Tue 8 Oct - Cambridge, England

A significantly quieter day after yesterday's euphoria. Thanks for the memories, Al... And yes, a very different concert today than yesterday.

After a later breakfast than normal, we joined forces and walked eastwards along river Cam for a short while before departing to follow our own interests for a few hours.

This is how Hans ended up walking...

A few pics along the river, which here had more of a rowing than punting focus. The buildings on the other side of the water did all belong to various rowing clubs and colleges.

A lone rower was exercising among the canal boats.

OK, one more pic as the rower's reflection in the water looked so good.

Hans then meandered away from the water with no particular purpose and stumbled onto this open area where Domino's pizza did a major campaign. BTW, the walkways here go diagonally across the square park like an X and where they meet in the centre is called "Reality Checkpoint". Why not?

Hans thought that he may wander through Cambridge University Botanical Gardens, but no. All closed up, with 2 levels of fences. No signs of what to do or where to go. Oh well...

The "mystery" was revealed by accident around the corner. They want you to pay to enter their botanical garden. £4.50. No way. In Hans' view, botanical gardens should be free and regardless, Royal Botanical Garden in Sydney looked heaps better from what he could see and is free of course. Hans moved on.

It is interesting that cattle can be found in various places around and within Cambridge. Some of the university benefactors require them to be there as part of their arrangements for bequeath of funds. These guys were next to a busy inner city centre road.

And how to control the cattle. Cattle grids and gates for pedestrians and cyclists to pass and to keep the cattle inside.

We met outside a Kings College at 12.30pm as agreed, but first Di's events for the morning.

Di continued along the river path until it ran out then turned back towards the historical centre of Cambridge. She wanted to see a few more historical buildings and headed first to the Round Church.

The Round Church is the 2nd oldest building in Cambridge and pre-dates the university by about 100 years. It is a unique round Norman design (only 1 of 3 remaining) and fairly plain but still interesting. The road outside was the old Roman road through Cambridge, which then became a trading town, before turning to an educational centre. So this was a place where people stopped for comfort and prayers along their journey.

Hans took a photo of Di at the entry later in the day.

The Round Church nowadays seems to have a huge respect for telling history and is full of panels about the development of the church, Cambridge, overall British history and scientific development at the same time. Impressive - and this is the only place Di has been where information brochures were in 18 different languages, including Swedish, Hungarian and Portugese.

A quick break for a drink at Patisserie Valerie (Di studiously avoided the pastry counter) and then onwards to St John's College. This college costs £5 to get in, which seems unnecessary and perhaps a bit greedy considering the wealth of these colleges. No government funding, all benefactors, covering everything from maintenance to paying 100 Fellowes.

Hans took another photo of Di at the entry later in the day.

Inside the first courtyard of St John's with their large chapel to the right. Some old stones are showing in the grass and these were both grave markers and old foundation markers for the original hospice here.

The following photos are courtesy of Di returning later for a quick few photos once she had the camera.

The entry to the chapel has this great statue - Lady Margaret Beaufort (mother to King Henry VII and the first benefactor) holds the college in her hands and stomps on the head of ignorance. Very appropriate.

When you get inside you are reminded of some accomplishments of past students - internationally renowned engineers, doctors and scientists. Di recalled that we heard that Trinity College (next door) alone has produced 30 Nobel Prize winners.

The chapel is very grand and ornately decorated with a carved and painted vaulted ceiling. Di was admiring this, all alone in the chapel, when the organist hammered out his first practice hymn for today - she jumped! Spooky, very Phantom of the Opera.

Di followed the marked "tourist route" and came to the Bridge of Sighs. Oops, got that wrong yesterday - we thought it was Trinity's but it turns out the grand lands and the bridge belong to St John's. Lovely. You can't walk the bridge unless you are a "member" but you can cross another nearby and get a great view.

The Fellowes all seem to be based between the road and the river, with students accomodated in the grand building near the large fields. Di stuck her head into a few staircases in the Fellowes Building and laughed when she read 2 only for 1 staircase. They were Dr Watson and...Professor Schmit. Where was Sherlock Holmes?

Di was running out of time so did a quick exit and detour to The Eagle pub to book a table for dinner for us tonight in the RAF room. She met Hans at 12.30pm as planned.

After joining forces outside Kings College, we wandered north along Bridge and then Magdelene Street towards the river, picking up some lunch along the way (Hans fish and chips, Di just a cup of soup). We found a spot next to the Scudamore Punting Company's premises by the bridge where we could have our lunch.

While we were there eating, a whole bunch of freshmen arrived. It may have been some kind of induction or team building exercise using punts, but for a while it was utterly chaos. Very funny to sit there and watch the young people trying to organise themselves. When instructed that they could go, they all pushed out into the narrow stretch of river at the same time, with the expected result - crashing into each other and/or the opposite wall.

We were both a bit knackered after yesterday's huge day, so decided to "take the afternoon" off. We went back to The Waterman where both of us had an afternoon snooze.

Afterwards, we set out for our evening activities. First back to Kings College where at 5pm we joined a queue for the evening Choral Service inside the Kings Chapel with the full Kings College Choir to perform.

The main gate looked great in the evening light.

No Di, you are not a Fellowe... But the temptation was too much and she did actually touch the grass. Hans threatened to dob her in...

A first for everything - we are queuing to attend a church service. Not something that we are known to do.

Inside the Kings Chapel, we were respectfully reminded with signs and words that this was a church service and as such not allowed to take photos. We've included this one from yesterday outside services so you can understand how lovely it was and where we sat.

We sat close to the organ end of the chapel, on the left near the choir in the second row. The whole chapel was candlelit. The full boys and men's choir sang and the organ played and with the fantastic acoustics, it sounded just great.

We were told yesterday that there is no echo here inside, but instead it has a 6 second decreasing reverb throughout the chapel - meaning the end of a musical note can be detected up to 6 seconds later.

The service continued with readings from a young choir boy, then the chaplain read Psalm 41 then a Fellowe did another reading - all quite good although Hans' ears pricked up at a mention of a "contentious woman"...who could they mean? "Quest for seeking the truth" sounded a bit odd too in a religious environment, but heck we were in Cambridge. Nice enough though to be in a church where one of the prayers was dedicated to learning, exploration and seeking of scientific fact.

A great experience even for lesser religious people shall we say.

When the service finished we found our way to the famous Eagle and were pleased that we had reserved a table. The Eagle is very popular with students and tourists alike and it was very busy inside but we were given a good seat in the RAF room and quickly ordered beers and then dinner. Hans settling into a more comfortable atmosphere.

We could not help studying the "smoke burned" roof markings and trying to identify names and squadrons.

In the end, we had a reasonable steak, good drinks and a nice dinner out in an old nice pub with a difference.

We should also mention that the Eagle did not have your usual pub crowd and chatter. We could not help over-hearing a large group at the adjacent table. They appeared to be new Post Grad students and in the process of getting to know each other. They were making introductions and explaining what they were here to do. One guy mentioned his quest - a study of origins of diseases (using mice) to see if the disease's origin could be used as a determinant for the likely contagion time lapse and future progression of the disease in a human. You can't help but being inspired by these people.

Coincidentally when we got back to our room we found an episode of Big Bang Theory just starting on TV, where Sheldon got to meet his childhood TV science hero, Professor Proton and explained the inspiration for his future studies. Perfect timing and very funny episode with Bob Newhart as Professor Proton.

Good night from Cambridge and tomorrow we are moving to that other university town, Oxford.

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