Sunday, January 29, 2012

20 Dec 2011 Dover and the White Cliffs

We took a train out to Dover ( Priory ), a 2 hour ride from Victoria. In order to ride cheap, we took the 9.30am train and only managed to reach Dover terminus at almost noon.

Buses cost 2 GBP per person from station to east pier so we opted for the cheaper option, the white cliff taxi. From the pier, we hiked up the white cliff where the national heritage trust is and had a simple lunch at its cafe.
Winter flowers on the white cliffs of Dover
Where we had lunch.Dover port was below the cliff.
We walked beyond the café's carpark, where a panaromic view of the chalky white cliff met us, still resplendent  in the low sun. I was shivering from fear of heights though I know any kind of mistake will just land me at the Saxon walk, a grassy walkway 10 m down, instead of the sea. The chalk on the floor has yet to dry from the previous day's rain and our shoes became muddy and sticky from the clay and chalk.
Dover town and castle in the distance.It was recently decommissioned from duty
Nearing 3pm when the sun was nowhere to be seen, we retraced our path down the cliffs, now made shorter by familiarity. We called for a taxi to town, where we posted a card to ourselves. With the help from the town's tourist staff, we trekked back to Dover priory and by 5pm, was homebound to London.
Dover has lots of this beautiful plant

19 Dec 2011 Mon Cambridge

Cambridge station.A future Cambridge student surveys the platform.
If there is one summary I can make of old England, it would have to be 'education'. It was the country of choice of further education, with most of my friends landing in Sheffield. When Pat did his sabbatical studies in Imperial, I thought it was moving a notch upwards in academic society. But of course,  the best British education would come from  Oxford and Cambridge, the latter's namesake the suffering of thousands every year in their school leaving exam.

We took the 8.30 am train from Liverpool, a very long ride from Gloucester Rd Station ( 26 GBP offpeak, return with F&F railpass ). It chugged for almost 2 hours, calling at every port until it terminated at Cambridge. Unlike Oxford, the town center was located quite a distance away and in what felt like -5C, I had no mood to walk towards town. Almost everyone hopped up Citi 1 to the town center and the kindly driver even alerted everyone when we were there.

Christ Church College, Cambridge
Cambridge university town is a bigger town, with some its most famous colleges located along the river Cam. The beautiful façade of the most famous colleges, Kings College, Trinity college and the magnificant St John's College were enough to inspire any Cambridge uni wannabe.
Because we were at the punter part of the boat,we had his legs in most of our pics

We grabbed a hot spud breakfast from the market square and plonked down 25 GBP for a punt session on the river, a discount haggled from Pat ( a rare feat, not the discount but the bargaining ! ) Together with 9 other people, we punted under the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge, with the ducks for accompany alongside our boat. The colleges, which were all out of bounds to the public, could only be admired from the river ,which is public space. The buildings were left intact, and forms a wonderful  heritage in the minds of those who walked past its halls. I could now understand why Harry Potter was shot and filmed in these beautiful grounds.

Lunch was a greasy affair at the Eagle Pub, made famous because the discovery of DNA was announced there. Other than H's crabcakes, Pat and my greasy lunch of beef wrap and steak pie were non-events.
Our lunch place, were the discovery of DNA was announced

Whipple museum offered free admission and has a big collection of exhibits that detailed the history of science. Besides, it offered respite to the icy rain  and we stayed a good hour inside.
Whipple museum was our refuge from the biting cold
The urgent task of buying souvenirs became pressing near sunset . We ended up with some 'authentic' Cambridge Ts and caps for 40GBP !

Citi 7 bus took us to the train station and it felt as if the entire busload were offloaded there too. We even managed to catch the 5.21 pm train back to Liverpool London, a 2 hour exhausting ride south.

Cambridge today offered a teaser into what life would be like living among the  erudite . Had it not been for the rain and dank weather, it would be a great visit !