252 Reviews

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Date of travel

March, 2015

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Adult family

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No one would call Cambridge a wilderness and a bright March day with Omar Khayyam’s picnic on the Backs or in a chauffered punt is paradise enough for anyone.

Fitzgerald, who translated the Rubaiyat, once had rooms opposite King’s College although he chose to spend the last decades of his life in a secluded cottage deep in Suffolk. That was long before Jim and Helen Ede bought four derelict cottages and created Kettle’s Yard, the “cathedral of the pebble,” not to mention an eclectic collection of ancient and modernist art open to the public and undergraduates alike. On the day we looked in the visitor’s book showed signatures from many different places. Come summer the addresses will be world-wide.

Kettle’s Yard is just outside the old city centre on the north side of the Cam. Across Magdalene Bridge is the college with Samuel Pepys’s library, including the famous Diary transcribed by a Fellow of Magdalene, and Jesus College, a mixture of medieval and modernist building. Further on is Trinity, where few unless they hear a tourist guilde mention it will notice that Henry VIII holds a chair leg instead of sceptre. The exchange was made, apparently, in days when May Week ended in daredevil escapades, by an exuberant graduate. Presumably the original was never found.

Along railings through the centre there are always posters for concerts, drama productions, meetings and lectures so nobody need feel at a loss for things to do in the evening. By day there are numerous cafes, bars and restaurants. St Michael Hall, formerly a church often has an art exhibition as well as very good value snacks and lunches.

Currently the Fitzwilliam, with the Ashmolean at Oxford the two finest provincial museums in England, has the two bronzes recently identified as by Michelangelo. They are on view in the Italian room, which in its own right has a stunning display of Tintoretto, Titian, Veronese and Canaletto. These days, fortunately, photography (without flash) is permitted so it is good to be able to place one of the sculptures in context with a Tintoretto Adoration.

The sculptures were the focus of this visit but who could ignore the Impressionists in the French room? Similarly enviable is to have one’s lunch next to a display of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth maquettes.

A day in Cambridge can be tiring but well worth any effort. There is a shuttle bus from the station and – as long as you remember your car registration – Park and Ride is convenient from all four cardinal points.


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