Having lived in Cambridge, UK, for almost a month now (it feels like a lot shorter!), I figured it was really time for a blog post now. I haven’t had too much time to write a post so far, since I’m doing the whole working life thing now where I get up at decent, Christian times and do work and eat fruits and vegetables and don’t formally classify as an alcoholic anymore.
I’m working at the Department of Psychology on the 4th floor, giving me a nice view of the area. So far I’ve spent quite some time staring outside looking at the freaky hail and snow storms that have been taunting Cambridge for the last weeks and which refuse to settle, but instead melt as soon as they hit the ground. I spent the rest of my time trying to figure out how to program experiments in Python and eating cheese strings. It’s quite the life if you ask me. 😉
I’ve also had my first cultural experience celebrating Burns Night, a Scottish holiday in honour of the life and works of Robert Burns, a Scottish poet. My friend Joris invited me to a Burns supper at his college, which was a lot of fun! There was wine, haggis (well, haggis-stuffed chicken 😉 ), some speeches honouring the poet, his poetry, haggis, ‘the lassies’ and ‘the lads’, and some err.. interesting Scottish folk dancing at the end. 🙂
Yesterday I finally took some time to do touristy stuff in the city when a friend of mine, Januschka, came over to visit. Of course, I’ve already seen quite some colleges from the in- and outside, but it was still nice to be guided through the city by a student who was able to tell us a lot of funny and remarkable stories about the university and its pupils.
One of the first places we visited was The Eagle, a pub I had been to before with Joris and Merel, and mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts. As I also mentioned this pub is famous for being the place where Francis Crick shouted out he had ‘discovered the secret of life’, after having figured out the structure of DNA together with James Watson. Furthermore, the walls are covered in scribbling made by Royal Airforce soldiers during World War II. Besides the historic value of this venue, I can also heartily recommend the amazing pub food served here.
Next we visited Pembroke College, which I had visited before for a callback audition I had for a play (didn’t get in unfortunately). I think this college embodies a lot of what people tend to associate with Cambridge: much historical architectural variation between the buildings with most of them having one thing in common: they’re all really old. Even at Pembroke College, there’s the odd modern residential building, but generally you can find at least one building representing each important architectural style from the last few centuries. For example, the first chapel ever built by Sir Christopher Wren is at Pembroke College, while the library is Victorian. There is also a statue of one of Pembroke’s most famous alumni: William Pitt the Younger, who started his studies at Cambridge at the age of 14 and became the youngest prime minister of Britain at 24. As you can see from the picture below, at this point in the tour it also started to snow. And trust me, it was quite a lot more dramatic than it appears from the picture. Sadly, the snow in Cambridge doesn’t settle so easily. Below there is also a picture of Pembroke College’s Chapel (so: designed by Wren), but I couldn’t get a better one because a small orchestra was practicing there and I didn’t want to be rude by intruding :P.
Also, here’s a picture of my friend Januschka in front of the Senate House, with the tower of King’s College Chapel sort of in the background. I’m sure she doesn’t mind me posting this picture (right??? ) :P. In the evening we went to evensong at the Chapel. It was really cool to hear the Chapel choir, which of course sang beautifully. It was, however, strange to be in a religious service where 90% of the people present were tourists and had no idea what was going on. I guess it seemed a bit voyeuristic in a way to visit a religious service en masse without being part of the religious community. On the other hand, the Chapel probably makes an assload off of tourists’ donations after the service. 😉
At the end of the tour, the guide told us a final story about why the statue of Henry the 8th above the main gate to Trinity College is not holding his gold sceptre like it used to a long time ago. Apparently, somebody stole it and replaced with a chair leg from Trinity College’s library. Surprisingly, the college kept it this way until somebody else came along and replaced it with a bike pump. The college did not tolerate this and they had a brand-new chair leg made to replace the stolen one. 🙂
Of course we visited many more places than these, but I already discussed many of them in my previous blog post about Cambridge, so I won’t bother you with them anymore.
That’s it for now, tomorrow’s another day of work. I hope to visit some places in the vicinity of Cambridge soon, so I can blog about those as well 😉
Also, check out how awesome the art is this dude makes: