Before I’d even started packing for my recent long weekend in Cambridge, I’d received a text from the friend I was going to stay with which contained very specific instructions. “Bring dance shoes, student card, and clothes you don’t mind getting slightly wet”. I was slightly intrigued as I knew some of the things I’d be doing, but not everything. One of the great things about visiting a friend in a certain location rather than just going to see the place is that you will usually get to see local’s spots, rather than just tourist locations. You are also part of their life for that weekend so end up doing things you might not usually do – which was certainly the case when I went to see Chloe.
The evening that I arrived, we went dancing. This wasn’t really a surprise as we had both met through dancing at York, but it was still a slightly intimidating thought as the dancers in the university team are incredible. Luckily everyone was really welcoming at the social dance session we attended and it was nice to do something I loved with a completely different mix of people. After the session had finished, a group of us headed on to a Salsa night which was being held close by. This was where I was completely out of my comfort zone! I had only ever attended one salsa class before, and lets just say it’s not my best dance… However it was still great to watch all the other dancers there (some who were incredible) and see the mix of moves which were being danced to the same music. I’m still not sure I would love salsa, but it has certainly intrigued me!
The following day we set off for our wet activity. Now when in Cambridge you think of punting (which is something I had initially hoped to do whilst there), but it’s not the only way to explore the waterways. We went kayaking! A friend of Chloe’s had access to kayaks through her university college so a group of us set out towards Grantchester with a picnic. I had been kayaking a couple of times previously but many years ago so it took a while to get the kayak going straight and to avoid some of the low hanging branches over the water. However, it was a great way to explore. It was really peaceful, but was also much quicker than punting would have been. It also must have been quite a good work out given how much I ached the next day!
When we arrived at Grantchester we moored up and headed to the Orchard Tea Room which opened in 1897. Taking tea in the Orchard has become a Cambridge tradition, and many famous students and scholars from the university have spent time there. I had a plain scone with raspberry jam which was clearly very fresh as it was still slightly warm in the centre. It was delicious, and a great way to refuel before kayaking back to Cambridge. If you don’t fancy going on the water, there is also a riverside walk which takes you from Cambridge to Grantchester and it appears to be very popular.
That evening was time for our third alternative activity – a wine festival hosted by Cambridge Wine Merchants. Although I quite like wine, I had never been to a festival before and so was looking forward to the variety of wines on offer. On arrival we had to purchase vouchers for the tasters. Whilst the bar man suggested £10’s worth each, we actually managed that between three of us so consider carefully how much you actually want to drink! If I was to attend a similar event again I would look through the programme more carefully to look for things I wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to try before getting started. It was only after I’d finished that I realised there were Lebanese wines available – something which I’ve never tried before. The evening was a lot of fun and I even got to come away with a free wine glass inscribed “Veni, Vidi, Bibi” (I came, I saw, I drank)!
In addition to getting to experience some alternative activities, one of the best things about visiting someone is that you are often introduced to people that they know. My time in Cambridge was no exception and it was great to meet the people I had heard Chloe talk about – they were all just as friendly and interesting as I had been promised. Thank you to everyone who was part of my brief time in Cambridge – you made my trip to the city very enjoyable!