Firewalk for Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre

Firewalking sounds a little bit hazardous ….. but this act of walking across a bed of hot embers has been practised by many people and cultures all over the world since about 1200BC, mainly as a rite of passage, a test of religious faith or of an individual’s courage and strength.  Now Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre is holding a Firewalk on Saturday 28 October – this is their biggest fundraising event of the year and money raised will go to support their vital work.

Fire being raked
Image credit: B.L.A.Z.E

Claire Gardner of Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre tells me that participants find the Firewalk an uplifting experience, feeling elated, even invincible, having walked on hot embers.  Friends, family and spectators are all welcome to join in with the celebrations and enjoy the music, entertainment, refreshments and glitter stand while cheering on the brave firewalkers.  To take part in the Firewalk, you must be aged over sixteen and you need to register in advance on http://tinyurl.com/crccfirewalk, donate £25 at registration and undertake to raise a minimum of £125 sponsorship.

The Firewalk is run by B.L.A.Z.E, the leading charity firewalking experts who have been running these events in the UK since 1984 so you can be sure that they have the health and safety sorted.  B.L.A.Z.E will work with participants in a training session before the event so that everyone is fully prepped for that twenty foot walk across hot embers.

Person firewalking
Image credit: B.L.A.Z.E

Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre offers support to women and girls who have experienced rape, childhood sexual abuse or any other form of sexual violence.  It operates a confidential telephone helpline and email support alongside a face-to-face counselling service and an Independent Sexual Violence Advocacy Service to help women navigate the criminal justice system.

CRCC banner
Image credit: Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre

In a week during which a certain Hollywood mogul has barely been out of the news and the #MeToo campaign has gone viral on social media, we have all become more aware of just how widespread sexual harassment and violence are.  Please sponsor a firewalker, donate what you can or volunteer your time to keep the work of this amazing organisation going as it offers support to the girls and women of our city.

http://www.cambridgerapecrisis.org.uk

http://www.facebook.com/CambridgeRapeCrisis

This event is being held at Cambridge Women’s Resource Centre, The Wharf, Hooper Street, Cambridge CB1 2NZ

 

 

Apple Day at Cambridge University Botanic Garden

The old apple tree at the end of our garden was laden with fruit when we moved into our house two years ago.  So much so that we put big bowls of the delicious, sweet apples at our gate for passers by to help themselves.  But we had no idea what variety these apples were and would still be none the wiser if it were not for the Cambridge University Botanic Garden’s Apple day, a fabulous celebration of all things appley, which is happening again on Sunday 22 October.

People apple tasting
Image credit: Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Will Greenfield

There’s something for everyone at this event.  Over two dozen varieties of locally grown apples will be available for tasting and you can buy your favourites.  Experts will be on hand to advise you on apple cultivation – what to grow, how to plant and how to prune for a bumper crop.  A marquee on the Main Lawn will be full of locally produced edibles and there will also be a wide choice of refreshments from a variety of food trucks and the Garden Cafe, which will offer plenty of apple themed dishes alongside its normal menu.

Experts from the East of England Apples and Orchards Project will offer an apple identification service so if you have a mystery tree in your garden, just bring along two or three apples, ideally with a leaf and stalk attached to help with identification.  Who knows, you may bring a lost heritage variety to light!

Apples in a box
Image credit: Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Will Greenfield

Younger visitors will be able to get creative with craft activities led by local paper cut artist Vanessa Stone and Cambridge Sustainable Food.  There will be mini gardens to visit and mini lawn mowers to play on plus live music on the Main Lawn as well as a performance from the Cambridge Morris Men.  Tour guides will lead free specialist seasonal garden tours which you can sign up for on the day.

For Apple Day, you can book tickets in advance, either online or at the Ticket Office, the advantage being that you get fast track entry.  But tickets will also be available on the day at The Ticket office and under 16s get in free!  I can testify that the forty acre Botanic Garden, which is home to one of the region’s largest tree collections, is a magical place in every season, a really peaceful oasis in a busy city so for future visits, you might like to become a Friend of the Garden – membership offers you free access, regular updates and exclusive events.

Autumn Botanic Garden
Image credit: Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Will Greenfield

And as for our mystery apple tree ….. the experts identified it as Laxton’s Superb, a late Victorian dessert apple dating back to 1897.  It’s nice to think that we have our own little piece of appley heritage at the end of the garden!

http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk

1 Brookside, Cambridge CB2 1JE

Feed the 1000 at the Pumpkin Festival

Now I love to cook.  Pottering around my kitchen makes me really happy.   But catering for more than about ten people makes me feel a little bit panicky, so I take my hat off to Cambridge Sustainable Food who are teaming up with Cambridge Foodcycle to feed a thousand, yes A THOUSAND, people from surplus food that might otherwise have been thrown away.  This amazing event is happening on Friday 20 October outside Sainsbury’s in Brooks Road and is part of the Sainsbury’s backed “Waste Less, Save More” campaign which aims to raise awareness of food waste issues.  All are welcome to join in, meet the incredible team of cooks and enjoy the free food.

Cambridge Sustainable Foods Logo
Image credit: Cambridge Sustainable Food

Feed the 1000 launches the third Cambridge Pumpkin Festival, a city wide celebration of food and autumn.  Events include a Vegan Pumpkin Feast at Arjuna on Mill Road, a children’s cake decorating workshop at lifestyle cafe Co. in Cherry Hinton, a pumpkin picnic, cookery workshops and Dinner in the Dark, a charity feast with extra puddings for the best fancy dress!  Restaurants and cafes across the city will be offering seasonal pumpkin based dishes.

Disco soup pic
Image credit: Cambridge Sustainable Food

Children will love the Kids’ Disco Soup event, to be held at St Andrew’s Church Hall on 23 October.  Here’s a chance for them to chop vegetables which would otherwise have been wasted, cook them into a delicious soup and eat the fruits of their labours together while a DJ takes care of the music so that everyone can throw some shapes on the dance floor!  Sam Dyer, Food Partnership Co-ordinator at Cambridge Sustainable Food, tells me that Disco Soup is now an international phenomenon, part of a worldwide movement to inspire action against food waste.

Many of the Pumpkin Festival events are free.  If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer, there’s more information on the website.

Farmers Market pic
Image credit: Cambridge Sustainable Food

The Pumpkin Festival will draw to a close on 28 October with a Farmers’ Market (held in conjunction with Thirsty) at the Museum of Technology.  Here you will meet local producers and suppliers, sample their wares and enjoy plenty of free activities including apple pressing and bike powered smoothie making.  It’ll be a fitting end to a week which will leave us a bit more thoughtful about the ways we can minimise our food waste, enjoy a healthy and sustainable diet and support our wonderful city’s sustainable food economy.  And we’ll also have had a lot of fun celebrating all things pumpkiny!!

http://www.cambridgesustainablefood.org

http://www.cambridgepumpkinfestival.org.uk

http://www.foodcycle.org.uk/location/cambridge

 

Cambridge Gin Laboratory

Now I’m not much of a scientist but this is my kind of lab!

Frontage 2

Recently moved to new premises in a stunning building in Green Street, The Gin Laboratory is “an interactive space, dedicated to the appreciation of gin”.  It’s operated by husband and wife team, William and Lucy Lowe, who own the Grantchester based Cambridge Distillery.  William is the Master Distiller while Lucy deals with branding and marketing, assisted by their labrador, Darcy, as brand ambassador (ambassadog?!)

The ground floor houses a shop where you can choose from their range of award winning gins.  As well as a Cambridge Dry Gin, which is available year round, twice each year Will creates a seasonal gin, distilled with locally grown and foraged botanicals.

Cabinet 2

Two other gins particularly caught my eye.  Anty Gin is an innovation that resulted from a joint venture with Copenhagen based Nordic Food Lab.  Each bottle contains the essence of around sixty two red wood ants, alongside flavours of wild springtime botanicals.  Then there is Truffle Gin, flavoured with white truffle from Alba.  Distilled in very small quantities, they tell me this is excellent served over ice as a digestif.

Gin jarsIf you’d rather go slightly off more off piste, you can custom blend your own gin, creating a bespoke spirit from a selection of botanical distillates offering flavours such as rose petal, orange with grapefruit or cardamon.

Other rooms in the building include The Classroom, where you can boost your gin know-how with tasting masterclasses and The Tasting Lounge, where you can sample a flight of gins, order from the gin cocktail menu and have your own blend of coffee ground to order from a selection of speciality beans.  The Study on the top floor is a private hire space for groups who’d like to enjoy any of the tasting packages or maybe arrange a more bespoke gin experience.

 

Finally, if you’ve blended your own unique gin and things are a little hazy after all that tasting, the Laboratory helpfully keeps your personal recipe on file for future reference.

http://www.cambridgeginlab.co.uk

10 Green Street, Cambridge CB2 3JX

 

Raise your voices!

Where do you like to do it?  In the shower??  In your car???

Singing, I mean!!

There’s world class music happening all the time here in Cambridge but there are also plenty of singing events and choirs that welcome all-comers, with no audition and no music reading skills required.  All that’s needed is your desire to join your voice with others, even if you aren’t convinced that voice is very good!  Here are details of a couple of fun vocal workshops coming up soon.

“Bassics” is an afternoon workshop for men’s voices, be they tenor, baritone or bass, happening on Saturday 28 October at The Boathouse, Chesterton Road.  Composer and choir leader Roger Jackson says he will introduce you to your voice and show you how to get the most out of it.  Roger is a great teacher who also leads a community a cappella choir, “Sing”, which meets on Tuesday evenings at The Polonia Club, Chesterton Road.  You can check out details of “Bassics” and the choir on http://www.sing.co.uk  This was the first choir I joined when I moved to the city.  I hadn’t sung for many years but it wasn’t long before I got my vocal mojo back, whilst making new friends along the way.

If jazz and groove are more your thing, there’s a Jazz Choir Workshop on Saturday 18 November at St Matthew’s Primary School, Norfolk Street.  A Cambridge Jazz Festival event, this workshop will be led by jazz composer and educationalist Pete Churchill and The London Vocal Project, one of the country’s leading contemporary vocal ensembles.  Participants will go on to perform in The London Vocal Project concert at St Andrew’s Baptist Church, St Andrew’s Street, later that evening.  I joined an LVP workshop a couple of years ago and it was just joyous.  The style of music and singing were new to me and it was a revelation!  You can get further details of this event on http://www.cambridgejazzfestival.info/london-vocal-project-workshop.

Singing is a wonderful thing.  It lowers stress levels, releases loads of feel-good endorphins, boosts your immune system and even improves your posture.  To that I would add that you will meet all sorts of interesting people and experience the sheer joy of making music together.  So go on, don’t be shy, get those vocal chords humming and raise your voice!

Illuminating Cambridge Libraries

Sara Rawlinson is both scientist and artist.  She grew up in Minnesota, USA, working throughout her childhood alongside her photographer grandmother in the dark room.  Sara went on to have a very successful research and academic career, taking a PhD in Seismology and Earth Sciences and subsequently running a Masters degree course in Natural Hazards at the Australian National University.  Throughout her career, she continued to take art classes and eventually left the academic world to pursue her love of photography.

Sara relocated to the other side of the world and, inspired by the beauty of the Cairngorms in her new Scottish home, she became more interested in landscape photography.  Now, having moved to Cambridge nearly a year ago, she has turned her lens on to Cambridge college libraries, with the aim of making some of the hidden parts of Cambridge more visible.  “It’s the knowledge contained within those walls,” Sara tells me “and that these historic buildings have preserved and disseminated that knowledge for so long.”  As well as wider shots, Sara particularly likes to concentrate on tiny details of structures within the libraries such as radiator grilles, bolts, shelving systems and their numbering.

SaraRawlinson_StJohns
St John’s College Library: Image credit Sara Rawlinson

50% of the opening night proceeds from this exhibition will be donated to the World Literacy Foundation, a global not-for-profit organisation that works to lift young people out of poverty through the power of literacy.  That same night (2 October), there will also be a Silent Auction of two of Sara’s framed photographs with 100% of the winning bids going to the Foundation.

SaraRawlinson-Darwin
Darwin College Library:  Image credit Sara Rawlinson

“Illuminating Cambridge Libraries” runs from 2 – 14 October at Michaelhouse in Trinity Street, a beautiful converted 14th century church.  On 7 October, Sara will be running a photography workshop, looking at details of this historic building and giving participants a chance to share their photos and talk, maybe whilst enjoying some food from the excellent Michaelhouse cafe.

For those who are wondering, Sara hasn’t turned her back on science entirely ….. along the way, she fell in love with an Australian seismologist and (to paraphrase!) reader, she married him.

http://www.sararawlinson.com

Michaelhouse, Trinity Street, Cambridge CB2 1SU

Cambridge Festival of Ideas

The University of Cambridge is getting ready to open its doors once again for the 10th annual Festival of Ideas.  Themed this year, very pertinently, around “Truth”, the Festival (sister to the Science Festival held each Spring) celebrates the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Festival of Ideas logo
Image by University of Cambridge

In a packed programme of over 200 events, you will find talks, exhibitions, films, performances, debates and workshops, all held in museums, galleries and lecture theatres across the city.  Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge Junction are among other organisations which will  also be running programmes within the Festival.

This is an event that I look forward to every year and I’m not the only one.  Ariel Retik, Manager of the Festival, tells me that more than 20,000 people attended the Festival in 2016 and they expect this year to be even bigger.  In an eclectic line-up, there really is something for everyone, whether your interest lies in politics, history, the arts, literature or music or whether you just want to open your mind to new ideas.  Most events are free.  Some need to be booked in advance and, from personal experience, I recommend early booking.

With such a large number of events taking place all over the city, volunteers are needed for stewarding duties.  If you are over 16 years old and would like to volunteer, you can email the Public Engagement Team on cfi@admin.cam.ac.uk to make yourself known.

The Festival of Ideas runs from 16 – 29 October.  The full programme is available online and booking, online or by phone, opens on 25 September.

http://www.festivalofideas.cam.ac.uk

Booking lines 01223 766766, open Monday – Friday 11am – 3pm