Just past Platform 9 and ¾ at King’s Cross station, you’ll find the Cambridge Express waiting to whisk you away. Just fifty minutes’ journey from the hustle and bustle of central London, we’re heading to the green and pleasant land, where AA Milne sat on the banks of the Cam and dreamed up the 100 Acre Wood, and C.S. Lewis pored over medieval manuscripts in Magdalene library…
> The marketplace
A quick cab trip from the train station, the daily market in the central square has been the heart and soul of Cambridge since Saxon times. Allow a leisurely half hour for some browsing: you’ll find everything from gorgeous Hellbunny prom dresses fit for a heroine and vintage fur coats for a steal, to the Cheese and Pie Man’s stall (one of my personal favourites!). Don’t forget to grab brunch in the form of Nutella-strawberry-topped goodness from the Belgian waffle stand!
> A College tour
Two minutes from the marketplace, enter St John’s College and stroll across the beautiful Bridge of Sighs – named after its Venetian predecessor – and cast yourself as a star-crossed romantic heroine! Winding along the river past the peaceful punts through the gorgeous College grounds, leave John’s through the Narnian-style gates and complete your walk through King’s College: let your first view of the incredible 94-foot Chapel through the trees take your breath away.
> An American-Style Lunch
Coming out of King’s, pop into the sidestreet behind Corpus Christi College for our lunch date at Smokeworks. This scrumptious spot serves up succulent pulled pork burgers, sweet potato fries and strawberry milkshakes spiked with shots of bourbon! Perfect for a bit of Deep South escapism!
> Catch A Bit of Comedy
Cambridge has a long and glorious comedic history – think Monty Python, Mitchell and Webb, Stephen Fry, and (my personal hero of hilarity) Ed Gamble, of ‘Almost Royal’ fame! Let’s get tickets for a Footlights Smoker at the ADC Theatre.
> Cocktails With A View
…Which is just around the corner from one of my favourite spots to sip a strawberry bellini and watch the sun set over the spires of Cambridge. One of the city’s best-kept secrets, walk through the glass doors of the Varsity Hotel and take the lift up to the top floor. Here, plush sofas look out over a sweeping panorama view of this gorgeous city – and the attentive waiters will even bring you blankets to snuggle under with your cocktail once the sun has set. It feels so very Italian and E.M. Forster-style [another Cambridge alum]!
> An Arabian Nights Dinner
Alas, as the day ends, it’s time to bring our Cambridge jaunt to a close. But there’s one last stop on our trip: en route back to the train station, we’ll stop for a delicious dinner on Mill Road, home to some of Cambridge’s most unusual independent restaurants. My pick is always Bedouin: the incredibly decorated interior, draped with gorgeous materials and with small poufs to perch on, feels like eating inside a Moroccan riadh. The incredible North African cuisine – I recommend the hummus drizzled with olive oil and diced marinated lamb or the ‘bastilla’ [pastry parcels stuffed with coriander chicken, toasted almonds and turmeric, dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon] – never fails to disappoint, and is the perfect way to end our day of academic escapism!
Caroline [Sparkles and Crumbs] writes about living a quaintrelle life whilst working 9-to-5. She lives in Cambridge, but her heart belongs to Rome (and Gregory Peck). She also co-hosts the podcast FabulosiTEA.
> Xandra Recommends: The Sparkles and Crumbs Guide to the Hollywood Greats