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!!
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 ….
….. 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 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 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.
….. 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.
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.
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 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 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!
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.
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 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’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.
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.
For more details of Rowan, the Winter Warmer and the “Cambridge Seen” art exhibition, take a look at the website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cambridge International Jazz Festivalruns 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 www.cambridgejazzfestival.info
“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 www.cambridgecarbonfootprint.org for more.
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 https://www.facebook.com/events/927219054144713/
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
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.
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 http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk 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!!