Sunday, 30 November 2014

One woman's struggle with a train window

'Escaped to the country' for a spot of Christmas shopping when the mere thought of attempting it in London gave me severe palpatations.

I haven't visited Cambridge in such a long time, and I missed it. Just under 50 minutes on the train (and only 20 from my front door - train (I timed it, because I was late as ever)), I figured I could spend just as long travelling to various shopping areas in the capital, so a spontaneous decision was made!

Even more spontaneously, I text mother on the off chance that her and dad weren't already headed for an incredibly busy weekend, only to discover that their Saturday was also clear of any social events, so we arranged to meet!

After my panicking that I was going to be the last person to set foot on the train, probably as the doors were closing, despite waking at an unearthly time on a Saturday, I actually made it in good enough time to walk allll the way to the front so that I'd have less walking to do at the other end (genius).

The journey was beautiful; forgotten music from the depths of my SoundCloud in my ears, magical colours in the sky and a distant mist making for a very pretty vista. Directly opposite me sat a woman beneath an open window which shewas trying desperately to close to no avail, to my left (I sit sideways on trains; naughty) two suited men discussing photo shoots and football, and on the 4 seats in front of me, a middle aged lady with a foul mouth and a lacy jumper I'd probably wear too if I were 20 years older.

I arrived only fifteen minutes later than mum and dad, but already they had gone ahead and found a place for a hot drink. So I joined them, and we said our hellos, caught up on important events from the past week or so, and decided on a plan of action for the day!

Admittedly, on my last Christmas shopping excursion, I left feeling a strong sense of alliance to Norwich. I feel as if I might have actually written about it a year or two ago! I decided that Cambridge did not feel quite as festive as it should, and that the lack of independent shops made finding small and unique gifts quite difficult. 

Nevertheless, it felt so good to be back in the city; it's definitely still one of my favourites, at any time of year! I walked through all the little back-streets to meet mum and dad, admiring unusual door knockers along the rows and rows of cute terraced houses. No twinkling lights on trees in windows yet, but a wintry chill in the air still had me feeling festive.

A second mug of Earl Grey to kick-start me again after my early start and hypnotic train journey, and we were off! One thing Cambridge certainly is equipped with is an abundance of Charity shops. So while mum and I were actually managing a 'sweep browse' of Primark, dad was browsing in charity shops along the road. When we reconvened, he produced a Moomin book to add to the collection; I do adore Tove Jansson! This might even mean I actually get around to doing some reading over Christmas (I doubt I'll get beyond children's literature, but it's a start at least?)!

It's not usually necessary to spend much time at the Grafton Centre end of Cambridge, but we lost ourselves in Hawkin's Bazaar for a good amount of time; me dropping almost everything I touched, mum making cringe-worthy jokes about her purchases to the shop assistant and dad trying his hardest to pretend he wasn't with us (not really, we're all as bad as each other)! Playtime over, we popped in and out of a few more shops via biscotti and olive tasting before making our way to the city centre.

One huge advantage Cambridge does have over Norwich is Fopp. Fopp! I love Fopp! In fact, I could spend a lifetime in Fopp. On this occasion I had a time restriction in the form of our lunchtime reservation, but I still managed to make three film purchases. A notorious film novice, I have recently been expanding my film horizons, and Fopp is a place I like to buy the ones that jump off the shelf at me (sometimes literally) because they're often only £3, so even if I discover they're not for me, I've not even spent the price of a cinema ticket! Elf, I'm sure will be watched within a matter of days, but I think I'll save the other two for more dedicated film-watching time.

Once upon a time there was a Christmas hat impaled on that chimney.

Lunch was at Pizza Express, in the most fancy Pizza Express I have ever set foot in! Set in the historic building of Pitt Club, this restaurant did not even have signage outside, so it was very quiet indeed. There was no piped music, the floors were carpeted and books and black and white photographs of club members lined the wooden panelled walls. We all said as we sat there that we could quite easily forget where we were (and on a side note, the Christmas menu looks amazing)!

After lunch, we wandered along the most historic part of Cambridge, past the different college buildings which looked particularly glorious in the winter sun! Another point to Cambridge comes in the form of Heffer's bookshop, where mum and dad lost me in the children's section as I spent Christmas money on a plethora of picture books (perhaps for school, perhaps for my own reading pleasure).

We definitely picked the right end of the day to be in the area, as the setting sun behind the buildings made for a very beautiful skyline above the market. Before I knew it, it was time to head back. Of course we stopped for a final tea along the way, and to give me chance to sort my mass of shopping bags. Absolute saints that they are, my parents took most of my purchases home with them to avoid me having to take them on a million train journeys back and forth between Cambridge, London and Norfolk. So I left with two small bags; my DVDs, school milk bottles with paper straws for future cocktail drinking, my Moomin book and a Christmas present to pass along.

Despite knowing that I'll always see them again relatively soon, saying goodbye to my parents is always sad, and I don't know why but saying goodbye at train stations always seems that little bit more moving. Films have dictated that time will pass in slow motion, and tears will be shed (they weren't, but you get the scene I'm setting). A fond farewell said to Cambridge, mum and dad, I headed back to the Big Smoke for an evening in the cinema with my dear cousin; I just never stop!

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