Yikes! Bikes!

Another short break in Rosie and this time we are heading to Cambridge with bikes!!

It’s a first on two counts. 1, I’ve never been to Cambridge (Dubber has about 40 years ago to do a gig) and 2, it’s the first time we’ve put the bikes on the back.

We are on the Cambridge Caravanning and Camping Club site on the outskirts of Cambridge at Great Shelford. It’s an immaculate site with lots of people on hand to help if you need it. It’s lovely and quiet although of an evening you can hear trains constantly. Luckily once we are in the van it’s not a problem.

The most hopeful part of the whole break is that it’s very flat round here. No need for wedges under the wheels of Rosie and no getting off the bike and walking up hills for me. Yes I know I have gears on my bike but I just don’t like riding uphill.

When we arrive we set up camp and walk into Trumpington for a quick pint of local brew at a lovely pub, Hudson’s Ale House. After a quick walk back we cook tea outside, Piri Piri Chicken with Tsatsiki in pitta breads. Was yummy.

It was a lovely evening as the sun dipped low in the sky and we played four games of Skipbo – we normally only do three. We are even at the moment.

The weather is absolutely gorgeous and the next day after breakfast in the sunshine, we set off on our bikes (not ridden for well over a year but you never forget) the three mile journey into Cambridge.

Cambridge is known for its bikes and it must be the most well organised city as far as bikes are concerned. From Trumpington we didn’t have to travel on the roads at all as the cycleways are marked paths first behind houses and then following a disused railway line, now used by guided buses. It’s brilliant not to have to deal with traffic until we got to the railway station. Here we parked our bikes for free in a cycle park. You can of course tie your bike to railings in the street but the cycle park is most secure.

As we approached the city we passed lots of new developments and the new Addenbrookes Hospital. They are very modern and reminiscent of houses and new buildings in the Netherlands. In fact with the bikes, the river and the architecture it was very like being in the Netherlands.

Today is a significant day as it’s the Royal Wedding (H & M) and also the FA Cup Final. Not that they are going to rule the day but if we get chance we will do a bit of TV watching.

We walk from the station into the city (about a mile) in glorious sunshine past lovely buildings and decide to have a coffee in Costa. They have WiFi and it’s nearly 11 so time to watch the wedding. Just in time the bride is arriving. Ok I’ve seen the dress and the bridesmaids, we walk on.

Cambridge is buzzing in the sunshine. There are musicians on the street and we particularly enjoy the folk sounds of The Trials of Cato, so much so we bought a CD. Theres a great market in the centre and it was here that we could hear a choir and of course it was from a big screen showing the royal wedding and hundreds sat watching with flags and glasses of champagne. We watch for a while and then make our way to the Visitor Information Office.

We had pre-booked a guided walk to see the highlights of Cambridge. We had a very knowledgeable guide who had good little anecdotes to tell with the historic buildings. There wasn’t just a focus on the university either but a history of how Cambridge came to be and how it grew. Blimey the sun is scorching!!

It was a shame that many of the colleges were closed to visitors, I suppose it’s exam time and also post-grads were graduating. There were a lot of capes and ermine around; proud mums in high heels carrying gift bags and dads in their suits and ties, desperate for it all to be over so they can remove the jacket and tie in the heat.

We followed ‘Diane’ around in her floppy hat and sandals through the crowded streets and back to the Visitor Information Centre, where there was time to buy a postcard for my grand-daughter Chloe. I send her one every time we travel and she stores them in a scrap book.

Time for a well-earned M&S sandwich sitting by the river on the Backs. This at the back of most of the colleges, hence the name. We find a spot amongst the geese poo (Dubber does a quick clean up before I would sit down) and watch the graceful punting of the ‘professional’ punters as opposed to the general public who don’t have a clue.

There was one punt with two young guys; one lay prostrate in the punt, whilst the other with a huge head of hair balanced clumsily with his punt stick (I’m sure it has a name) not really going anywhere but round and round in circles. He would just about master getting the boat straight to carry on up or down the river, when a wrong twist of the stick and he was horizontal across the river again. Other punts would barge his out the way (normal protocol it seemed) and he’d be off going round and round again. Hilarious. I just waited for him to fall. I don’t know how he didn’t. Eventually he managed to move up the river only to start the round and round process again; his friend still lying in the punt inanimate whilst the punter caused chaos.

We stroll back through the town admiring the architecture, avoid being mowed down by cyclists and head back for our bikes. The Trials of Cato are still playing, the crowds still busy and the sun unbelievably hot for early May. We cycled back to Trumpington and decide to head back to the Hudson’s Ale House for a swift half which turned into a pint and dinner – the football was on. We were in good company even if the best team didn’t win.

We cycled back to Rosie and sat watching the sunset, opened a bottle of wine and I thrashed Dubber at Skipbo!

It’s still warm the next day and after a lazy breakfast we get on the bikes and ride to Grantchester. Renowned for being a quaint English village, populated by some of the best brains of Britain (apparently) it is most known for either the TV Series by the same name or for the more cultured of us Rupert Brooke and his interesting friends, the Bloomsbury Group. The Orchard Tea Garden was originally the orchard to the house he lived in and remains idyllic with its apple trees and deckchairs. Time for coffee and a cake.

After light refreshments we cycle round the village (NB 3 pubs and a gin distillery – see below). We find the cycle route to Cambridge which takes us across fields and into pretty suburbs of Cambridge. It’s great cycling in the sunshine. We ought to do it more often. Got to persuade Dubber for another trip, as it means the awning has to travel in the van.

Once we get our bearings we find our intended destination, the Botanic Gardens. Loved it. So much in bloom around the gardens and in the greenhouses.

A beautiful setting for lunch.

And still more lovely views

It’s really tiring lazing in this heat but it’s time to cycle back for our last evening here and there’s tuna fish and pineapple to cook…with wine, Dubber!

Another evening of Skipbo and time to reflect on lessons learnt:

1 Yikes! Bikes? Yes they were fun and made the area much more accessible when we want to leave the van with the awning.

2 As I haven’t ridden a bike for a while I have found muscles in my thighs I’d forgotten about.

3 We love a wedding and a football final.

4 I am still the Skipbo Champion, Dubber!

Yes Cambridge lived up to expectations and I’d certainly head back there bicycles in tow. It’s a shame to have to go home and leave the living outdoors for a while. But hey, the big summer trip is not far away. And we’re excited. Watch this space.