After reluctantly farewelling Ireland we took the car ferry to Cairnryan we spent a very pleasant evening in a delightful B and B just a few minute from the car ferry. My first (and probably last) time ever staying somewhere with a TV set into the bathroom wall, water-proof remote even!
Then a fairly long drive to North Dockenbush to spend a very quick day in York. We weren’t planning on making York a highlight, but we probably should have with the stunning York Minster and fascinating Shambles.
York Minster, one of the largest churches of its kind in Northern Europe, towers over the city. We were there on Sunday so its bells and those of the also beautiful St Wilfred’s were pealing with joyous enthusiasm.
I had vaguely heard that The Shambles was worth visiting without really knowing what it was, so we dutifully Googled Mapped our way there and spent a very enjoyable hour wandering this crowded street with houses dating back as early as the 14th century. While now packed with tourists, the jostle and noise probably has some similarity to when it was a bustling market street.
Then on to Cambridge where we had a chance to spend four days with Christian, see his ‘dungeon’ digs for the year and be thoroughly entertained by the inrush of freshers for freshers’ week. Watching teenagers who had obviously never ridden a bike before negotiating the narrow streets, often with shopping dangling precariously from their handle bars (with I suspect with a beverage or two already consumed) was both entertaining and downright dangerous for the pedestrian spectator!
I love Cambridge. I love the fact that everyone cycles or walks. I love that the city is intertwined with the university. I love the individuality and beauty of all the colleges. I love seeing that much maligned species “the youth of today” passionate and excited to learn. Observing and listening to these young adults gives me great optimism for their generation.
For us it has been a huge sacrifice making the decision to let Christian follow his dream and study here but Im pretty sure its worth it. Already after a year here he has a world view and experience that he wouldn’t have got if he stayed in NZ and he’s also making the most of every opportunity that comes his way. (Still sounds like a Kiwi though!)
We did a couple of days trips while here; firstly to yet another cathedral, this time at Ely. What a gorgeous town! We climbed the tower (vertigo alert!) which may not have been a good idea for me as by the time we got to the top of the last tiny flight of stone stairs I was fairly traumatised, but I got back down safely so that was a good thing!
Then a visit to the delightful Audley End House, a (mainly) 17th century estate. With a fully working organic garden and the house beautifully restored to looking how it did at its heyday it was an excellent afternoon’s expedition. We had the added bonus of seeing the ‘Normans’ ride in as part of their journey to celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.
Our trip now racing to its end, we headed down to London, dropping off our trusty and now very dirty hire car and keen to spend a week in that great city. We were still not really ready to go home!