Across the pond and off the beaten path, you can find CiCi. This vintage lover and blogger has been wowing in our Style Gallery for quite some time. When we found out that she was in Cambridge, we had to know more. She was willing to take us to her hometown hot spots and share some savvy secrets! Let this Brit give you a tour of this beautifully historic city, and get ready to add Cambridge to your list of must-sees in the UK.
We know that Cambridge is home to one of the most prestigious Universities in the world, does being surrounded by such a history of education and academia influence the culture of the town? How has it influenced you?
One of the main things you’ll notice about the city, particularly at this time of year, is that there are tourists everywhere! So actually, during the summer months especially, a lot of how the city influences my life and more specifically my vintage style blog is the constant battle to avoid the places they’re congregating, so they don’t keep walking in front of my camera! The unfortunate thing is that the really beautiful architecture of the colleges that Cambridge is famous for tends to be quite central and the city itself is fairly small, so it’s not as simple as rocking up to King’s College and taking some photos. The example I often give when I explain how tricky it can be to be a blogger shooting around Cambridge is the time my partner and I researched a quiet side street (with nearby parking – bonus!) and how seconds into the shoot a huge group of tourists appeared out of nowhere right next to us – which is when I noticed the blue plaque on the building that declared the house we were in front of was a place Darwin had occupied…! It’s a beautiful city to live in for the amazing architecture and places of interest to visit, but it’s not ideally sized for the amount of attention it gets… and it’s an absolute nightmare for parking! Really though, I think one of the biggest impacts it’s had is to thoroughly spoil me – and when we go to other places in the UK I realise how lucky I am to have it all on my doorstep.
Walk us through a quintessential day in Cambridge.
Well, you’d probably do well to start with a hearty brunch in one of the many independent cafes on the outskirts of the city centre, so you can spend the afternoon exploring the sights. If you’re in Cambridge you have to see King’s College, so I’d head over there via the market square, where there’s loads of permanent stalls offering everything from street food to retro video games. Perhaps pick up a homemade brownie while you’re there, then take in the sights of King’s College and try to leave some time for walking round ‘The Backs’, which are the grounds behind it running alongside the river. Speaking of the river, your next stop has to be a punt on the Cam! If it’s your first time, have a guide do all the work and tell you all the university’s secrets (they’re usually students so they know their stuff), but if you’re feeling brave it’s a lot of fun to punt yourself (or be punted by a hapless friend – I have been in punts where said friend has fallen off the boat, which can provide a hilarious turn to your day!). Fit in a look at some of the other nearby colleges (and more on that below) if you can and then have a big dinner at one of Cambridge’s excellent restaurants, which I’ll elaborate on next! If you’re lucky, you might be able to finish your day with a good gig at the Corn Exchange or the Junction, where I’ve seen a couple of great comedy nights.
As always, we’re interested in food! Tell us more about the greatest eats Cambridge has to offer! What must we try when we’re visiting?
You’re spoilt for choice really as there’s a lot of great restaurants and a range of cuisines on offer in a city as diverse as Cambridge. One of my personal favourites is The Cambridge Chop House, who do a mouthwatering steak (for cheap on the pre-theatre menu), along with many other dishes, often quite British in flavour and all done incredibly well. Fun fact: it was also on the way to this restaurant that my partner tripped over a paving slab and gave himself hiccups… so you never know your luck! Other than that, one of my favourites was a tiny little restaurant down the road from me in a converted house called Backstreet Bistro, but unfortunately it closed in May this year (I’m awaiting its reopening under new management with baited breath!).
You’re a vintage-loving lady living in a very vintage city! Which places are at the top of your list for visitors, and where is your fave place to shoot outfit photos?
That’s a tricky question as there’s so many great places to visit! I actually tend to love the green spaces that belong to some of the colleges as I’m not a fan of busy areas. There’s a particular spot near Darwin College which is essentially a patch of grass near the main punting area, which in good weather is great for picnics because you can do some really fab people watching! [Editor’s note: A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, made for use in small rivers and shallow water. Punting refers to boating in a punt.] Recently, we sat and watched a bride being punted down the river by her new husband. I also really love wandering around the grounds of the colleges that are freely accessible to the public and aren’t guarded, but fewer people know about. I may be giving my secrets away, but one of my favourite blog photo locations in Cambridge is Magdalene College’s grounds. I only found out we could easily access them because one of my closest friends studied there and it’s always virtually deserted every time we’re there, yet it has the prettiest view of the river and tons of different picturesque spots for photos.
+ Would you go punting on the cam? Comment to let us know!