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Monday, 13 June 2016

A day in Grantchester

A week ago today I spent my day off in the sunshine with a group of writer friends .It involved my favourite pastimes - walking, talking, eating, mooching about in a garden and laughing .

I've written before about my group of friends who I meet up with- once a month for a writing workshop and once a month or so we meet up at each others houses for a book group and lunch..

In the summer we usually go to Pippa's house in Cambridgeshire for a visit. This time there were only three of driving over, Josephine, Alex and myself. After a volley of "Hellos, come in, and How lovely to see you all" we sat basking in the sun with a drink and immediately started talking about and swapping books.

And after a while, before we baked completely, we went to have a look around in the shady part of the garden, to admire the raised beds filled with fruit, flowers and vegetables. Pippa only moved here about four or five years ago,  where her husband Mick designed their own house, so it's been really  interesting to watch the garden develop...

It was still rather hot, so we went upstairs, through my favourite spot in the house, the book lined sitting area which leads onto another favourite place, the upstairs balcony. We sat out in the shade there with a cool drink and nibbled on salted almonds, olives and pieces of parmesan.

 More talking too, of what manuscripts we're working on, who's just got another book deal, and how now there are three among us who are teaching children's writing.
Then lunch, downstairs - salmon baked in pesto, new potatoes and salad, followed by the most perfect panacotta with berries. By now, we needed to walk off that lunch, so we all strolled down the road ,to walk along Grantchester Meadows, and follow the River Cam.
It was such a gloriously warm afternoon and it was so good to see so many others enjoying such a perfectly lovely English summer's day... punters, walkers, and families picnicking by the river.
 After a smart turn right, we reached our destination
 I do so like this tearoom. Where else can you sit out in a large orchard under the apple trees and have tea, coffee and scones, or lunch?
Alex was obviously in her element...
 Although there were lots of students from Cambridge about two or so miles away, there were tourists and locals, of all ages...just enjoying the atmosphere, like generations before us.
The orchard was opened in 1897, and was home to the poet Rupert Brooke for two years in the heady days before the beginning of World War 1. Others followed ...such as Augustus John, Virginia Woolf, E.M.Forster, Alan Turing, J.B.Priestley, Ludwig Wittgenstein....and it's so easy to picture them all, painters, poets, philosophers, mathematicians and writers, sitting in deckchairs under the trees like we were.
Members of the Cambridge Spy Ring were all patrons here  too...Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt, Guy Burgess and John Caincross, all Cambridge students who were recruited to pass information onto the Soviet Union. In this beautiful , most quintessential English tearoom ,they sat here drinking tea...and perhaps plotting to betray their country during World War II and into the 1950's.
We sat for an hour, chatting and people watching, before eventually rousing ourselves from the deckchairs and walking back to Pippa's. We walked past Grantchester Church, immortalised in the books of James Runcie, and on our  television screens in  the "Grantchester" series featuring James Norton.
Pippa and her husband have been drafted in as extras for both series now, and really enjoyed their filming experiences. We wandered through the walled churchyard

and stopped to remember Pippa's father who lies here. A simple, but beautifully engraved headstone marks his resting place....a man who was a Cambridge professor, a President of the International Court of Justice, a loving father.

We walked across the fields back to Pippa's, still chatting away, until it was time to wave goodbye and speeding up the M11 back to Leicestershire.

A lovely, special  day with a great group of friends .


  1. Lovely pictures of a happy day. Thank you for what you said about my dear old Daddy, Bridget!

  2. You're welcome.... He was a remarkable man. And we all so enjoyed our day!