May Week, Balls and Bumps

For those outside Cambridge, the 'May Bumps', 'May Ball' and 'May Week' terminology used in my last post might seem a little confusing. Essentially, the persistent application of the term 'May' to events held in June is an issue of tradition.

When these events were first established in the late 19th Century, they were held in the weeks before examinations were held. The chaos of May Week and Bumps eventually led the University to push events back until after exams had finished. The 'May' prefix, however, has remained and we are now in the middle of  what is called 'May Week'. Following the University's decision to push it back, May Week now takes place in the week after all undergraduate examinations have finished, when Full Term (the academic year for undergraduates) has ended but before students head home for the long Summer vacation. Basically, the last two weeks have marked an exciting change in the horribly tense and stress-ridden atmosphere of Cambridge in Easter term. 

Continue reading "May Week, Balls and Bumps" »

Cambridge Lunch Spots: Bread & Meat

Here in Cambridge, I've just reached the end of my year studying for an MPhil. Over the course of that year, or nine months to be more precise, I've often found myself pottering around the city centre after my classes or library trips. Invariably, this has nearly always been towards lunch time. As a result, I've become rather well acquainted with a variety of places to grab a quick bite before heading back to work in College. 

Waking up on Saturday morning, neither Alec nor I seemed to possess a bad head from my College's May Ball the night before. This was partially because we had both decided in advance that we wanted to head down to the riverside to watch the last day of May Bumps, before heading off to another event later that evening. 

After waking up late, we left my somewhat deserted college (most people had stayed until the Ball ended at 5 am) shortly after 11 am for a wander around the city centre. After dashing into a few stores in search of emergency Black Tie provisions, brunch time hunger set in. My stomach was very much attuned to the idea of a bacon sandwich, but usual brunch venues had just stopped serving breakfasts.

We ended up meandering onto Benet Street, as a result of my mishearing his suggestion that we go to 'The Regal' (the local Weatherspoons, which practically serves Breakfast 24/7). I thought he'd said 'The Eagle', and duly led him onto Benet Street - completely the wrong direction for Weatherspoons. 

For those unaware of the geography of Cambridge, Benet Street is a side street that runs off King's Parade, where King's College, the No.1 city tourist destination, is located. King's Parade is easily the busiest street in Cambridge. Aside for a few hours in the late evenings, it is consistently packed with day trippers waving cameras and jostling to join a walking tour or to get into King's College Chapel. Benet Street thus serves as a popular cut-through to the city centre, although it is famous in its own right. The Eagle Pub - where I thought Alec wanted to head because of an interest in science that's much greater than my own - is close to the old site of the Cavendish Laboratory. This is where James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA on 28th February 1953. Upon making this discovery, Crick had dashed over to the Eagle to announce that he and Watson had found 'the secret to life'. The Eagle also has a very interesting RAF bar at the back, which is covered in graffiti and stickers left by Airmen during the Second World War. Consequently, the Eagle is regularly used as a stop on walking tours and Benet Street receives a lot of cut-through and tourist traffic. 

Almost certainly, the everyday bustle of the street led me to overlook Bread & Meat as a lunch destination. Only as I walked slowly along the road with Alec, dodging tourists where necessary and paying close attention to offering of the numerous food establishments, did I notice Bread & Meat. I can honestly say that, before that day, I had no idea it existed. It is such a shame, given how much I enjoyed it, that it's only come to my attention just as I'm preparing to move away from Cambridge but this is almost certainly a good thing for my ever-increasing waistline! 

The chalkboard sign located outside Bread & Meat was the first thing to catch our eye. Mainly because I walked straight into it (I am naturally very clumsy).

image from

Continue reading "Cambridge Lunch Spots: Bread & Meat" »