Living in Cambridge, UK

Old Jun 12th, 2003, 09:35 AM
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Living in Cambridge, UK

My husband and I will be living in Cambridge this summer for 4 weeks. (Along with our 1 year old I should add. . . )

I am looking for any advice on living in Cambridge. We will be near Botanical Gardens, about 1/2 mile from King's Crossing. We rented a bungalow, which I am praying is nice! (It had 4 stars by UK AAA listing.)

What are some good restaurants? Must see museums? Day trips? Activities for kids? How is it getting around? Pretty easy walking city?

Anything you can share about Cambridge is appreciated.
Old Jun 12th, 2003, 09:49 AM
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Oops, I mean 1/2 mile from Kings College....really hoping I am still walking distance to city centre--seems Botanic Gardens is located on the outskirts of city, although we are assured it is less than a mile.
Old Jun 12th, 2003, 11:06 AM
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The museum at international standard is the Fitzwilliam., then Visitor Information. Across the road from them is Fitzbillies, which sell disgraceful cream cakes until five each weekday.
The Cambridge and County Folk Museum, is in a building dating back to the 16th century. Its rooms display local domestic history of the past 300 years.
Other Cambridge museums are the Wipple Museum of the History of Science, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Museum of Zoology, and the Museum of Classical Archaeology ( )

From the city centre and the railway station a free bus runs to Duxford museum of the US Air Force and the Royal Air Force,

15 minutes by train takes you to Ely, with a splendid cathedral, and 49 minutes to Kings Lynn, an attractive seaport 47 minutes to the old cathedral city of Bury St Edmunds ( , then Tourism and What?s on) and 100 minutes to Norwich, with cathedral, theatre, and castle museum (, then Tourism and Leisure). Less than two hours by bus gets you to the Broads, where you can go for a day to see a regatta ( For boating on the Cam you need to hire your punt early or late, when the day trippers are out of town, and you would want a safety jacket for the babe.

City governments in Cambridge, Bury, and Norwich, and the council of Kings Lynn, run summer programmes of events: About Cambridge restaurants the tourist information office behind the Guildhall have a map and guide.

I was in Cambridge again yesterday. The medieval heart of Cambridge is pretty well walking only, and you certainly cannot drive there. Cycling is safe and usual there, and you can hire bikes, baby carriers and helmets by the week, or buy second hand, then sell back when you leave. There are cycle paths from the Botanic Gardens to the city centre, but cars run beside them. Bus services are good: you need the bus map.

There is running, jumping, and standing still on Parkers Piece and over the river on the Backs, and swimming indoors near Parkers Piece and outdoors at the Mill (best late in the day, when the river has stored the day s sunshine and is a deal warmer than the air).

Please write if I can help further. Welcome to England.

[email protected]
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Old Jun 12th, 2003, 11:41 AM
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Thank you so much for the response. Lots of good suggestions and insights to ponder. I especially appreciate the links, I don't know what I am doing wrong, but have had a hard time finding sites that are helpful.

If you think of anything else that would be helpful for someone to know (who has never lived in Cambridge) please post again. I am not really looking for anything too specific, just general insights about the town/area.

Thanks again.
Old Jun 12th, 2003, 12:11 PM
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I'm envious - lovely place to spend 4 weeks in the summer. One place Ben didn't mention is the American Cemetery just north of town and the gardens in the ruined abbey at Bury St. Edmunds are lovely. It's also a short train ride to London.

You might try these websites:

I assume you've already checked this website for info on East Anglia and Cambridge. Go to destinations.

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Old Jun 12th, 2003, 12:40 PM
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Thank you! More sites, appreciate it.

This is an odd question...but does anyone have any book recommendations that would help me get excited about the area and learn as I read? When I lived in southern France, for example, I read things like "A Year in Provence" before I left and it gave me great insight into the area/culture/history. If anyone has a recommendation (can be fiction, or biography, old, new...but looking for more than a travel book) please post!

Old Jun 12th, 2003, 06:12 PM
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If you like mysteries, try Elizabeth George's "For the Sake of Elena," which is set at the University. Her book of short stories, "I Richard," also has a story set there.

I envy you the chance to spend four weeks there. My husband and I studied there two summers and would love to go back. (We do go up from London when we vacation there just to refresh our T=shirt collection.)

Most of our favorite restaurants have changed hands of closed, but Henri -- on the bank of the Cam across the river from Magdalene College -- has tasty food if SLOW service. The Italian restaurant at the edge of the Market Square has great ices which they serve through their window.

If you're lucky, there will be a fun fair on Parker's Piece with rides suitable for children and fireworks at least a couple of nights.

Have a great time.
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Old Jun 12th, 2003, 07:01 PM
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Several interesting sites within short bus rides from Cambridge:
Wicken Fen: lovely natural conservation area with an imformative visitor centre.
Anglesey Abbey Gardens: beautiful gardens and 17th century house.
Wimpole Hall,another historical house and gardens.

For details,please
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Old Jun 13th, 2003, 08:59 AM
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Very intriguing question about books on Cambridge.
I'm really struggling to think of anything, fiction or non-fiction, remotely like "A Year in Provence", English fiction is stuffed with novels about being an 18 year old student at Cambridge - especially in the early 20th century. Little of it pleasant IMHO. And there's a fair amount about university politics (practically any novel by CP Snow). There's a small literature about being a trailing partner on the USAF bases around Cambridge (a large proportion of the West's nuclear capacity was close to Cambridge during the Cold War). But living in Cambridge itself, if you're a normal grown-up? Very little.
The exciting literature is probably about what was discovered there: try The Double Helix by Watson and Bragg (DNA), or anything about the work of the Cavendish Laboratory (most early atomic work) or JM Keynes (economic theory) or Isaac Newton (gravity and much of modern maths).
However, reading any serious history of the colleges gives you a pretty good insight into the history of England for 800 years, and into the lives of a pretty large proportion of its politicians, writers, thinkers, scientists and colonial rulers. As well as a good 20% of the enties in the current UK Who's Who
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Old Jun 13th, 2003, 09:29 AM
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This is fabulous, such great info! I too will be in Cambridge and was just thinking of posting a question like this today. My situation will be a bit different: staying for 3 weeks in July (studying Shakespeare in the university's summer program), travelling solo, and staying in Clare College Memorial Court.

Fitzbillies sounds great. Any more recommendations on places to eat would be good--relatively inexpensive and love all types of ethnic food (Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Spanish...) Any idea what the weather will be like in July? Thanks so much.
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Old Jun 13th, 2003, 11:59 AM
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I, too, had the good fortune to attend the International Summer School there for one month. After lunch I would often go into the different colleges to look around. There was free acess in the '80's, I don't know about now. Every college has a large lawn area where you could let your baby crawl around. And there are often English Garden benches and beautiful flowers. The dining halls and libraries are usually open and quite deserted. I bought a pictorial guide so I would know what to look for.
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Old Jun 16th, 2003, 04:36 AM
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Do read Rupert Brooke's poem The Old Vicarage - he lived in Grantchester Meadows, an easy cycle ride from where you will be living. Do also look at the web site as you have several lovely properties near you. They aren't 'stuffy' to visit and are really geared up to children. Your child would love Wimpole Hall and all the animals. Other posters have mentioned most good places to visit, but I would also suggest an hour or so at Ely Cathedral. Rising out of the fenland country it's a lovely place. Newmarket, famous for centuries for racing, is also only about 12 miles away. if you drive through in the morings you see the strings of thoroughbreds walking through the town. Or you could go to a Race meeting? The National Stud is also just outside Newmarket. I was born in Bury St Edmunds and would endorse a trip there. If you like browsing in antique shops I would recommend Lavenham and Long Melford. Lavenham is a stunning medieval village and Long Melford is well worth a visit too. Although small they both have stunning medieval churches, built with the vast amounts of money made through the wool trade.
Enjoy your visit!
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