The Big Brunch 2020 Cambridge

What will you be doing on New Year’s Day?? Some of us will be lacing up shiny new trainers and embarking on a fitness regime, some of us will be loafing on the sofa, picking through the remnants of the Quality Street tin. For the homeless, New Year’s Day is the hardest day of the year rather than the optimistic new start that we all hope for. It’s a bleak, cold and lonely day to be endured, with day centres and other support networks shut.

Nish Manek is working hard to make New Year’s Day better for the city’s homeless. She’s a junior doctor who volunteered for some shifts with Cambridge Churches Homeless Project where she met Johnny Cunningham who told her how hard it is to bring in a New Year alone in the cold. The conversations she had with Johnny stuck with Nish who believes that in this city where there is such inequality, we could and should do better. Very sadly, Johnny passed away on the streets of Cambridge later that year. He was just 63.

The Big Brunch 2019 Cambridge
Image credit: The Big Brunch

With four weeks to go to New Year’s Day 2019, Nish launched The Big Brunch. She raised £1000 through an appeal and arranged for Tesco and Waitrose to donate food. The response was immediate and overwhelming with plenty of people volunteering to help on the day while others donated food and clothes. A barber stepped up after a last minute appeal on social media so free haircuts were on offer. There was music and singing and a fabulous social atmosphere as homeless and volunteers chatted and shared a hot meal together.

The Big Brunch 2019 Cambridge
Image credit: The Big Brunch

Now another New Year’s Day is almost upon us and The Big Brunch 2020 will be happening at St Andrew the Great Church in St Andrew’s Street from 11.30am – 3pm. As well as a warm welcome and a hot meal, each homeless guest will receive a £10 Post Office voucher plus hand and foot warmers. There’ll be music and singing, haircuts and clothes, warmth and laughter.

The Big Brunch 2019 Cambridge
Image credit: The Big Brunch

Nish has created this event out of a deep compassion for the plight of our city’s homeless and she is inspired by Gregory Boyle’s words, “Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe of what the poor have to carry, rather than stand in judgement of how they carry it.” She tells me that the event is as rewarding for the volunteers (many of whom have never worked with the homeless before) as it is for the guests and she’d love to see The Big Brunch replicated in other cities.

The Big Brunch 2019 Cambridge
Image credit: The Big Brunch

Here’s how you can get involved!

To volunteer to help on the day, sign up at https://bit.ly/bigbrunch2020volunteering

To make a financial donation, click here https://bit.ly/bigbrunch2020

If you’d like to donate food or clothing either in advance or on the day, please email Nish on thebigbrunchcambridge@gmail.com

The Big Brunch 2019 Cambridge
Image credit: The Big Brunch

Twitter: @brunchbig

Cambridge Museum of Technology

Cambridge Museum of Technology is set to reopen to the public on 7 June, following a major redevelopment funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England.  I went to meet Morgan Bell, Assistant Curator, for a peek behind the scenes ahead of opening day.

Cambridge Museum of Technology

It’s not hard to find the Museum … just look for the 53 metre tall chimney that dominates the skyline at Riverside.  This chimney and the Victorian buildings that cluster round it formed a sewage pumping station where the city’s household rubbish was burned to create steam to fuel engines that pumped the city’s sewage out to a treatment plant in Milton.  Prior to this, sewage had discharged into the River Cam, causing cholera outbreaks, so this wonderful Victorian engineering transformed public health in Cambridge.  The pumping station was decommissioned in 1968, at which point a group of local campaigners saved it from demolition and turned the buildings into a museum.

Hathorn Davey pumping engine Cambridge Museum of Technology
A Hathorn Davey pumping engine

Post this renovation, you’ll find improved visitor facilities and disabled access and a wealth of new displays, including an interactive model of the pumping station (complete with smell effect!).  The historic boiler has been restored so that the Hathorn Davey pumping engines can run again later this year, once all testing of the steam lines is complete.

Cambridge Museum of Technology
The boiler

A new building houses an exhibition about Pye and Cambridge Instrument Company, with artefacts and touch screens telling the stories of how they grew to make so many innovative products and gained an international reputation for excellence and innovation.  This space is also for school groups and events plus it will be available to hire to community groups.

Cambridge Museum of Technology

The Engineer’s House, just next door to the Museum, is being transformed by partner organisation Othersyde into an indoor cafe space, a bar and escape rooms.  There’ll be a summer bar and food kiosk outside in the garden or you can bring a picnic to eat on the lawn at this beautiful riverside spot.  Lawn games like skittles and outdoor board games will be available and there’s plenty of space for kids to run around.

Phase 1 of the development will be about 90% complete for this pilot reopening on 7 June so if you go to the Museum before 30 September, you’ll get a ticket for a free return visit in the next twelve months.  All the finishing touches will be in place for the grand reopening on 1 October.

Cambridge Museum of Technology

Restoration work has been supported by corporate volunteers over recent months.  The day I visited, a team from Worldpay was hard at work cleaning the Boiler House and a team from Anglian Water has been busy painting.  And there are plenty of regular volunteer roles available.  At the moment, the Museum is looking particularly for Welcome Volunteers and Education Volunteers.  You’ll find details of these opportunities plus opening times and ticket prices on the website.

http://www.museumoftechnology.com

The Old Pumping Station, Cheddars Lane, CB5 8LD

Cambridge Beer Festival

The tents are going up on Jesus Green ….. it’s time for the 46th annual Cambridge Beer Festival which runs from 20 – 25 May.  Festival Organiser Anthony Cox downed tools to chat to me about the UK’s oldest beer festival, brought to the city by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale).

Cambridge Beer Festival
Image credit: Cambridge Beer Festival

A core team of 30 people start to plan the Festival in December.  “We’ve got all the beer ordered by the end of March,” Anthony tells me, “and then set up and take down each last a week either side of the Festival as we build the site from scratch”.  The beer arrives several days before the Festival opens so that it can rest and settle while the site is readied to welcome around 40,000 thirsty visitors over six days.

You’ll find over 200 beers from across the UK with brewery bars, staffed by the brewers, offering keg and cask beers.  The Key Keg Bar gives a chance to compare and contrast key keg and cask beers, the same beer stored two different ways, while the International Bar showcases beers from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and America.

Cambridge Beer Festival
Image credit: Cambridge Beer Festival

But it’s not just about the beer!  The Cider Bar will feature more than 80 ciders and perries, all English and many from East Anglian producers, while the Wine and Mead Bar offers English wines in a variety of styles alongside mead, a drink made by fermenting honey and adding botanicals, from UK producers.

And you won’t go hungry either.  The CAMRA Cheese Counter has a selection of bread and cheese, scotch eggs, pork pies and pickles.  Food trucks parked up in the garden area will offer fish and chips, pizza, curry, falafel and vegetarian food, burgers, hog roast, doughnuts, cake and coffee.

 

Cambridge Beer Festival
Image credit: Cambridge Beer Festival

New for this year is the CAMRA run Learning and Discovery Centre, offering tutored beer tastings and an informal area where you can drop in, chat to the experts and pick their brains about all things beer.  The Family Tent welcomes children accompanied by a responsible adult and on the Saturday will feature a brass band, jugglers, face painting and other activities for kids.

Lunchtime sessions at the Festival are free entry and there’s a modest entry fee for evening sessions.  You pay a small deposit for your glass (glasses this year have been branded to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landings) which you can either take away with you as a memento or hand back as you leave.  Or better still, if you return your glass to the Arthur Rank Hospice stand, they will get your deposit back ….. a brilliant way of raising funds to support the Hospice’s invaluable work in the city.

Cambridge Beer Festival
Image credit: Cambridge Beer Festival

Over 400 volunteers are involved in the Festival and more are always welcome.  Volunteer roles range from helping to set up and take down the infrastructure, arranging tables and seating, manning the glass and food counters, staffing bars, stewarding and, of course, looking after all that beer!  Even just an hour or two of your time makes a real difference at this busy event.  You don’t need to be a CAMRA member to volunteer, you’ll be given full training and your reward comes in the form of food and drink.

Take a look at the website for opening times, details of the Festival beer list and more.

http://www.cambridgebeerfestival.com

David Parr House Cambridge

186 Gwydir Street looks like a typical Cambridge terraced house from the outside.  But when you walk in through the front door, you leave the 21st century behind and enter the world of Victorian decorative artist David Parr.

David Parr House Cambridge

David bought the house at auction in 1886 and lived there with his wife, Mary, and their three children.  He’d been apprenticed at the age of 17 to the Cambridge firm of artworkmen F. R. Leach & Sons and he worked for them all his life, painting grand houses and churches with designs created by luminaries of the Arts and Crafts movement, including William Morris.  After long days at work, David came home to decorate his house in the same style, painting by oil and candlelight during the evenings and creating intricate interiors in this relatively humble abode.

David Parr House Cambridge

The exquisite decoration incorporates the use of cut out stencils, through which he stippled paint, and pin prick stencil work, all with individualised repeats which bring the designs alive.  Pine doors and matchboarding are painted and grained to resemble more expensive woods.  The main bedroom boasts an early version of hot air heating.  David was bringing back ideas and sometimes left over materials from jobs he worked on to create a beautiful, unique home for his family.

David Parr House Cambridge

After David’s death in 1927, his widow continued to live in the house with grand daughter Elsie who, in turn, married and brought up her two daughters there.  The decor of the house remained unchanged through the generations but the family was very private and almost nobody knew about these wonderful interiors.  Tamsin Wimhurst first saw the house in 2009 after she put out a call for interesting spaces in Cambridge while researching for an exhibition she was organising at the Museum of Cambridge.  Elsie told Tamsin the story of her grandfather and the house, proud now to show off David Parr’s work.  After Elsie died in 2013, aged 98, Tamsin and her husband decided to buy the house to conserve and restore it.

David Parr House Cambridge

The programme of conservation and restoration has been painstaking.  Happily, David Parr had logged everything he did to the house room by room and all the changes he made, both inside and outside.  Family furniture, artefacts and textiles fill the house.  It really does have the feeling of a home where the family has just stepped out for a while.  On the day I visited, volunteers were busy landscaping and replanting the back garden as it is remembered by David Parr’s great grand daughters, both of whom still live locally.

David Parr House Cambridge

David Parr House reopens on 16 May.  For conservation reasons, tour places are limited at present as the team carefully monitors and assesses the multiple effects of visitor traffic on the painting and general fabric of the house.  The scheduled house tours for this year are now sold out but it is still possible to book a private tour.  Over the next two years, income from tours will be matched by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the proceeds will go into an endowment, the interest from which will fund a Curator post.

David Parr House Cambridge

I was absolutely captivated by David Parr House.  The care and skill that has gone in to this beautiful place, both from its creator and the team that has ensured its future, is awe-inspiring.  For more on the story of the house and the family, volunteering opportunities and tour reservations, take a look at the website.

http://www.davidparrhouse.org

Cambridge City Foodbank Christmas Hamper Collection

Cambridge City Foodbank opened in 2010 and helps local people, providing three days’ worth of nutritionally balanced emergency food and support to those who are referred to them in crisis.  With Christmas just around the corner, the Foodbank has launched its Christmas Hamper Collection and hopes to make up 500 hampers of quality food and products to give to families who are struggling to make ends meet.

Cambridge City Foodbank logo

Contributing to this couldn’t be easier.  Go on to the Foodbank website (details at the end of this post), register and choose one of the two hamper drop off dates.  This helps the Foodbank team with their logistical planning.  Then fill a good sized carrier bag with items from their list of suggestions.  Don’t add in any perishable or home made food and please make sure all items have a use by date of 25 December or later.  Then simply drop off your bag of goodies at the Foodbank warehouse in your registered drop-off slot.

Cambridge City Foodbank
Image: Cambridge City Foodbank

The Foodbank is, of course, supporting local people year round.  Jon Edney, Foodbank Co-ordinator, tells me that from April to September this year, there’s been a 13% increase nationally in people using foodbanks.  Here in Cambridge, the figure is a 46% increase during that period, compared to the same period last year, so the need is huge.

People can find themselves in crisis at any time for a multitude of reasons.  The Foodbank works on a voucher referral system with vouchers being issued by agencies such as Citizens Advice, housing support officers, children’s centres, health visitors, social services and some local charities.  Agencies can also help with longer term support to address issues behind the reasons for crisis.  You can exchange your voucher at your nearest Foodbank centre in the city where you’ll find a warm welcome and a chance to chat with trained volunteers.

Cambridge City Foodbank
Image: Cambridge City Foodbank

The Christmas hamper distribution arrangements are different; they are distributed through family centres rather than through the Foodbank centres.  If you are not already connected with any of the referring agencies mentioned in the paragraph above, then you can make contact about the possibility of receiving a Christmas hamper through the C3 Church at Coldham’s Lane.

Cambridge City Foodbank
Image: Cambridge City Foodbank

With the enormous increase in Foodbank use, there’s a constant need for food donations throughout the year, with collection points in supermarkets city-wide.  The Foodbank website has a list of urgently needed food items which you can also drop off at their food collection points.  Financial donations of any size, given either regularly or as one-offs, help this vital work to continue.  And maybe you could give your time …. why not consider joining the volunteer group of around 140 people who work in all sorts of roles and are the life blood of the organisation.

For more information about the work of Cambridge City Foodbank as well as details of how to get help and how to give help, check out their website.

http://www.cambridgecityfoodbank.org.uk

http://www.thec3.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

 

 

 

Cambridge Festival of Cycling

Cambridge is a city of bicycles … it’s by far the easiest (and greenest!) way to get around and now the city’s cycling culture is being celebrated in the first Cambridge Festival of Cycling, brought to us by Camcycle, with events happening throughout September.

Cambridge Festival of Cycling logo

Launching the Festival on 1 September is a social ride from King’s Parade to Eddington.  This will be leisurely so think about packing up a picnic and you’ll be able to buy ice cream and coffee from cargo bike traders.  Further highlights in a packed schedule include a screening of the Dutch film “Why we cycle”, a family cycling event and the Cargo Carnival.  Decorate your bike and join this parade of cyclists on a ride through the city centre, starting and finishing at Lammas Land, showing what you carry on your cargo bike!

Cambridge Festival of Cycling
Image credit:  Lucinda Price

And in a look back at the cycling attire of Victorian women, the Cambridge Ladybirds WI and Dr Kat Jungnickel, author of “Bikes and Bloomers” will host a discussion and cycle ride and, this being the WI, there will of course be tea and cake.  Other partner organisations are joining in through September with many diverse events so for the full programme, check out the Festival website.

Cambridge Festival of Cycling
Image credit: Lucinda Price

Camcycle started out life as Cambridge Cycling Campaign in 1995.  Then, as now, it works for better, safer and more cycling in and around Cambridge and provides a voice for the concerns of Cambridge cyclists.  Its campaigning has resulted in more cycle parking on streets and at transport hubs, early start green lights to enable cyclists to clear a crossing before cars and much, much more.  Camcycle has also been heavily involved in planning for the “Chisholm Trail”, a proposed new 3.5 kilometre walking and cycling route which will closely follow the railway line and run between Cambridge Station and the new Cambridge North Station.

You can become a member of Camcycle for a modest fee.  Not only will you be supporting their work, you’ll receive six newsletters a year, a quarterly magazine, discounts at a large number of bike shops and access to an online discussion forum.  The monthly general meetings at the Friend’s Meeting House on Jesus Lane are open to both members and non-members.

Camcycle Cambridge
Image credit:  Lucinda Price

Camcycle is a non profit organisation with a very small team at the helm so it always needs and welcomes volunteers to help with a huge variety of tasks through the year, whether it’s working on the magazine, taking photos, organising and marshalling rides or manning the Camcycle stall at events, to name just a few opportunities.  For the Festival of Cycling, many volunteer roles are available so whatever your skill set, if you’re keen to offer support in this way, check out the “Volunteer” page on the Festival website.

Camcycle Cambridge

Take a look at the website as there is so much more going on than I have space to write about here.  Most events are free and you don’t need to be a Camcycle member to join in the fun, everybody is welcome.

http://www.cambridgefestivalofcycling.org

http://www.camcycle.org.uk

This event takes place at multiple locations in and around the city.