Everything was fine on the way here, my train was on time, I got a nice comfy seat, nobody tried to harass me at any stations. I arrived into Cambridge about 8.30 and was looking forwards to my week in this bastion of British culture - a world renowned centre of excellence - that's my thing. I got a cab to Wolfson Court, one of the halls run by the very prestigious Girton College which was hosting our meeting and thought I'd just be in time to tea and the treats of one of the old Cambridge colleges and their famous dining hall food.
What a load of crap!
Firstly I was too late for dinner by a whisker. I later found out that this was probably for the best as dinner was absolutely dire, but I was hungry and wanted food. I know, thinks I, I'll head into the historic centre for some tasty local treats, that's what I'll do. I asked the college porter (who was nothing like the stereotypical image of the forelock tugging toady that I was hoping for) if he could direct me into town and he gave me a quite complicated set of instructions which didn't fill me with much hope.
And so off I trotted.
Wolfson court seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. A desert without pub nor restaurant for miles. I realised I must have taken a wrong turn and started on the ¾ hour walk back when a taxi came near and I waved it down and got a lift into town - with the payment of £8.00 of course.
But the centre of Cambridge isn't really much fun at 9.30 on a Sunday. Not much fun at all.
I wandered around for a bit, passing the Pizza Hut and McDonalds in search of food - but nothing. It was worse than my last trip to Exeter when I found everything closed there. Yes, if I'd known my way around I would have been able to find something good I am sure, but I didn't know my way around and apart from fast food there was nothing.
"Can I phone a friend Chris?"
Excellent plan. I called some of my sciency friends who were also attending the conference and who knew Cambridge better than I and they gave me directions to a pub they knew where we could meet and said I might be able to get food - of course I couldn't, but at least I had hope.
So what did I get for dinner today?
Two bags of crisps, a packet of peanuts and a Topic bar. Yum yum yum yum yum.
I did manage to get a few pints of excellent beer, but nothing I would really call food. It was a lovely pub - the Anchor - on the river Cam with people punting by. It was everything you could want from a Cambridge pub, the river, punters, Cambridge student types saying "Oh ya?" and being generally rowdy and rude, but there was no food. Bertram Wooster would not have approved.
And in other respects my first impressions of Cambridge aren't great either. Take for instance the room I have been given (photos below). I think considering the fees for the conference are £480 for five nights this is a little crappy to say the least. Even if the food turns out to be absolutely fantastic I still think it will be hard to justify charging nearly £70.00 per night for a room of this mind boggling crappiness.
No doubt things will improve and everything will click into place and I'll have a lovely time
starting tomorrow, but on first impressions I would have to give Cambridge on a Sunday evening a
big thumbs down. Lets see if they can make amends tomorrow, if they don't I'll start rooting for
Oxford in the boat race.
Some really excellent strawberry fudge I brought with me for just such an emergency. I know it was made in Wales but the very act of bringing it with me reminded me of home and made it extra special tasty. I think it would have been pretty good anyway.
This really isn't much for £70.00 per night and
this is all there was, I haven't missed anything
as I was standing against the wall when I took these.