January 13, 2007

January 13: Cambridge and Histon

CB2 Bistro: Saturday 1:20 pm GMT

We had our first real adventure today. Vanessa got two bikes ready and Rob and I biked in to Cambridge. We did our best to stay to the left hand side, but, as usual, the pedestrians and even other bicyclists didn’t.

Vanessa’s Kitchen, Histon: Saturday 8:55 pm GMT

Well, I didn’t get much more than that written because I spent the rest of my connection time fighting with Friday’s photo albums. :-P

We had just as much of an adventure coming back. After the cafe our directions were to swing by a grocery store and pick up a few items. So we headed back to Vanessa’s and hoped that we’d see a grocery store on the way. As we approached the bridge (btw, the bridge’s over the river Cam are what gave CamBridge it’s name, in case you hadn’t thought of that. ... I hadn’t.) I saw a nice pathway to the left away from the cars and another to the right of a hedge that went along the road. So I chose that nice looking pathway to the left... only to find that it led to the river and the underside of the bridge. (Whereas the right hand path had led across the bridge.)

So I stopped to take some pictures. When stuck where you hadn’t planned to be, take pictures, right?

We saw several teams of punters going past with their coaches biking alongside shouting out directions to them. Then we found a pedestrian bridge across the river and headed back the way we had been going. We weren’t seeing any grocery stores so we finally stopped to ask someone for directions. We’ve tried several times during our trip here to get help from people and they generally completely ignore us, but this gal was really nice and gave us rather good directions to the nearest Tesco. Unfortunately, those directions required us to go back the way we had come. :-P

So we headed back over the bridge and up the hill to a Tesco. Rob got lost in the tea aisle a couple of times (Rob loves English tea and generally has to order it from the UK online. So he’s hoping to stock up during this trip.) and I wandered through several aisles looking for red wine vinegar and finding other little odds and ends instead (like squash. No, I don’t mean the gourds that you cook and eat the flesh of. I mean glass bottles of juice. Juice presumably made from squashed fruit, yes?)

So we bought our items, packed up the bike bags and headed yet again for that bridge. We found Elizabeth street, managed our way around the round-a-bout onto Milton and cruised down Milton. I was just thinking to myself, “finally! a smooth stretch of road” when it dawned on me that we weren’t supposed to be on Milton very long. Somehow we’d missed Arbury at one of the round-a-bouts. (Have I mentioned that the English aren’t very good at labeling their streets?)

So we stopped and pulled out the map and determined that we were near Green something street. Which I couldn’t find anywhere on the map. But I did find Kings something or other on the map and it appeared we’d have to back track until we found that. So back we went until we hit the next street and I immediately recognized it as something on the map. I pull out my map again and realize that we had just been at the street we were looking for. But instead of seeing the King name, as it’s labeled on the map, we’d seen the Green name, which I finally found labeled on that road... after you travel aways down the map and around a corner. Bah! So not only are the street signs few and far between, but the maps aren’t labeled very well either.

We were using two of Vanessa’s bikes and we hadn’t adjusted the seats like we should have and by this point my legs felt like they were going to fall right off my body. Which would have been a relief because then I’d no longer feel the pain.

We pedaled on and finally crossed over the highway (see picture from previous day) and stopped at a light.

It was a red light.

We needed to turn left.

In America, you can turn right on red as long as the way is clear, right? So I figured that in the UK, you could turn left on red as long as the way was clear.

Well, you can’t.

And you really don’t want to do it when there’s a police car right there at the intersection. *sigh*

So I got pulled over and told that it was a 30 pound (read $60) fine and they were going to let me go this time but I shouldn’t do it again. :-P

As they pulled away Rob had a wonderful time ribbing me about it (and reminding me of the debacle in Nevada as well). Turkey.

So we headed home.

I’d just like to point out that as we cycled home we passed several cars that were parked right in the driving lane. Not off to the side as one might expect, but right in the lane (as there is not space to the side). This is normal.

Cars were also parked in the opposite direction of traffic. So for Americans who are trying hard to remember to ride on the left, having a car facing you (as would happen if you were driving on the left side in the States) is a little disconcerting... until you realize it’s parked.

And there are points in the road when the council (or whoever decides these things) has put in some poles... in the middle of the lane. They’re just there. I’ve got to take a picture. I haven’t done it yet, but I promise, I’ll get one on here soon. You won’t believe what you’re seeing.

And all these things are fine. But turning left on a read when there’s no one in the way, well that’s just wrong now, isn’t it?


Like I said. It was quite an adventure.

So once we got back I helped Katie look for a dress on eBay. Rob played frisbee with Nathaniel a bit. Then we had a macaroni dinner with salad. (Homemade macaroni with tuna and green olives. It was quite yummy.) And for dessert we had chocolate covered HobNobs and leftover cinnamon rolls.

Katie ended up winning her bid on one of the dresses. (It’s a long white prom dress with ties in the back that have little roses on them and a matching purse.)

Oh, and we finally had some good beers. ... Well, “finally” isn’t really appropriate because we liked the Abbot’s we had at the Tipperary Pub and at the Eagle. But today we had some McEwan’s Champion Scottish Ale (“which was wonderful”, Rob adds) and Broughton Champion Double Ale (“that was wonderful too”, says Rob). In general we’ve found that the beers we’ve had here have had less flavor, but the two we tried today (both Scottish ales) had much more flavor.


  1. Re: Beer. My dad enjoys Hobgoblin beer, if you/Rob want to try that, otherwise, discard this :).
    As for the parking, where else are people going to park?! ;-)

  2. LOL I was gonna remind you about the Nevada ticket, too. GMTA! At least you got off with a warning!

  3. Yeah, god forbid our coppers do actual police work ;)

  4. looks like a blast, do you miss it?

  5. Yeah they do that here in Oz too. Talk about copy the Yanks...hehe

  6. we bought some hobgoblin but we haven't tried it yet.

  7. Boy, do you two complain a lot. I'd hate to see you somewhere really exotic...

  8. Boy, do you two complain a lot. I'd hate to see you somewhere really exotic...

    The kids think you getting pulled over is HILarious :-)

  9. In Raleigh, on Hillsborough Street, cars are parked in the right lane anytime other than M-F, 8-5. Which drives me nuts on the way to school because you'll have a blank mile then a car then a block then a car...

  10. "Cars were also parked in the opposite direction of traffic. So for Americans who are trying hard to remember to ride on the left, having a car facing you (as would happen if you were driving on the left side in the States) is a little disconcerting... until you realize it’s parked."

    here, if youre parked facing the wrong direction and somebody hits you, its your fault (happened to one of my friends)...i wonder if its the same there?

  11. Are you going further north at all? You'll find that (up to a point) the further north you go the better the beer gets. One of my personal favourites is Theakston's XB.

    If you end up going westwards let me know - we're about 30 minutes from Stonehenge so you could call in for tea :-)

  12. I used Cambridge as my camp between Christmas and New Year 1989. I came to England from Germany where I had the Christmas of my life as the Brandenburg Gate was opened a couple of days before Xmas. I had the adult version of Inter Rail card which allowed me to save quite a lot of money by lodging in Cambridge and taking the train to London each day.

    As for the beer, I swapped one of those London days to a train trip to Burton which is the beer capital of England. After a tour in the Bass brewery museum the Bass folks in the brewery pub were kind enough to instruct me on some very interesting local pubs, including a small pub that brewed their own ale and another one that served Bass right from the barrel without pumping it. As I was not in Cambridge on day time, I never visited the pubs in town.

  13. we're heading over to nottingham tomorrow to see ivy. i don't have any clue where stonehenge is. i haven't looked it up. i had forgotten that you were over this-a-way. :-}


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