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.
It’s set to be another busy month here in Cambridge with so much going on from steampunk to poetry, comedy to ceilidh and everything in between! Read on for more and please do get in touch through my Contact page if you know of an event I could add in to the listing. 1st … Continue reading “What’s on in Cambridge – May”
It’s set to be another busy month here in Cambridge with so much going on from steampunk to poetry, comedy to ceilidh and everything in between! Read on for more and please do get in touch through my Contact page if you know of an event I could add in to the listing.
1st 4 – 8pm Student Discount Event, 25% off at Tindalls Art and Graphics, King Street
2nd 8pm St Matthew Passion, J S Bach. Singers from Trinity, St. John’s and King’s. Cambridge University Bach Ensemble. Trinity College Chapel. Tickets on the door.
5th 10.30am – 4pm Cambridge Vegan Market. Food stalls, lifestyle brands, cosmetics, ethical clothing, charities and more. Guildhall, Market Square. http://www.veganmarkets.co.uk/cambridge Read more about Cambridge Vegan Market here
5th 10.30am – 11pm Steampunk in Cambridge V11: May the 5th be with you! The seventh annual Steampunk in Cambridge event. Museum of Technology, Cheddars Lane. http://www.museumoftechnology.com
6th 9am meet for 10am departure. The Reach Ride, a bike ride to the 800 year old Reach Fair. Free. Organised by Camcycle. Assemble in front of the Guildhall, Market Square. http://www.camcycle.org.uk/reachride
7th 8pm Rhapsody in Blue. Cambridge University Wind Orchestra and Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra. West Road Concert Hall. http://www.adcticketing.com
8th 3 – 8pm Spring Student Night, Grand Arcade. Discounts, DJ, freebies, drinks. www. grandarcade.co.uk
11th 10.30am – 4pm Eat Cambridge. Annual food and drink festival celebrating Cambridgeshire’s independent food scene. Followed by two weeks of fringe events. Guildhall, Market Square. http://www.eat-cambridge.co.uk
11th 11am – 5pm Open Gardens, Christ’s Pieces Residents’ Association. 8 gardens open in Parker Street, Victoria Street, Clarendon Street, Orchard Street and New Square. In aid of Jimmy’s Homeless Project East Road and the Cambridge Children’s Charity. £10 ticket on the day for all gardens (children are free) from the Unitarian Church, Emmanuel Road. Tea provided.
11th 4pm A Spring Concert with Rolling Thunder. CSD Brass. Free, retiring collection. St Luke’s Church, Victoria Road
11th 7.30pm Symphony 3, Mahler. City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, St Catherine’s College Girls’ Choir and St John’s College School Senior House Chamber Choir. West Road Concert Hall. http://www.adcticketing.com
15th 6 – 9pm Museum at Night. Explore the Museum of Zoology after hours and experience the natural world after dark. Age 18+ Free, no need to book. Museum of Zoology, Downing Street. http://www.museum.zoo.cam.ac.uk
16th David Parr House reopens. A terraced house and arts and craft movement treasure which was home to Victorian decorative artist David Parr. 186 Gwydir Street, CB1. http://www.davidparrhouse.org Read more about David Parr House here
16th 7.30pm Poetry at the Pub. Readings from two poets, open mic floor spots and books for sale. Blue Moon, Norfolk Street. http://www.cb1poetry.org.uk Read more about Poetry at the Pub here
17th 2pm and 4pm Puss In Boots. A ballet for children. 2pm is a Relaxed Performance. Northern Ballet. Cambridge Corn Exchange. http://www.cornex.co.uk
17th 6 – 9pm Drink and Draw. After hours sketching in the Cast Gallery with a glass of wine. Adults only, free, drop in. Materials provided, all abilities welcome. Museum of Classical Archeology, Sidgwick Avenue, CB3. http://www.museums.cam.ac.uk/events/drink-and-draw
18th 7.30pm Mass in B Minor, J S Bach. Cambridge Chorale and Academy of Ancient Music with soloists from Amici Voices. Trinity College Chapel. Tickets on the door or from http://www.cambridgechorale.org.uk
18th 7.30pm From London to Venice: Fusing Poetry and Music. Monteverdi, Grandi, Strozzi, Caccini, Ferrari and Merula. Clare Hall, Herschel Road. Tickets from Porters’ Lodge or email@example.com
19th 5.30pm and 7.30pm The Pelicantata, narrated by Sir Tony Robinson. Come dressed as your favourite Roald Dahl character! Cambridge Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and Chorus. Choirs from Chesterton Community College and Sawston Village College. West Road Concert Hall. http://www.cambridgephilharmonic.com
19th 6pm The Time of Gifts. Spring themed Medieval and Renaissance songs, traditional Spanish pieces with classical and contemporary works. The Lucy Cavendish Singers. Storey’s Field Centre, Eddington. http://www.lucycavendishsingers.org.uk
20 – 25th Cambridge Beer Festival. Cider, perry, mead and English wine also available at this CAMRA festival. Opening times vary. Jesus Green. http://www.cambridgebeerfestival.com Read more about Cambridge Beer Festival here
186 Gwydir Street looks like a typical Cambridge terraced house from the outside. But when you walk in through the front door, you leave the 21st century behind and enter the world of Victorian decorative artist David Parr.
David bought the house at auction in 1886 and lived there with his wife, Mary, and their three children. He’d been apprenticed at the age of 17 to the Cambridge firm of artworkmen F. R. Leach & Sons and he worked for them all his life, painting grand houses and churches with designs created by luminaries of the Arts and Crafts movement, including William Morris. After long days at work, David came home to decorate his house in the same style, painting by oil and candlelight during the evenings and creating intricate interiors in this relatively humble abode.
The exquisite decoration incorporates the use of cut out stencils, through which he stippled paint, and pin prick stencil work, all with individualised repeats which bring the designs alive. Pine doors and matchboarding are painted and grained to resemble more expensive woods. The main bedroom boasts an early version of hot air heating. David was bringing back ideas and sometimes left over materials from jobs he worked on to create a beautiful, unique home for his family.
After David’s death in 1927, his widow continued to live in the house with grand daughter Elsie who, in turn, married and brought up her two daughters there. The decor of the house remained unchanged through the generations but the family was very private and almost nobody knew about these wonderful interiors. Tamsin Wimhurst first saw the house in 2009 after she put out a call for interesting spaces in Cambridge while researching for an exhibition she was organising at the Museum of Cambridge. Elsie told Tamsin the story of her grandfather and the house, proud now to show off David Parr’s work. After Elsie died in 2013, aged 98, Tamsin and her husband decided to buy the house to conserve and restore it.
The programme of conservation and restoration has been painstaking. Happily, David Parr had logged everything he did to the house room by room and all the changes he made, both inside and outside. Family furniture, artefacts and textiles fill the house. It really does have the feeling of a home where the family has just stepped out for a while. On the day I visited, volunteers were busy landscaping and replanting the back garden as it is remembered by David Parr’s great grand daughters, both of whom still live locally.
David Parr House reopens on 16 May. For conservation reasons, tour places are limited at present as the team carefully monitors and assesses the multiple effects of visitor traffic on the painting and general fabric of the house. The scheduled house tours for this year are now sold out but it is still possible to book a private tour. Over the next two years, income from tours will be matched by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the proceeds will go into an endowment, the interest from which will fund a Curator post.
I was absolutely captivated by David Parr House. The care and skill that has gone in to this beautiful place, both from its creator and the team that has ensured its future, is awe-inspiring. For more on the story of the house and the family, volunteering opportunities and tour reservations, take a look at the website.
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.