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A willow crown and cardboard visitors

In case you didn’t know or perhaps never really wondered where King Charles III spent his student years, Trinity College, Cambridge, is declaring it to the world. They are displaying a delicate willow crown, hand-woven by its skilful gardeners. It’s on the lawn right next to the famous apple tree, glittering in the sun, and is meant to remind us of Charles’s efforts towards sustainability and protecting the environment.

On Saturday, 6th May 2023, some also spotted bright-coloured new arrivals in Queens’ College, next to the Mathematical Bridge. No comment…

8th March

Do you find sometimes that certain special days in the calendar are linked in your mind and memory to particular colours?

For me, the International Women’s Day has always felt bright yellow – the colour of first spring flowers and sunlight. And mimosa, shining, fluffy, fragrant mimosa…

Today, I’ve found out that the official colours are purple, green, and white, chosen over a hundred years ago for their symbolism. Purple apparently stands for justice and dignity, white for purity, and green for hope.

I couldn’t find much purple on the streets, but there was plenty of white on green today in Cambridge, due to a striking wet snowfall that lasted almost all day!

Well, let’s mark 8th March with reflections and spring flowers, or whichever way you prefer.

Happy Birthday, DNA!

This is not a beer advert! Although it would be quite appropriate to drink this beer today, to celebrate the anniversary of a ground-breaking discovery.

Precisely 70 years ago, on 28th February 1953, at lunchtime, two respectable gentlemen ran into The Eagle, Cambridge, in a state of extreme excitement. “We have discovered the secret of life!” they declared out loud.

Their names were Watson and Crick. In the era predating Twitter and Instagram, the poor chaps had to make their way from the neighbouring street to break the news to their drinking mates in person. They had just cracked the structure of DNA, a molecule underlying all forms of life. Admittedly, we now know that a few other names were also behind this discovery, some undeservingly overlooked – Erwin Chargaff, Rosalind Franklin, Raymond Gosling…

“Eagle’s DNA” is a great ale, apparently, very smooth, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. And what is your favourite type of beer?

New year starts in October!

Guess on what day a working week starts at Cambridge? Perhaps on a Monday? No such luck! A new academic year traditionally begins on the first Tuesday in October, after harvest, while lectures kick off on Thursday (i. e. today). So weeks are numbered “week 1”, “week 2”, etc, from Thursday to Wednesday!

During the first (Freshers’) week, hordes of students matriculate at their colleges. This means that they sign in a register. The word goes back to the Middle Ages, when unauthorised youngsters could simply walk in and start studying – magnetic swipe cards hadn’t yet caught on, I presume! This chaos needed to be stopped, and all proper students were asked to write their name in a “matricula”, a roll or register, with a quill pen.

Some colleges still keep up the tradition, although they’ve replaced a quill with a fountain pen, for the ease of use…

Good luck to the graduates!

Graduation ceremony is in full swing in Cambridge; slightly unusual timing but there is still a lot of catching up to do from last year. Yesterday, over 500 smiling, happy people proceeded to the Senate House in orderly, regularly spaced out groups, wearing all sorts of colour linings on their hoods – scarlet silk for PhDs, blue for MPhils, light-blue for MEds, and white fur for BAs, to name but a few. Let’s wish them good luck for the future!

Cambridge scientists in a shop

I popped into Ted Baker’s the other day – not to browse through their garments, of course, but simply to look at the interior, and was pleasantly surprised to see some familiar Cambridge characters on the wall. There was Isaac Newton’s rough-hewn image with a piercing gaze, a strikingly young and handsome Lord Rayleigh, and a heavily bearded old Darwin deeply engrossed in his thoughts. ‘What a great idea’, I noted, ‘male scientists as role models to inspire the customers to aim high’.

Then a grand staircase leading to the women’s department caught my attention – and I was almost flying up the stairs before I knew it, in the anticipation of a close encounter with Rosalind Franklin perhaps, or Dorothy Hodgkin, or Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Guess whom or what I saw there instead? Just a couple of dead birds on the wall…

Cambridge scientists and dead birds: inside Ted baker's shop in Cambridge

Larger groups can now meet!

Guiding larger groups is now possible on the streets of Cambridge. According to the new rules:

– Gatherings of up to 30 are allowed outdoors since 17th May 2021. Hence, our guided tours in Cambridge are returning to the usual group size of maximum 20 people.

– Indoor guiding (if and when it becomes possible) will still be in goups of maximum 6 people, plus the guide.

– Social distancing is still important, but it will now be people’s *personal responsibility*, i.e. it will be up to individuals to decide how far they wish to distance themselves from each other. (As a guide, I will need to make sure there is enough room for everyone to be comfortably positioned on the narrow streets of Cambridge!)

– Tracking and tracing will be carried out as before.

Guiding larger groups is now allowed outdoors

Round churches around the world

Our Round Church in Cambridge is not alone – she has sisters around the world. Guess where these two are!

Three Round Churches

Peep at the answer

The Temple Church, Temple, London EC4Y 7BB

Santo Sepolcro, Brindisi, Italy

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (The Round Church), Cambridge, CB2 1UB.

We are back on the streets!

From the beginning of this week (29.03.2021), we can meet in groups of six outdoors, or larger groups as long as they are no more than two households. Hence, Tangential Cambridge is resuming its tours, which will comply with COVID-19 regulations. Watch this space!

A small group of “punters” outdoors

Excellent news from King’s College Chapel

Excellent news from King’s College Chapel: guided tours are now being offered from Tuesday to Friday this week only (half-term) at the following times: 10:00 – 10.45am, 11:00 – 11.45am, 1:00 – 1.45pm, and 2:00 – 2.45pm. After this, public tours of the Chapel will be offered every Saturday from this coming weekend (31st October) until the end of term. To book:

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