Saturday, November 25, 2017

More Cambridge

We began yesterday by sleeping in and then eating at our hotel. Our rate includes a full English breakfast, but I opted for cereal -- old habits die hard!

Then we walked into town and went to Jesus Green, where Olga had a great time chasing her tennis ball. This is one of the pathways across the green leading into town.

We walked toward the downtown market area and passed through a small park called Christ's Pieces, where this small rose garden had been established in memory of Lady Diana. I tried to pose with Olga, but of course she was distracted.

A lot of religious naming has gone on in this town -- as you can see, this small street is called Christ's Lane. We stopped for coffee at a Starbucks along this street, and I sat outside with Olga while Dave went for the coffee.

Olga walked toward an Arabic-speaking man at an adjacent table, and got no closer than about four feet when the man muttered "Excuse me" to me, and waved her back with his hand, sneering. He was sitting with a pile of taped-together luggage and speaking volubly on his phone. I try to be considerate of the fact that some people don't like dogs, and I know from my time in Morocco that dogs are not looked kindly upon by some Muslims -- but still, that sneering expression really annoyed me. I pulled her back but said, "She won't hurt you, and she's not that close to you."

Was I culturally insensitive? Probably.

And then Dave emerged with the coffee and no sooner did he sit down than workers with a jackhammer started up in front of an adjacent shop. We beat it out of there.

We went to the town's outdoor market, where I found this very peculiar sculpture. It was erected in honor of a guy named Walter "Snowy" Farr, who apparently used to dress in eccentric costumes and raise money for charity in this area. Here's a page about him and the sculpture. That is not Snowy Farr in my picture -- it's just some guy who insisted on standing there while I took it.

I found an interesting book of photography by Lynne Cohen at a used-book vendor's table. The photos all depict stark, rather peculiar interiors. It's very weird.

We walked a bit more and then ducked into a restaurant called The Senate, near King's College, for lunch. We were so happy to find a place where Olga was welcomed inside, because it would have been awfully chilly to sit out for our entire meal. We ate, and then Dave and I took turns visiting the gothic King's College chapel across the street.

The chapel was begun in 1446 and completed about a hundred years later, with stained glass windows dating to 1531. It's a huge, soaring space with an ornate ceiling and, on a sunny day, an ethereal glow from all that glass. Evensong services are still held there, and Dave and I might have attended one if not for Olga. Oh well -- I'm just glad we got to see the interior.

With that we walked back to our hotel and had dinner -- partridge for me, and fish for Dave. This morning we'll be back on a train to London!


  1. that's a lot of stained glass! all those huge very old buildings of stone without a steel infrastructure. could we even do that today?

  2. I guess that the church was a huge part of life back when chapel was built. I am no history expert but from the reading I've done just in the fictionalized accounts of the kings and queens back then, a great deal of time was spent in chapels in prayer. A space like that with all of the windows and the light they create would certainly make those hours more interesting.
    So. I had an odd experience yesterday with a stranger and your story of the man being rude about Olga reminded me of it for some reason. I was sitting in my car, reading an email in a parking lot when a man came right up to my window and practically leaned in it. I did not feel threatened, because I felt that he was going to ask me for money, which he did. I always give to panhandlers, probably more out of guilt than charity, to be honest. I had a one dollar bill and a twenty dollar bill and for some damn reason, I gave him the twenty. He thanked me and then said, "Even this small gift means a lot."
    And it pissed me off! Twenty dollars! Okay, it's not a fortune but for a parking lot panhandle, it seemed pretty generous. I am still rather mad that I gave him that much. And all of this says far more about me than it does about the man. I have always said that when you give money to someone like that what they do with it is not your concern. You've done the good deed by giving and that is that. But in this instance I thought, "He's going to buy drugs!" which usually wouldn't bother me in the least. But twenty dollars worth of drugs? Harumph! Which goes to show that I'm not nearly as nonjudgemental about all of this as I like to think I am. And perhaps he bought drugs AND a hamburger. That would be cool.
    Anyway, I do not think you were culturally insensitive. I think you were the opposite- you remembered what you knew about how some Muslims are not very fond of dogs and used that to explain the man's rudeness.
    And also? I think that perhaps both you and I think too much about things. But it's who we are. And we try.

  3. The stained glass in the chapel is spectacular. Since it's busy, I wonder if the prayers got speeded up? Let's pray fast and get out of here! That would be me!!! You did the right thing by having a good appreciative look.

  4. I love seeing the inside of that chapel, a place that I will never see with my own eyes... ever. Interesting encounters there. So many people on our planet, with so many different ways of being.

  5. It looks like Olga had plenty of grassy areas to roam and run. I loved visiting those huge churches and marveling at all the stained glass.

  6. Whoa: you ask is You were culturally insensitive? Does that guy not know that he is living in a Dog-loving country; Is there any culture that is more crazy about their love Dogs than the Brits?? It seems to me that it behooves the jerk at Starbucks to not be a dick about Man's Best Friend.

    I don't know Lynne Cohen's work, but I looked on the link you provided and it's very appealing. These are all actual interiors, not re-created ones, I hope. Whenever I look at old photographs, 99% of them filled with people I don't know or don't care for, it's always the stuff in the background that fascinates me: the chairs, tables, lamps, appliances. The Cohen pix give me everything I want to know about a time and a space and the hopes and needs and unmet expectations of a particular situation without the bother of having to disappear the people.

    The statue in honor of Snowy Farr is terrible. It looks very much like what it is: something designed by committee. Not an ounce of humor in it, and the shapes are disgustingly reminiscent of internal organs, except for the largest one, which looks like a turd.

  7. That stained glass is stunning. I saw a travel show one time about Cambridge and the host spent a lot of time examining that church. I'm not sure that I get the statue in honor of Snowy Farr. It looks like you walked through a lot of beautiful park lands too.

  8. I have to agree with John!

    I'm glad you found a place where Olga could go inside while you ate. What do you do about her meals when you're away with her over mealtime? And does she ever get cold, and if so does she have a wardrobe? :)

  9. Ellen: I know! The engineering is incredible, isn't it? And our steel buildings don't last nearly as long as these magnificent old stone ones!

    Ms Moon: Well, I could see why you'd be miffed at that reaction. Twenty dollars is NOT a small gift! Did he even look at the bill, or did he just assume it was a single?! Bravo to you for your generosity. I agree that we can't really hold panhandlers responsible for what they do with their money -- once it's theirs, it's theirs.

    Red: I am always in favor of getting in and out of church quickly -- if I ever get there in the first place, that is.

    Robin: It's true -- even when we conflict, I'm interested in people's responses to things.

    Catalyst: This one really was amazing. All that glass!

    Vivian: Thanks for backing me up on my interaction with the sneery anti-dog man! I always second guess myself in those sorts of situations, but I thought the same thing -- he's in England and needs to realize that we Anglos love our dogs! I would have felt differently if Olga got close to him or touched him, but she was still several feet away. Anyway, Lynne Cohen's interiors are NOT staged. She sought them out and has a skill for capturing disquieting, quirky spaces. I'd never heard of her before I found this book. Serendipity!

    Sharon: The Snowy Farr statue is definitely quirky. I think it's kind of fun -- I don't have the same negative reaction as Vivian above! Yes, fortunately, Cambridge had plenty of green spaces for the dog.

    John: Thanks! The light coming in those windows was so beautiful and glowing.

    Jenny-O: We give her a scrap or two and then feed her when we get home. She's fine on winter walks without a coat -- she comes with fur! (And it's never extremely cold here.) At the restaurant we put our jackets on the floor and she curled up in them, so she had a bit of a bed.