TAKING A PUNT AT CAMBRIDGE

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For ages I've been saying that we must go to Cambridge for a day trip... but then the weekend comes and goes and all I've achieved is polishing off a bottle of wine and ordering some takeaway. However, dry January meant that our treasured days off were a bit more productive so we actually committed and headed out one Saturday. 

By some mad stroke of luck, the day we picked was actually sunny! In the UK! In January! I know right. It may have been bitterly cold but man it made for some great snaps. Check out this picteuresque view from Queen's college. 

Queens College Cambridge

Are you going awwww in your head right now?? Seriously this place is gorgeous and a far cry from the scenery outside my old Uni hostel in Wellington. Just replace the river with a main street in the city, the sound of birds with the sound of honking buses and add a few vomit patches. No doubt this is a student city like no other... oh wait it's potentially exactly like its' rival town Oxford (never been) but aside from that one I mean. 

Just strolling around Cambridge is a great experience in itself. Or you could make like the students and bike around town. The students aren't allowed to own cars which is probably the best call you could make in an idyllic wee place like this.

Bikes in Cambridge

To get some history of the town, we chose to do a walking tour of the colleges. Let's just take a minute to get your head around the setup if you've never been or was as clueless as it turns out I was. 

I had no idea that the colleges were actually just glorified dorms for the students of Cambridge University. Students don't actually take lectures within their college but they pretty much do everything else there. This even extends to socialising which breeds a fiercely competitive and I think incredibly sheltered and odd experience for people in their formative years. 

Still each to their own. Also mind blowing is that it costs the same to go to Cambridge or Oxford as it does to go to any other University in England. 

In regards to the tour itself, we booked through Visit Cambridge and I thought it was quite a costly price at £18 each however you have to pay to get into most of the colleges anyway and some of them won't let you in at all unless you go with this company.  

I have to say that our guide was a bit rubbish. She was very posh which I have no problem with but she made a few remarks that I thought were a bit classist and odd. Perhaps it's my kiwi heritage but I just didn't like something about the cut of her jib y'know? She also spoke very softly so you missed most of what she said and constantly made excuses for the tour telling us that usually they did it this way/that way but today they couldn't because they'd overbooked the tour. She also forgot a lot of the detail when telling stories but thankfully we had a history buff in our group who was able to fill in gaps. 

Despite this though, I still think it's worth doing for the sake of the getting to go inside these beautiful historic grounds. I mean just look at this:

St Johns College Cambridge

And this:

The Bridge of Sighs


After the tour we pootered around a bit minding not to step on the grass no matter how tempting it was...

Keep off the grass sign

We then headed to Rainbow cafe for lunch. Luckily I had been recommended the place by a local as we totally would have overlooked it otherwise (it's quite hidden down an alleyway opposite King's college). 

Still on vege January at the time, this place fit the bill specialising in vegetarian/vegan and gluten free food. It also happens to be DELICIOUS. I was starving and went for the 'Shepherdess pie'. Sweet potato mash and toasted almonds with a savoury and satisfying root vege filling. Nom nom nom.

Vegan Shepherds Pie
  
After lunch we had the obligatory punting experience booked in. You save by booking tickets online but this doesn't secure you a time so be prepared to wait if the boat has just left. 

You do end up hearing a lot of the same information as the college tour but refreshingly we had a more down to earth punter (what on earth do you call them?? I'll go with that) who was also a decent story teller. It's really cool to see the colleges from the water and makes for plenty more photo ops. 

Cambridge punting

Selfie anyone?

punting selfie

It's also very relaxing being rowed around such a calm, pristine area.

Punting view

Plus you get to laugh at all the knobs trying to impress their mates by doing it themselves and failing spectacularly. Finally it's a great excuse to use the word punt which is always fun. Punt punt punt. Teehee. 

We were feeling pretty darn British by this point so continued our guise as proper poshos with a tea stop. Harriet's Tea Rooms looked very busy and had staff dressed in period costume so we figured it must be legit (ahem). Unsurprisingly it was pretty average but to be fair it was warm, we were cold and needed carbs. 

I've had better scones at Nero to be honest but it had the twee factor necessary for such experiences. The blonde kiwi also indulged in a pink champagne macaron because he's totally ok with his masculinity alright? 

Cream Tea

I'm sure if we weren't off the sauce we would have stayed into the evening for a pub meal but alas we figured that it would be safer to remove ourselves from temptation and head back to London. So in summary, Cambridge = a place for a good punt and a nice change from the hustle and bustle of the big smoke. Just mind you don't step on the grass. 

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