cambridge life

On the grounds that if I don’t write this all down, I will probably forget it. Also you are interested in my tiny life! Yes you are.

Our place here is schweet. It’s one of six flats in a newish building on a cul-de-sac. We’re one of two flats on the top level, and we have two floors. Downstairs there’s a twin bedroom, perfect for the girls, with a bathroom next door. Both open onto the hall-and-staircase, which because we leave shoes there and go barefoot in the house Claire calls “the shoe room”.

The hall also opens onto a kitchen/living room/dining room with two big east-facing windows. We’ve festooned the windows with the girls’ drawings and paper dolls. Two sofas in the lounge area mean we can all curl up and read or watch TV or dink. (Dinking is Jeremy’s term of art for noodling around on the Intarwebs.) The kitchen is elaborate enough that we’ve managed two- and three-course meals. There’s a heavy emphasis on sausages (because, yum), white rice (we have a rice cooker), salad and fruit.

The really nice part, though, is upstairs, where the master bedroom occupies most of the garret. Skylights in the angled walls let in masses of light and air. Just like home! We have our own bathroom, very civilized, and there’s a corner where I can work. So yes, I am in Europe, writing in a garret. It’s software industry research, not novels, and Cambridge not Paris, but let’s not split hairs.

Primrose joins Victoria Road next to a farm shop (Radmore, whence the sausages – yum!) There’s also a good co-op grocery two blocks down at Mitcham’s Corner. The fresh produce is a bonus because eating out has been iffy; I haven’t even been specially impressed with the nearby Indian and Bangla places.

A rough thing about traveling is that you lose your knowledge of short cuts to places and the best things to order in cafes. I’ve been enjoying Cambridge more as I have figured things out. So from Primrose and Victoria you cross the street and take a footpath down through housing projects to Carlyle, where there’s a very nice park and playground. Turn left on Carlyle and you get to Chesterton, which runs along the river Cam. Two buses run along here, or you can cross the bridge over the lock to Jesus Green. That sounds far but it’s about thirty seconds from our front door.

Jesus Green has really been the center of our Cambridge world. It’s on the way to everywhere, and the girls go to its playground every day. If you follow the river to the right you get to Quayside and a couple of decent restaurants. And a place to hire punts. If you strike out overland you hit the back of the city center, and can take cunning shortcuts through to the pedestrian zone. The time I haven’t spent sitting in my attic writing, I have spent in the basement of Starbucks on Market Square. Yeah, I know. I am here now. I find splitting my Cambridge days between Starbucks and home makes me slightly less stir crazy than if I did not. What?

Two days a week I go down to London. I prefer it, but the days are very long, and the kids are nearly asleep before I get back. I catch a bus on Victoria which takes me to the station, and then I get an off-peak ticket and take the 10.15 express to Kings Cross. It’s a brisk 15-minute walk from Kings Cross to the office but it really isn’t worth getting on the Tube to Goodge Street; would probably take longer. Not a bad walk anyway since I found the back way past St Pancras and around Gordon and Tavistock Squares.

Our office is in a basement on Gower Street, in the same row of Georgian brick houses that Spike stayed in on his London trip. If we lived here I’d love to live somewhere in Bloomsbury. It’s probably hideously expensive, but I do like the squares and being close to the British Museum. Filmlight, where Jo, Kirsty and Christopher work, used to be practically next door on Bedford Square. It’s moved a little further away but it’s still really easy to meet them for lunch.

My level of happiness was greatly improved by the discovery of Paradiso on Store Street, around the corner from work. They make their own pasta. A hot lunch makes a 12-hour London day much more bearable. The days are so long because the off-peak tickets mean I can’t catch the train before the 7.15 back to Cambridge. Gets in at 8.06, narrowly missing the 8.05 bus home, and leaving me to wait till 8.35 for the next bus. Home by 9. Into bed, catatonic, at ten.

See? You hung on every word! You SO did.

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