A follower of blogs by gifted writers, I was curious to read a women in Paris mention that, in all her fourteen years of living there, had not seen the Autumn as vivid as this year. I was not alone then, in wondering if this Autumn was something else, something more in hue and light that I remembered. It was, in London and in particular on a day trip to Cambridge.
It is a ritual with me, going to Cambridge. A refuge of sorts. Beginning with the rise from the underground into King’s Cross, home of platform 9 3/4, now complete with a face life, the station that is. Clear path to Starbucks and then the waiting, with everyone else before the black magic board. Pause, pause, platform number … engage! Lemmings we are feeding through the turnstiles and fast sitting for the journey. The child in me must never leave, dear God, as the excitement of a train trip through the countryside still counts. I have planned my life on those trips.
The spotting of the spires, tradition, and academia lives there. Ribbons of canals along the backs of Henry’s dream. A perfect Autumn day to explore, along with most of China, the cobbled streets and dusty bookstores. Heat and secret lives live here.
Always a stop at Heffers – let’s whisper, let’s not talk.
Years ago, a must to go punting along the backs, to visit King’s and have tea at Auntie’s. Now I feel home from home, so a walk through the market (where I saw my first real mistletoe), the lesser known alleyways and stopping to hear the history of St. John’s College.
Have heard the tales time and time again and tire, never. We meet at The Eagle, famous little spot for chatting about DNA and such trivial matters, but it is too Silver Street I urge them, to have a traditional British Pug lunch at The Anchor and watch the punters push off. Pubs like these still believe in full plates of grub, wholesome gravies and chips the size of a man’s finger – regret and great and a need of an afternoon constitution through Trinity. A friend is a teacher at the school so the golden key allows us access.
Every hour was a highlight to the day. Seeing cattle grazing across the river in a field so green I thought if I touched it, it would stay on my hand, like paint. Seeing the berries of bright reds, oranges and yellows claiming walls so old you can sense their moaning, and then, the crocodile … a double row of littlelies, lads as young as eight walking to evensong, top hats and capes, say ‘Evening Miss …, Evening Miss … ‘ until we watched the ‘crocodile’ fading over the hillock into the quad. Wanted to take them home, take them home, take them home.
The afternoon does not last long, and the way back to London awaits. Lights begin twinkling on the wet stones and I must leave. It will not be long though, I am always drawn here to the seasons in Cambridge and the winter beckons, with the frost and silver on the water, the eerie colleges closed for Christmas and poetic silence that inspires me ever to return.