Weekly Summary or Cambridge Through the Eyes of Children

I finally took a couple of days off work and visited Cambridge with my sons. I suppose somewhere deep inside I was hoping to inspire them. I was inspired to apply to Oxbridge by the sight (when I was visiting England for the first time at the age of 14) of a random girl coming out of a college house in her gown opposite Magdalen College in Oxford and waving to the porter there.

Newnham College – or my favourite shortcut.

We stayed in university rooms (although sadly, not in my college, because it doesn’t allow any under 18s), walked everywhere and chatted about the pros and cons of a Cambridge education. I was very pleased that they fell in love with some of my favourite haunts: Heffers, Grantchester Meadows and The Orchard Tea Gardens, the gardens of Selwyn and Wolfson, even the atmosphere at The Eagle.

The romantic backs, which makes Cambridge feel so much quieter than Oxford.

The tourists were over-abundant and every college seemed to be under construction or renovation. The cakes at Fitzbillies were no longer quite as delicious as those of yore, and the (non-formal hall) food at my old college was still reassuringly bad.

Still my intellectual home, which meant so much to me.

I have talked before about how much Cambridge meant to me at the time: intellectual and physical freedom after being cooped up under the Communist regime; lifelong friends; unforgettable memories. But what did it mean to the boys?

The gardens of Selwyn.

Well, they said they liked it but when asked what they liked about it, they were unable to elaborate. They clearly have not inherited my capacity to gush! Perhaps, as someone once said about the glorious architecture of the colleges, it is all wasted on the youth. After all, the colleges were built initially to accommodate (more mature) fellows.


15 thoughts on “Weekly Summary or Cambridge Through the Eyes of Children”

  1. They do say youth is wasted on the young, don’t they. Obviously Cambridge is too.. 🤣😉 I visited when my then BFF was at Cambridge in the 1980s and loved it, as I did Oxford when I visited another friend at the same time. But then I just suffer from an academic inferiority complex I think!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  2. So glad you took the time to give your sons a visit to Oxford, Marina Sofia. Even if they didn’t gush about it, you gave them memories that they will always have. Lucky them! You also let them get to know that side of you just a bit. And those ‘photos are lovely.

  3. I’ve also done the Cambridge rounds (Heffers included!) both with my boys and now my grandsons! Sadly my sons did not end up going there, for the rest, we will see… One never knows when inspiration will strike.

  4. One day I will get to Cambridge. It’s quite a trek from Wales but I’m curious to see how it differs from Oxford. I used to love Oxford but the number of tour groups spoil it. Why do they have to go round in such a gang?

  5. It sounds like you had a lovely trip with the boys, so many memories and stories to share with them. As Margot has said, even if they didn’t go overboard about it, at least they now know how much Cambridge means to you. And well done for fitting in a trip to Fitzbillies – that’s always a treat.

  6. Lovely post Marina Sofia! I went to Oxford as a mature student – I realised I was (just!) old enough to be the mother of my fellow undergrads, but I still had a wonderful time 😀 Like Cambridge is for you, Oxford is a very special place for me. So it’s never too late – whenever inspiration strikes!

    1. I was reasonably mature (well, a postgraduate at least), and I think that helped me appreciate everything more. I can completely understand falling in love with the Oxbridge experience, just like I can imagine some people finding it odd and oppressive.

      1. Agree – I think I may well have found it oppressive at 18. As it was, I had several years of NHS work behind me, so I was used to working under pressure within a large institution with rules that didn’t always make sense, people with odd titles somehow related to hierarchy, strange dress codes and a language all of its own 😀

  7. I feel so homesick looking at your beautiful photos! It sounds like you had a lovely trip, and I’m sure your sons will come to appreciate it at some point!

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