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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…

International Tourist Guide Day

Happy International Tourist Guide Day (21st February) to my colleagues all over the world! Plus, my love to all tourists, travellers, pilgrims, wanderers, visitors and guests, as well as adventurous locals – whose eyes are shining with joy and curiosity as they go for a stroll, and they are keen to explore, absorb, wonder and be amazed. Walking with you is a mere pleasure!

Invasion of Ukraine

Today I was asked by ITV New Anglia West to comment on the feelings of the local Russian-speaking community on the invasion of Ukraine.

Up until two days ago, I never believed it was possible – Russia invading Ukraine, even when the sinister signs were becoming more and more conspicuous.

The shock, and shame, and despair is beyond any description. It feels like the whole world has turned upside down. A bunch of evil criminals from my native country have unleashed a horrible fratricidal war. My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine – they are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.

PS In this video, I said the truth. I was talking to the press on the third day of the war. By then, I hadn’t encountered anyone who supported this atrocious invasion.  Later on, very sadly, I discovered that such people do exist…

Autumnal colours

Cambridge autumnal colours gradually ripen and grow warmer and juicier. Ginger-coloured mushrooms or, more likely, toadstools are perfectly camouflaged amongst the rustling fallen leaves.

The autumn term is known here as Michaelmas, after the feast of St. Michael that is marked on 29th September. It used to be much loved and celebrated with vigour and lavishness in the Middle Ages. Many a geese were consumed, apparently, as there was a common belief that a roasted goose for dinner on St. Michael’s Day would rid you of any hardships for the rest of the year!

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…

Pre-Christmas Tour – December 2020

On Christmas eve, we ventured out into the freezing streets of Cambridge for a socially distanced walk, just before the new lockdown. It was invigoratingly crisp and merry; we talked about mistletoe and fir trees, camels and festive food, myths, fables and customs, and admired some of the homemade pre-Christmas decorations in Cambridge, such as St. John the Evangelist in a Father Christmas hat on the gate of the eponymous sixteenth-century college.

Haunted Cambridge tours

The “Haunted Cambridge” ghost tours by Cambridge tourist guides continue every Friday and Saturday night at 6:30pm, from the front of Great St Mary’s Church (opposite the Senate House). Booking is strongly recommended, as the groups need to be small to observe social distancing. In anticipation of Halloween, there will be two tours every night at the end of October – beginning of November. Visit (click on Tours, to book a tour).

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