Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Colleges Open for Students = Mayhem

Photo Credit: Fitzbillies Homepage

Term begins this week.  Which means, lots of students with their parents, and multiple IKEA bags are swarming the city and colleges of Cambridge.

I realize that for the past 2 years I have been living in a college town (Berkeley), but somehow I never really noticed this. Unless you go directly to the part of town where UC Berkeley is, or you're associated with the school in some way, you can pretty much ignore the swarming hordes of undergraduates, which I quite liked. Living in Cambridge, a town that's about 3 miles across at it's widest point, it's hard not to notice the mayhem, or to even avoid peripheral participation by mere proximity.

I remember how much of a pain it was to move into the dorms, apartment complexes, and houses of Iowa City on the same day that the rest of the city was trying to do the same thing. The impossibility of finding a place to park your car or Penske/Uhaul moving truck. Smashing the Penske truck review mirror on a street sign (oops!) Fighting the crowds at Target for your toaster, microwave and shower caddy. Convincing your parents that if they could help you move just one more time, it would be the last time, because this was the house/apartment/room-mate situation that was going to stick.

I think in total, from the time I moved from my hometown until I graduated from undergraduate, I moved 10 times. Ten times! And they weren't just small moves either; to Arizona for one lousy semester at University of AZ (yuck), to University of Iowa, between dorms, home for the summer, to an apartment, to France, back from France, to an house, to New York for the summer, back to Iowa City . . .  And from there the moving list goes on but I'll spare us both the details (roughly another 20 moves from there until sitting here in England, but I digress).

Devin and I spent the morning and early afternoon downtown to live amongst the mayhem for a bit, and to see a few things we've not yet seen.

First to Fitzbillies Café where it was recommended to try their sticky buns (see photo above) and tasty coffee. We visited the little tiny café side shop along the actual restaurant as we just wanted to nosh our goodies and go.  I wish I'd taken more photos of the interior of the side café because it was absolutely, beautifully simple with clean lines, light colors, and simple, simple decor.  From sitting inside at the single, long wooden shared seating table looking out to the surrounding brick buildings, you could easily believe you were in a different time altogether.  Even the lighting was perfectly designed and impressive, see?

Mixing Bowl With Neato Lightbulb

After coffee we strolled around town, visited a few bike shops in search of yet more biking gear, and also stopped by the local Art and Craft Market that takes place every weekend in a church courtyard.  Devin bought a new wallet because English money doesn't fit in his current wallet and so this is his new money-holder. (Wes: Devin said you'd laugh out loud when you saw this picture, are you laughing?)

Later that evening we attended a concert/benefit for a local Music as Therapy non-profit group that has been working to introduce the field of music therapy in countries such as Romania, Rwanda, and Peru to name just a few. 

From their website: When Music as Therapy began working in Romania in 1995, our core activity was the provision of Introductory Music Therapy Training Projects. These equipped local staff with the skills, experience, materials and confidence to run music programmes addressing the psychological, emotional, social and behavioural difficulties experienced by the adults and children in their care.

The benefit lasted about 3 hours and several musicians of all ages, and musical backgrounds performed. 
It was great to sit and absorb live music in a beautiful hall, and to have the opportunity to see the music therapist from Addenbrooke's hospital perform on the accordion. 

Michaelhouse Café

That evening, when we cycled home past many of the University Colleges, we could hear the sounds of the newly arrived students laughing, talking loudly, and modern music thumping from buildings that date back to the 14th and 15th century. Snuggling down for the night, with dreams of sticky buns dancing in our heads. (Want to try one? You can, Fitzbillies ship their sticky buns world-wide!)

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