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Cambridge – A Day Trip From London

Supriya Newar

There are several day trips that one can take from London. This time the choice was between Oxford and Cambridge and I decided to go for the latter.

On a sunny, clear day (having checked for weather before planning) I met my niece at the Liverpool station to take the train to Cambridge. A ride of an hour plus a few minutes got us to the lovely University town of Cambridge and since we were both a little peckish, we decide to fortify ourselves at the Pret A Manger right outside the station before proceeding.

A salad and soup later, we started walking towards the city center which was about 20 minutes away. We took much longer however, thanks to the many distractions enroute such as interesting looking buildings, pubs and shops with curious names that were all very photo-oppish. Besides, the town had a slightly more laid-back feel after London with much fewer cars, hardly any traffic lights and students cycling around easily, making our pace slower as well.

A Tesla showroom caught our eye and much to our amusement, the salesperson invited us in, encouraging us to have a dekho. “Do you drive,” she asked me and I replied saying I had been driving for 20 years and a bit more. Whether it was my reply or something about us, she egged us on to sit in the stunning red sedan and so we did! A few minutes later however, feeling adequately guilty, we stepped out, wishing her a good day and went in search of slightly more water based vehicles: boats.

Photo credits: The Mill Pub: Key to the City                                            Photo credits: Punting: Lets Go Punting

When in Cambridge, punting has to be on your agenda. Purchasing our tickets from the information center (17 pounds per person; 20 if you buy at the pier) we decided to quench our thirsts at a nearby pub – The Mill Pub − with a generous quantity of Pimm’s before embarking on our ride.

Sufficiently nourished, we went down to the pier again and waited for our turn. Punting is a traditional way to go down the River Cam while taking in fantastic views of some of the most reputed colleges in the world. Predictably, there were tourists from everywhere including several parts of United Kingdom as well, but overall the show was very well managed. Of course, there were some who were also hiring only the boats, opting for a DIY mode rather than have a chauffeur do the needful.

In the next hour or so, we crossed many a bridge that we came to, nine to be exact, each one different from the other. All along the edge, one could see students hanging around, giving adda and soaking in the sun. Our chauffeur, a bright, youthful chap with strong arms, kept up the twin task of punting as well as giving us titbits of information. Some of the most famous bridges we crossed were the Magdalene Bridge (pronounced Maudlin), the Silver Street Bridge, the Mathematical Bridge which is rumored to have been designed by Issac Newton and was the only wooden bridge and so on. One of the most spectacular ones though was the Bridge of Sighs, being the only covered one as opposed to the others which were open bridges, also used as footbridges. Weeping willows came swooping in as did teams of ducks as we punted along. Whether it was the gentle glide along the River Cam, the after effects of Pimm’s or the mellow sun, I found myself being gently rocked to a sweet slumber...

Photo credits: Waterstones: Helen Moss                                                                                    Photo credits: The Eagle

Punting done, we picked up some fresh strawberries that aided our ambling around town to discover a street market, not far from the town square. I also spotted a Waterstones and couldn’t resist stepping in. What with Cambridge being a University town, the branch there was one of the best I’d stepped into so far.

We wound up our day over a round of Portobello Gins at the 15th century, wood-paneled Eagle, one of the most famous pubs of Cambridge, known to have been the watering hole of scientists such as Crick and Watson who went on to discuss their research on DNA there. Even its cozy rooms are famed for WWII airmen’s signatures on its ceiling.

Whilst the sun was still out, we caught the 9:30pm connect and were comfortably back to Liverpool.