Richard's Retirement Blog

Cambridge

Easter 2011

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Saturday April 24th

This, Easter Saturday, is my second night here. Yesterday I went to visit relatives in Peterborough.

Today I went into Cambridge to explore. I've visited several times over a thirty-year period, and never managed to get a grasp on how it fits together. I think I'm now a little wiser, after spending a couple of hours cycling round it.

On the way back for lunch I got a puncture. Again. Another puncture. It proved awkward to locate: that is, I removed a thorn from the tyre, but the tube wasn't punctured at that point. I used a bottle of mineral water to find it; if I'd realised, I could have used the Cam: it was only fifty yards away, and would have been cheaper.

When I got back I had the bike front hub to bits and the motor out. It's been stiff and noisy, and sure enough, there's an epicyclic gear system in there which needs lubrication from time to time. Doesn't help that, at some time, water has got in. But I am beginning to wonder what the guys who serviced it last November actually did for their money.

After lunch, it being impossibly hot, I lounged around for a while, then about four went back into Cambridge and had a couple of pints at a pub overlooking the river, watching the novices driving their punts briskly forward into a melée of boats trying to get under a bridge when there was nowhere to go. Hey, guys, these things don't have brakes! Tomorrow, I think I'll see if I can do any better. Haven't punted for a couple of decades.

1700 hrs: where's my phone? Oh, must have left it in the caravan. Never mind.

1800 hrs: my phone is not in the caravan. Eek! Did I drop it whilst mending my puncture? Back to Cambridge on the bike again (Remember that couple of pints? Car verboten!)

1830 hrs: here's my phone, edge-on in a clump of grass, just behind the trampled area where I worked. How lucky can you get? Answer: lucky enough not to have had to fix a punture! Moral: don't carry your phone in your shirt pocket.

Easter Sunday, April 25th

I cycled into Cambridge before breakfast to hear the bells of Great St Mary - very fine, and even I know enough of campanology to appreciate even ringing. The first touch was on eight bells; the second with twelve rung but the top three and the tenor not "rung in", with changes on the other eight; and the third with changes on all twelve bells. I haven't heard that for a long while.

Messing about on the river

After breakfast I went back to St Mary's for choral matins - a very rare form of service these days; then I went on the river. Well, at least I didn't (a) fall off the punt, nor (b) ram anyone else, not even the guy who chose to perform a U-turn right in front of me just as I'd decided he wasn't going to and given a hearty push to my pole, nor (c) lose control of the steering. I have never punted much, and not for many years, and it's gratifying to find I can still do it with at least reasonable competence.

It's difficult to photograph oneself punting, but here are some views of the fun:

By way of rounding off the celebrations, a home-cooked Sunday roast, with asparagus to start, roast lamb with all the trimmings, and crême brulée (bought) to finish, with a bottle of Rioja.

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