Cambridge: an Insolite Stay & A Sinking Punt

You know what they say about the 60's, I could say the same about university. I am told that I was there but I can't remember a thing and if it was not for the notes, piled somewhere in the loft, in my best friend's handwriting, I'd probably be inclined to think that it never happened. One thing is for certain: I never lodged in a university until this summer.......

We stayed at St Catherine's College. Many universities open up their accommodations outside term-times.  The revenues are used to reduce students' rent and upgrade the rooms when necessary.

The rooms are clean, comfortable  without frills, with tea/coffee making facilities. Ours had a piano! all at a fraction of the cost in a central Cambridge hotel. 

Located right in the center of Cambridge,  founded in 1473, the St Catherine's College grew due to the generosity of a series of benefactors who are remembered with by their coats of arms etched within the window panels all around the college. 

St Catherine's had a checkered past too, though a most interesting one which the loveliest of  porters will tell you about between queries and errands. If he is not available, copies of the College history and postcards are available from his Lodge.

Between 7.00 and 9.00am, 9.30 at week-ends, breakfast is served in a The college great hall. Bacon, eggs and sausages are sourced locally. If I were asked to comment, I would say "perfectly acceptable but could do better". Revenge is a dish best eaten cold.

I know what follows is not very academically correct but enter the great hall and you can't help thinking Hogwart's. Impressive, with long varnished wood tables, gong at the ready, past and present masters presiding from their picture frames; I could have sworn, their eyes followed me all the way to the buffet and back.

Cambridge lay out is odd at best of times, being so central and able to walk to the Cam via the college's gardens through a gate for which B 'n B clients have the key is a plus. So we went punting.

Punts are flat bottom boats propelled by pushing with a pole on the bottom of the river. We opted for a guided tour which was probably wise considering what happened next. Travelling  through the Backs along the beautiful lenghths of the river, looking up at the magnificent and spectacular Cambridge buildings is an essential part of any Cambridge experience.

 A great experience enough for most people, unless if you are a member of a hen party which we were told demand their chauffeur to be topless.
 Punting is happening all year around. In the winter, people snuggle under a blanket and the bubbly is swapped for a glass of mulled wine or cider. On that day, the weather was warm and the Cam was busy,
and we witnessed an event which hardly ever happened before: a sunken punt

Our Insolite Stay and the punting tour were thoroughly enjoyable experiences I would recommend both whole heartily.

College rooms can be book via university accommodation service. Availability is mainly in the summer (July, August, September), Christmas and Easter (March, April) vacation periods, when students clear their rooms. Price for B 'n B ranges from £46 to £120. Punting guided tour £25/pp bookable in advance or on the spot.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank UniversityRooms funded both the punting and our college stay. No payment was exchanged, all the words and opinions expressed are my own.

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