A couple of days rolled into one.
Tuesday we drove to Windsor and hired a boat for the day. Has anyone seen the episode of Keeping Up Appearances when Hyacinth and Richard go boating and they turn up at the moorings trying to guess which of the luxury yachts is their's and when they find it, it's a tiny little thing moored next to something resembling the QE2? Well our boat was like that - a tiny little red and white boat bobbing around on the water. It was very cute and big enough for what we wanted, so we were really quite excited about spending the day "messing about on boats" We stopped off to get some munchies and tea/coffee and loaded our supplies while waiting for one of the rental guys to come and give us a quick demo on how the boat works. I put my coffee on the little table but as the guy got on the boat it rocked, the cup fell and coffee went everywhere - good start! Hopefully not an omen for the rest of the day. After a brief demo we were off. Our starting point was the rear gardens of Windsor Castle. The Queen was in residence and the rental guy said he had seen her the day before riding her horse, but we didn't see her. Thought if she'd have seen us, she would definitely have invited us in for tea. We did get a fantastic view of the grounds and castle though. I was "driving" so Susan grabbed the camera to take pictures. After the first "click" she says "the camera is saying the memory is full" Ok guess who had left the memory card in the laptop, yep that'd be me, so no photo's I'm afraid of our day doing our best Wind in the Willows impressions. We went upstream past Windsor and Eton. It was peaceful and every now again we'd pass another boat or barge and we'd all wave, smile and nod to each other. During the day we had to pass through 8 locks. By the time we got to number 8 we just about had it mastered. The first 7 - not so good, but if anyone had videoed our efforts it would have been a contender for Funniest Home Videos. On our way back downstream we moored alongside a very posh looking country hotel and stopped off for afternoon tea, don't think we could have afforded a full lunch! We managed to get the boat back in one piece (touch and go a couple of times) We'd highly recommend having a go, it was great fun and (apart from the locks) also very relaxing. No rushing around trying to fit as much sight seeing in as possible, no dealing with coach loads of students or hoards of tourists. Just bobbing around on the river - lovely.
We left Bourton-on-the-Water, very reluctantly. Like everywhere we have stayed it's been sad to leave each place and at the same time exciting to be heading to the next one. Today we were heading to Empingham in Rutland to stay with my brother and his family. On the way we stopped at Cambridge for the day, this time with the memory card in the camera!
Wonder of all wonders Cambridge has an open top bus tour! So obviously we had to do it!! For those of you who read the blog about Oxford, you may remember that my educational institution of choice was Kings College, Cambridge. This is ever since I saw my first Christmas Eve live broadcast of carols from the King College Chapel, I still play the CD on Christmas morning. There is of course more colleges attached to Cambridge University - 31 in all and it is the second oldest university in the U.K and the English speaking world, as opposed to Oxford being the first. In fact it was scholars from Oxford who escaped rioting in the town by fleeing to Cambridge who established the university in Cambridge. Needless to say there is some rivalry between the two. The two Universities are often collectively referred to as Oxbridge. I reckon you know which one you prefer by who you cheer on in the boat race - always been Cambridge for me. Then of course there is the glamour of the Cambridge Five, the spies who defected to the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War - Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt and Donald Maclean. Plus my favourite writer, Peter Ackroyd also went to Cambridge.
There is of course a lot more to Cambridge than just the University. There have been settlements here in the Iron Age, there's been Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans and every other invader, settler and immigrant you can think of. As you wander the streets a lot of what you see though is the University buildings.
As we wandered around we were accosted by a young man who convinced us the ONLY way to see Cambridge was to go punting along the river Cam and backs of the university. Always willing to oblige we duly paid our money and sat back as a young student, Sam, deftly manoeuvred his pole in and out whilst pointing out interesting sights and facts.
After another walk around the town we headed to Empingham.
My oldest nephew, Teddy is in a band called Centre Excuse (check out their page here http://www.facebook.com/centreexcuse ) and they were rehearsing at the local cricket club, so we got some fish and chips and went down to watch. They are in the semi finals of Battle of the Bands this Saturday in Eastbourne, so we will be travelling back for the weekend. If they are successful on Saturday then the final is on Sunday. Fingers crossed!!!