The Wednesday of my summer holiday dawned and it was time to move on to the second part, Cambridge. But first a detour.
I’d wanted to go to the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford site for a while and since it was only 15mins or so from Cambridge, the journey south seemed like an ideal opportunity to visit. The route there was simple and I was heading out at 7:45 am and at the museum by 10:45am.
The site is massive with 3 large hangers full of exhibits alongside smaller areas. The first hanger contained some of the things you come to see. A Concorde and a Vulcan. Plenty more though with a Harrier, Mosqueto, Canberra and much more. I spent an hour at least just looking round. Also among the planes there was the Comet that did the first scheduled Atlantic crossing. That was like a time capsule back to the early days of jet aviation. Didn’t seem that much smaller than a modern airliner, if anything, it felt more roomy inside. I suppose in the early days it was such a special thing air travel that they wern’t trying to pack them in.
Next along was a smaller hanger with a Battle of Britain exhibit and some of the aircraft that have defended the UK though the years. An ME109 that had been shot down was displayed in a diorama as it would have appeared when it landed in the farmer’s field.
A big hanger was next. This was the American Air Museum with some very large exhibits including a B52 though that seemed smaller than I expected being mostly wing. Lots of iconic aircraft here including a Phatom, SR71, U2 spy plane and B17 bomber. Also, and slightly strangely, was a piece of the alleged Iraqi “Supergun”. It seemed out of place.
Last on my visit was the ground war exhibiting. This was a huge number of tanks, trucks and alike from all round the world. Mostly WW2 and a lost of it on D-Day. There was so much to see that it would be easy to go back to Duxford and spend another day. But as I was leaving came the highlight. A Spitfire took off and flew some aerobatics. To hear that Merlin engine roar was the crowning moment of the trip to Duxford.
Heading out from Duxford, it was on to the Cherry Hinton Caravan and Motorhome club site. I found to my peril, the problems of ignoring the travel advice to the site and ended up on quite a narrow and twisty road up to the site followed by an abrupt slowing down as the entrance appeared out of nowhere.
The site is built in a disused chalk pit and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. This time I got a pitch next to the loo block and was soon set up and setting out on my first attempt to back bread in the van. It went well initially but after the second knead, it rose too much and stuck to bits of the pan that I’d not greased. Oh well it was a learning experience.
Thursday was for a trip to London and something I’d been looking forward to for a long while, the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A. And so I was up and out the van early and up to the train station. Unfortunately I’d booked my ticket for the exhibit at such a time that I had to get the early train into London and this cost my £40odd to get there. I successfully navigated the underground and was soon standing in the queue.
Of the exhibition, all I can say is that if you’re a Pink Floyd fan, try to go and see it. The presentation along with the sound was very very well done. There was a room for just listening to the Dark Side of the Moon and The Division Bell heads were present in all their glory. It did the band proud.
Lunch was in the V&A courtyard and then on the Science Museum. By this point of the trip I was getting a little museum’ed out so it was a quick visit to look at the computing and maths exhibits and then back to the train only stopping to admire that tourist trap that is Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station.
Last full day of the trip, Friday, was to be spent in Cambridge itself. Got to the tourist office and found a map of the city centre. First port of call was King’s College and most especially the chapel. This was massive for a chapel, almost cathedral size and with a complete set of stained glass telling a story. And also, The Adoration of the Magi. Well worth the entrance fee.
This was the only college that I went into as they all wanted a entrance fee and it could of got expensive. So it was a wander round looking at the old buildings, visiting the odd gallery and nearly coming away with £700 worth of painting. The Scott Polar Institute was a worthwhile visit including as it does, a replica of the boat that Ernest Shackleton did his epic voyage in.
Last on the trip was a visit to the Museum of Old Computers. This was a real throwback to my youth with lots of computers and games machines from the years including a full working Domesday System. Games I’d played when young (and not so young) and in the entrance hall, a large CPU taking up 2 walls made out of discrete logic with LEDs and 7 segment displays to show its operation. Absolutely something that any geek visiting the area should see.
The holiday was to extend into Saturday and go home on the Sunday but I’d seen everything I wanted to see so I cut it a bit short and packed up on the Friday evening ready for a quick getaway on the Saturday morning.
And so Saturday morning came around and I hit the road north. I was coming down with a cold I could feel so it was a good thing that I was setting off. The drive north was onto the A1 and just keep going. Apart from very slow traffic through roadworks at Scotch Corner I got home in about 7.5 hours with no real trouble.
A great holiday was had. The weather wasn’t always kind but I got to see all that I wanted to see and probably more. I was getting a little punch drunk from all the museums and in the future I should build in some rest days to the plan but I enjoyed it and it is time to start plannning the next adventure.
Here’s the bulk of the photos