We quite literally took a punt on Cambridge! The weather forecast was not particularly good, which didn’t bode well for a walking tour of the Colleges; and the temperature had certainly dropped a notch from the unseasonal mildness we have experienced so far. The discovery of off-peak group fares made it all very worth while, with Cambridge only 90 minutes away even on the cross-country service.

Of course the city defied our expectations with its small size (well, the messy industrial bits are all well hidden) and well-preserved quaintness. As our taxi driver – a cheery Eastern European who doubles as a chef – informed us, the College people are all snobs, and I suppose that is about right, when you consider the continuing issues surrounding access for undergraduates from State schools and the enormouse wealth of some of the Colleges (Kings’ being the outstanding example, of course). Taking advantage of a break in the clouds, we decided to go on a punt tour. Typically, by the time we had walked to the punts, it had started to rain.


In fact, the rain stopped before it was out turn, so we hopped on board with a group of Thai tourists, blankets, hot-water bottles and two strapping lads, twins, who somehow managed to push the boat agains the current almost to the millpond. We had a duck’s eye view.


We toddled along cheerfully, with lads providing an excellent commentary and the Thai tourists translating in the forward section – no wonder the duck was confused. The architecture was, of course, divine, and the opportunity for name-dropping irresistible for our guides. The drip downstream was much easier and, after a bit of a wander, we could not put off a visit to the Kings’ College Chapel any longer. It was, if anything, more stunning that photos might lead to you to believe.


We took all the predictable photos (not for this blog) and oohed and aahed at the fan vaulting. The usual explanatory displays were of a high standard and my only regret is that we weren’t, by some miracle, able to hear choral music while we were inside. However, a couple of blokes were tuning the organ and a kind of madman’s obligato followed us around until we left to walk down to the river.

So that was that, then: a trip on the train back to town and soup for dinner in our comfortable little pad. A very satisfactory day.