Today was our Cambridge day as we wanted to see how it compares to Oxford.
No sooner had we arrived in the city centre after our Park and Ride, than the touts for the punt tours accosted and persuaded us to take the plunge with them. As before, there is a difference in the types of people that you deal with in the process. The tout is a well-presented and well-spoken person meeting our expectation of a typical Cambridge man (tall, male, slim). The next chap, who guided us through the streets to the punt, was short and from the sub-continent, but an energetic people manager and very personable. He handed us over to the younger and athletic “puntsman” who had been drilled in the tour commentary but was probably not a student at the Cambridge colleges. We were very pleased to have had this quintessential Cambridge experience floating along the “backs” on a sunny June day being followed by swans and ducks..
After this, while trying to sneak into one of the closed colleges, we overheard a porter on the river side telling other tourists that if they hurried around to the front they could get in. We took off like a shot, with Joan streaking away (a first). We just got into the quadrangle of Trinity before the doors closed were closed behind us. We found about 1500 people there milling about. Almost immediately we noticed choristers on the top of towers on two sides of the quad. They began to sing like angels, in alternating parts accompanied by trumpeters on a tower on the other side of the quad. The performance lasted about 15 minutes. It was magical to be there in the quadrangle with so many people in hushed silence. We later found out it was an annual tradition “Singing from the Towers”, so we were very lucky to catch it.
We then toured St John’s college which had a wonderful chapel and crossed its Bridge of Sighs (much more impressive than Oxford’s). The puntsman told us it got its name from the students who sighed crossing over the river to exam hall on one other side.
Back in the city I climbed the tower of St Mary’s church before we visited the pleasant outlying village of Grantchester, for a quick half pint in a lovely old pub.
We had dinner in a neighbouring village pub and Joan got to drive back due to my two-pints consumption. She found driving a six-speed manual an interesting experience, but managed quite well. She even got to do it twice, because we had forgotten an umbrella at the pub.
Back in our home village we made the short stroll to the village church and saw some strange sayings on the wall of the ex-alms-house across the road from it.