With the decision made to move the main TwitterCamp meet to the summer - more info later - it was decided to organise a spring meet, so all the regulars could meet up again, along with, hopefully some new faces.
Cambridge was chosen - not least because it fitted in with our own plans for our schools Easter Holidays - but also because we’re both Cambridge born and bred and welcomed the chance to show friends around our old home town. And also because it’s a great place to visit. The lovely Caravan Club site in Cherry Hinton was to be our base for the weekend.
We arrived on Friday, having had a relatively traffic free trundle up from Sussex, a little earlier than the 1pm arrival time to find a queue of ‘vans headed by my cousin and wife Andy & Janet, now Twittercamp regulars. Already on site were more regulars Neil, Dave and Alison along with Twittercamp virgins Richard & Anita.
Friday afternoon also saw the arrival of Sam & Andy and then David C. with his beautiful old and wonderfully restored Cheltenham caravan, followed later by Peter.
Not surprisingly grog and grub were on the agenda and the Robin Hood, less than ten minutes walk from the site was the no doubt welcome recipient of some of the Twitterati’s largesse and we managed to squeeze in despite it being very busy.
There was just one more arrival to come - David B. together with his ‘van affectionately named Elvis the Elddis, who was one of the original Twitterati - and who arrived after travelling down from near Leeds after work, setting up in the Late Night Arrivals in record time and hot footing over to the pub to join in the extensive er, research that was already taking place.
Twittercamp, is for the first time, being sponsored by caravan insurance company Cover4Caravans, and the first benefit of this was the morning gathering for tea, coffee and sausage and bacon rolls. Sam generously supplied the sausages from Dorset and David C. procured us a nice large pack of bacon (pro’cured’ - geddit, ok, never mind!) and loaned us his tea urn - something we hope to purchase soon. Due to me not booking an awning pitch Alison, Andy & Janet jointly hosted on their pitches. The bacon rolls went down a treat particularly amongst those had had thrown themselves so wholeheartedly into their ‘research’ duties the night before.
Sadly Richard & Anita’s first ever Twittercamp was cut short due to a family emergency and they left soon after breakfast, but they seemed to enjoy their short time with us lot and hopefully we’ll see them at another meet soon.
The main event of the weekend was a visit to Cambridge City Centre and the bus, having taken a rather circuitous route including the behemoth that is Addenbrookes Hospital deposited us in the city around midday. Trev was to act as tour guide, welcoming the opportunity to show off his knowledge of his home town as well as exercising his jaw even more than usual in front of a vaguely captive audience.
Our walk took us first past the Grand Arcade shopping centre and down Petty Cury to the market square overlooked by the city councils Guildhall. Next up was Kings Parade, even busier than usual for a Saturday thanks to it being one of the graduation days. We were treated to a parade of be-gowned students marching through the streets.
After perusing Kings Parade we turned into Silver Street, crossing the River Cam by Queens College. The Anchor sat invitingly overlooking the river but we somewhat reluctantly continued on.
Next up was a walk along the ‘Backs’ offering some of the most iconic views of Cambridge and particularly Kings College chapel. The crossing back across the river in to Clare College and past the lovely Fellows Garden was sadly closed so we re-entered the city via Garret Hostel Lane instead.
We continued through Trinity Lane, seen by many in ITV’s Grantchester which was filmed in and around Cambridge, emerging into Trinity Street, getting a glimpse of Trinity College’s Great Court and Great Gate along the way.
Tongues were hanging out by now, so the first pit stop of the day was, not surprisingly in a pub and we chose one of Cambridge’s eldest - The Pickerel Inn, just back across the River Cam and up from the Magdalene Bridge.
With pints ordered and sampled phones were almost universally whipped out and social media updates commenced. Even Trev’s jaw appeared to stop moving. Briefly.
One of the things we wanted to due was a punt on the Cam and even though the sponsorship money would be used to pay for it, Trev still wanted to negotiate a good deal. Having already got a price from one of the reps in Kings Parade earlier, whilst we finished our pints he nipped across the road to make enquiries of another company - Scudamores - who operate the vast majority of the punts thanks to their prime locations. Their quote was some fifty quid more and when Trev informed them of this he was in turn informed that anyone who can do it that cheap must be operating illegally and are not to be trusted. A brief but frank exchange of views followed until the rest of us emerged from the pub and headed back to Kings Parade to book our punt. The original rep was busy, so Trev chanced his arm and got another tenner knocked off the price, securing our punt, with punter, for just ninety quid. Many thanks to Chris at Traditional Cambridge Tours for doing us such a good deal. Visitors to the city might want to bear this in mind: there IS more than one operator and prices DO vary.
The boarding point was back at Garret Hostel Lane, where we’d crossed the bridge back into the city earlier. Soon a punt was free and it was time to climb in. Much steadying and clutching of arms was required and by the time we all eventually took our seats it was a pretty tight squeeze. What was more embarrassing however was the fact that we’d managed to ground the boat and it took considerable effort from our punter and and a helper shore side to get us off the deck and into the river. Check out this short video from Iain who was unable to join us on site but came up for the day with his family to join in some of the fun.
We headed north first, passing under the Bridge of Sighs and turning just before Magdalene Bridge and heading back past our boarding point as far as the mathematical bridge by Queens College, returning to shore after around forty minutes. It was fantastic fun - the punter was a local lad rather than a student looking to make a few quid and he was knowledgeable too. The Twitterati were somewhat surprised when he confirmed that all the facts and figures that Trev had imparted on our walk around were actually true!
Back on dry land, most opted for a late afternoon snack - and an accompanying pint, or two - before heading back to the bus stop and on to the camp site.
With it not being warm enough to spend the evening sitting around a bbq, the gang reconvened across the road at the pub for grub and grog.
Sunday morning and we gathered again for rolls and coffee and to see what everyone wanted to do. Some were happy to do their own thing, but we were more than happy to show people a bit more of the local area so a little while later two car loads headed south and across the border into Essex, pausing first at the pretty Audley End House before stopping for coffee and a stroll around the little market town of Saffron Walden.
A cemetery may not be a obvious stopping point on the tourist trail but the American Cemetery at Madingley is something special and well worth a visit. Whilst many of the bodies of the servicemen and women who gave their lives have now been repatriated, their gravestones remain and are an impressive sight.
The memorial wall gives a sobering reminder of the cost of war, listing over 5000 men and women missing, lost in action or buried at sea. It is a great place for quiet contemplation and reflection.
Last stop on the tour was the city of Ely, or more precisely it’s stunning cathedral, before heading back to the site via - for us anyway - the residence of HRH, aka Trev’s Mum who had so graciously agreed to an audience….
Back at the site, we gathered at Neil & Dave’s awning for tea and cake - another Twittercamp tradition - before embarking on a tough quiz put together by our good friend Pauline, who sadly, having copped the lurgy that’s doing the rounds, couldn’t be there to host in person. During the quiz we had a surprise visitor in the shape Andrew - owner and dweller of The Shiny One - who was heading north from Kent but decided to stop over to catch up with the gang.
The evening was spent, hey do I really need to tell you, in the pub across the road, on what was the final night for many.
Monday, and no sooner had Twittercamp started, then it was over. It was time to say goodbye to many though the sadness was tempered by the knowledge that we’ll meet up again in July. It was another great meet - thanks to everyone that came and made it such a success. In no particular order: Andy B, Janet, Andy S, Samantha, Peter, David B, David C, Neil, Dave, Derrick, Alison, Richard, Anita and Andrew. Two special thank you’s - to Trev for doing much of the organising, being such a great tour guide and breakfast chef. And to Richard from Cover4Caravans for your very generous sponsorship, it was very much appreciated by all.
Our main meet is in the Summer at Henlow Bridge Lakes, Bedfordshire from 17th-26th July. Join us for a couple of days, a week, or the whole time - the choice is yours, it would be great to see you.