An Afternoon in Cambridge

Last week, I hopped on the train from Liverpool Street to spend an afternoon in Cambridge. I’d managed to book some £6 tickets in advance, and I couldn’t wait to have the day to myself, doing whatever I wanted and exploring a city relatively unknown to me.

It felt such a treat to just relax and read on the train journey, which went by very quickly as I read another Murder Most Unladylike novel (they’re absolutely brilliant). In fact, it was reading Mistletoe & Murder over Christmas, which is set in Cambridge, that mainly inspired my trip. I couldn’t put off my cravings for Chelsea buns at Fitzbillies (which Robin Stevens’ characters seem to devour at every opportunity) any longer!

I’m much more familiar with Oxford than Cambridge, as I used to visit Sophie (my fellow Tea & Tattle co-host) regularly in my undergrad days and stay at New College with her. Cambridge, on the other hand, is little-known to me, and I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in the past (you can read about one of my former visits here). It’s such a beautiful city, though, and so easy to get to from London, that I feel determined to explore it more thoroughly. Happily, too, I now have some friends who live there, providing yet more of an excuse to visit.

On arriving, I decided to pop into the Fitzwilliam Museum, which is home to a beautiful collection of paintings and ceramics. I was especially keen to see their Impressionist paintings and lingered in front of some enthralling works by many of my favourites: Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and Renoir.

As it was a bright sunny day, I resisted the temptation to stay too long at the Fitzwilliam Museum (making a mental note to explore it more thoroughly whenever I’m in Cambridge in less clement weather), and instead went for a saunter along the twisting, cobbled streets. Keeping well clear of the cyclists whizzing past (there seem even more cyclists in Cambridge than in Oxford, if that’s possible), I ambled along, happy to let my feet go wherever looked interesting.

I stumbled across some of the city’s famous bookshops: The Haunted Bookshop, G.David and Heffers, all a treasure trove of delights for the serious bibliophile. I resisted making any purchases, although I’m already regretting some of the pretty Georgette Heyer and Elizabeth Goudge editions I left behind in The Haunted Bookshop. I’ll just have to go back!

After strolling about for over 2 hours, my hands, gloved though they were, started to get very cold, and I decided it was definitely time to find a cozy corner at Fitzbillies and tuck into one of their deliciously warm and gooey currant buns. I’d arranged to meet a friend of mine at the cafe, but got there a little early, so pulled out another book I’d brought with me on the train and happily read (you know that scene in Gilmore Girls when Rory is debating what books to bring on the bus and winds up with a whole backpack full? I’m certainly her soul sister).

The buns were just as good as I’d remembered, and I happily chatted away to my friend until it was time to catch the train home. Of course, I bought some more Chelsea buns to bring with me back to London!

Have you been to Cambridge before? Do you have any recommendations for my next visit?