A Winter Day at Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Now I’ll admit that at this time of year, I have an overwhelming urge to hibernate until Spring arrives.  But one bright, sunshiney, blue sky day last week, conscious of my dwindling Vitamin D levels and general seasonal pallor, I wrapped up warm and headed to the Botanic Garden which has to be my favourite green space in the city.  Home to one of the region’s largest tree collections, it’s a magical place in every season, even – and maybe especially – in Winter.

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Snowdrops are one of my favourite flowers and it always makes me smile when I come across their cheerful white blooms in midwinter.  You’ll find around 30 different varieties of snowdrop dotted through the Garden and there’s a map to show you the snowdrop “hot spots”.  These little white flowers look so delicate and yet they are so strong; they have anti-freeze proteins to inhibit ice crystals forming and causing damage to the plant plus they have seriously hard leaf tips which help them to break through frozen soil.  This drift of snowdrops under Isaac Newton’s apple tree is just beautiful and reminds me that Spring must surely be around the corner.

Snowdrops at Cambridge University Botanic Garden

The Winter Garden is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and is stunning with textures of coloured stems, bark and foliage alongside winter flowers and scented blossom, all highlighted in the brilliant sunshine.  I find wandering through this space is restorative in itself but to get to grips with more detail of the planting, I’ll sign up for a free 60 minute tour of the Winter Garden, which happens at 2.30pm every Sunday in January and February.

Winter Garden at Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Crazy Cone Caper at Cambridge University Botanic GardenThe Botanic Garden runs a terrific range of events for all ages year round.  Children will love the Crazy Cone Caper, a self guided family trail where they become a secret agent and track down six trees in the Garden to solve a mystery, collecting a prize once they’ve successfully concluded their investigation.  Crazy Cone Caper has been created by the Garden’s Learning Team and runs until 1 April.

For adults, Cam Late in the Glasshouse Range on 21 February offers craft beer, mulled wine and atmospheric light displays in these amazing glasshouses, where you’ll find plants ranging from tiny alpines to spiny cacti to exotic tropicals.  Day or night, the glasshouses are spectacular whatever the time of year.  And they’re also nice and warm if you get chilly outside on a cold day!

Glasshouse at Cambridge University Botanic Garden

With my appetite sharpened by the fresh air, I popped in to the light, airy Garden Cafe for lunch.  Its menu of home made goodies includes warming soup, delicious cakes and children’s meals.  Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options are always available.  High chairs, baby changing facilities and a selection of children’s books to borrow make this this a truly family friendly spot.

Winter Garden at Cambridge University Botanic Garden

For more information on Cambridge University Botanic Garden including their 2019 programme of courses and workshops as well as details of special events planned for the February half term break, take a look at the website.

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

 

Coming up in Cambridge …..

 

Cambridge Festival of Ideas logo 2018

The University of Cambridge opens its doors from 15 – 28 October for the 11th annual Festival of Ideas which this year explores the theme of “extremes”.  Celebrating the arts, humanities and social sciences, a packed programme of over 200 events includes talks, exhibitions, films, debates and performances held in galleries, museums and lecture theatres across the city.  There’s something here 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 and to question the status quo.  Most events are free, some need to be booked in advance which you can do through the Festival website.

www.festivalofideas.cam.ac.uk

 

Apples in a box
Image credit:  Will Greenfield

In this season of mist and mellow fruitfulness, don’t miss Apple Day at the stunning forty acre Cambridge University Botanic Garden on 21 October.  It’s a wonderful celebration of all things appley with tastings, advice on cultivation, children’s activities, free guided garden tours and a marquee full of locally produced edibles.  Come hungry as you’ll find a wide choice of refreshments from a variety of food trucks and the Garden Café.  And if you have a mystery apple tree in your garden, you need the apple identification service.  Just bring along a couple of apples with a leaf and stalk attached and who knows, you may bring a lost heritage variety to light!

www.botanic.cam.ac.uk

People apple tasting
Image credit: Will Greenfield
Autumn Botanic Garden
Image credit: Will Greenfield

This post is part of my October “New in Cambridge” column in Velvet magazine.  Read more on http://www.velvetmag.co.uk

What’s on in October

Well, Cambridge feels a little bit different now ….. there’s a nip in the morning air, the evenings are drawing in and the rhythm of the city changes as the students return.  There’s plenty going on and I’ll update this listing through the month so do check back when you can.

Sunny autumn morning on the River Cam
Sunny autumn morning on the River Cam

5th    8pm  Fresher Brass.  A “Meet and Greet” concert with the City of Cambridge Brass Band.  St Giles Church, Castle Street, CB3.  Free entry.

6th    7.30pm  The Fishermen.  Mumford Theatre, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, CB1.  http://www.anglia.ac.uk

7th    10.30am – 4pm  Cambridge Vegan Market.  Guildhall, Market Square.  http://www.vegfest.co.uk

7th   2 – 4pm/5 – 7pm  Cambridge Wine Fair.  Royal Cambridge Hotel, Trumpington Street, CB2.  Meet local independent wine merchants.  http://www.cambridgewinefair.com

8th    7.45pm  Climate Change: A Scientific Update.  Speaker:  Dr Emily Shuckburgh OBE.  Part of the Science meets Faith series.  Wesley Church, Christ’s Pieces, CB1.  Free admission.

15 – 18th  Cambridge Festival of Ideas  http://www.festivalofideas.cam.ac.uk  Read more here

15th    7pm  Oompah Brass.  The Leys School, Fen Causeway, CB2.  http://www.theleys.net/boxoffice

18th    7pm  Cambridge Breast Cancer Appeal Fashion Show.  Grand Arcade, St Andrew’s Street, CB2.  Tickets include welcome drink and canapes.  http://www.cambridgebreastcancerappeal.com  Read more here

19th    8pm  The Choral Pilgrimage 2018.  Music by Cornysh and Britten.  The Sixteen.  St John’s College Chapel.  http://www.thesixteen.com

20th    11am – 4pm  Volunteer for Cambridge.  Free showcase for the diversity of volunteering opportunities in the city with around 90 organisations attending.  Guildhall, Market Square, CB2.  http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/volunteer-for-cambridge

20th   2 – 5.30pm  Understanding King Lear.  Study Day with Literature Cambridge.  Stapleford Granary, Stapleford, CB22.  http://www.literaturecambridge.co.uk/lear/  Read more here

20th    7.30pm  Let there be Light.  Charity concert for CBM UK, the overseas disability charity, showcasing local musicians and voices.  St Paul’s Church, Hills Road, CB2.  http://www.ticketsource.co.uk

21st    10am – 4pm  Apple Day.  Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Brookside, CB2.  http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk  Read more here

22nd    1 – 3pm  The Fitzwilliam Museum.  Disability friendly opening.  A relaxed afternoon aimed at children with sensory sensitivities along with their families, siblings and carers.  Free entry but please book in advance.  Trumpington Street, CB2.  http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk

23rd    11am – 5pm Tues – Sun.  Richard Pousette-Dart: Beginnings.  Abstract Expressionist.  This exhibition runs until 6 January 2019.  http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk

24th    7 – 10pm  Plague Late.   Part of the Cam Lates season.  Get up close and personal with the past and present of the Plague.  Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Downing Street, CB2.  Book in advance.  http://www.museums.cam.ac.uk

24 – 27th    7.30pm plus two matinees at 2.30pm.  West Side Story.  Cambridge Theatre Company.  The Leys School, Fen Causeway, CB2.  http://www.camtheatrecompany.co.uk

25 – 1 Nov    Cambridge Film Festival.  http://www.cambridgefilmfestival.org.uk  Read more here

26th    9.30am – 12.30pm  Kids’ Repair Cafe.  Fixing children’s games and toys.  Arts Picturehouse, St Andrew’s Street, CB2.  http://www.cambridgecarbonfootprint.org  Read more here

26 – 28th    7.30pm  Ghost Stories for Halloween.  The Leper Chapel, Newmarket Road, CB5.  http://www.nunkie.co.uk

28th    1pm  Cambridge Halloween Dog Parade.  Facebook: Cambridge Halloween Dog Parade  Read more here

Autumn colours on Trumpington Street, Cambridge
Autumn colours on Trumpington Street, Cambridge

 

 

 

Twilight at the Museums

Have you seen that movie “Night at the Museum”?  And wondered how it feels to wander round a museum after hours?  Well, wonder no more because now’s your chance to find out as Cambridge University Museums’ “Twilight at the Museums” event invites you to explore fourteen local museums and collections after dark, from 4.30 – 7.30pm on Tuesday 13 February.

twilightwebbanner
Image credit: Alice the Camera/ University of Cambridge Museums

There’s a wealth of events to enjoy.  At the Polar Museum, you can meet some of the characters that have made polar history.  Or why not become a geological pioneer at the University Library, discovering rocks, fossils and extraordinary maps at the “Landscapes Below” exhibition.  Join the Eclipse Expedition at the Whipple Museum and follow in the footsteps of historic explorers on a scientific trail as you gather vital equipment and travel across distant lands to observe a rare solar eclipse.

twilight_17_preview
Image credit: Martin Bond
twilight_67_preview
Image credit:  Martin Bond

At the Fitzwilliam Museum, a stunning building that is home to a world-class collection of works of art and antiquities, there’ll be a Kaleidoscope of Colour.  See if you can touch, hear or taste colour and find out if it can change the way you see things.  Enjoy special demonstrations, musical performances, interactive play and dazzling projections as you experience the collection through a range of colour.  Head to Kettle’s Yard to pick up your Twilight Trail and discover the newly opened gallery spaces.  Visit the glasshouses at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden to hunt for orchids and to find out more about these amazing plants.  Full details of these and the many events at other venues are on the Cambridge University Museums’ website – details at the end of this post.

Richard White, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, tells me that the museums will all be colourful this year, with special lighting so that you can explore their collections in a different way.  It’s also a great opportunity to discover a museum that maybe you’ve been meaning to visit for ages as well as to learn some amazing facts.

Alice-the-Camera-Cambridge-Museums-Twilight-149_preview
Image credit:  Alice the Camera

“Twilight at the Museums” is a free family event and children of all ages are welcome.  You won’t go hungry either as there’ll be pop up food stands at the Downing Site (outside the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) and the cafes at the Botanic Garden, the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettles Yard will be open too.  Most of the venues are just a short walk apart so wrap up warm and bring a torch to help you explore those darker corners ….. who knows what you’ll find amongst the shadows??!!

http://www.museums.cam.ac.uk/twilight

This event is being held at multiple locations around the city