Friday, 10 April 2015

St Catharines College, Cambridge

St Catharines College
01223 338373

We stayed at the guest house / student rooms here on our trip to Cambridge. Since it was over the Easter break, things were very quiet.

We had a double bedroom with an attached bath. Very clean & comfortable rooms, set in the heart of the city. Everything was a couple of minutes walk away.

Really large spacious room & bath. Good hot breakfast, friendly staff, free wifi. What more could you want?

Since these are part of student accommodations, there are no tv's, but our room had a large bookcase and a really large study table, aside from a very comfortable double bed.

Fresh linens and toiletries are also provided.

Breakfast was in the formal dining hall. Think "Harry Potter"esque Great Hall with portraits of past headmasters and a headmistress staring sternly down. Almost expected the pictures to come alive, but I guess it was too early in the morning...

The Continental Breakfast was served outside in the great hall itself and the hot items - eggs, baked beans, sausages, bacon etc were served in the annexe inside.

The pub "Catz" (nickname for St Catharine's College) on the premise is large and has a pool table etc. The modern set-up in the basement feels anachronistic to the Gothic building design on the outside. But it was very quiet when we visited. The Eagle Public House next door is a better option for a drink (but not dinner)

Price was roughly 100GBP / night per double room including breakfast.

Scudamore’s Punting, Cambridge

Scudamore’s Punting
Granta Place
01223 359750

Its traditional to go punting along the river (Cam at Cambridge and the Thames in Oxford), but inspite of having a family of marine engineers, Brajesh and me knew we would not be able to steer one of these craft ourselves, so we settled for taking a guided tour by a punter.

The long pole that is used to the steer the boat is called a "punt" which is where the name comes from.

We prebooked our tour with Scudamore’s Punting and I have to say that they are one of the best managed punting tours in Cambridge, they were the only company that provided umbrella's for protection and blankets for warmth on their boats.

All the craft and companies follow the same path along the River Cam which takes in all the main colleges of Cambridge - King's College, St John's. Trinity and St Catharines And the bridges - Bridge of Sighs, Kitchen Bridge, Mathematical Bridge.

Mostly the buildings are Gothic except for a couple of modern monstrosities along the way, which sadly cannot be demolished because of "heritage" status.

The river is filled with punters reeling out facts, figures and fiction and bantering with each other along the trip. But sometimes that gets a bit noisy, when there is a lot of crowd at a particular spot.

There are multiple options for punting and you will be assailed with offers from the time you start approaching King's College. We found Scudamore's the best equipped, even though there are many cheaper options around.

Scout for online offers before you head there. National Rail is currently offering a 2FOR1 deal with them.

Personally, our experience wasn't as good, because it started to rain mid-way through the tour. The umbrellas did help keep us dry(ish), but we couldn't see the sights along the river as well, with the umbrellas blocking our view.

We hope to be able to make this trip again when the weather isn't so bleary. The trip takes about an hour from the time you "Check In"

Word of Warning : Don't be fooled by how effortless the professional punters make it look!