Mill Road Winter Fair

Mill Road Winter Fair is a colourful and joyous celebration of community.  From small beginnings in 2005, it’s become a vibrant fixture in the city’s calendar.  Happening this year on Saturday 2 December, it draws local residents as well as visitors from across the country, who come together to celebrate the unique atmosphere and richness of life in this neighbourhood.  I met with Marisa Crimlis-Brown, local resident and Winter Fair Committee member, to find out more.

Mill Road Brochure Cover 2
Image credit: Sam Motherwell

“This Fair is all about different parts of the community coming together and there’s something here for everybody,” Marisa tells me.  Cambridge Community Circus  will be running circus skills workshops, so if you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at diablo or juggling, now’s your chance.  Anglia Ruskin University, who are celebrating 40 years of university status, will be showing a display of local art in its Drama Studio on Covent Garden and will host various activities and venues, including a marquee on Petersfield with craft stalls and live music.  You’ll find more local craftspeople in a large marquee outside Kelsey Kerridge Sports Centre.  The Mosque on Mawson Road will open its doors and Cambridge University Museums will be running children’s activities and story telling sessions.

 

Brass Band Medium
Image credit: Inez Martina Mihaldinecz

There’s going to be plenty of music along the street too.  Cambridge 105 will be broadcasting throughout the day with a live stage featuring local artists.  There’ll be buskers, the Cambridge University Brass Band, a barbershop chorus and gospel choirs as well as performances from local contemporary choirs.  And you won’t be able to resist dancing in the street alongside performers including the Cambridge Swing Dancers and Arco Iris, our city’s very own community samba band.

 

CHinese Food medium
Image credit: Inez Martina Mihaldinecz

“Come hungry!” is Marisa’s advice.  As well as a wide variety of international cuisines offered by Mill Road’s cafes and restaurants, Gwydir Street car park will be a hub for street food and Thirsty will be running a bar with seating at St Barnabas Church, where you’ll also find food trucks and a reggae stage.

Band medium
Image credit: Inez Martina Mihaldinecz

There’s so much going on at the Fair, much more than I can cover here so for the full programme, do check out their excellent website and also their Facebook page for news and regular updates.  Details are at the end of this post.

Lion medium
Image credit: Inez Martina Mihaldinecz

The Winter Fair is organised and run by a small group of residents who always welcome people to the team to help with planning this event.  And volunteers make the Fair happen on the day.  For this year, they still need road stewards to help keep everyone safe so if you are aged over 18 and would be happy to help, email volunteers@millroadwinterfair.org

Crown medium
Image credit: Inez Martina Mihaldinecz

On 2 December, Mill Road will be closed to cars and bikes from East Road to Coleridge Road.  The Fair opens at 10.30am and the organisers estimate that around 15,000 visitors will come to experience the sights, sounds and colours of the day.  And there’s no need to leave once the Fair closes at 4.30pm ….. why not stay a little longer and enjoy the shops, cafes and restaurants of this vibrant neighbourhood?

http://www.millroadwinterfair.org

Facebook: Mill Road Winter Fair

Mill Road, Cambridge CB1

Cambridge Made Christmas Fair

So Christmas is coming ….. I’m making a list and checking it twice before I head off to the Cambridge Made Christmas Fair, which for the past couple of years has been my go to at this time of year for local handmade treasures and really original Christmas presents.

Cambridge Made Christmas Fair_Etsy Made Local 2017 Flyer
Image credit: Purplespoon Design/OomPahPah

The Christmas Fair showcases the multifarious talents of a collective of Cambridge designer-makers who have come together as a team under the Etsy banner.  Etsy is the world’s leading online marketplace for handmade goods, through which individual makers can run an online store to sell their wares.  But it’s much more than a sales forum.  It’s a community minded operation that encourages sellers to form teams, meaning that craftspeople can pool their experience and expertise and support each other in what can sometimes be a solitary existence.

Cambridge Made Green collage
Image credit: Cambridge Made Christmas Fair

I met with Debbie Poyser and Sara Bevan from the Cambridge Etsy team, who firmly believe that people should be able to make things for a living and, indeed, that it’s an essential human impulse to make.  They told me that four years ago, their first Fair was a pop up shop in a room above a pub in central Cambridge.  The Cambridge BID team then got involved, helped the group to set up a Summer Fair and from there the project went from strength to strength.

This year, the Fair is being held at St Andrew’s Baptist Church and will show the work of forty three designer-makers, artists and craftspeople over three days.  There’ll be a huge variety of hand made goodies including ceramics, jewellery, textiles, quilts, botanical toiletries, cards, decorations, toys and homewares.  Some new makers will be coming on board each day so it’s definitely worth visiting the Fair more than once.  Should you work up a thirst doing all that Christmas shopping and need to recharge, refreshments will be available at Livingstones Cafe in the church.  You’ll also be able to help raise funds for Jimmy’s Night Shelter by stopping at the charity table.

Cambridge Made Red collage
Image credit: Cambridge Made Christmas Fair

Cambridge Made welcomes applications from makers who would like to share opportunities and be a part of this supportive group.  Just contact them through Facebook at Cambridge Made.

As shopping experiences go, sorting out the Christmas presents often feels like something of a mission but I can promise you that this Fair is different.  So make out your list, come along to support local designer-makers and see what treasures you will find.

Facebook:  Etsy Made Local – Cambridge

43 St Andrew’s Street, Cambridge CB2 3AR

Radmore Farm Shop

The story of Radmore Farm Shop is really the story of a family.  Vicky Rogers grew up on Radmore Farm in Northamptonshire alongside her sister, parents and extended family.  While Vicky’s father reared pigs on a large scale to supply supermarkets, Vicky and her sister decided to get a little diversification project going.  They set up a small farm shop in a wooden shed, selling eggs, potatoes and vegetables that they’d grown themselves and this experiment turned out to be a big success.

Fast forward a few years ….. Vicky, by now in her final year of studies at Anglia Ruskin University, met Ben Aveling, who was working on a management training scheme in a Cambridge pub.  Ben had never worked on a farm before but it wasn’t long before he and Vicky were spending their weekends at Radmore and taking with them shopping lists from people who wanted farm fresh produce brought back to Cambridge.  Seeing the demand, this enterprising couple decided to set up a retail operation and so, in 2006, Radmore Farm Shop came to Cambridge, settling initially in Victoria Road, then moving to Mitchams Corner.  Earlier this year, it put down roots in splendid new premises in Victoria Avenue.

Radmore shopfront
Image credit: Radmore Farm Shop

Staffed by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team, it’s a light and airy space where a big range of stock is beautifully displayed.  Vicky and Ben’s aim is to make fresh farm produce available in a place where you can come and also do a whole shop so they offer a wide range of groceries.  In her bakery on the farm, Vicky makes meat pies, quiches and cakes and can also bake to order.  Ben is in charge of butchery.  There’s a superb range of meat and poultry on offer including home reared free range chicken, pork (from the pigs still raised by Vicky’s father but on a small scale these days), pedigree free range Dexter beef and lamb.  They also process game so you will find venison, pheasant and pigeon in season.

Vicky and son
Image credit: Radmore Farm Shop

Vicky and Ben are always increasing the range available at the shop and are passionate about championing the work and produce of local independent small suppliers.  They have just relaunched Radmore’s online store which you can access through their website.  Just browse through the products, pick a delivery day and your shopping will come to your door.

As for Christmas, Radmore has it covered.  Top quality Nordmann non-drop fir trees will be available from the end of November and Ben will deliver your tree for free in Cambridge.  Christmas meats include the top-notch Kelly Bronze free range turkeys, geese, ducks and free range cockerels from the farm (Vicky and Ben’s Christmas dinner of choice!).  Keep an eye on the website for details of special Christmas events and tastings which are happening in the coming weeks.

Vicky and family
Image credit: Radmore Farm Shop

 

So to finish, back to the family who all still live at Radmore Farm.  Vicky and Ben now have two beautiful little boys so the next generation is being raised there.  You can keep up to date with them all by checking out Vicky’s blog about family, farming and food on http://www.myfamilyandotherhungryanimals.com

http://www.radmorefarmshop.co.uk

8 – 10 Victoria Avenue, Cambridge CB4 1EH

Pantomime at the ADC Theatre

It’s big, it’s bold, it’s bright, it’s back!!  Yes, it’s that time of year when the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club and the famous Cambridge Footlights bring us dancing, singing, slapstick and more in their annual pantomime.  This year, they’re transporting us to Paris to tell the tale of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Panto poster
Image credit and poster design: Al Ro

I look forward to this show each year and I’m always struck by the high production values, the professionalism and the talent of the cast so I met with Nick Harrison and Charlotte Stephenson, the producers of this year’s panto, to find out more about how the show is put together.  They tell me that the process started back in May when they were appointed.  Their first job was to choose a Director and together they formed a panel to interview writers.  From a variety of applications, they selected Zak Ghazi-Torbati and Sam Knights, who impressed with the way they proposed to bring this sometimes dark story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame to life.  With a production team, composer and lyricist recruited by the end of the Easter term, the script was written over the summer break.

Bells of Notre Dame
The bells of Notre Dame under construction  Image Credit: Charlotte Stephenson

Cast auditions were held at the beginning of October and crew members to run the show were also appointed.  Rehearsals started in mid-October so now, with preparations for the panto going full steam ahead, Nick and Charlotte are keeping a firm hand on the tiller, ensuring that all areas of the production are in synch, on time and on budget.  With a cast and crew of over sixty people, that’s a lot to manage before the lights go up on opening night but Nick and Charlotte love what they do, speaking warmly of the camaraderie and commitment of everyone involved in this production.

The pantomime runs from 22 November to 2 December and tickets are snapped up so I advise booking as soon as you can.  If you miss the boat, a very small number of seats are released for every performance on the day but you need to call in person at the Box Office to have a chance of getting tickets this way.

Panto cast photo
Image credit: Amelia Oakley

So go on, get ready to cheer the goodies, boo the baddies and marvel at the mayhem …. you know you want to!!

http://www.adctheatre.com

Park Street, Cambridge CB5 8AS

 

 

Cambridge International Jazz Festival

It started with a gig.  The pianist, the bass player and the singer looked at each other and said “Let’s start a festival!”  As you do.

And they did!  In 2014, with no money but with a drive fuelled by their passion for jazz, they recruited some fellow musicians and set up Cambridge Jazz Weekend.  Their aim then, as now, was to bring together all the many strands of the strong Cambridge jazz scene into one glorious jazz binge.  It went so well that they subsequently received some funding from the Arts Council and attracted local sponsorship.  And so the Cambridge Jazz Festival was born.

Jazz Festival 2017 logo
Image credit: Cambridge International Jazz Festival
Jazz Festival saxophonist
Image credit: Cambridge International Jazz Festival

Now in its third year, the Festival is still run by that original team who put it all together whilst holding down their day jobs.  Their mission is to offer an outlet for local jazz musicians, to create a forum which will attract national and international jazz acts to Cambridge and to encourage community involvement through a programme of workshops.

This year’s Festival runs over fifteen days, from 11 – 26 November, and offers a packed schedule of vibrant live music at locations across the city.  It celebrates the variety of jazz styles from dixieland to choral and big band to gypsy.  “Jazz is a magpie music,” says Gavin Spence, a co-founder of the Festival.  “It’s adopted and adapted constantly so this year we’re featuring hip hop and electronica styles of jazz too.”  The Festival closes with a day of New Gen Jazz at The Corn Exchange, featuring eleven up and coming young bands, to showcase a new generation of talent.

Jazz Festival group
Image credit: Cambridge International Jazz Festival

The programme, much of which is free or low cost, includes events for children (many of the mainstream events are also child-friendly), a poetry night, films, workshops and much more.  You can book tickets online at http://www.cambridgejazzfestival.info

Faure Requiem with Cambridge Fundraising Choir

It’s often hard to know how best to respond in the face of shocking news.  But a group of choral scholars from the University of Cambridge knew exactly what to do when, very sadly, a fellow student was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  They joined forces and their voices to create Cambridge Fundraising Choir and since January this year, they’ve been singing to raise funds for Cancer Research UK’s Brain Tumour Research.

These students are all choral scholars at their various colleges.  That’s a huge honour and is testament to their outstanding musical talent but it’s also a major commitment on top of their academic work, with several rehearsals and chapel services each week plus a touring and recording schedule outside term.  Ellie Tobin, a Trinity College student and a founder member of the choir tells me, “There’s a terrific atmosphere.  We’ve come together as a group of friends to make music and I think that special connection between us really comes over when we sing.”

Cambridge Fundraising Choir
Image credit: Cambridge Fundraising Choir

The choir has already performed four concerts across the country and has raised over £4,500 to support the pioneering research work which is leading to new treatment methods.  On Saturday 4 November, they’ll be singing in Trinity College Chapel.  It’ll be an evening of reflective choral music, including the beautiful Faure Requiem and works by Finzi, Howells and Vaughan Williams.  Admission is free, refreshments will be served and there will be a retiring collection in aid of Cancer Research UK’s Brain Tumour Research.  If you can’t get to the concert but would like to make a donation, you can do so online at https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/cambridge-fundraising-choir   Every penny raised will go directly to the charity.

http://www.cambridgefundraisingchoir.com

This event is being held at Trinity College, Cambridge CB2 1TQ

Walking Tour of Cambridge

Who was Hobson and why is Hobson’s choice no choice at all?  What’s a chronophage and where will you find one??

These questions and many more were answered when we joined a Cambridge Highlights Tour which, at 1.5 hours long, is perfect for visitors to Cambridge or for anyone who is pushed for time but wants to take in the iconic sights while picking up some history and anecdotes along the way.  Led by a qualified Blue Badge Guide, tours start from the Visit Cambridge HQ in The Guildhall.

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The Corpus Clock

We stopped at the Cavendish Laboratory where James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA in 1953 and The Eagle pub, just around the corner, the scene of their subsequent celebrations.  The pub still serves DNA ale today in honour of their groundbreaking discovery.  We headed into St Bene’t’s Church with its Saxon tower and then checked out the Corpus Clock with its slightly sinister chronophage, a grasshopper which seems to eat up time.  Walking on through the historic streets, we passed many colleges and University buildings including Great St. Mary’s, the University church.  You might want to return here once the tour is over – if you’re feeling energetic enough to climb the 123 steps to the top of the tower, they say you’ll be rewarded (on a clear day!) with views across our very flat East Anglian landscape to Ely Cathedral.

Great St Mary's
Great St. Mary’s Church

Heading out of the lunchtime hustle and bustle into the tranquillity of Pembroke College, founded in 1347, our guide explained the University’s collegiate system as well as Pembroke’s history.  Its beautiful chapel was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and was consecrated in 1665.  In here, you’ll find the Cross of Migrants made by carpenter Francesco Tuccio from the timbers of a refugee boat that crossed the Mediterranean to the island of Lampedusa in 2016.  It’s a moving reminder of and a memorial to those lost in the recent migrant crisis.

Cross of Migrants
The Cross of Migrants

I have to say that these Blue Badge Guides really know their stuff.  They go through nine months of training and have to pass four exams.   What’s more, only Blue Badge Guides can take groups into the University of Cambridge colleges and buildings.  Our guide, Mary, was so knowledgeable and gave us lots of historical facts and anecdotes but with humour and a deftness that meant we never felt we were being lectured.

A variety of tours are on offer through Visit Cambridge.  If you’re really on a tight schedule, you could opt for the Essential Cambridge tour which takes just 60 minutes.  More specialist tours include Kings College and “The Backs”, The Parker Library at Corpus Christi College and The Fitzwilliam Museum.  They’re even offering Halloween Ghost Tours at the end of this month – scary but fun and nobody will mind if you turn up in fancy dress!  Details of all these and the full programme, along with a booking facility, are on the Visit Cambridge and Beyond website.

Senate House
Senate House

And as for “Who was Hobson?” ….. you’ll have to go on the tour to find out!!

http://www.visitcambridge.org

Cambridge Visitor Information Centre, The Guildhall, Market Square, Cambridge CB2 3QJ

We enjoyed this Cambridge Highlights Tour as guests of Visit Cambridge and Beyond.