News Reel

Find out what’s happening in and around Cambridge.

Graduation in the snow!

snow falls on the graduates

Graduation in the snow!

Winter refuses to give way to Spring. The wind is bitingly cold and, on top of that, last weekend brought more snow fall. Such a shame as a graduation ceremony was taking place at The Senate House. Those thin gowns providing little in the way of warmth for those awaiting their MA’s and Phd’s.

Great St Mary’s

Great St Mary’s has served the University and City for more than 800 years. This month work started on maintenance, renovation and some key developments to this historic church at the very heart of Cambridge. Included in the program is to install large glass doors inside the historic wooden doors at the foot of the tower to allow an uninterrupted view all year round. A shop area will be enlarged and enclosed and the office and vestry will be improved. It is also intended to set an area for an education centre with programmes for schools, community groups and visitors.

The south aisle roof needs replacing and, keeping with modern thinking, photovoltaic panels will be installed!

The cost is estimated at £2.2 million of which over a £1 million has already been raised.

Contributions can be made via Great St Mary’s website:

Great St Mary's Renovation

Renovation work starts at Great St Mary’s Church

Scaffold Notice

Mind your head!

New plaque for Rosalind Franklin

We all hear of Francis Crick and James Watson and their proposal that it was the double helix that formed the structure of DNA however, an equally important person in this discovery has slipped from the history pages.
It was Rosalind Franklin, a graduate of Newnham College, Cambridge and then working at King’s College, London whose “photo 51” was crucial to the realisation of “The Secret of Life”. Sadly Rosalind was to die at 37 years from ovarian cancer and consequently was not honoured  as were the others, with a Nobel Prize.

Last Thursday, 60 years to the day that Crick and Watson announced the discovery of The Secret of Life to bemused drinkers at The Eagle pub a plaque in her memory was unveiled.

Cambridge Half Marathon

Waiting for the runners in the 2013 Half Marathon

Senate House waits

The brief promise of Spring at the start of the week was snatched from us as Cambridge returned to cold, wintry days and nights. It was snowing this morning as I headed into market! Such a shame as today saw the Cambridge Half Marathon  But, if you’re prepared to run 13 miles, a little cold snap of weather is no deterrent.Intrepid men and women of all shapes and sizes ran through the centre of Cambridge cheered on by friends, family and on lookers. Surely there cannot be a more picturesque setting for such a race?

Cambridge Half Marathon

Running past King’s

Never too Young

Outside King's College Chapel

Twins at King’s

Never too young to be captivated by our history and and the tales that go with it. Twins Aidan and Joshua are learning about the Tudors at school this term. A few moths back they saw the wonderful “Horrible Histories” perform the “Terrible Tudors” at The Arts Theatre in town. As luck would have it their grandfather is a Cambridge Tour Guide so what better place to experience the Tudors than King’s College Chapel?

We had a great couple of hours and lost count of the number of Roses decorating the 500+ year old Chapel.

Twins in front of King's Chapel East End.

Joshua and Aidan in the Choir

Pleasures of the River Cam

Spent last night at The Milton Road Library for a talk by local historian Tasmin Wimhurst. It was arranged by “The Friends of Milton Road Library” who came together initially to prevent the planned closure of their library…and they were successful! Now this vibrant library is the focal point for many activities. More than just a library.

Tasmin’s talk was thoroughly enjoyable and very informative and complimented by some wonderful old pictures.
The talk focused on the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. With the coming of the Railway in 1845 much of the commercial traffic left the River Cam for the railways, thus freeing up the Cam for leisure pursuits. Diving, swimming and punting. It also ushered in the very first boat races or “Bumps” between the different colleges.

Until it was stopped in the 1960’s there was an annual “Swim through Cambridge” event. All and sundry would jump in at the Mill Pool and swim some 1630 yards along “The Backs” past 7 of the famous colleges and ending the swim at Jesus Lock. What a sight it must have been. I for one, would love to see it re-instated and take the plunge!

United Against Fascism

UAF, Cambridge

Unite Against Fascism March

A rally by the EDL in Cambridge brought a reaction from a variety of groups, political parties, unions and individuals in a peaceful march through the centre of Cambridge under the banner of “United Against Fascism”.




Julian Huppert

Julian Huppert. MP for Cambridge



Cambridge MP Julian Huppert joined others under an array of colourful banners as the protesters snaked around The Market Square.



Earlier in the week some 200 protesters gathered outside the Cambridge Union as the French far right leader Marine Le Pen attempted to deliver a speech inside.

Le Pen had been invited by the Union. For some this was seen as a provocative invitation, bound to be controversial, while others saw it as the right to freedom of speech.

Mayor’s Breakfast

Mayor of Cambridge

Shelia Stuart, Mayor of Cambridge

A very cold Saturday morning found Cambridge Mayor, Shelia Stuart, surrounded by a sea of Hi-Viz jackets. Shelia was carrying on a tradition where, once a year, the city mayor buys breakfast for the staff of Cambridge City Council “Street Scene”. The Bin men,  Litter pickers and Road Sweepers tuck into their bacon sarnies and the like, washed down with a cup of tea or coffee at Shelly & Sarah’s kiosk on the Market Square.

Another Royal Visit

Following the recent visit of The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge we had a visit from William’s dad yesterday. Prince Charles met students from more than 70 countries at The Fitzwilliam Museum. The students are being supported to study by the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust and the Cambridge Overseas Trust, which the prince is patron of.
Later he made for The Pitt Building where he spoke with pupils from Parkside Community College and Impington Village College. Charles was dressed in his trademark double breasted suit and sporting a Trinity tie. The Prince came up to Trinity as a student himself in 1967.

Horse Free!

Red Poll Stall

Red Poll Stall

After the recent flood of reports of horse meat being found in various meat products it is little wonder that many shoppers have turned to their local butchers, to be sure of exactly what they are buying (and eating).
You do not get any more local than the Red Poll stall found every Sunday on Cambridge Market. The Red Poll cattle are reared and grazed on the meadows in and around Cambridge, eg Midsummer Common and Grantchester Meadows.
This morning the Red Poll Mince was sold out by 9.30am!
You can also enjoy a very tasty burger with a salad dressing…much tastier and far more local than a certain burger chain located only 100 meters away.

New Funding for Arts Theatre

Cambridge Arts Theatre

Our wonderful “little” Arts Theatre is to become our wonderful “slightly bigger”Arts Theatre!

The theatre, founded in 1936 by economist and King’s College alumni John Maynard Keynes attracts leading shows, plays and performances, along with top directors, writers and actors. We often see acting “heavyweights” strolling around the market square.

A £500,000 grant has been awarded following an application to the Arts Council England last September which, along with fund raising and donations will allow the theatre to expand and provide an even better venue.

New Term Starts

Full Term started today. Another intense 8 weeks of learning (and playing) for the students of Cambridge University. It was a cold, cold day but the dusting of snow, clean cold air and bright blue sky offered a fresh start to the New Year.

Fresh start to the new term


Master at Magdalene

Lord Williams of Oystermouth, the recently retired Archbishop of Canterbury, was admitted as the new Master of Magdalene College in a ceremony today. Rowan Williams is familiar with Cambridge having studied theology at Christ’s College in his youth.

Tour de France

The 2014 Tour de France is coming to Cambridge. There are to be 3 stages in the UK. Starting in Yorkshire and heading south. The 3rd. stage will start in Cambridge on 7th July and finish in London before the peleton makes for France.
Great news for our city which boats an estimated 35,000 cyclists…of course not as fast as Sir Bradley!


A Royal Visit

Duke & Duchess of Cambridge

The crowds started gathering as early as 6am. A most unusual experience for us Market Traders as we normally have the town centre to ourselves as we set up our stalls in the early mornings. But more than happy to share our space!
The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate arrived just after 10am and at 10.30am appeared on The Guildhall balcony overlooking a now packed Market Square. They both looked fantastic, waving to the crowd, William smiling and Kate radiant. Shelia Stuart, the mayor, gave a short welcoming speech and then William and Kate left The Guildhall for the short walk to The Senate House, stopping along the way to talk to their well wishers.
After lunch the couple visited Jimmy’s Night Shelter, Manor School and then off to Peterborough.
The couple appeared so at ease on their first official visit to the town since the title of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was given to them by the Queen shortly after their wedding.  I know the town enjoyed the visit and were appreciative that the couple took the time to take in the “town” as well as the “gown”.

Cambridge Guildhall Balcony


Walk at Market Square

Wow! Lights shine on King’s

White Light

Joined a small crowd that had gathered on King’s Parade to witness the computer generated light projection called “PLENUM” (see previous post for creators and their inspiration.)
A whole load of white light dots, that moved, varied in size, collided with other white dots, joined up and, after 15 minutes faded and disappeared.
Accompanied by a soundtrack issuing from speakers placed on the King’s College grass (grass normally strictly the domain of King’s Fellows only). And then it all started again. I’m told each 15 minute cycle is unique.

Light Show on King’s College

As part of the Cambridge Festival of Music a light show called “PLENUM” is to be beamed onto the east end of King’s College Chapel. They were setting up and testing as I walked home from a ghost tour this evening.

The show runs from 7pm to 10.30pm this Thursday and Friday night. Best viewed from King’s Parade.

It is a computer generated light projection created by Simeon Nelson, with a soundtrack by Nick Rothwell and programming by Rob Godman.

15 minute sequences show a series of illuminated dots, with no two sequences the same. Apparently inspired by Simeon’s conversation with astrophysicist Professor David Wilkinson and “accounts of how the world came into being and how the cosmos maintains life and consciousness …WOW! That’s well over the top of my head but I’ll be heading down tomorrow evening with the grandchildren as I just know it’s going to be spectacular!

Duke & Duchess of Cambridge

William and Kate are reported to be making their first official visit as Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the city next week…maybe Wednesday morning.
The Queen awarded them the title bearing the city’s name shortly after they were married last year. Kate did come close when she visited the East Anglian Children’s Hospice in Milton of which she is the Royal Patron.
The city has enjoyed close ties with the Royal Family over the years. Prince Charles was an undergraduate at Trinity in 1967 and later Prince Andrew studied at Jesus College. The Queen’s father, George VI and Queen Victoria’s son Edward VII were also at Trinity.


Halloween at the Mill Pool

It’s that time of the year. In the run up to All Hallow’s Eve, the Cambridge ghosts are particularly active..well certainly the popular ghost tours are. Scudamore’s and the Tourist Information Centre offer a combined tour, 45 minutes on a punt gliding along the Backs in the dark followed by a 45 minute introduction to the town’s ghostly inhabitants.
The Mill Pool punt station is suitable decorated and one is greeted at the departure point by the statue of a ghostly gentlemen who bears a remarkable resemblance to that old Rolling Stone!

Boathouse Ghost

Piano in the Dark

Piano in the Dark

I was on my way home from a ghost tour. It was gone 10 o’clock on a mild evening when I heard in the quiet of the evening, classical music in the air! Was this a musical ghost that had previously escaped my attention?
As I rounded the corner of St Mary’s Passage all was revealed….
One of the pianos stationed around town for the start of the Festival of Ideas had remained in situ. A green, decorated upright was being played by a young man. Certainly lifted the spirits!