A visit to Cambridge

Churchill College
Churchill College

Now had I made the connection earlier, and realised it was Wimbledon final weekend, I might not have agreed to go to John’s College reunion with quite such alacrity! Especially if I had been able to predict I would miss the Federer-Murray match. But there we were – two excessively wet days in Cambridge – and managing to enjoy ourselves without the tennis. We arrived (via Stansted and a hire car) on Saturday morning, met an old friend and ventured out to the village of Madingley for lunch in the picturesque Three Horseshoes. The food was excellent, although I was slightly alarmed to start with that there was no vegetarian main course. An enquiry brought a selection of three or four which were read out to me – but why not just put them on the menu?

Three Horseshoes, Madingley
Three Horseshoes, Madingley

After lunch, we had a damp walk round a few of the ancient Cambridge Colleges:

King's College
King’s College
Pembroke College
Pembroke College

When it got too wet to stay out any longer, we took refuge in the Fitzwilliam Museum where we enjoyed a special exhibition The search for immortality: tomb treasures of Han China. The jade burial suits were amazing, and I was also particularly taken with this little tiger (seen here on a postcard) dating from around the second century BC:

Tiger-shaped bronze jie
Tiger-shaped bronze jie

And so to the Reunion Dinner in Churchill College. It was interesting to put faces to names which had previously appeared as characters in John’s anecdotes, often involving some kind of unseemly pranks, but the highlight for me was meeting someone he didn’t know at all – my Medieval History Professor who, I discovered, had been a Fellow at Churchill before moving to Sheffield in 1972 . Although presumably well into his 70s now, he was instantly recognisable. He didn’t remember me, but we had a chat about the courses I studied with him between 1975 and 78, and he was very pleased that I had sought him out – to the extent that he said I made his night. It made me happy too.

In the morning, we took advantage of a break in the weather to wander round Churchill. Although not as pretty as the old colleges, Churchill, which was 50 years old last year,  certainly has advantages in terms of space (see panorama at the top of the post). The buildings could be on many post-war campuses, but I guess not all will have so many sculptures (including one by Barbara Hepworth). Here are some highlights:

Churchill College Chapel
Churchill College Chapel
Barbara Hepworth: Four-square walk through (1966)
Barbara Hepworth: Four-square walk through (1966)
The Master's garden, Churchill College
The Master’s Garden, Churchill College
Bust of the founder, Churchill College
Bust of the founder, Churchill College

Our flight back wasn’t till 6pm, so because the rain was really heavy again, we looked for somewhere undercover to go on the way back to Stansted. Although it’s on an old airfield and there’s a bit of a walk between hangars, the Imperial War Museum at Duxford fitted the bill. Planes aren’t really my thing, but for an afternoon it was enjoyable and I did get to climb aboard the prototype of Concorde, which was surprisingly small:

Concorde, IWM Duxford
Concorde, IWM Duxford

We managed to listen to a bit of the tennis in the car on the way back to the airport, but by the time we landed back in Glasgow it was all over. Oh well, there’s always next year. I expect Andy Murray is saying that today too.

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