Tag Archives: Cambridge

Day trips around Cambridge

We have been very lucky with the weather this year, less rain and more sunny spells and this only motivated me and my husband to take some day trips (in weekend only) to somewhere not too far from our home but to places which we will both enjoy.

In one of my latest posts, I spoke about the Audley End’s house. Now, I will talk about a couple more places, which are equally interesting and worth a visit, especially if you’re after some quality time with your family and do not want to fight over a table at a restaurant or wait long in queues.

Doing some research and asking friends about places they like to go, we have been given a whole list. While I do have some time for exploration and travels, Roy, is busy and available only during weekends. After some thought and discussions, we agreed to start with Huntingdon.

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One of the surprises for us was to discover that the town was chartered by King John in 1205. While a bit out of the main route, the River Great Ouse – the forth longest river in England – plaid an important role in Huntingdon’s development and success. First it grew into a market town and, in the 18th and 19th centuries was a coaching town. Huntington’s old town is relatively small and it will not be too difficult to find the river and the medieval bridge. This bridge is in good condition, is in use today and was once the main route of Ermine Street.

In 1599, Oliver Cromwell – a military and political leader, later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland – was born. Details about his life, portraits and artifacts are displayed at the Cromwell Museum. This museum is the only one dedicated to Oliver Cromwell and was opened in 1962. The building hosting this museum was once an old grammar school where Cromwell was a pupil. More information about opening times, events, tickets, etc can be found on museum’s website.

Another famous resident of Huntington was John Major who became the youngest Prime Minister of the 20th Century.

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If visiting churches are in your “To do” list, then probably you should include the All Saints church which is one of the two surviving medieval churches.

Huntingdon can be busy at times due to its proximity to Cambridge. If you are willing to travel on a double-decker bus and save money on accommodation, then probably Huntington may be an option. This town offers a choice of places to stay including The Old Bridge Hotel and The George Hotel, where each year the historic courtyard plays host to ‘Shakespearean theater’ and plays by the Bard are enacted. Hotels, BBs and Inns are ready to welcome you. I have looked on Trivago website for price comparison and the cheapest accommodation found was £47 per night for a double room!

Huntingdon is one hour – depending on the day and traffic – by bus Cambridge.

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If you want to do some shopping or bargain hunt, then consider visiting on the following days: on Wednesday and Saturday traditional markets are held. You will find them in the Market Square. Popular Farmers’ Markets are held on every other Friday and on the last Saturday of a five-week month. There is also a popular Crafts & Collectibles Market every Friday in the town’s Commemoration Hall.

Besides traditional markets, Huntingdon offers visitors a choice of independent and boutique shops. Make sure to visit Huntingdon First’s website for a full list of shops, where to find them and for any special offers.

TripAdvisor recommends a list of activities in Hundingdon. Make sure you check it, before you go. 🙂

Another place which we have visited that weekend and very very close to Huntindgon is St. Ives.

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The old part of St Ives forms a beautiful historic town on the river Great Ouse. The colorful buildings, numerous cafes and restaurants offer a wealth of choice.

On the streets connecting the main roads with the riverside you will find plenty of fine and full of character buildings. One of the main points of attraction is the 15th Century Bridge and chapel over the river. This bridge is only one of three surviving in England. Regular cultural and family friendly events including the illuminated boat parade, a stomping Jazz & Blues Festival and a unique Snowman Festival can easy entertain a family with various needs and expectations.

As in any country town, in Is. Ives, regular markets  held every Monday and Friday, large Bank Holiday markets and an award winning Farmers’ Market held on the first and third Saturday of each month. You will find lots to do.

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Around for more than a day? One possibility is to take a trip to The Old Riverport and discover the fabulous Cambridgeshire countryside.  The Ouse Washes Landscape is a short distance away. You can either hire a boat from St. Ives to explore the river network or admire the wildlife at nearby RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes and RSPB Ouse Fen.

For more information on The Old Riverport – St.Ives visit their website here.

For recommendations on what to do in St. Ives or where to eat, please click here and here.

 

We had no time for this, but surely will be back for more!

Regardless of where you go and what you do, Travel Safe and Wise!

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An Abbey and a house with something in common

 

April and May have been hectic months. Preparation and travels for Easter holidays, then more travels in May and I want to talk only about one of these experiences I have had.

England is rich in mansions, estate houses and abbeys open to the public and because we had to decide on the last minute what we will do with all the free time we had – 3 full free days – we stopped at a property known to us only from a friend’s recommendation – Audley End House.

I believe that many of you will think that this house is in Audley End, which is by the way a train stop away from both Cambridge and Stansted Airport, but the reality is that this house is in Saffron Walden.

Now that I have mentioned it, you can travel by car or if you have time and are in Cambridge you can take the bus 132 – from the train station stop no.3. The journey will take about 65-70 minutes, but it can take less than that.

Going back to the house we have visited. Originally on the same spot as the house was a Benedictine monastery. On King Henry VIII time, monasteries were closed and their possessions were given to noble families. The lands of this abbey were given to Lord Audley who was King’s chancellor. He, Lord Audley, is buried in a early classical, black touchstone tomb in St. Mary the Virgin Church, in Saffron Walden. We have been to the church but could not find his tomb.

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After Lord Audley’s death, the property was inherited by his grandson Thomas Howard, the 1st Earl of Suffolk and Lord Treasurer to James I and he built the house on the exact place where the abbey was and it was 3 times bigger than it is today.

One of the royal families came to visit Audley End and seeing how large and grand the property was, the king said that a such a house is not appropriate for the king, but perhaps for his treasurer is. Not long after this visit, the king asked the owner of the house to demonstrate the origins of all his founds to build and maintain such a house. As this request could not be fulfilled, the family was arrested but then let free on a condition to pay a fine.

I do not remember the names of all the owners of this house, but listening to it, it gave me the impression that the house is cursed. Families will have no children or only daughters in which case the house passed to some of the male cousins, or had sons but they all died at a young age.

During the WWII, the house was the headquarters of the Polish Section of the Special Operations Executive. Polish volunteers willing to join the Polish underground movement were trained here before being dropped into their occupied home country. After the war, the house returned to its legitimate owners, but because they could not cover the debts and pay the tax, the house was sold to the English Heritage Trust.

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The late owners of the Audley End’s house, Lord’s Braybrooke family now owns the Miniature Audley End Railway theme park just across Audley End’s house. More information about it here.

Today, you can visit the house, the gardens and the stables where you will see some of the horses and see the firefighters old machines.

People bring their own food and just sit on the beautifully maintained grass, in the shadow for a relaxed day. If you want to eat, there is a cafeteria in the main house and a coffee show just outside where the farm shop is – on the corner. The price for the food is reasonable and the quality is good too.

In the old kitchen, you will see some of the staff dressed like in the 19th century and in the nursery children have the chance to dress up and take pictures in some of the clothes provided – free of charge 🙂

If you fancy to read something or just relax on one of the sofas, then you can do so in the sitting room or the library. You are even allowed to read something from the collection – just ask.

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Besides its beautifully decorations, you will be pleasantly surprised of the rich collection of oil paintings (of which about 90% belong to the latest owners of the house) and the birds collection.

Take a day to fully enjoy the property and relax. It is worth your time and money.

There are more things to say about this beautiful house, but I believe that it is better to see than many times to hear about it. For more information about the house, click here.

Travel safe and wise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

House with history…Knebworth House

When I travel to London, one of the stops is Knebworth. Not a place where you would want to get out of the train and start exploring….well, not until you see the big banner inviting visitors to a historic house.

I did not know much about it before, but the picture of it stuck in my mind for a long time. Maybe because I was in search of some beautiful locations for my pre-wedding pictures 🙂 On our last bank holiday, we decided to visit this house and change our weekend routine.

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This house is famous among those groups which love rock concerts or have a special passion for film making. It happens that here some famous movies have been filmed – or at least some scenes were. Just to name few: The Kings Speech, Nanny McPhee, Batman the Movie, Miss Marple, Jonathan Creek or Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Fans of British TV series may recognize the house in some productions, such as: Flog it, East Enders, Antiques Roadshow or Saturday Morning Kitchen. For a full list of TV shows, go here.

I believe that you can check out this list for more information about movies or TV series filmed on this property.

The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Oasis, Robbie Williams and a lot more singers and bands have had their concerts at Knebworth. In 2014, the house celebrated 40 years of live rock concerts. For more details, go here.

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It is true that this destination is perfect for families with children, however, adults have plenty of things to do as well. The house is open for visit and there is the family private exhibition also open for visitors. It shows the life of the family at the time when they were staying in India.

The gardens and the dinosaurs little park is perfect for walks, picnics and just a nice day out.

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If you want to visit the house, make sure you check the opening times and if there are any events happening in any of those days. We have been to the motor show, which was very well attended.

Another thing to keep in mind is to carry cash with you. If there are events, there will be mini-shops and mobile-restaurants which will accept only cash. The house has a restaurant and there you can pay with your debit/credit card.

I hope you liked my new story.

 

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Travel save and wise!

 

 

 

One of the coziest and coolest cities in the UK

I’m in the UK since Christmas and I find this country charming. The best thing of all is the fact that I understand everything and I can make myself understood without any particular effort. It is a while since I was longing for something like this 🙂

After living in the Netherlands for 2 years, I see this new country as a fresh an exciting beginning. So, what is this post about?

Some days ago I decided that on weekend I’ll go to visit one particular city, where (accodring to some belifs) only the offsprings of the most privileged members of our society have the luck to live and study – Cambridge.

Last weekend the weather was very nice, sunny and almost no wind, BUT the sun lost the fight with the cold air, I am afraid. Was freezing and on Saturday morning it was snowing for a very brief time. I was happy like a child and wanted to run out from the dinning room to catch some snow flakes, to let them fall in my hair and to taste the winter. I had only a thin sweater and this stopped me from going outside.

One of the libraries in Cambridge
One of the libraries in Cambridge

The host was a wery welcoming lady, called Sue. Me and my boyfriend were lucky to have her as our host. Sue is running a BB in Royston, a town at just ~22km away from Cambridge. You can book a room or simply read about this place here and here.

So, what so nice about Cambridge and why are there so many tourists?

First things first. From the train station to the city center it’s a walking distance (you can also take the bus if you don’t like to walk).

On the way to the downtown there are few interesting sites, such as: Mary’s chatholic church, various restauants and shops and universities.

From Monday to Sunday, in the old market square you’ll find an open market with lots and lots of great produce. There you will find Thai noodles, Caraibean bread and sweets, high quality fruits, local meats and cheese and artisan bread. I love bread. I can eat it all the time, with almost everything, that’s why we bought some. More information about this market, go here.

Outdoor market in Cambridge
Outdoor market in Cambridge

Besides various shops and restaurants, one stands out – Jamie Oliver Italian restautant. If you would expect it to be expensive, then you;ll be surprised that actually is not (based on UK prices) and instead of having a hot dog and a Cambridge crepe or Costa, Starbucks coffee and pastry, better have a very nice meal or tea time at JO.

Walking along the streets, you can admire the old buildings that are one more beautiful than other.These buildings are where those privileged students are spending their time and where many other dream of becoming a student. I think that it’s understandable the high fees that one must pay to study there. It is not only about the place, but it is also about the quality of studies, facilities and other services that one student here will get. Not to mention the prestige and the easiness with each a graduate here will build his/her career.

Corpus Christi College in Cambridge
Corpus Christi College in Cambridge

There are several Tourist Information Centres, but apparently they do no offer a free map. Therefore, you can buy one for 1,95 pounds or use your mobile to guide you to the most interesting places in the city. On the banks of the river Cam you will see some of the most beautiful college and universities buildings. To mention some: Great Saint Mary’s, Trinity College, King’s college and Queen’s college, King’s Parade, punting and the Round church. For more suggestions, visit Lonely Planet website and Virtual Tourist website as well.

Trinity College
Trinity College

I know that this was only my first trip there and many will follow….I am waiting for some warmer days to come 🙂 Until then, I will try to explore more of the surroundings I am staying now and will keep writing about it 😉

Round Church
Round Church

Travel safe and wise!

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Sedgwick Museum of Geology
Sedgwick Museum of Geology
Cambridge city Hall
Cambridge city Hall
King's Parade
King’s Parade
King's college
King’s college
Corpus Christi College in Cambridge
Corpus Christi College in Cambridge
Queen's College, Cambridge
Queen’s College, Cambridge
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College
Trinity College, Chapel
Trinity College, Chapel
Trinity College, Chapel
Trinity College, Chapel

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