News Reel

Find out what’s happening in and around Cambridge.

University Golf

University Golfers receive tips from Richard Beadle

The “home” course for the University Golfers is The Royal Worlington & Newmarket Golf course. Often referred to as “The Sacred None” it offers a challenging 9 holes in beautiful surroundings some 20 miles from Cambridge.
Here the young golfers receive tuition from golf professional Richard Beadle as they bid to be selected for the University team and hopefully gain a “blue”.  Along with the honour of a “blue” they are also afforded a life long generous reduction in annual subs!

The Circus Comes to Town

The Circus comes to Town

I love Midsummer Common!
It hosts many annual events, Midsummer Fair, Strawberry Fair, Bonfire Night and the circus. A place which everyone can enjoy all year round.
Walking, cycling, sitting watching the river flow and the colourful narrow boats,  seeing the rowing eights glide by, flying a kite, enjoying a pint at the Fort St George or a meal at The Midsummer House.
This week it is the turn of Zippo’s Circus. By this morning the trucks and caravans had arrived and formed a corral. After a misty day the Big Top was finally winched into position this evening. The Circus has come to Town!

Getting Ready


Big Top winched into place

Festival of Ideas

Play that Piano!

This year’s fortnight full of events kicked off with an invitation for any passers by to play any one of the 15 pianos that suddenly appeared around the city this morning!!

The University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas celebrates the arts, humanities and social sciences. This years’ theme is “Dreams & Nightmares”. Events, talks, walks and more..and it’s all FREE!!!
Last year there were over 190 events that attracted 12,000 people.
The pictures show an off the cuff performance from to young musicians on the piano that appeared opposite The Senate House.

To see a full list of events go to

Already attracting a crowd


In front Of The Senate House

Gog Magog Molly

Call to Dance

The Gog Magog Molly was formed in 1996. As far as I can make out they took their inspiration from Morris Dancers and are particularly active in East Anglia.
Tradition has Plough Monday (the first Monday after Epiphany) in January as cause for a dance. Not sure what the relevance of today’s date was but all the same it was a sight to see these colourful (and LOUD!!) characters descend on Cambridge Market Square and entertain the passers by.
For more information of the self styled
“Multi coloured menace of the Fens” visit their website at

Molly Dance


Molly Waiting

Trinity’s New Master

Cambridge holds on to many of it’s old traditions and one of these was acted out today. Just after 2pm the Trinity Bell started tolling. At 2.20pm a robed figure walked slowly down Trinity Street and approached the Great Gate at Trinity College. Sir Gregory Winter, for it was he, then delivered 3 loud knocks with the help of a stone onto the woodwork of the Great Gate. The Head Porter opened the small door to enquire of his business. Sir Gregory informed the Head Porter that he came with a letter from the Queen appointing him as the new Master of Trinity. The Head Porter took the letter and firmly closed the door in Sir Gregory’s face. Sir Gregory was now, as tradition has it, made to wait while the letter was delivered to the Senior Fellows in the Chapel for their consideration  It was well over 5 minutes before the Head Porter returned. The Great Gate was duly opened and Sir Gregory admitted to The Great Court which was thronged with welcoming guests. Sir Gregory Winter takes over from Lord Rees who retired in June.

Battle of Britain Day

Battle of Britain Day

A glorious September morning in Cambridge lifted the spirits. Spirits soared even higher on the arrival in the Market Square of a young RAF officer with a radiant smile. Davina was collecting for RAF charities on Battle of Britain day. Davina told me about her time in the RAF, her tours of duty to the various troubled spots. She is soon to re-locate to East Anglia, so it seemed the proper thing to do to offer her a guided walking tour of Cambridge! She took a card so hopefully I can make good on my offer in the future.

Because the Night

Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye were browsing Paul’s book stall on Cambridge Market on Monday. They were in town to play The Corn Exchange that evening and took the chance to take in some on the city, which, they told Paul, they had thoroughly enjoyed.
Patti probably best known for her hit with the Bruce Springsteen penned “Because the Night” and her seminal debut LP “Horses” is touring the UK following an appearance at “The End of the Road” Festival.

The Punt Chauffeur

The Punt Chauffeur

Nick is one of the few full time punt chauffeurs, working the river all year around. The punt companies hire in casuals for the main tourist season, some of whose commentaries can be “economic with the truth”! Such a shame and so unnecessary as the history, the architecture, the characters and the real stories are fantastic enough with no need for embellishments. This is not the case with Nick who has chaffered punts on the Cam for many years and is a mine of information. I’m always pleased to swap stories and any new findings with Nick. Nick recently had the honour to be one of the chauffeurs escorting the Olympic torch when it left Trinity College on a punt at 6am one very wet morning.

Cattle on the Common

Red Poll Dawn breaks over Midsummer Common

6am Sunday morning. Just had to stop and take a picture. Dawn breaking over Midsummer Common, the early autumnal mists are hanging just above the ground and the shadowy figures are Red Poll Cattle.
The Red Poll are owned by the wife of a local vet and grazed on various of the city’s common grounds. Very contented looking beast this morning. May not be quite so laid back if they appreciated that some of their predecessors’ will be on sale at The Cambridge Sunday Market less than half a mile away on the Market Square….now packed and ready for the oven! Such is nature. The Red Poll is an old fashioned breed which gives slightly fattier but tastier meat.
Busy in town today as the annual fund raising “Bridge the Gap” walk was taking place..a walk through the city and the colleges. Glorious sunshine all day.

Tweaking Trinity Great Gate

Tweaking the Great Gate

The restoration of the Trinity Great Gate doors nears completion. Today saw the left hand door lifted back into the position that has been it’s own since 1523! It reurned on a flatbed lorry from Exeter where it received a bit of tlc and some highly skilled craftsmanship to allow it to see out another few decades/centuries service, guarding the entrance to Trinty College. The right hand side door recieved the same attention earlier in the year. Just the final few tweaks and it will be ready to receive the new Master of Trinity on October 2nd –  Sir Gregory Winter. The Master of Trinity is appointed by the Crown and traditionally serve until they reach the age of 70.

Master Craftsmen from Exeter

Thirsty work as you can see by the empty coffee/tea cups…but still leaving enough thirst, those men from Exeter informed me, to make a visit to The Eagle that evening absolutely essential !

Lights, Camera, Action!

Filming in the Market Square

Filming of an adaptation of the William Boyd spy novel “Restless” has been taking place around the city for the past few days.
Locations have included Jesus Green, Madingley Hall , St John’s College and yesterday the Market Squre where The Guilhall became The Castle Keep Hotel!
The Spy drama will be screened in 2 episodes on the BBC later in the year. Actors include Haley Atwell (Captain America and Any Human Heart), Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon and Michelle Dockery.

Snowy Farr

Today saw the mayor Shelia Stuart unveil a statue/art piece to commerate the charity fund raising of Snowy Farr. Snowy died 5 years ago but was fondly known to locals and visitors alike. I remember him parking his tricyle in Petty Cury. Dressed in a red military style uniform children and adults alike would be amazed as white mice ran around the rim of his top hat while a non-plussed cat perched atop!

It is estimated Snowy raised £100,000 for charity, particularly those to help blindness. The art piece was made by Gary Webb who was also at the unveiling

Colin Croft

Sharp Lookin' Dude

One of the best things about working on Cambridge Market in the very heart of the city is that you never know whose going to be passing through. After a night and a day of rain the hint of sunshine promised a better day. I had just finished setting up my stall when I saw  a sharp looking dude walk by.
Colin Croft, one of the great West Indian fast bowlers, and now a tv and radio summariser was in Cambridge to play a part in a charity cricket match at Churchill College.
He was happy to pose for photos and sign autographs, a real gentleman.

High Water

Canoes on The Cam

What a Summer! Finished a Ghost Tour on Friday Evening just before the heavens opened! Biking home up Castle Hill in a torrential downpour with torrents of water rushing down the hill. Saturtday saw the Cam burst its banks and very high water leading to a suspension of punting as the increased flow of the river made it impossible to punt upstream. This did allow the canoeists the river to themselves!

Trinity Punts


Sunday morning and the river is still too high so the Trinity College punts remain moored to the bank. Incidentally all the Trinity Punts are named with the factor of 3 in mind. For example..”French Hen”, “Close Encounter” and more recently “Lithium” which I am informed is atomic number 3.


The Sacred Nine

Enjoyed the morning in the sunshine at The Royal Worlington & Newmarket Golf Club. I believe the only 9 hole golf course to be afforded a “Royal” title. Often referred to as “The Sacred Nine” it is a deceptively challenging course. I made several unintended visits into the woods, rough and had practise at scooping balls out of the stream! This enchanting club in many ways harks back to older old as the well worn flagstones in the clubhouse which was once a Suffolk Farmhouse. This is the “home” course of Cambridge University’s Golf teams and where the come to play, practise and receive coaching from the excellent young professional Richard Beadles.

Olympic Torch

Torch on the River Cam

The Olympic Torch left Trinity College at 6.35am this morning. After a run around Trinity  Great Court it took to the most traditional of Cambridge transportation..a punt!Despite the early start and the pouring rain crowds turned out to mark this once in a lifetime occasion. Both Trinity and St John’s had opened their gates along “The Backs” to allow the general public to line the banks of the River Cam. The torch disembarked at Magdalene Bridge and proceed up Castle Hill (the only hill in Cambridge?..this runner drew the short straw!). Past the mound where the old castle stood and before that a Roman Camp and off out of the city on the Huntingdon road…also lined with well wishers.

Olympic torch passes Trinity College

A memorable day with the Great British resolve overcoming the early start and inclement weather.

Alan Turing

Front of King's College

100 years ago today Alan Turing was born. Today in front of his college, King’s, a blue plaque was unveiled.
It states:
Alan Turing 1912-1954
Mathematician, computer pioneer and code breaker.

Turing for many was the “father” of modern computers. While at King’s he was whisked away to Bletchly Park where he, with others, played a crucial part in the 2nd World War. They broke the “unbreakable” Enigma code. Nazi messages could now be intercepted and the positions of the deadly U-Boats in the Atlantic became known to the Allies. As a direct consequence countless lives were saved.

After the war Turing, a homosexual when it was still illegal, was compromised. In 1954 he took his own life. Today marks another step in recognising his great achievements.

Honorary Degrees

Preparing for Honorary Degree Ceremony

Today saw an Honorary Degree Ceremony at The Senate House. The great and the good invited to become honorary members of the University where they step forward to receive their degree from The Chancellor of the University. Prior to the award of the degree the Orator read out aloud an appraisal of the recipients life and achievements…al in Latin! Who said Latin was a dead language. Dear Cambridge, sticking with tradition. The recipients included:

Doctor of Science
ROGER YONCHEN TSIEN, Professor of Pharmacology and Biochemistry in the University of California, San Diego, Nobel Laureate.

Doctor of Letters

Doctor of Music
ALFRED BRENDEL, Visiting Professor in  Music, pianist

May Week in June

Exams over and time for the May Balls, always held in June of course! Monday night was Trinity May Ball, last night it was St John’s. St John’s May Ball was once described by Time magazine as, “the 9th. greatest party in the world”. Parties like no other, where the students enjoy diverse entertainment from rock bands, through to classical quartets and top DJ’s while eating the finest food and indulging in the drink of one’s choice..well it is thirsty work. Tonight is the turn of King’s. King’s. always being a bit different has an “Affair” rather than a “Ball”. Either way it’s a party.

Building the Dodgem Car Round

Suicide Sunday

Suicide Sunday

Traditionally a day when students would gather to survey the notice boards outside The Senate House to discover their exam results. Today that public forum has been superseded by a private message delivered to each students inbox. However, Cambridge is reluctant as always to let all tradition disappear so today, from early in the morning, celebration and/or commiseration is the order of the day. Not a little alcohol is involved. It’s a rare day when the students are allowed to picnic and party on the hallowed lawns of their college, normally the domain of only Fellows or Gardeners.
Sun was shining, the town was buzzing and with the end of term everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves.