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Cambridge District

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    • Day 2

      The first school day

      April 19, 2022 in England ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

      Since my last post, a lot happened.
      Yesterday, after arriving in Cambridge Station and being picked up by Guy (a funny and nice Guy from the language school, and yes Guy is actually his name) we got distributed to five different cabs, which took us to our host families.
      My host family is very nice. The mother is very charming and cool. The dad is a liverpool fan and cool, too. I don't know anything about the son yet, because he stayed in his room all the evening gaming. But since at home I do that too, I can pretty much relate to him.
      So that evening we talked a lot and then I went to a comfy even a bit too soft bed.
      I slept more or less good, but my room got very cold.
      In the morning I got up at 7. My host mom had prepared a variety of different cereals and some sweet croissants she had bought at the local Spar. After I had finished my breakfast I was ready to leave the orange brick house.
      The first bus has never arrived at my bus stop but luckily, the second one did. It is very frustrating to drive in a bus at the morning, due to the many traffic jams. At least I had a great view on the yellow number plates since I sat at the 1st floor.
      In the school we all had to do an exam. And this exam was 100 boring multiple choice questions long. Afterwards we received some informations and got split up into classes. I made it into the advanced one. In our class 9 from 11 students can speak german and 8 of them are swiss, so everything felt pretty normal. The teachers were nice and we talked a lot about random things with them. This school has not a tight schedule as the Kanti has.
      We passed the noon break near the train station searching something eatable which was also payable. Eventually we found a supermarket with a nice student deal.
      The afternoon lesson were rather boring, so we had to entertain ourselves and involve the teacher in more interesting conversations.
      After classes were done, we got a guided tour through the many colleges and old houses of cambridge. Generally speaking, it is a wonderful city with very charming narrow streets and an interesting architecture style.
      The only downside of the city is its public transportation. Since I arrived none of the two busses were on time and I had to wait 60 minutes on just one day. It was a gamble wether the bus will take you to the right place because even the bus drivers didn't knew were they're heading. And they were very stressed.
      Now I am eating a strange ham-salami-minced meat pizza and later I'll be watching football in a pub or here at home.
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    • Day 2

      I did it! I found them!

      April 19, 2022 in England ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

      I don't want to ruin this moment with too many words. Its wonderful.
      On our way back to the city center, after buying some thing in a local supermarket, we spotted it.



      We found it. We did it. I am proud of it. I wanne greet my grandma and ace (the lovely dog of my host family (he watched liverpool vs manchester with me too))Read more

    • Day 18

      Last week

      May 5, 2022 in England ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

      All happened so quickly. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then we already are on the train today.
      I would say it was a great last week and my feelings about the departure are mixed. On one eye I’m crying and on the other I’m laughing (It’s a Swiss saying hopefully it translates directly into English).
      On Sunday we were in the best exhibition I’ve ever went to. At the counter a nerdy clerk kindly gave us a student discount and on top of that a group discount too. So, basically, we got in for free. Inside it was heaven. Lots of ancient gaming consoles such as Nintendo’s, Gameboys, PlayStation and lots of more other old computers or gaming consoles. I played the very first Grand theft auto, Tetris and Mario. After about 6h of gaming and competing against each other in a big variety of games we left and ate dinner on the lawn in front of king’s college.
      Tuesday was a very weird school day. We had to solve different riddles. The first ones were so easy that I think the teacher took it straight out of the kindergarten. After school we went bowling in a very big bowling hall.
      On Wednesday we went punting. Punting is some kind of driving a boat without an engine. The chauffeur has a long stick and pushes the boat with it.
      Thursday was not special.
      And now I’ll make a giant announcement to my fans:
      I’ll be doing a live coverage of my travel back!!!
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    • Day 3

      The heights if cambridge

      April 20, 2022 in England ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

      Today I was confronted with my biggest fear. Heights (Not really but emotions give more views). We climbed on the highest mountain (you have to be very dutch to call it a mountain) in this region. It was a big effort and it took us about 30 seconds to climb those exhausting 6 meters (20 feet) to the top. The view though was worth it. We saw a beautiful sunset and the ancient skyline of Cambridge.
      I still like it here in Cambridge. But the excited (and hyperactive) dog starts to get a bit annoying. If a dog can have ADHS he has the strongest mutation of it.
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    • Day 2

      My really good relationship with busses

      April 19, 2022 in England ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

      After a not so bad sleep. I ate breakfast. There was a big choice of food. I heard already, that the busses aren't that good in this city. There aren't fix times because of the pandemic, but they guarante, that every 20 minutes there should drive one. I waited a bit more than 30 min. The school is very beautiful. But sadly they put us in a class, were we learnt stuff, which we've already learnt in primary school. After the school we had a short trip through the city, we waited around 40 minutes. After comming home and eating the chicken burger. I wanted to go back to the city. This bus luckily arrived nearly punktually. But after a few stops the bus got stuck because there were two car owners who can't parc. So we had to walk the other 5 km. After beeing out, the bus luckily came punctually. But i want to say, that my normal place at the first floor in the front is very nice, because of the view on the left sided traffic.Read more

    • Day 170


      October 26, 2022 in England ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      I got to London on the 25th and met sara at the airport and we went and stayed with Geir and Fiona :))
      My first day there we met scout at Borough markets and got some lunch and ate by south bank which had very appetising chocolate coloured water🫡😍
      Then Didi (Geir and Fi’s daughter who is my age) was doing her Wednesday chapel choir service at her uni in Cambridge and so we went to watch. Really good acoustics because of some tall height and structure of something in the church.
      We wandered round Cambridge before that though and tried a funky flavoured ice cream place and got roasted potato which was quite good , miso and white chocolate which was also good and then milk and brownies too which was a bit basic but all up we did like it.
      We went into a record store and the oldest bookstore in Cambridge.
      Anyway chapel service was a very cool. Finally seeing Didi after 10 years was so nice and we went and had dinner in the big Cambridge dining hall with her and her friends ! She showed us around and her room and we weren’t allowed to walk on most of the grass.
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    • Day 7


      August 21, 2023 in England ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

      We woke up today and had a great last morning lounging about with David, Emma + Anna. We said goodbye and headed to the train station around 10 for our 11 o’clock train. With one stop along the way and an hour and a half later, we made it to Cambridge! Dad’s friend Andrew picked us up and we arrived at his house where the rest of his family was. We had a wonderful lunch before taking time to walk around a bit of Cambridge with their dog, Olive. And then stopped at The Castle pub for drinks. After some fun conversation, we headed back home for food and had a delicious dinner. We spent more time chatting over tea and dessert afterwards, enjoying each other’s company.Read more

    • Day 8

      Cambridge Vol. 2!

      August 22, 2023 in England ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

      We all started our day with small pastries for breakfast and then moved onto exercise. Mom joined a bootcamp in the park with Andrew’s wife, Fran, while Dad and I went for a walk with Andrew and Olive. We then all retreated back to the house to drop off Fran and grab our bags. Andrew showed us about a fifth of Cambridge University’s colleges. They had their similarities, but I was surprised by their differences too. The Preston’s daughter Rosie joined us for lunch in a pub named the Eagle. After that we got ice cream and walked Clare College where Andrew teaches. Next we grabbed some drinks and went punting, essentially a less glamorous version of Venetian boating where the raft is propelled by someone repeatedly pushing a long rod. We spent an hour and change on the river before Andrew, Rosie, and Ryan headed back to make dinner while Amy and Penny explored town. By 6:30 we all were back at the house. We chatted before having a lovely bbq dinner.Read more

    • Day 13

      Last Day in Cambridge

      September 13, 2023 in England ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

      A really lovely day. It started with coffee on Mill Road over the bridge, followed by a quick walk down the opposite direction, to the laundrette to drop off two loads of washing. A good start, don't you think?

      The rest of the day ws given over to leisure. A quick conversation and we decied to head back over to the University district and to go to the Fitzwilliam Museum.

      The Fitzwilliam Museum is the lead partner of the spectacular collections of the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM) and Botanic Garden.

      From antiquity to the present day, the Fitzwilliam houses a world-renowned collection of over half a million beautiful works of art, masterpiece paintings and historical artefacts.

      Here's the blurb from the Museum website about its origins.

      In 1816, the University of Cambridge acquired an extensive collection of artworks and objects as well as a library which had been left to them by Richard Fitzwilliam (1745–1816), the 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion. As a former student of Cambridge’s Trinity Hall College, Fitzwilliam believed that the University should have its own museum and made provisions in his will to donate his collection as well as an enormous sum of money, £100,000, to build an impressive new museum building to house it.

      The Fitzwilliam has an imposing frontage complete with massive columns and white stone. Two gigantic stone lions sit off to the side as if in guard of the precious repository inside. The foyer is resplendent in fine orante paintwork, a grand stiarcase that goes either side of the room, filled with statues and artworks. It is a VERY imposing entry, I must say.

      Chris and I started in the cafe. Behind the counter was Abraham, as gay and Spanish as you like, and he engaged us in cheerful banter while he made our coffees and fetched our white chocolate chip cookies, one of which was on him. He was fun, and I think he enjoyed talking to us too.

      After morning refreshments, we headed into ancient antiquities rooms to look at Egypt, Greece and Rome, Cyprus, and the Ancient Near East. Way too much to take in. There was a group of Year 4 school boys with their two handsome teachers dong a 'find your information' project as they scooted around the millennia old exhibits with their pads and folders. Walking in front of us, it was always, "excuse me". How polite.

      I loved these rooms, especially Greece and Rome. I've been reading a lot of Rome lately, and last year a lot of Greek mythology, so this room was especially poignant to me. Of some wonder and real appreciation were the two scultptures of Emperor Marcus Aurelius whose meditations I commenced before coming over here to the UK.

      There is an extensive Introduction by a Classical Scholar to the edtion I am reading and having ploughed my way through that fairly slowly so that I took it all in, I am now in the first third of the meditations themselves. So it was with a litle glee and some warmth to see the great man himself, looking for all the world like a handsome ginger, looking down upon me as I gazed at his visage, whose verisimilitude I understand is extremely close, taken as it was from image of the Emperor on coins of the time.

      Another bust of Julius Caesar is also said to be of his likeness. And of course, I couldnlt go past one of the greatest gay love stories in the ancient world, Antinous, the young lover of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 CE). His large bust is there in the Fitzwilliam looking very lifelike.

      Poor Antinous drowned in the Nile River while accompanying Hadrian to Egypt in 130 CE. After his death, Hadrian had Antinous declared a god. Being declared a deity in Rome after death was a huge deal, so for this to happen to a same-sex partner (not an official wife) would have set tongues awagging for a while.

      After the antiquities rooms, we headed for the gallery where masters from the 15th century all the way to the French impressionists and even modern day artists were exhibited. There were so many and it was an extraordinary collection. Degas, Pizzaro, Monet, Millet, Fra Lippo Lippi, and on. There were so many Virgin and Child and Christ's Crucifixion paintings from previous centuries, they all began to blur for me, but one.

      Luis de Morales c.1510/11 - c.1586 painted a Christ brought down from the cross called The Pieta with the Virgin, Mary Magdalene and St John. This is a sixteenth century painting but it looks modern somehow. Its imagery is powerful. Christ looking lifeless and powerless, the very moment Christian theology tells us that he defeated death itself. A cosmic irony. The anguish on the face of the onlookers.

      The Fitzwilliam is gem of a museum. By then, we had had enough. I coined a new term, museum legs. We both had them. Pained, wobbly, weak. Ready for a sit down. So sit down we did, in a local pub, downed a half pint, and because their kitchen was not open, left quickly for more eat-inger climes, an American diner no less in the mall where hamburgers and specially seasoned fries did the trick. Museum legs cured.

      We had already discussed that we wanted to go inside one of the University Colleges. But which one? There are 31 of them. Ultimately, we decided on Queens' College, actually founded by two queens, hence the positioning of the apostrophe.

      £5 each got us an entry through the medieval door and into the confines of its moastic-like cloisters and courts. Queens' College is around 600 years old. It doesn't look a day older than a 102 in my opinion and shapes up very well.

      It is stunningly beautiful. The courts (quads) are surrounded by lush and verdant gardens and these in turn are surounded by cloisters around which students, lecturers and Fellows walk to and from their rooms. It would be an easy place to lose yourself in learning. This could be full immersion in your domain if you wanted it to be. It is no wonder that Cambridge is one of the greatest universities in the world.

      A quick look through the dining room and we spent some time in the Chapel, smaller than King's Chapel that we saw yesterday, and more sombre looking, but just as beautiful in its own way and not at all oppressive. A young man was seated at the pipe organ above us clearly practising a number of very challenging pieces, so we were treated to having the Chapel to ourselves while we walked around its chamber listneing to the power of the organ and feeling the feel. You just could not do otherwise.

      Two really famous alumni of Queens' College are: Desiderius Erasmus (philosopher and theologican) and Stephen Fry (actor, writer). But the list is extensive. I couldn't help but wonder how, if my life had turned out differently, whether I would have enjoyed studying at Cambridge. Who am I kidding? I would have loved it!

      It's been a wonderful day soaking up the antiquities, the arts and the atmosphere. I count myself very lucky to be able to have these wonderful experiences.

      Tomorrow, it's off to Lincoln.
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    • Day 12


      September 12, 2023 in England ⋅ 🌧 20 °C

      Yesterday, we left London, ready to take things at a slower and more leisurely pace. Little did we know.

      The train trip was only an hour. We could connect with the train at our own home port of Farringdon and we had first class tickets, a bit silly really given that we would only be on the train for just over an hour. FIrst class means you get a small table in front of your seat and an antimacassar behind your head. Not a great deal more of creature comforts I would have thought than the riff raff in the other carriages.

      The trip was uneventful, as you want them to be. We arrived at Cambridge about 11am and well ahead of our official check in time of 3pm. However, the good woman who owns the joint said she would clean it quickly and we could have it as soon as she was finished. She would message us.

      Thus, we hove to, and carted our bags bearing all our worldly goods to a cafe that she had recommended, the Hot Numbers. Fortunately we did not have to wait long for a message and the walk to our apartment was literally around the corner. She arrived as we did and she showed us how the new fangled app works which allows us entry to and from the apartment. We dropped our bags and left her to it.

      The next thing to do was to go and organise the rental car. It is a truth universally acknowledged, or should be, that car rental companies will do you over, in some way. Ethics? Nah. Morality? Absolutely not. Being flexible with the weary traveller? Forget it. This happened last year, and they -ucked us over again here in Cambridge. You can use the m or the f for the elision in that word as you please. I know which one I use.

      By the time we had sorted out the apartment, we got to the car rental at 3pm rather than the agreed time of between 12 and 2pm, a range of time I might add that was always an estimated time of arrival, not a horological moment set in Cambridge stone.

      No, sorry, you are late. You have forfeited the deposit you have paid and the car you asked for is no longer available. Since you booked through a third party and not directly with us, there is nothing we can do for you to amend the booking. All we can do is to upgrade you and you'll need to pay the difference for the cost of the better vehicle. Enter a Mercedes Benz, which was just about the only thing they had left. Needless to say, the upgrade cost us a pretty Cambridge penny.

      If ever you see me contemplating hiring a car in the future, feel free to kick me where it hurts.

      At the end of the day, we found Cambridge's main pool and took ourselves for a much needed swim; this to calm the nerves and wash off the stress of the day as well as the heat and the humidity. The pool was large by any standard and in a dedicated building with lots of facilities. It was most welcome.

      Today, in the early part of the morning, we did our best to outwit, rather unsuccessfully I might add, the need to pay excessive parking fees. Street parking outside our building is only free after 5pm and there is no other parking around. Thus we had to go to a large shopping mall, basically adjacent to the University district, and park the car there for the day. Expensive.

      Accepting the uncontrollable is one well-known way to lower stress. It's good modern psychology and the Stoics believed it too in Ancient Greece. We parked the car, left it to accrue its hours, and headed for the fudge shop where we were to meet up with our tour guide. We had purchased tickets to do a two-hour walking tour of the University ending inside Kings College Chapel. Our tour guide was a Classical scholar, Dr Sonya Nevin, part-time lecturer and published author.

      Sonya was fabulous. She started off by explaining the University of Cambridge college system, where the many Colleges are independent autonomous bodies who all teach much the same subjects (courses) with a few exceptions. The University proper handles admissions, enrolments, fees, graduations and the like.

      The University began in the year 1209 with Oxford academics fleeing Oxford due to the riots between locals and the unversity; 'town and gown' riots. Enough of them settled in Cambridge to start the first College.

      We heard so many wonderful stories today. We heard so many famous names. We stopped for a pint after the tour in the Eagle, the pub where Watson and Crick announced their discovery of the workings of DNA. I had an Eagle DNA ale.

      We leaned against the wall where Christopher Marlowe had his digs and saw many of the famous Colleges, many in their medieval glory. It was a fabulous tour and Chris and I both felt we had very good fortune indeed to be led by such an intelligent and informative scholar.

      Of course, the famous Kings College Chapel is very special in this place. It is beautiful beyond ordinary architecture, its vaulted ceiling both geometrically perfect, aesthetically gentle and architecturally marvellous. The dark panelling of the choir stalls where the boys sing their Palestrina and their Allegri all have candle holders and must look a sight. A Rubens painting as an altar piece stands wonderfully at the front of the chapel.

      There is way too much to see here in Cambridge, especially in the limited time we have left to us. There are galleries and museums attached to most of the Colleges so you'd really need a considerable time to see it all.

      The weather has started to break today. Only about 20° today, ominous black clouds, but still high humidity. England's heat wave is just about over. As is our time in Cambridge. We are very glad we came.
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