Back in February/ March time last year one of my best friends relocated down to Cambridge to work, so naturally I saw it as an opportunity to explore a new UK city! I’ve heard a lot of people say that we go on holiday and travel abroad but haven’t even seen close to 20% of the country that we live in. That’s probably true but my point is that when I’m 60 I don’t want to be going on 12 hour plane journeys or 18 hour bus rides…I’ll explore the UK when I’m old!
Nevertheless, the opportunity arose to visit Cambridge and we jumped at the chance. We traveled down from Scotland on the Friday night after work and after a few diversions, a couple of service stops, numerous Shawn Mendes singalongs, one U-turn and 8 hours later… we arrived!
On the Saturday morning we woke up earlyish and headed to Fitzbillies for breakfast. It was a little on the fancy side for me, nevertheless it was an old school bakery and a great way to start our first day!
We had a wander around all the old college buildings and the market before heading to book our punting tickets. If you don’t know what punting is, the only way I can describe it is basically going a ride on the long boats you see in Venice – only its charming English men and women in A&F clothing pushing you along.
After our fancy breakfast, and given the reputation of Cambridge as being “posh”, I thought this was going to be one very long boring boat ride listening to facts about the water we were sailing on. Boy was I wrong.
We had about a 45 minute wait before our scheduled boat was taking off, and while we sat on the wall of the canal, we saw that everyone was drinking alcohol and pretty much making a day of this boat ride. We all glared at each other… “To Sainsburys!”. So 45 minutes later and with 4 cans of cider in hand, we were ready.
Our guide was a young girl (who we later found out to be 19!). She was bubbly, outgoing, friendly and had great banter with everyone on the boat and with the other guides in passing. She really made our tour.
The river was packed from the get-go, we were bashing into other boats, bantering back and forward with other riders and generally just getting involved in the buzz surrounding the river Cam. As you had the option to steer the boat yourself, you can imagine the sight of all the drunk males trying to stand at the edge of the boat while their mates were swaying it, willing them to fall off. Safe to say more than a few ended up in the water.
There were so many sights along the river as well, and I don’t mean the old college buildings. There were stag parties, couples on romantic dates and even a wedding party where the bride sat in the boat and got guided by her new husband. It’s just not something you see everyday.
The rest of our day was spent relaxing in a local park, watching skateboarders and sleeping in the sun before heading for dinner, drinks and dancing!
Overall punting was a new and wonderful experience that anyone looking for a bit of friendly banter with strangers should enjoy. You can also pay for a private tour if you don’t want to share a punt with others, you can sit back, relax and laugh at everyone elses mishaps from afar!
Have you ever been punting or to Cambridge?