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the other place

Travel — July 2012

Last month Camilla and I went to Cambridge - known in Oxford as "the other place" - for the day, to meet up with one of her PhD supervisors who was visiting from Australia.

We didn't have that long - the drive there takes over two hours - but we managed to fit in:

  • lunch in Darwin College, with Tony and his sister-in-law (a calligrapher turned botanical artist)
  • a walk along "the backs", where a row of colleges back onto the Cam
  • a visit to the chapel of Kings College (which I have to say leaves Oxford's cathedral seeming rather pokey)
  • a wander around the markets, where I picked up copies of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and HRF Keating's Dead on Time
  • a quick visit to Sydney Sussex college (most of the colleges were closed for exams), where Tony explained the story of Cromwell's head
  • a visit to David's Bookshop, which has a nice mix of antiquarian and new/remainder books

And on the way home Camilla showed me around Hinxton, where the "Genome Campus" is, so I'd have some idea what we'd be letting ourselves in for if she got a job there, and we had dinner in the Red Lion there.

Overall, my first impression is that Cambridge is nicer - as a tourist - than Oxford. There's a larger central pedestrianised area, which makes for a more pleasant experience than trying to negotiate Oxford's High St. And, perhaps because the Cam is less of a flood problem than the Thames/Isis or Cherwell, the Cambridge colleges seem to use the river more.


  1. Hmm....Oxbridge, the home of Philby, Blunt, MacClean and company. Then, there were also Roger Bannister, Chris Chataway, and Herb Elliott( an Aussie). They are just a few of the big names of recent years I can think of on different ends of the spectrum. Oh yes, Alan Turing on the centenary of his birth.

    King's Chapel, you certain can't help but notice it at Christmas or Easter. Try this : the King's Chapel choir strutting its stuff.


    Comment by DL — July 2012
  2. Newton and Hawking and the Mathemtical Tripos loom much larger for me than the Soviet spies or the athletes.

    Comment by danny — July 2012
  3. Of course, the list of luminaries is endless. Names like Howard Florey, Bertram Russell, Fred Hoyle, Joseph Needham, Roger Penrose are some of the great minds of 20th. century. They were or are professional scientists or thinkers.

    It is the other list, of those who passed the portals of Oxford and the other place. Oxbridge was a hotbed for misguided young radicals like Guy Burgess et al. On the other hand Oxbridge was also responsible for moulding some of the great athletes of the last century, with names like Harold Abrahams, and Roger Bannister.

    Comment by DL — July 2012

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