I’ve lived in Cambridge for over 10 years and I can truly say that I am still in love with my adopted home town. The beautiful historic buildings that I walk past every day still inspire me. Just enough that I’ll forgive the city for its eye watering house prices. I love cycling everywhere along with most people here. I’m very grateful that there are lots of safe cycle routes. I still curse the people cycling like loonies with no lights.
Here are the top five things I love about living in Cambridge.
The University of Cambridge
Catching sight of Kings College chapel can still take my breath away the way it did the first time I saw it. There is a view called “The Backs” which looks across the river Cam to the back of various colleges including Kings College, Queens College and Clare College. It is one of my favourite views in the city.
The University buildings are interspersed with the rest of the city, the University feels an integral part of city life. I didn’t study at Cambridge university so I love having a chance to spend time in the colleges. I’ve been to a couple of training events hosted by the University. Eating in the dining room of Girton college reminded me of the Great Hall in Harry Potter. There is an annual rely that takes place through the grounds of the Cambridge colleges – I’ve been lucky enough to compete twice and it did feel like being a tiny part of Cambridge heritage. The BBC broadcasts Carols from Kings College every Christmas Eve – I would love to get the chance to attend (anyone reading this know how to get one of these converted tickets?!)
My other favourite university spot is the grounds of St. John’s college on the banks of the river Cam. It love a Lazy Sunday afternoon sitting on the grass and watch people passing by on punt boats. You will get a comedy mixture of university students, tourists and a few hen parties. There is a corner in the river where rookie or tipsy punters tend to come a cropper and fall into the water.
Cambridge has changed the world
I am proud knowing that our city has changed the world. I regularly walk past the science lab where DNA was discovered. Charles Darwin (who developed the theory of evolution) and Isaac Newton (who formulated the laws of gravity) both studied at Cambridge colleges. Sir Stephen Hawkins is a regularly in the city centre (although I don’t even pretend to understand his discoveries!). He was watching the same film as a friend of mine at the cinema a few years ago (watching The Transformers Movie if you are interested). I always get the feeling that behind the walls of the university buildings cutting edge ideas and innovations are being worked on.
Cambridge is still making a big contribution to the world. ARM is a famous Cambridge tech company making components for every gadget and gizmo around. There is always something being built here. I recently counted 31 cranes in my 6 mile journey to work. There is massive development at the Cambridge Biomedical campus minutes from where I live. This will become the base of an international pharmaceutical company and is already the location of cutting edge medical research facilities. Papworth Hospital (famous for doing the first UK heart transplant) is building a new hospital here too. I feel a little bit sad to see all the fields I cycle past everyday being built on. However it is inspiring to see such growth and innovation happening so close to home.
On a lighter note plenty of media personalities have spent their student days here including Stephen Fry, Claudia Winkleman, Emma Thompson and Jeremy Paxman. I think Rory McGrath must live somewhere near me as I see him in my local supermarket all the time. I also see Richard Osman from the TV show Pointless quite regularly. It’s not unusual to see TV shows and films being filmed here. I loved The Theory of Everything with Eddie Redmayne. It is an incredible film about Stephen Hawkins and is filled with familiar locations.
There is a real international feel to the city. There are students here from all over the world. Lots of people from overseas working in Cambridge’s high tech and specialised industries. There are always lots of tourists all year round and in the summer there are flocks of young international language students. I hear people speaking a tonne of different languages everyday. Sofia has people from lots of different countries in her class at school. I feel that the mix of nationalities gives our city an added richness. There is a street called Mill Road where there are lots of international food shops. It is where Rolando goes to buy plantains to make chifles (fried plantain chips that are a bit like crisps).
There are lots of Cambridge quirks. You will see plenty of eccentrics and mad professor types knocking about. Where else would you see a busker that plays guitar from inside a bin? I’m always seeing people reading a book while walking along the road (I’ve never seen this in any other city where I’ve lived). I often see a guy who cycles to work on a unicycle.
Cambridge has so many gorgeous green spaces to enjoy. I love taking the kids out for a picnic in one of the parks in the centre. Our favourite is Jesus Green where we can run about, feed the ducks and there is a fab playground. There is quite a lot of common land through out the city where you see cows grazing. We also love Newnham park which has a really good playground, a paddling pool and some lovely footpaths into what feels like countryside (even though it is in the centre of the city).
I have a season ticket for the Cambridge Botanic Gardens – it is like an oasis in the city centre. I quickly forget that I’m surrounded by busy roads and offices. I can easily spend a day there with the kids in the summertime. I like to have a wander there when I’m a bit stressed out, it’s much cheaper than therapy! It is also stunning in the autumn when they leaves turn beautiful colours.
Come and visit
Even though I’ve lived here for a long time I still feel like there are hidden Cambridge gems still to be discovered. If you get the chance to pay us a visit jump at it! I’m confident that you will see a bit of the magic in our city.
Are you familiar with Cambridge – what are your favourite spots in the city?