209: Cambridge

OS Explorer map 209, Cambridge: Royston, Duxford & LintonI own this map, and I have visited it before starting this blog. Visited for this post on 11th December 2017.

I have lived in Cambridge since 2015 when I started my second undergraduate degree, in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNC/ASNaC) – I’m now on the MPhil course – at the University here, and I am in Cambridge at this very moment. (I’m going home to Northamptonshire for Christmas on Friday.) So, to start off this blog as I intend to go on, what did I do there this day, this first day that I “visited” this map since starting this blog, er, today?

Well, my good friend Erithacus, a fellow ASNaC, came over to my room so that we could do work in each other’s company – this is admittedly sometimes much less successful than it could be. However, I needed to go to the shops to get myself some milk [1], but I wasn’t sure what time Erithacus would be turning up. Therefore I left my keys covered by a leaf under a tree outside my house and sent her the following pictures to show her where to find them to let herself in if she should arrive while I was away.

I proceeded to Sainsbury’s and obtained my milk, along with some spinach, tea, and wrapping paper, however they did not sell lever arch files, which I needed as I hoped to do my term’s filing today. I therefore went into town and purchased them in Ryman.

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I was sure that I took a picture looking down Sidney Street at Ryman to put on the blog, but it seems to have disappeared from my camera, so perhaps I am remembering things falsely. Therefore, Google Street View to the rescue.

Before coming back to my room, I decided to climb to the top of Park Street Car Park to see what could be seen from the top. It was a questionable decision, as the view really was awful, plus the top of the car park was closed to cars because it was extremely slushy and slippery, it having snowed a few days ago and not yet entirely melted.

I then returned home, Erithacus arrived (after I did, so the key-hiding was unnecessary), we did some work and some not work, and ate some sandwiches for lunch (pesto, cheese, spinach, salad cream, and some French goats’ cheese and pepper flavoured crisps that I’ve had lying around since summer). I did my academic filing for the term, but have yet to do my more general archive filing – I have some folders in which I keep things like letters from friends, tickets, receipts, flyers, and just general bits of paper that one acquires when doing life.

The most notable thing about this day, however, was that I started this blog! The idea had occurred to me the previous night and I then proceeded not to be able to get to sleep for a long time because I was thinking about it. I have had vague thoughts about doing a blog for a while, but the immediate inspiration for this was that I spent far too much time yesterday (I think about three hours) watching the videos of the truly wonderful All the Stations, a couple who travelled this year to every train station in Britain; their videos are just lovely, full of interesting little observations and funny little silly things, and people they met on the way. Obviously I am going to be nothing like their production – theirs is all professionally produced and funded and such like, but that was my immediate inspiration to turn my map tracking thing into a blog. So that happened!

Previous visit(s)

So, this being the place where I’ve lived for two and a half years, I can’t really tell you what I did last time I came here. Therefore, just a little selection of things from the last year that I did in Cambridge.

Erithacus and I are the co-Presidents of the ASNaC Society, our subject society which mostly just does silly social things. After we were elected (unopposed), we had to be officially sworn in, a procedure that occurred along with the other committee inductions, by means of drinking after our predecessors from the Society’s mead horn. [2]

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Our presidential induction!

Our Society does various things, but one regular event is the annual Yule Play, a silly sketch show of very niche humour relating to our section of medieval history and literature with which we entertain the rest of our Department – a few of the lecturers even usually turn up! I’m probably going to regret posting this as it means you will be able to track down various videos of me doing silly things on stage, but Yule Plays past, including the most recent one, can be seen on the ASNaC Society’s YouTube channel.

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The poster advertising the 2017 Yule Play, featuring me covering my real beard with a false beard.

This year I finished my BA in ASNaC (it was a two-year degree rather than three because of it being my second undergraduate degree), and so I had a graduation! I didn’t in the end graduate at the default June date but in October, because on the default date I was in London on an Ancient Greek course, and Mother Dearest was in Canada. [3]

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Me graduating earlier this year, having my hands taken by the Vice-Chancellor as he admits me to my degree.

Punting is something of a traditional summer pastime in Oxford and Cambridge, and so after we had finished our exams this summer, my friends and I decided to take a whole day and punt down to Grantchester Meadows. Alas that day Cheremy and Millicent had to leave early and walk back after lunch, but the other three of us punted back up to town in a leisurely fashion.

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Me in a punt with friends Vesper, Millicent, Erithacus and Cheremy

I’ll leave that there for now; another post will come soon, as I went to Millicent’s house to visit him and thereby entered a brand new map! But now for the first map of maps that has some green on!

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[1] I have somehow never managed to break my childhood habit of drinking a glass of milk when I wake up and before sleeping – in fact, now that I think about it, that must be a habit I have had literally since birth. Well, apart from the glass bit. I am also a rabid fan of Cravendale semi-skimmed; I have done blind taste tests before, and it’s just the best milk, ideally served at about 8 degrees Celsius. A similar taste test for orange juice showed I’m not nearly as discerning there.

[2] Unlike in Oxford during my physics degree, when I made my friends in my College and barely knew any other physics students, my entire social life in Cambridge is with friends from my subject; that’s rather atypical for Oxbridge, I’d say, but ASNaC is an unusually closely-knit and sociable subject because we’re so small  and have things like our little Common Room in the English Faculty.

[3] Alas, in Oxford I didn’t get to graduate with my friends either, that time because, due to strange rules of the physics course there, I couldn’t tell the University that I was planning to leave with a BA after three years – rather than stay the fourth and get an MPhys – until after my third year exam results, and so I couldn’t book on to the default graduation for my 2015 year as they didn’t know I was graduating yet. Then in 2016 I missed graduating with the people who were just finishing the MPhys who had started with my, because I was in Iceland on a summer course learning Icelandic.

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