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 …..
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
PLEASE NOTE THIS SITE IS NOT OPEN ON SUNDAYS
For further details of this festive car parking and for more on the Rotary Club of Cambridge South, check out their website.
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.
When Christina Orsborn moved to Cambridge four years ago, she didn’t know a soul. But she wasn’t lonely for long as she quickly made friends with other dog owners on regular walks with her dog, Scout. Christina runs her own technical recruitment business from home and when Scout passed away a couple of years ago, she found the house just wasn’t the same without a canine presence, plus she missed the daily exercise and the dog walking community.
So enter Woody (a Yorkipoo) and, just a few months ago, Pizza (a Maltipoo) who is beyond adorable and who snoozed peacefully in Christina’s arms while we chatted earlier this week.
Inspired by photos of a Halloween Dog Parade in New York sent by her stepson, Christina put together the first Cambridge event last year. The pooches, their owners and bystanders loved it and all the dogs were impeccably behaved. Spurred on by this warm reception, Christina is now organising this year’s Halloween Dog Parade which is happening on Sunday 28 October at 1pm, starting at Great St Mary’s Church from where the Parade will wind its way through Cambridge to the Fort St George pub on the river at Midsummer Common.
Fancy dress is optional for both dogs and owners. Anything is fine, from full costumes to decorated leads and there’ll be a Best Costume prize sponsored by Chesterton indie pet shop, Grumpy’s.
The Halloween Dog Parade raises money for the RSPCA Cambridge and District Branch which runs a clinic offering subsidised treatment for low income pet owners who cannot afford private vet treatment. The Parade is free to enter but voluntary donations are welcome and there’ll be home made dog biscuits for sale on the day. Or you can made a donation through the event’s JustGiving page (details at the end of this post).
The Halloween Dog Parade is a fun family event and it’s fine to join in even if, like me, you don’t have a dog. Just don’t miss Woody, Pizza and their canine friends, all decked out in their Halloween finery and owning the streets of Cambridge!
Natalie Emuss and Jennifer Mason are on a roll the day we meet ….. they tumble in, fresh from a slot on the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire airwaves and after our chat, they’re heading for an interview and photoshoot with Velvet magazine. All of which is brilliant publicity for the Fashion Show they mastermind each year, in aid of Addenbrooke’s Hospital Breast Cancer Appeal.
The Fashion Show is happening on the 1st Floor of Grand Arcade at 7pm on Thursday 18 October. The red carpet will be rolled out and twenty women, all of whom are either undergoing treatment or have survived breast cancer, will strut their stuff on the catwalk. And so will twenty men, friends, husbands, brothers and sons of these ladies, with daughters and granddaughters also modelling. With so much warmth, love and support in the room, it makes for a fabulous atmosphere.
Retailers in Grand Arcade get right behind this Show, fitting models with the new season’s clothes and shoes. Fossil supplies handbags, Sean Hanna takes care of the models’ hair while MAC, Charlotte Tilbury and Estee Lauder do make up. A raft of fabulous raffle prizes includes a 24 hour test drive of a TESLA car, so don’t forget to buy your raffle tickets at Rigby & Peller. Sponsors include Clarity, who created the event website, Grape Van and Grazie.
Natalie and Jenny met at Addenbrookes in 2016. They both had personal experience of the hospital. Natalie was treated for cancer in the Breast Unit there in 2013, undergoing a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Jenny’s father had cancer and when he passed away in Addenbrookes, she vowed to do something big to thank the hospital for all they had done for him.
Natalie had held fashion shows in Saffron Walden in 2014 and 2015 to raise funds for the Breast Unit but she and Jenny quickly realised that they could create something much bigger if they pooled their expertise, energy and resources. As Manager of Rigby & Peller in Cambridge, Jenny feels uniquely placed to help breast cancer patients, with her specialist mastectomy trained staff who fit the many different styles of bras on offer and who are always there for aftercare too.
This year’s Show is dedicated to Becky Hadfield, who modelled in 2016 and sadly passed away in January 2018. Becky will be in the hearts and minds of everybody involved in the Show as they aim to raise £11,000 which will fund a part time Breast Counsellor post. And the more money they raise, the more hours the Counsellor will be able to spend supporting women at the Breast Unit.
Fashion Show tickets cost £16 and include a welcome drink and canapes on arrival. You can book tickets through the website or get them from Rigby & Peller in Grand Arcade but don’t wait until the last minute as this event always sells out!
The River Cam will echo to the rhythmic beating of drums and splashing of oars on 8 September as the annual Cambridge Dragon Boat Festival returns, with more than forty teams battling it out along a 200 metre course, raising money for Addenbrookes Charitable Trust. Dragon boat racing is a terrific spectator sport so head down to Fen Ditton Meadow from where you can see all the action on the water and enjoy entertainment, food trucks and a bar on the river bank. Read more here
Bridge the Gap on 9 September is a circular walk through the beautiful grounds of six Cambridge colleges, several of which are not normally open to the public. Starting and finishing at Parker’s Piece, this annual event is wheelchair and pushchair friendly. There’ll be music and refreshments along the way, Blue Badge guides in each college to answer your questions plus entertainment, competitions and a tea tent on Parker’s Piece. Your entry fee goes to Arthur Rank Hospice Charity and Romsey Mill to support their invaluable work in the city. Read more here
Open Cambridge on 14 and 15 September sees the University and partner organisations across the city open their doors, offering special access to places often hidden from public view. There’s an extensive programme of tours, talks, exhibitions and events offering captivating glimpses into Cambridge history and heritage. Most events are free, some require pre-booking.
Bridge the Gap is a circular walk through the beautiful gardens of six Cambridge colleges. Now in its 17th year and happening on Sunday 9 September, this event is a great day out for families, friends and groups of work colleagues, allowing entry to the grounds of these historic colleges, some of which are not normally open to the public, whilst raising money to support the valuable work of two local charities, Arthur Rank Hospice Charity and Romsey Mill.
I met with Georgina Forbes, Fundraiser for Romsey Mill, to find out more. The action starts and finishes on Parker’s Piece where you can register from 8.30am, have a coffee and some breakfast from one of the food trucks as well as collect a backpack filled with water, fruit and goodies provided by the event’s sponsors. You’ll also be given a brochure with a route map and information before heading out (there are three different waves of departures through the morning).
The route is approximately 5 miles long and takes in Emmanuel, Christ’s, Sidney Sussex and Trinity colleges before heading along the Backs to St Catherine’s and Pembroke colleges and then on to the Museum of Zoology which is celebrating its reopening.
There will be marshals to show you the way, Blue Badge guides in the colleges to answer your questions and the route is wheelchair and pushchair enabled. You’ll find music along the way (think brass, folk and jazz bands) and refreshments at St Catherine’s College. Back on Parker’s Piece, Cambridge 105 will be broadcasting from a 50 foot stage, there’ll be music courtesy of Cambridge City Brass and you might even want to join in the dancing with Cambridge Lindyhop. You’ll also find a soft play area for kids and various competitions happening plus that all important tea tent offering home made cake.
This year’s fundraising goal is £50,000. Thanks to the generosity of the event’s sponsors, all overheads are covered so 100% of your entry fee is shared equally between the two Cambridgeshire charities. Arthur Rank Hospice supports people who are living with a life-limiting illness and those who need end-of-life care. Romsey Mill is a Christian charity creating opportunities with young people, children and families, many of whom are facing significant challenges in their lives.
Around 130 volunteers make this event happen with many different roles available. If you’d like to join them, contact Tasha.Hills@arhc.org.uk for route volunteering and email@example.com for volunteering on Parker’s Piece.
To take part in Bridge the Gap, you simply pre-register on the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity website (see the link below) or you can turn up at Parker’s Piece and pay on the morning. Group tickets are available at discounted rates and children go free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Houseboats, rowing boats, riverboats, punts ….. all every day traffic on the River Cam. On Saturday 8 September, they’ll be joined for one day only by a slightly different type of vessel as the Cambridge Dragon Boat Festival returns to the city.
More than 40 teams of up to 10 people each – groups of friends, sports clubs and companies – will battle it out along a 200m course at Ditton Meadows, Fen Ditton. Team spirit and enthusiasm are essential, previous experience of dragon boat racing is not. Each team is guaranteed a minimum of three races and race organisers, Gable Events, supply the 30′ dragon boats, all the necessary racing equipment and qualified helms to steer a straight course.
Carol Lester of Gable Events tells me that dragon boat racing originated in China over 2000 years ago. Legend has it that poet Qu Yuan was cast out by the government and, in his devastation, jumped into a river. He was revered by the people and fishermen raced out to save him, beating their drums and splashing their oars to keep fish and evil spirits away from him, but to no avail.
Today, dragon boat racing takes place around the world and is a popular group/teambuilding activity. The dragon heads on the boats symbolise a warding off of evil spirits while a drummer beats out a pulsing rhythm to help pace and synchronise the paddlers’ strokes.
Dragon boat racing is also a terrific spectator sport. There’s free parking and free access to Fen Ditton Meadow from where you can see all the action on the water. There’ll be plenty of entertainment on the riverbank with children’s activities, inflatables, food trucks, a bar, Chinese lion dancing and tai chi demonstrations.
Now in its 14th year, the Cambridge Dragon Boat Festival raises money for Addenbrookes Charitable Trust, to provide technology, specialist services, research and extra comforts for patients at Addenbrookes and the Rosie Maternity Hospital, over and above what would be possible through NHS funding alone. Last year, the Festival raised the amazing sum of £20,000. There’s still time to get a team together and be part of this. For more details, including information on how to enter a team, check out these websites.
There’s a massive chimney that dominates the skyline down at Riverside. It’s in amongst a cluster of Victorian buildings that make up the Museum of Technology and I’ve walked past it dozens of times but never really knew what it was all about. When I heard that there’s going to be a pop up Riverside Tea Garden there this summer, I decided to find out more and met with Assistant Curator, Morgan Bell.
Built in 1894, the 53 metre tall chimney is part of a Victorian sewage pumping station which is now the Museum. Here they burned the city’s household rubbish 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.
Owned independently and funded by admission fees and donations, the Museum houses the last Hathorn Davey pumping engines in the world that still work. It has also built up a collection of telecoms equipment, televisions and radios from Pye and historic scientific instruments from Cambridge Instrument Company.
The Museum is currently closed as there’s a major redevelopment under way, thanks to money from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Restoration of the old buildings is complicated and painstaking as they are a Scheduled Ancient Monument and permission is needed even to paint in there! There are plans for a new building to house exhibition and learning space plus a cafe building with views over the river. The boiler is being repaired so it can once again supply steam to run the pumping engines and they’re hoping to be open by mid 2019.
This redevelopment is about preserving heritage of course but it’s also about inspiring a generation of future engineers and innovators. Jinx St. Leger, the Education Officer, tells me about the outreach programme with primary and secondary schools, encouraging students to look at STEM subjects in a new light. “It’s teaching engineering by stealth,” she smiles. “We make stomp rockets, create origami, make print blocks and masks and use a morse code machine to send and decode messages.” Jinx will be running four craft based and four engineering based events over the summer at the Museum of Cambridge (check out http://www.museumofcambridge.org.uk/events for more details).
Now back to the tea and cake … on Sunday afternoons between 15 July and 5 August, you’ll be able to enjoy drinks and cream teas at the Riverside Tea Garden in idyllic surroundings on the Museum’s lawn overlooking the river. There’ll be stalls selling treasures, crafts, books, clothes, baked goods and produce. And I’ve booked my ticket for The Floating Museum, a boat trip happening on various dates through the summer, during which you’ll discover more about the city’s industrial heritage along the river. All profits from these ventures go back to the Museum to help fund the restoration. Full details, plus a booking facility for The Floating Museum, are on the website.
Dr David Crilly describes himself to me as “a musician from Liverpool”. His first brush with The Bard was as a post graduate student of musicology at Oxford University when a friend asked him to be Musical Director for a student production of “The Taming of the Shrew”. While David was happy with the incidental music he composed, he was distinctly underwhelmed by the production and reckoned that he could definitely do better himself! Without further ado, bolstered by the insouciance of youth and undaunted by his lack of experience in the producing/directing department, he appointed himself Artistic Director, put an advertisement in “The Stage” newspaper and set about casting “Macbeth”. And so it began ….
…. Now in its 31st year, the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival holds 4th position in The Independent’s Top 50 UK Arts Festivals and attracts upwards of 25,000 visitors a year, from all over the world.
This summer, the Festival runs from 9 July to 25 August, bringing its open air productions to the stunning and intimate surroundings of private College gardens which the public can’t normally access. Heck, even the College students can’t access some of these! Think the Fellows’ Gardens at King’s College and Trinity College and the Scholar’s Garden at St John’s, all of them hidden gems. This year’s programme includes crowd pleasers “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Macbeth” alongside plays such as “Cymbeline” and “Pericles” which are perhaps less well known.
The actors perform in full period costume and there is live Elizabethan music. This is Shakespeare without gimmicks … in the magical atmosphere of the gardens, with the light changing as the sun goes down, David creates productions that everybody can enjoy whether they’re familiar with Shakespeare or not.
Festival prep begins in February as David starts to audition professional actors to build a company. Each actor appears in two plays so the rehearsal period during June is intense with 12 hour days. And once July’s plays are under way, the cast rehearses the August plays during the day. Inevitably, the company (who lodge in College accommodation) becomes a very tight unit. Along the way this has led, rather romantically, to 11 marriages!
It’s over thirty years since David appointed himself Artistic Director and founded this Festival. Since then, he’s developed a linked programme of educational events for students of all ages. He composes and conducts, writes and publishes, researches and lectures here and overseas.
Each of the 8 plays in this year’s programme holds one charity matinee performance at 2pm, raising funds for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices and St John’s Hospice on the Wirral, in memory of David’s sister. Tickets are only available on the door for these performances and you need to pay with cash as every penny raised goes to the charities. Funds raised over the years come to £89,650 so far and David hopes to hit £100,000 this year.
All performances start at 7.30pm but you can arrive in the beautiful College grounds to enjoy your picnic from 6.30pm. Mulled wine is served in the interval and children of all ages are welcome. You can buy tickets and season tickets in advance through the Festival website but there are always tickets for sale for every performance on the door too.
Cam Sight is a wonderful Cambridge charity that I’ve been meaning to write about for some time now. From its Cambridge HQ in Chesterton and its Wisbech outreach centre, its staff and a band of around 350 dedicated volunteers work to ensure that clients with low vision and blindness can access the support and advice they need to live the life they choose.
I met with Nick Burr, Cam Sight’s Fundraising and Promotions Officer, and his beautiful assistance dog Amber, to find out more about this remarkable organisation which began life as the Cambridge Society for the Blind in 1912 and which today works with around 1800 clients across Cambridgeshire.
The services that Cam Sight offers are extensive. On the practical side of life, there’s help with choosing of and training on the many technologies available. There’s a weekly magnification and lighting clinic and they sell a wide range of equipment to help with carrying out day to day tasks, from talking clocks to canes, kitchen safety aids and large button telephones. In one-to-one sessions, a (re)habilitation specialist can help with mobility, orientation and daily living skills while the community team visits clients at home, to help and advise with welfare and housing benefits application as well as adaptations to the home.
The emotional side of life is, of course, just as important as the practical. Cam Sight organises outings and social activities while volunteer befrienders give support and companionship in many different ways. And in a peer support initiative, there are monthly gatherings held across Cambridgeshire for clients, their carers and family members. Cam Sight also offers emotional support and counselling sessions.
“We run three groups for children,” Nick tells me, “for preschool and 4 – 11 year olds, then the teenage group is a lot of fun, whether they’re playing pool and eating pizza, enjoying an activity day or a trip to a theme park.”
Cam Sight also supports clients to return to sport or indeed to try a new sport. Tandem cycling is an option, with a trained sighted pilot and a low vision stoker. They own seven tandems and on 1 July, several pairs will be cycling in the annual London to Cambridge bike ride (yes, that is 63 miles!) to raise money for Cam Sight. So they’re busy training and if you’d like to sponsor them, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another fundraiser coming up is Cam Sight’s first Golf Day on 20 July at Cambridge Meridian Golf Club. You can enter individually or get a team of four together. There’ll be 18 holes of golf plus breakfast, a barbecue, prizes, a raffle and an auction, all for a suggested donation of £60 per person. To sign up for the Golf Day, just contact email@example.com
On 17 July at 7.30pm, there’s a talk “John Henslow and the Education of Charles Darwin” given by Professor John Parker, former Director of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, at the Sainsburys Laboratory Auditorium. Tickets are £15, include canapes and drinks and are available from Cam Sight on 01223 420033. Fundraising activities are also organised by the Friends of Cam Sight, a group who run their own events in support of the charity’s work.
If you’d be interested in volunteering with Cam Sight, there are many roles available from driving to befriending, helping with bucket collections at external events and riding as a pilot on a tandem. Joy Hallifax, the volunteer team leader, would be delighted to hear from you. Just email her on firstname.lastname@example.org All volunteers receive an induction with full training and ongoing support.