Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Orchard

As an addendum to the most recent Shimer dinner, here's a note on our last (both our most recent and, I think, ultimate) trip to Cambridge. Michael, Heath and I took advantage of the OSAP bus ride there last Saturday while the rest of the Shimer gang was cooking up the storm pictured in Kim's post below. Part of the morning we spent on a stroll through King's College Chapel with our Cambridge City tour guide, who offered a few insights on the symbolism in the masonry. I took a few shots this time through of the amazing "perpendicular Gothic" fan-vault ceiling (and offer one here to illustrate why the Chapel bears revisiting).

The tour ended, I dragooned Michael and Heath for a ramble through the fens toward Grantchester, a little hamlet about two miles southeast of Cambridge. There we had (an expensive and not too filling) lunch under the (still leafless) boughs of the apple trees at the The Orchard Tea Garden. (They also endured me taking the obligatory photo, below). Going on a century now, The Orchard has been a playground for Cambridge worthies, starting really with a crowd that revolved around the poet Rupert Brooke. Brooke is mainly known today for his poems from the front in the First World War, where he was killed in 1916. But it was the hende Brooke who also drew together the likes of Bertrand Russell, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and John Maynard Keynes to The Orchard in a sort of movable (and, judging from their letters, sometimes catty) feast of politics, belle lettres, and logic games. The place is also storied for being just up the River Cam from Byron's favorite swimming hole. The Orchard does still have its charm. But it seems to have given way to its own celebrity. Only ten years ago (when I myself was last there) the walk through the fields was still dirt and gravel; now it's paved. The kitchen seems to cater mainly to high end tourists and families looking for a late morning haven. Though we're told that reveling students still descend on the place during the so-called "May Balls" which actually take place after exams in June, one wonders where Cambridge's current Rupert Brookeses and Virginia Woolfs make their forays during the off season. All in all, it was a pleasant outing, but it was also nice to be treated to the warmth and fun of our own little Shimer scene in Oxford when we returned.


geocolsealiz said...

That chapel is breath takingingly lovely.

Michael and Heath are 'the next' wave of students to foray there during the off tourism season, maybe?

The obligatory photo--very nice memento for the Oxford scrapbook, but they apparently forgot, or were not reminded to smile! (grin)

J. Nathan Matias said...

I'm pleased to note that Grantchester is very much still a much loved student hang out.

Where were engaged students hanging out this year? here, perhaps.

Shimer College in Oxford 2008-2009

The Shimer College in Oxford Program invites you to check in here periodically for news and notes on our doings in this "sweet city with her dreaming spires."