilities and disabled access and a wealth of new displays, including an interactive model of the pumping station (complete with smell effect!). The historic boiler has been restored so that the Hathorn Davey pumping engines can run again later this year, once all testing of the steam lines is complete.
A new building houses an exhibition about Pye and Cambridge Instrument Company, with artefacts and touch screens telling the stories of how they grew to make so many innovative products and gained an international reputation for excellence and innovation. This space is also for school groups and events plus it will be available to hire to community groups.
The Engineer’s House, just next door to the Museum, is being transformed by partner organisation Othersyde into an indoor cafe space, a bar and escape rooms. There’ll be a summer bar and food kiosk outside in the garden or you can bring a picnic to eat on the lawn at this beautiful riverside spot. Lawn games like skittles and outdoor board games will be available and there’s plenty of space for kids to run around.
Phase 1 of the development will be about 90% complete for this pilot reopening on 7 June so if you go to the Museum before 30 September, you’ll get a ticket for a free return visit in the next twelve months. All the finishing touches will be in place for the grand reopening on 1 October.
Restoration work has been supported by corporate volunteers over recent months. The day I visited, a team from Worldpay was hard at work cleaning the Boiler House and a team from Anglian Water has been busy painting. And there are plenty of regular volunteer roles available. At the moment, the Museum is looking particularly for Welcome Volunteers and Education Volunteers. You’ll find details of these opportunities plus opening times and ticket prices on the website.
Well, Summer has arrived here in Cambridge and there’s loads happening in June …. outdoor celebrations as well as indoor activities, many of them free, for those rainy days (hopefully there won’t be too many of those!), lots of music, something for foodies and scientists, in fact something for everybody. I’ll update this listing as the month unfolds so please do get in touch through my Contact page if you know of an event that I can list here.
1st 10am – 1pm Family Saturdays – Messy Mud. Get messy with mud, make mud pies and have a go at mud painting. Free event. Botanic Garden. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
8 – 9th 11am – 5pm Open Garden at 49 New Square, CB1. Free entry and refreshments. All proceeds to Red Balloon Learner Centres.
8th 10.30am – 1.30pm Flower Crown Workshop. Make your own flower crown. Includes refreshments, an out-of-hours visit to the House and all materials. Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street. http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
18th 7.30pm – 10pm Music: Na-Mara. Folk duo Na-Mara tell the story of the “Basque Children” through words and music. Mill Road History Society. Old School Hall, St Barnabas Church, Mill Road. http://www.cambridgefolkclub.co.uk
19th 7.30pm True Stories Told Live. NCI Club, Holland Street. FB: @cambridgetruestories Read more about True Stories Told Live here
20 – 23rd Wimpole History Festival. A weekend of history and heritage for the whole family with talks, debates, book signings, performances, historical walking tours, workshops, activities and events. Wimpole Estate. http://www.wimpolehistoryfestival.com
23rd 6 – 7pm In Good Company. Music for a summer evening, with traditional and classical pieces. The Lucy Cavendish Singers. Sidney Sussex College Chapel. All proceeds support the work of Cambridge City Foodbank. http://www.lucycavendishsingers.org.uk Read more about Cambridge City Foodbank here
For anybody out there who’s feeling overwhelmed and stressed or who lies wide awake at 3am with a “To Do” list running on a loop of worry in your head, read on ….. this post is for you! Lucy Highton has just set up White Lotus Meditation in the city, teaching meditation practices that help to create a sense of space for the mind, within which you can restore calm and reconnect with yourself.
Lucy originally turned to meditation eight years ago as she sought calm and clarity in her busy London lifestyle. She visited India several times during her early 30’s and found the power in just stopping and the strength that comes from stilling a busy mind. But her world was shattered when her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer four years ago. Some months after his death, feeling that she’d done all the healing she could do at home, Lucy returned to India for a year, practising meditation and considering the path her life was going to take. Back from India, Lucy studied for a Diploma in Meditation Teaching at the British School of Meditation and she moved to Cambridge at the end of last year.
Lucy has found the perfect studio space at Bodywise in Gwydir Street (off Mill Road) and will run her first Learn to Meditate course there over four Sunday evenings in June with a taster session in August and another course lined up for September. She also plans to offer drop-in classes and one-to-one sessions plus corporate and school workshops.
I was really happy to meet Lucy and talk about meditation and mindfulness with her as it’s something I came to a couple of years ago when a difficult period in my life left my mind super busy with worries and sleep in short supply. I took myself to a drop in meditation/mindfulness session at my local yoga centre and started attending weekly, unsure at first if I was getting it or doing it right but happy to be carving out that time just for me. As the weeks passed, gradually I found I was able to still my mind and there was such peace in realising that I had the power to do that. Practices like mindful breathing and counted meditation really help me with stressful times, sleeping and also, I’ve discovered, in the dentist’s chair! And although I would never claim to be the most chilled out woman in Cambridge, those classes gave me the gift of tools which I can and do use every day.
To read more of Lucy’s story and for details of upcoming classes at White Lotus Meditation, take a look at the website through which you can also contact Lucy, who is happy to answer any questions you’d like to ask about meditation and mindfulness.
The tents are going up on Jesus Green ….. it’s time for the 46th annual Cambridge Beer Festival which runs from 20 – 25 May. Festival Organiser Anthony Cox downed tools to chat to me about the UK’s oldest beer festival, brought to the city by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale).
A core team of 30 people start to plan the Festival in December. “We’ve got all the beer ordered by the end of March,” Anthony tells me, “and then set up and take down each last a week either side of the Festival as we build the site from scratch”. The beer arrives several days before the Festival opens so that it can rest and settle while the site is readied to welcome around 40,000 thirsty visitors over six days.
You’ll find over 200 beers from across the UK with brewery bars, staffed by the brewers, offering keg and cask beers. The Key Keg Bar gives a chance to compare and contrast key keg and cask beers, the same beer stored two different ways, while the International Bar showcases beers from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and America.
But it’s not just about the beer! The Cider Bar will feature more than 80 ciders and perries, all English and many from East Anglian producers, while the Wine and Mead Bar offers English wines in a variety of styles alongside mead, a drink made by fermenting honey and adding botanicals, from UK producers.
And you won’t go hungry either. The CAMRA Cheese Counter has a selection of bread and cheese, scotch eggs, pork pies and pickles. Food trucks parked up in the garden area will offer fish and chips, pizza, curry, falafel and vegetarian food, burgers, hog roast, doughnuts, cake and coffee.
New for this year is the CAMRA run Learning and Discovery Centre, offering tutored beer tastings and an informal area where you can drop in, chat to the experts and pick their brains about all things beer. The Family Tent welcomes children accompanied by a responsible adult and on the Saturday will feature a brass band, jugglers, face painting and other activities for kids.
Lunchtime sessions at the Festival are free entry and there’s a modest entry fee for evening sessions. You pay a small deposit for your glass (glasses this year have been branded to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landings) which you can either take away with you as a memento or hand back as you leave. Or better still, if you return your glass to the Arthur Rank Hospice stand, they will get your deposit back ….. a brilliant way of raising funds to support the Hospice’s invaluable work in the city.
Over 400 volunteers are involved in the Festival and more are always welcome. Volunteer roles range from helping to set up and take down the infrastructure, arranging tables and seating, manning the glass and food counters, staffing bars, stewarding and, of course, looking after all that beer! Even just an hour or two of your time makes a real difference at this busy event. You don’t need to be a CAMRA member to volunteer, you’ll be given full training and your reward comes in the form of food and drink.
Take a look at the website for opening times, details of the Festival beer list and more.
Poetry at the Pub ….. hmmm, sounds like my kind of poetry so when it popped up on my social media, I went to meet organiser Lindsay Fursland to get the facts.
This regular event is run by CB1 Poetry, a non-profit making organisation which aims to encourage excellence in and to develop new audiences for poetry, all in a welcoming environment for participants and audience alike. The evening features well known poets as well as up and coming talent. Open mic floor spots, which you sign up for on the night, give less experienced poets the chance to read their work to the audience. There are books for sale and you can of course get refreshments from the bar through the evening.
The next Poetry at the Pub is on 16th May at the Blue Moon pub in Norfolk Street, CB1, starting at 7.30pm and running until 10pm. It will feature two guest poets.
John Lyons, born in Trinidad and now based in Norwich, is a prize winning poet, a painter and a creative writing tutor.
Elisabeth Sennitt Clough is a rising star who edits The Fenland Reed, the poetry magazine for poets living and working in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.
Local poets reading this might be interested in joining Cambridge Stanza, one of a network of regional poetry groups run under the aegis of The Poetry Society. Lindsay heads up Cambridge Stanza which meets once a month. He tells me it’s a friendly group with members giving constructive feedback with the aim of improving each other’s work.
For more on CB1 Poetry, the two guest poets at Poetry at the Pub and Cambridge Stanza, take a look at their websites – details below. Otherwise, there’s no need to book … just turn up at the Blue Moon and settle down with a drink to enjoy an evening of beautiful poetry.