Christmas in Cambridge: Car parking for good causes

Now stay with me here because I know parking isn’t the most absorbing topic for a blog post BUT if you are planning to bring your car into Cambridge over the coming weekends, you are probably already dreading the massive queues for municipal car parks, not to mention the whopping dent that parking charges will make in your wallet.  This Christmas, there is another way …..

Rotary Club of Cambridge South Christmas car parking
Image credit: Rotary Club of Cambridge South

The Rotary Club of Cambridge South is opening three University sites for car parking.  They ask for a cash donation of £7 or more per car and last year raised over £33,000 from parking donations.  This year, your donations will go to support Headway, Romsey Mill, Projects in Africa, Rotary Foundation, CamPod, University of Cambridge Veterinary School Trust and Winter Comfort, with smaller donations to other charitable projects.

Read on for the parking locations, dates and opening times!

Downing Site, Tennis Court Road, CB2

Saturday 23 and 30 November.  7, 14, 21 and 28 December.  Entry from 8.30am

Sunday 24 November.  1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 December.  Entry from 10am

Friday 27 and Monday 30 December.  Entry from 8.30am

Exit by 7pm

Department of Chemistry, Lensfield Road, CB2

Saturday 23 and 30 November.  7, 14, 21 and 28 December.  Entry from 10am

Sunday 24 November.  1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 December.  Entry from 11am

Friday 27 and Monday 30 December.  Entry from 10am

Exit by 5pm

Cambridge Assessment, Harvey Road, CB1

Saturday 23 and 30 November.  7, 14, 21 and 28 December.  Entry from 9.30am

Friday 27 and Monday 30 December.  Entry from 9.30am

Exit by 5pm


Rotary Club of Cambridge South Christmas car parking
Image credit: Rotary Club of Cambridge South

For further details of this festive car parking and for more on the Rotary Club of Cambridge South, check out their website.





Christmas in Cambridge: Pantomine and Ballet

I love Christmas.  One of my fondest childhood memories is going to the pantomime each year with my cousins.  It was always my granny’s treat and it was so exciting, putting on my best dress and heading out to the theatre.  The festive season is just around the corner now so if your thoughts are turning to booking a Christmas show, here’s a run-down of what’s going on in the city this year.

Red Riding Hood ADC Theatre Cambridge
Image credit: CUADC/Footlights

27 Nov – 7 December    Red Riding Hood.  The annual CUADC/Footlights panto at the ADC Theatre

What they say: “Join Red and her friends on an epic adventure of self discovery, brought to life by Cambridge’s finest comedic and musical talent.”

What we say:  This panto is always very funny indeed with a talented cast and orchestra who give it their all every year.  Book quickly as tickets are already getting scarce.

28th Nov – 11 Jan    Cinderella.  Cambridge Arts Theatre

British Sign Language interpreted performance 1pm  1 December

Relaxed performance 11am 14 December

Audio described performance 1pm 11 Jan

What they say: “This timeless tale is packed with sing-along songs, sensational costumes and hilarious jokes.”

What we say:  A classic, glittery panto starring ballet dancer Wayne Sleep and Liza Goddard.  Perfect for all the family.

The Wind in the Willows Cambridge Junction
Image credit: Cambridge Junction

11 Dec – 5 Jan    The Wind in the Willows.  Cambridge Junction

British Sign Language interpreted performance 2.30pm 22 December

Relaxed performance 11am 29 December

What they say:  “An all singing, all dancing, anarchic extravaganza … perfect for anyone who loves, hates or feels ambivalent about Christmas.”

What we say:  This is a family Christmas show from Figs in Wigs, a female led performance company who promise puns, bad jokes and pop culture references.  We loved last year’s show from NIE, Snow White, and we’re looking forward to this.

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

17 – 19 December  The Nutcracker.  Ballet Central.  ADC Theatre

What they say:  “Ballet Central will showcase their dazzling 45 minute version of the time-honoured Nutcracker, introducing children of all ages to a new version of the iconic Tchaikovsky score.”

What we say:  A shortened version of The Nutcracker is a perfect way to introduce children to ballet.  These final year students from the Central School of Ballet are on the cusp of their professional careers and dance their hearts out in a really magical performance.  The costumes, the music …. we were captivated by this last year.  Book quickly as there aren’t many tickets left.

29 Dec – 4 Jan    A Tchaikovsky Trilogy of The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.  Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet.  Cambridge Corn Exchange

What they say:  “This acclaimed company combines classical training and technique with outstanding soloists to entertain audiences in breath-taking style.”

What we say:  We didn’t catch this in Cambridge last Christmas but we have seen St Petersburg Classic Ballet perform elsewhere and they are excellent.  A full length ballet to enjoy without going all the way to London!




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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.


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.

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!

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.

This post is part of my “New in Cambridge” column in the December issue of Velvet Magazine.  Read more on


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.

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.

Coming up in Cambridge …..

Cambridge International Jazz Festival runs from 13 – 27 November, bringing together the many strands of the city’s strong jazz scene and welcoming national and international jazz acts too.  With a crammed schedule of vibrant live music at locations across Cambridge and celebrating a wide variety of jazz styles, the programme includes workshops (if you want to learn how to Lindy Hop, now’s your chance!), talks, films, family events and free entry fringe events.  For full programme details and tickets, check out the Festival website

Cambridge International Jazz Festival
Image credit: Cambridge International Jazz Festival

“Buy less, choose well, make it last” is designer Dame Vivienne Westwood’s message.  With this mantra ringing in their ears, Cambridge Carbon Footprint brings us the Sustainable Fashion Festival on 17 November at St Barnabas Church on Mill Road, for all Cambridge fashionistas and for anyone who cares about the huge negative impact that fast fashion has on the environment.  You’ll find a clothes swap party, a sewing themed textiles repair cafe, an interactive fashion show, sewing skillshares, a styling zone, workshops, talks and pop up sustainable fashion stalls offering new and vintage clothing.  Take a look at for more.

Sustainable Fashion Festival Cambridge
Image:  Sustainable Fashion Festival

So it’s that time of year ….. I’m making a list and checking it twice before heading off to Cambridge Made Christmas Fair which is my go to for original Christmas presents.  The Fair is running from 29 November to 1 December at St. Andrew’s Street Baptist Church and will showcase the work of forty four designer-makers, artists and craftspeople.  You’ll find a huge variety of handmade goodies including ceramics, jewellery, textiles, quilts, botanical toiletries, cards, decorations, toys and homewares.  More details on their Facebook page

Cambridge Made Christmas Fair logo
Image credit: Purplespoon Design

This post is part of my “New in Cambridge” column in the November issue of Velvet Magazine.  Read more on

Merry Christmas!!

Well, the festive season is well and truly under way here in Cambridge.  The streets are bustling and the city looks so pretty, especially after dark with all the Christmas lights twinkling away.

Holly wreath
Holly wreath at Cambridge Market

It’s always such a busy time of year but if you’d like to take a break from the hubbub to sing some carols, there are plenty of services around the city.  This Saturday 16 December, there will be Carols by Candlelight at Michaelhouse at 3pm and 4pm and there’s another candlelit Carol Service at Great St Mary’s, the University church, on Sunday 17 December at 6.30pm.

And there will, of course, be the world famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 at 3pm on Christmas Eve.  It’s always been something of a badge of honour to queue from pre-dawn to get in to this Service but King’s has changed the arrangements this year and will operate a ticketing system, with about 500 tickets available to members of the public.  Details are on their website  Here’s a clip of the King’s College Choir singing “Once in Royal David’s City”, the carol that always opens the service and which never fails to bring a tear to my eye as I listen to that solo chorister singing like an angel!

So it’s about time that I too got on with some yuletide prep but before I do, I just wanted to thank everybody who has read, liked, followed, shared or commented on my blog and I’m also grateful to my family and friends for their encouragement and support.  Since I started writing in September, I’ve met so many interesting people who are doing amazing things here in Cambridge and I feel more connected to the city than ever.  I’ve already got plenty of posts in the pipeline for 2018 and I’m excited to see what the New Year will bring.

So here’s wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.  See you in January!!

Pom pom wreath
Fabulous pom-pom wreath in the window at Sew Creative, King Street