Cambridge is a city of bicycles and there’s no better way to get around, so buying a bike was top of my list when we moved here three years ago. There are plenty of bike shops around and a cycle repair stall in the market most days. My local cycle shop, Townsends on Chesterton Road, is fourth generation family owned and they kitted me out with a bike from their own range of The Light Blue cycles plus a strong lock, lights, a helmet and a wicker basket, then waved me off on my rather wobbly way!
A favourite cycle ride is an easy one of about twenty five minutes, mostly on paths and through lush green meadows, out to Grantchester. This very pretty, tranquil village was once home to poet Rupert Brooke who wrote of it nostalgically, “And is there honey still for tea?” Well, The Orchard Tea Garden in Mill Way has been serving honey for tea since 1897 not only to Brooke but, back in the day, to luminaries like Virginia Woolf, Maynard Keynes and Alan Turing. There’s nothing nicer than sitting in a deckchair in dappled sunlight under an apple tree here, enjoying tea and cake. They also serve breakfast, lunch, scones and full cream teas and there’s plenty of indoor seating for cooler days.
Another excellent pitstop in Grantchester is Cambridge Distillery on the High Street. Master Distiller William Lowe creates award winning gins using freshly foraged local botanicals. Lemon balm, blackcurrant leaf, magnolia and local honey all feature in the Spring/Summer 2018 seasonal gin which you can sample along with the rest of the range. Maybe pre-book a Masterclass to boost your gin know-how or even create your own bespoke spirit at a private Gin Tailoring session. The Distillery also offers four very special coffees which they can blend to your individual taste and has a beautiful city centre shop, Cambridge Gin Laboratory, on Green Street.
And don’t miss …..
Cambridge Open Studios, held over four weekends in July. A unique chance to meet artists, craftspeople and designer-makers in their studios and workshops in and around the city. Enjoy a feast of painting, ceramics, sculpture, handmade jewellery, glass, photography and much more. You’ll find free printed guides for this event in shops, galleries and libraries and there’s an App to download too.
The Summer Night Market with open air cinema screening on 20 July. Market Square will be buzzing with many of the regular market traders plying their wares alongside street food vendors, pop up bars and restaurants. The family-friendly film “Paddington” will be screened at 6.30pm, followed by “Grease” at 8.30pm. This free event is always popular so the advice is to get there early and maybe bring your own portable chair!
Cambridge Summer Music Festival, running from 23 June to 4 August. In its 40th anniversary year, it brings a programme of different music genres to venues across the city and showcases young upcoming talent as well as established artistes. A particular favourite of mine is “Sounds Green”, held at the stunning Cambridge University Botanic Garden on Wednesday evenings at 6.15pm. It’s perfect for all ages … just take a rug and a picnic, sit back, get up and dance if you like and enjoy the music, be it tunes from local ensemble Prime Brass or Afro-Brazilian jazz, samba and bossa nova from four piece band Afrosamba.
The Big Weekend on Parker’s Piece from 13-15 July. It’s all going on here with live music, a silent disco, fireworks, food stalls, sports and science activities, a children’s entertainment area and more. Sunday 14 July features the Cambridge Mela, celebrating Asian culture.
Cambridge Comedy Festival, returning to Cambridge Junction from 18 – 21 July with four performance venues, a covered “Moonshine Brewery” beer garden and street food vendors. This is a great chance to see big name headliner comedians at Jesterlarf Comedy Club and Edinburgh preview shows as well as emerging comedic talent plus there are three family shows on Saturday 21 July. Just like going to the Edinburgh Fringe without going all the way to Edinburgh!
This post is “The Cambridge Scene” column which I write for Eastlife Magazine. To read more of the July edition, take a look on http://www.eastlife.co.uk