Sutton Hoo, the early-medieval ship burial site near Ipswich, was only an hour or so from where we were staying, but it was closed so we took ourselves off to Cambridge instead.
Cambridge had fewer tourists than Oxford, but there was no shortage – in fact our arrival increased the total by four. A solution to the crowding, one that seems to have been put into effect at King’s College Chapel, was an entrance fee so high that the punters would self-ration their sightseeing. Greg says he remembers crying poor and rationing himself out of the tour entirely to take a free rest in the sunshine outside. Peter, Charlotte, and I paid up. The magnificent carving, fan vaulting and stained-glass windows were worth it, of course, and Greg’s memory, possibly still scarred by the shock of the entrance charge, is completely wrong. He did pay, did wander awe-struck around the Chapel with us, and was, with us, overwhelmed by its magnificence.
After the Chapel we went for a stroll through the Backs (a bit of geographical name dropping for you: open parkland where several of the Colleges back on to the River Cam). The flowers growing against the sunny wall at Clare College looked particularly wonderful.
For lunch, after a couple of false starts we ended up at a Jamie Oliver Italian restaurant. The verdict was edible enough but not very interesting. Oliver’s restaurant chain went into receivership one day later; perhaps other customers shared our opinion. On the whole, however, English food seemed very much better than it was thirty years previously. There had been plenty of upside potential…
On the way home we took a slight detour to visit Anglesey Abbey, a National Trust property with a Jacobean(ish) house, quiet gardens, and a working watermill. Our favourite room was the library, and there is wonderful collection of clocks.
[How innocent this all seems in retrospect. A year after our visit the Anglesea Abbey website is warning people to stay away: ‘All our houses, gardens, parks, toilets, cafes, shops and car parks are now closed to further restrict the spread of coronavirus. Anglesey Abbey, Gardens & Lode Mill are closed, please do not travel.’]