2 July 2006

I got up around 7, woke Matt up about 7:20, and the girls around 7:40. We had a continental breakfast in the hotel, then checked out, and walked up to the church to catch the 9:24 am bus into Cambridge. Much of our day was going to be dictated by the bus schedule – there were only four each way all day!

We got in around 9:35 am, and I hustled us all down to the enormous and beautiful Roman Catholic church by the rail station. ("Our Lady of English Martyrs" – one of the more unusually named Catholic churches I've heard of.) We got there during the homily, so "officially," we missed mass again. (We slept through last week's.) But we did stay for the rest of it, which was nice.

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Doesn't the side remind you of Notre Dame?
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From there, we walked down to the College's. We paused for snacks (samosas for the girls, chicken tikka Panini for Matt). We went to the Peterhouse College chapel, and the Pembroke College grounds.

Katie in front of Fitzwilliam Museum on the way to the Colleges
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Peterhouse Chapel
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Matt in Pembroke College
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We tried to get into King's College (not until 1:15, and then only until 2:30) and Trinity College (Matt and Katie wanted to see the original, hand-written stories of Winnie the Pooh that they have) but the latter never opened at all. But around then Katie started complaining of her legs being sore, and Jenny of being too hot, so we checked on the price for a guided tour by punt of "the backs." It was 20 pds (less than the 26 pds we'd been quoted on the street yesterday), so we took it.

The punting was insane! There were punts everywhere. Fortunately, we had a master punter, John, who earned his Ph.D. in Middle Easter Archaeology at Darwin College (named for Charles D. and built around his family home! He actually went to Christ Church). He dodged all the crazy punters and kept up a running, fascinating monologue.

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For example, Trinity College (home to Isaac Newton, Rutherford, and 13 Nobel prize winners) is the richest College in Europe – it was started as just that by Henry VIII and only has been building its endowment. It's now worth some 2 billion pounds. (1 pd = 1.7 US dollars.) He had a great story about some students at Clare College who created a mock granite ball, like those on the Clare Bridge, and pretended to struggle with its weight as they pushed it over the bridge and into a punt–whose Japanese tourist occupants all jumped into the river! Unfortunately, one of those occupants was the vice-chancellor of Tokyo University, and the students were "sent down" (expelled). Who cares if it's true? It's a fun story.

We passed the "Eagle Pub" whose name was "Eagle and Child" (!) when Crick and Watson used to hang out there, and even first announced DNA to their colleagues there. Matt said that that's the difference between writers and genetics scientists. When writers (Tolkien, Lewis) see "Eagle and Child," they call it "Bird and Baby." Crick and Watson called "Eagle and Child"—"Eagle." And that's why it has that name today.

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We had a great lunch at a Greek restaurant. Jenny was bumming about Mommy not being there, so she made me a deal that if I posted this movie, she'd cheer up and try to have a good time.
Click on the picture to see the movie
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After punting, we took a walk through King's College. The cathedral was AMAZING (but we couldn't take pictures in there). It was enormous and richly detailed. Both Matt and I agreed that, other than St. Peter's, we'd never seen a grander church. We walked the grounds.

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Yes, those are cows in the background, behind King's College on the other side of the Cam. Brits love their cows!
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Then, we spent our last hour in the Fitzwilliams Museum, an amazing museum with mummies and Grecian urns, and Renoirs, Monets, and a Van Gogh. (Where we also couldn't take pictures.)

This statue in front of Fitzwilliams, and Matthew, are Jenny's "two weirdest things."
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We got back in time for the 3:25 bus back, but it never showed! At 3:55, we were starting to get worried about catching our train, so we took a taxi instead, had the taxi wait as we grabbed our bags, and then rushed back to the train station. At this point, both girls were complaining that they felt like they were going to throw up! Oh great–I think it was the combination of the heat, not enough food, and trying to read in the back seat of a zooming and swerving taxi. Fortunately, there was a Marks and Spencer ("Marks and Sparks," thinks Barb as she reads that line) in the railway station, so we grabbed food and drink, then sat in the shade and waited for our train.

The information person suggested skipping the first one, a commuter train, and taking the second one, a direct train. Unfortunately, she must have told that to lots of people–the train was completely packed. Matt and I stood the 45-50 minute ride in to Kings Cross, and the girls sat in the luggage compartment!

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At Kings Cross, we did finally stop and visit Platform nine-and-three-quarters.

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The tube travel went flawlessly this time.

My intrepid travelers! They are really good about traveling.
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We got to Paddington in time to catch the earlier train…which was so delayed that it left later than our planned train (which itself was delayed behind the train we were on.) It's 8:24 as I write this, when we planned to be in by 8:16, but we hope to be back at Worcester soon.


Addendum: We got in at around 9:15. At 9:30, everyone realized that (post-feeling sick in Cambridge, and post-long journey) they were starved. Matt and I had cereal, Katie had cheese and milk (she did eat lots of fruit earlier), and Jenny had a ham sandwich. We have odd meals.

Once again I wonder how crazy I am to take three children to someplace I've never been before in a foreign country. I hope to sleep better tonight–they're home again!