Cambridge Journal: Day 3

Today was a LONG day. Still haven’t snapped a picture of the dining hall, but I got a ton of pictures today. First thing we did after class was to head out see the Folk Museum that was closed yesterday. On our way there we passed by a shop where I had to indulge my habit:For those of you who don’t know, I collect scarves. I know, it’s a strange thing to collect, but there it is. I started with traditional English football scarves when the Kansas City support club has some special ordered for members. From there I got an original first season KC scarf that was only given to the first people who showed up to the first game as a present from a friend. From there I branched out to favorite SPL and EPL teams, and then to college scarves and then scarves that I just found interesting or fashionable to wear. At first I was rather indiscriminate about the football scarves, but then I decided I was only going to collect or wear scarves for places I actually had a personal connection to. So, I still have things like my Newcastle Utd scarf, but I never take it out and wear it because I have nothing to do with Newcastle Utd. But here I am going to school at Trinity Hall in the University of Cambridge, and I may be a “summer student” but I am here, so I feel it’s a legit connection. This is certainly one of the funnest and coolest things I’ve ever done and want something to remember it by/brag about having done it, so it was natural for me to add a University of Cambridge and Trinity Hall scarves to my collection:

These things are actually kind of a big deal, being a conspicuous social status thing, sort of like a class ring to a prestigious school or pin for a respected fraternity are in the States. About the college scarves for people who don’t know: you know how in Harry Potter stories they all went to Hogwart’s but were in different “houses”? And each house had colors and they wore them as ties and scarves? That idea is taken directly from English public schools and universities like Cambridge. There’s the University of Cambridge, but all these colleges are like separate schools that just have all this shared history in the same town.

But I’m digressing. There is so much more that I did today and I need to get to it. After we left that store we went further into the city center. They don’t serve lunch here myself and another KU student stopped at Sainsbury’s (which isn’t so much like WalMart like I said yesterday, but is more of a grocery store), and got some quick snack food, and I even remembered to convert things into dollars to remind myself of what was actually expensive or not. Walking around the general area I also took a picture of it:

There’s all this really cool historical stuff and decent shopping, but then there’s also the market area which is full of utter crap. Except late at night when the burger wagons roll in. But seriously, it’s like a giant Spencer’s or Hot Topic came and vomited its tackiest merchandise right in the middle of this place. But on the other side is one of the coolest churches ever. Weird. So ☝cool stuff and ☟utter crap.

I guess they also sell legitimate market stuff there like flowers and vegetables and stuff, but it’s so crowded out by the Family Guy T-shirts and “funny college humor” stuff, not to mention the touts and homeless people. Who are usually one and the same. I guess at least beggars here actually try to sell you something other than a sob story. They’ve got all these toothless glue sniffers who stand around trying to sell magazines to people walking by, although the one guy who plays his guitar can actually sing decently, which is something, I guess.

These are my touring companions in the Folk Museum. It wasn’t really what I thought it would be, but it was kind of cool. I’ll post more pictures over on my Myspace album, but here are a couple for RA:

A Lambretta scooter from the “England in the 1960s” temporary exhibit. Later on I saw somebody riding a vintage Lammie, so that was cool too.

And some obligatory touristy nonsense in the courtyard outside.

This was after the museum when we were walking over to the other side of the Cam. This is a direction we took yesterday, so I think we just sort of did it again without thinking about it. I tried to make a panorama view of two photos because I thought this street just looked neat.

One of my friends bought a football (it’s illegal to call it a soccer ball here, I think) when I was in the store getting a bacon and chicken wrap, so when we got tired of plodding along the road we stopped at this park near the backside of King’s College and kicked it around. We ended up a little further down at another park area near an intersection where lots of people were, and it was funny that as soon as the ball came out almost everybody’s heads turned to watch it. It’s not like we did this out in public to show off or anything, part of it had to do with pure spontaneity, the other part had to do that we have a very beautiful lawn, “Latham Lawn”, right outside our building in Trinity Hall, but doing anything on the grass is forbidden.

I just wanted to show you this. This is a bike lane. Traffic here, if I haven’t mentioned it before, is pretty wild. I don’t feel safe on the sidewalk, I certainly would have to work up some nerve to ride a bike on these roads.

We walked back over the Cam, but instead of turning north to go home, we turned south just to see what was down there. We found the Fitzwilliam Museum, which was free and had an amazing collection, not to mention it seemed to be bigger on the inside than its already large outside. So that ☝ was our cultural high brow moment of the day. This ☟ was our cultural low brow moment today.

These fine examples of working class Englishmen were hard at work erecting scaffolds for restoration construction of a very nice church near the Senate House building, and of course we just couldn’t resist taking turns photographing ourselves near their truck…

I get a kick out of this: I actually belong here. I know it’s not as a permanent student, but still, it’s a very cool feeling to be a part of this incredibly cool thing and this prestigious and historical place.

This is what the outside looks like, if anybody was curious. There is the gate pictured there, which I’m standing in, in the preceding picture. At a certain point during the day they close the big iron barred gate and you have to go through the Porter’s Lodge, which is an office with doors on either side of the iron gate in the gate tunnel. The Porters are these very formal guys who are like butlers but not, I guess, and are in charge of the grounds. They are very polite and helpful, and do things like tell you where the best pub to watch a World Cup game are from, assign you your room, sign out the key to the computer room (which is literally a computer room, as there is only one computer in it), tell you to stay off the grass, that sort of thing.

My window overlooks Latham Lawn, like I’ve shown before. The people in this photo are KU students and the people I hang out with here. I snapped this picture after we got back from walking around as I was up in my room getting ready to go eat dinner. We like to sit in the shade of that tree during the off hours and do our readings for class or just shoot the breeze. There is also a bridge you can’t see off to the right, and people stand on it all day taking pictures, sometimes of us. The punters (English gondoliers), or a group of them that I think may be rogue punters as opposed to the organized businesses, moor their punts across the bank about twenty or thirty feet to the right of that willow tree, coming out of a canal ditch thing. They are these scruffy sort of young guys who do a lot of lounging around in the sun without their shirts on singing pop songs a cappella, maybe because they’re trying to be cute for the girls walking over the bridge or maybe because they’re bored out of their minds. I don’t know. Tourists can also rent punts and take them out on their own, which provides us free entertainment during the day, because they often have no idea what they’re doing. I took a picture of this group, who were having all kinds of trouble:

They lost their pole and floated around for a while, then the man stood up and was going to get into the water to rescue the pole. Then someone remembered there was a small oar stowed on the punt, so we didn’t get to see anyone jump into the river after all. We were a bit disappointed, and that lady in the blue standing up was sort of put out with our being an audience. For us it was a bit of role reversal, I suppose, because a lot of the rental punt groups, along with the people on the bridge, interact with us via funny comments as they go by and see us sitting up there on the wall.

There’s one of the rascally punters there, and also up in the corner is the bridge that people stand on and take pictures. I’ve been over there on it, and it really is a great view down the Cam and of several colleges in a row on its banks. King’s College, which is right south of us, is large and ornate. Those two punts with the black and white floorboards are the Hall’s punts, and the rumor is that we can check them out from the Porter’s Lodge. Then WE can be loud, silly and dangerous on the river! Did I mention the dangerous part? The people who rent the punts are always running them into each other, it’s like bumper cars on the water out there.

This is the Senate Lane right across the street from Trinity Hall. It’s how we get into the city center and points beyond, though I suppose there are other ways. Past the lady on the bicycle is our group of KU students who walked out after dinner to watch the Netherlands play against Uruguay in their World Cup match.

I took this photo for my friend Johnny, who I’m sure would like this place. An authentic “Northern Soul” club in England. This was after we walked halfway to the pub we were originally going to, went into a different one instead, watched the first half of the match and then were walking back to a different bar to watch the second half for reasons I didn’t bother to ask.

I was up in my room when one of my new friends called me down to sit on the ledge and hang out. Coming out I looked up and thought the lights of my room made a neat scene, so I fetched my camera and took this shot. It didn’t turn out as well on screen as I thought it looked IRL, but there you go. If I didn’t capture the mood to share with you at least I will be able to use it as a prompt to remember it myself. Very pleasant evening…



Filed under Cambridge Journal, Learning, Right Living

2 responses to “Cambridge Journal: Day 3

  1. Gayle Pulem

    Monty-sounds and looks like you are having a wonderful experience.

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