Our Euro holiday ended in London but for a few days prior we stayed with my lovely niece Stephanie and her hubby Alex, near Lakenheath. Mom and I took a train down from Edinburgh to Cambridge to catch up with Stephanie as Cambridge is about an hour's drive from their home. I had always wanted to see this famous collegiate town so we spent one night in a less than lovely hotel before heading back to Lakenheath. It bears mentioning here that I used the phone app for booking.com fairly exclusively while booking on the go and have decided that if you do not want to spend the time and effort cross-referencing reviews on Trip Advisor or other website do NOT expect much from a hotel on booking.com with less than an 8.8/10 review. When reviewing, I’ve noted that you really have to dish hard on a property to get them rated under 8.0/10 so I believe the reviews are skewed towards highly positive.
Cambridge is beautiful! We had a sunny, crisp fall day to wander about and enjoyed taking in the historical vibe of the city. To enter most of the college grounds and historical buildings there is a charge so that was a bit off-putting, especially with the exchange rate not in our favor. I was looking towards a few days in London and was feeling a bit pinched on the travel budget by the time we arrived in Cambridge. We did cough up the fee to walk around Queen’s College, founded initially in 1446 and “refounded” in 1475. Outstanding buildings and grounds! The back of the property had a wooden bridge across the Cambridge River. A great place to watch the Punters float by.
You might wonder, what is Punting? Take a look at the slideshow below to see the slender wooden boats guided by young men with long sticks. That is punting. We didn’t go, which is the one thing I actually think we should have done on the entire trip that we skipped. It was entertaining to watch and listen to the young men providing their narrative as they slipped under the bridge below us.
We also went into the Fitzwilliam Museum and ate lunch in their cafe. It has wonderful collections of everything from armor and paintings, to porcelain and more. Really worth the visit and it’s free.
Stephanie also took us to Bury St. Edmund. I loved this charming village for it’s history and for keeping itself up so nicely for visitors. The Cathedral, St. Mary’s Church, and the ruins of the nearby Abbey were all excellent spots to explore. Bury (for short) also boasts Britain’s Smallest Pub--The Nutshell. I didn’t stop for a drink but then, there weren't 3 seats available! Some of the burial crypts in the ancient cathedrals have stone figures on top. A few looked quite a bit like Voldemort. I wondered if these figures inspired the artists for the Harry Potter movies.
Across the UK and Ireland; history comes to life. As someone who loves architecture, antiques, art, and all the rest, it was truly an exciting place to explore. We also visited an English Heritage site called Audley End. It is a massive house which was actually a palace all but in name. It started as an Abbey in 1538 and became a residence later in that century where King James l was entertained. It remains huge although much has been demolished. The gardens have an active stable built in the 17th century. The Kitchen Garden is run by an organic gardening charity. The home is full of paintings, books, and a bed the King slept in. It is well preserved and can be viewed on the self guided tour. The stable is well preserved as well and we enjoyed seeing the horses and playing around on the exhibit.
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