Happy New Year!!

Well, 2018 has dawned in a rather blustery Cambridge but there’s plenty to look forward to in the city this New Year and I will be writing about a lot of it here in the blog.

People have commented to me that there’s always so much going on but it’s hard to keep track of it all, so I’ve decided to create a “What’s On” listing for each month.  It’ll show an eclectic mix of events that come to my attention and I’ll update it through the month, so it’ll be worth checking back every so often.  And if you’d like to get in touch about an event that could be listed, please do so via my Contact page.

A few foodie thoughts to share for this month ….. if you are giving Veganuary a go, I recommend Stem + Glory, which I profiled in December, for delicious plant based dishes.  And please note that The Locker Cafe (see September’s post) is currently closed for a kitchen refit and will reopen on Tuesday 9 January with an expanded weekend brunch menu and live music on Sunday afternoons.  Their “Pots for Poverty” sale, which I wrote about in December, raised over £1800 for Jimmy’s Night Shelter and CamCRAG, which is a fabulous achievement.  You can find all these posts under Recent Posts or in Archives on the right hand side of this page.

Daffodils
Daffodils from the Market

And finally, if your place, like mine, is looking rather dull now that the Christmas decorations are back in the loft, why not nip down to Cambridge Market for some early Spring flowers?  These daffodils are from the flower stall opposite Great St Mary’s Church and are grown by the stallholder in Girton.  So you can keep it local and remind yourself that Spring is just around the corner!

 

 

Merry Christmas!!

Well, the festive season is well and truly under way here in Cambridge.  The streets are bustling and the city looks so pretty, especially after dark with all the Christmas lights twinkling away.

Holly wreath
Holly wreath at Cambridge Market

It’s always such a busy time of year but if you’d like to take a break from the hubbub to sing some carols, there are plenty of services around the city.  This Saturday 16 December, there will be Carols by Candlelight at Michaelhouse at 3pm and 4pm and there’s another candlelit Carol Service at Great St Mary’s, the University church, on Sunday 17 December at 6.30pm.

And there will, of course, be the world famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 at 3pm on Christmas Eve.  It’s always been something of a badge of honour to queue from pre-dawn to get in to this Service but King’s has changed the arrangements this year and will operate a ticketing system, with about 500 tickets available to members of the public.  Details are on their website http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk  Here’s a clip of the King’s College Choir singing “Once in Royal David’s City”, the carol that always opens the service and which never fails to bring a tear to my eye as I listen to that solo chorister singing like an angel!

So it’s about time that I too got on with some yuletide prep but before I do, I just wanted to thank everybody who has read, liked, followed, shared or commented on my blog and I’m also grateful to my family and friends for their encouragement and support.  Since I started writing in September, I’ve met so many interesting people who are doing amazing things here in Cambridge and I feel more connected to the city than ever.  I’ve already got plenty of posts in the pipeline for 2018 and I’m excited to see what the New Year will bring.

So here’s wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.  See you in January!!

Pom pom wreath
Fabulous pom-pom wreath in the window at Sew Creative, King Street

 

 

A Christmas Film Festival with Enchanted Cinema

What could be nicer at this time of year than snuggling up in front of a Christmas movie??  Well, you can do just that at Enchanted Cinema’s Christmas Film Festival which is happening at The Robinson Theatre at Hills Road Sixth Form College this Saturday, 16 December.

Online EC Christmas Poster_A3_flat
Image credit: Enchanted Cinema

The day starts at 10am with Disney’s “Frozen”, after which a real Elsa will be visiting to sing and chat with her young fans.  At 1pm, there’s an autism friendly screening of “The Polar Express”, so it’ll offer a relaxed environment with light levels slightly higher than normal and sound levels slightly lower.  Then you can sit back and enjoy the antics of everybody’s favourite hapless singleton in “Bridget Jones’s Diary” at 4pm.  And finally, at 7pm you can laugh and cry at Richard Curtis’s Christmas classic, “Love Actually”.  That lobster costume gets me every time!!

Enchanted Cinema Logo
Image credit: Enchanted Cinema

Cambridge residents may be familiar with Enchanted Cinema’s summer outdoor screenings, complete with deckchairs, headphones and street food, at locations in and around the city.  Ellen Downes and Will Morrish set up the business in 2015, initially for small social events.  Now they bring an enhanced cinema experience to weddings, parties and corporate events with live music, food, decor and lighting alongside the film screening.

For this event, The Robinson Theatre will be transformed into a cosy, festive space and, as well as live music between films, there’ll be a pop up café running all day next to the theatre, serving hot drinks, mulled wine, cakes and brownies, much of which has been given by local businesses.  The mince pies are being donated by Radmore Farm Shop, which I wrote about here on the blog in November.

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Image credit: EACH

This Festival is a fundraiser for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices which provide care and support for children and young people with life-threatening illnesses as well as end of life care for dying children and their families.  All profits from this event will go to the hospice in Milton where, very sadly, Ellen’s sister passed away in May this year.  Ellen and her family are so thankful for all the support and care they received from the EACH team over the years and they are raising funds to help ensure that the wonderful work of the hospice continues with other children and families.

Tickets for the Festival are bookable through Enchanted Cinema’s website where you can also buy tickets for their prize draw, which offers loads of awesome prizes.  So go on, take a break from the yuletide prep, head for Hills Road, grab a mince pie and settle back to enjoy some Christmas magic from Enchanted Cinema.

www.enchantedcinema.co.uk

Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge CB2 8PE

 

“Pots for Poverty” at The Locker Cafe

One of the best things about writing this blog is the people I meet.  They’re always interesting and everybody has a story to tell but lately, and maybe it’s just co-incidence, I’ve met several career scientists who also have a strong artistic bent.  There’s the orthopaedic surgeon who is a talented musician and a major mover on the city’s jazz scene.  Then there’s the seismologist turned photographer whose photographs of college libraries created a buzz when she exhibited recently at Michaelhouse.  And now I’ve met John Hodges, a consultant neurologist who makes the most beautiful ceramics.

raku pot
Image credit:  John Hodges

John worked for many years at Addenbrookes where he set up the first Memory Clinic and a dementia research group.  Following a sabbatical year in Sydney, John and his family moved to Australia where he established a research centre into frontotemporal dementia at the University of New South Wales.  This centre continues to thrive and John still has a part-time involvement but he is now based back in Cambridge where he is co-owner with his son, Adam, of The Locker Cafe on King Street, which I featured in a post in September and whose Chocolate Guinness cake is my current obsession!

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John has been creating ceramics for fifteen years.  Following courses in Cambridge and Suffolk and with the encouragement of potter friends here and in Australia, he built a studio in his garden, complete with a wheel and kiln.  John makes stoneware and raku pieces and last year raised over £2,000 for Jimmy’s Cambridge in a charity event that he held at home.

bowls stoneware
Image credit:  John Hodges

Now that The Locker Cafe is up and running, John is holding another charity event, “Pots for Poverty” at the cafe from Thursday 7 – Sunday 10 December.  As well as his ceramics, you’ll find stoneware pottery from Chesterton-based Susan Cupitt, art from Carol Gregory and her printmaking group, calendars by Sally Greaves featuring her vibrant and colourful photographs of Guatemala, Christmas cards, handmade candles in raku bowls and ceramic tree decorations.

raku candles
Image credit:  John Hodges

Proceeds will go to two local charities.  Jimmy’s Cambridge has been providing emergency accommodation for the city’s homeless for over 20 years.  CamCRAG, the Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group, works to help refugees in Northern France and elsewhere, raising awareness of their plight and sending regular convoys with clothing and other aid.

So do pop in to The Locker Cafe, check out these beautiful and unique pieces and maybe tick a few presents off your Christmas list or, better still, buy a Christmas present for yourself!

http://www.thelockercafe.co.uk

54 King Street, Cambridge CB1 1LN

 

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.

 

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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.

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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

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