A lovely interesting day but how I wish I had a pedometer as I feel I've walked many miles (and even more ki's).
After a large breakfast, but not the full English, I headed for the Botanic gardens which are part of the University. Set in 40 acres they are not far from the Station area where I'm staying but I walked a little further than necessary having missed a turning - streets run at various angles, not a grid pattern at all. To my surprise there was an entrance fee but given that these gardens are considered second only to the Kew gardens it was well worth the money.
The gardens are set out in a variety of areas and I particularly enjoyed the Sensory garden and the historical garden walk which shows plants introduced into England and their country of origin in a time line. The various glass houses feature plants from different geographic and climate regions and I was interested to see South African and West Australian plants together and the explanation of their relationship before the separation of the continents. The tiny alpine plants, kept in a very cool glass house, were fascinating. Strolling through the outside gardens I saw two Wollemi pines, quite small at this stage. ( and this evening shopping in Sainsbury's for my dinner there was Wollemi Chardonnay from S.E. Australia- a better looking label than most of the Australian wines I've seen here).
After two hours I walked on to the Fitzwilliam Museum again to see an exhibition of Samplers I had to miss yesterday.. I am always amazed by the delicacy of this fine work and the age of many of the girls who produced samplers. There were samplers completed by girls as young as 7 and somehow I can't see many children of that age being able to produce such finely worked articles today.. There was, however, a different sort of sampler. Girls from poor families were taught more practical needlework in the Charity schools as this was a way of gaining employment in well off households. Their samplers showed tiny buttonholes or tiny garments rather than decorative embroidery. Also on display were old books of patterns for embroidery and drawn thread work. A bowl,of soup and bread roll in the cafe here, and a bit of a sit down and I was refreshed to continue my walk into the old area of narrow twisting streets seeing the Guildhall and the Corn Exchange and a market area well in operation today with local produce and handicrafts.
Time then for the two hour walking tour of the Colleges and Backs with a charming Frenchman who has lived in Cambridge for many years. He was able to give us the history of the College system which started with King's and now there are 31 Colleges. Trinity is the largest with about 1100 students, King's has about 600 and some are quite small. Darwin takes only about 90 but all are PH D students. All students at Cambridge must be a member of a College and the entry standard is very high, including an interview process as well as high marks in A levels. Although students attend lectures at the University, and various schools are scattered around Cambridge, all tutorials take part in the Colleges, very often one on one.
We visited King's and its Chapel with the magnificent fan vaulted ceiling, and learned the way the stained glass windows portray the Old and New Testaments with the upper sections being OT and the lower NT but in each window linked. Our guide told us the history of construction by the various monarchs. As we were leaving the candles in thechoir area was being lit for a service by the King's College Choir - that very famous choir which has travelled to Australia and is featured in the Christmas Service often televised in Australia.
We continued walking in the narrow streets hearing more of the history as we passed buildings such as the Cavendish Laboratories and other colleges before walking to the Backs and more views of the Colleges and the River Cam complete with punters, some more skilled than others.
At the end of the tour I was pleased to find the bus station at the edge of the old city are and took the bus back to the Train Station, did a bit of shopping on the way to my B&B and now will have my ready prepared Niçoise salad, a fresh bagel and small bottle,of Pinot Grigio while resting my weary legs.
We were told an interesting story linking Allan Turin, who cracked the enigma code, and the Apple logo but I'd like to do a bit of investigation into that before passing it on.
Despite the forecast for light rain it was fine all day, sunny in spells and the temperature reached 20. There is actually worry here about the lack,of rain and hose pipe restrictions will be put in place next month. Hope the fine weather continues tomorrow when I head to Ely.
Sorry but there is a problem with rotating photos.