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Monday, August 29, 2011

Everybody out! Perks of power cut I WAS working hard at my desk – well, those YouTube videos of the sneezing panda don’t watch themselves, you know – when the screen flickered and died. I looked disbelievingly at my hands in case I had had some sort of chocolate-induced spasm and hit a weird combination of keys, but then noticed that my gentlyhumming printer had gone quiet. Power cut! Now where did I put those candles – and why Susan’s would I need them at 10 in the Question morning? of the Week I looked out AS we spend into the street so garden, we ha much time in the and it was like a in the middle ve a doorbell. It is row of cuckoo eye-level, withof the front door at clocks: heads “P it. Why do so ress” written on were appearing m knock instead any people from every door. complain that and then A chorus of “Are we didn’t you off too?” hear them? quickly established that we were all electricity-free. Power cuts were quite common when I was little, hence my instinctive search for candles – although I’m not sure that the lightly scented bergamot and tangerine “bougie de relaxation” that I finally unearthed in the cupboard quite cuts the mustard in the illumination stakes. But these days outages are quite rare, and are usually heralded by a flurry of warnings from the electricity company, so this unexpected withdrawal of power was a bit worrying. And then I started thinking. My computer was off, so that pretty much knocked my work/pandas on the head. I couldn’t do the ironing or the Hoovering, or even put on a load of washing. Without the telly, I couldn’t catch up on all those improving documentaries I keep recording about science and maths and the environment (and then eschewing in favour of DVDs of Dallas and anything by Richard Curtis). And with the freezer now off, I really ought to eat that ice-cream. So it made sense, nay, it was my housewifely duty, to sit in the garden with a magazine and eat a big bowl of Ben and Jerry’s. And then the dratted power came back on again. Of course this meant going around the house and resetting all the clocks. It seems that every single electrical device, probably including the toaster, has a clock that gaily reverts to a flashing 00:00 whenever there is a sniff of a power cut. All the phones were blinking at me, which made me wonder: if you do lose power and all your communication devices are electrical (phone, email, fax), how do you let anyone know? I wonder whether bergamot and tangerine candles can send smoke signals – fragrant ones, of course.

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC: A green at Clare College, which is usually kept private


STRANGE NOTION: See the manuscrip

Get in on the sec city’s little-know

Some of the most secretive institutions in Cambridge are preparing to open their doors to the p activities. ELLA WALKER uncovers the highlights to hunt out.


HERE are almost too many events to get your head around at this year’s Open Cambridge weekend. From September 9-11, running in tandem with the nationwide Heritage Open Days event, museums, libraries and university buildings will be sharing their mustiest secrets and letting the public in on what really goes on behind closed doors. “The idea behind it is that we give local residents, not just people from the city centre of Cambridge but from all over East Anglia, a chance to peek behind the doors, fences and walls of Cambridge’s colleges, museums, libraries and some city institutions,” says Sue Long, the enthusiastic organiser of Open Cambridge and the festivals and outreach officer at the University of Cambridge office of external affairs and communications. “It’s to give people the opportunity to see places that wouldn’t normally be open to the public. “Everything is completely free, which is part of the whole ethos around Open Cambridge and it gives all the institutions taking part the opportunity to show off what they’ve got.” Acres of enclosed gardens (you can even meet the reclusive Trinity College gardeners), the first recorded image of a pretzel and books kept on first floors to avoid flooding are among some of the sights being dusted down for public display. “We’re really trying to encourage everybody to come along, to visit and

WELCOMING COMMITTEE: Gaetan Lee, Will Betts, Shelley Bolderson, Sophie Smith, Sue Long and N

see places that they would feel were normally closed to them and, in fact, normally are,” enthuses Sue. “It’s a mutually nice thing really. Visitors benefit from being able to come to see all these amazing things, and for free, while the staff and volunteers holding the tours have a chance to share their interests, passions and knowledge.” Last year Open Cambridge saw more than 3,000 people exploring hidden treasures that are rarely the centre of attention, and it looks set to be as well supported this time around with many of the events already booked up.

The historical nooks and crannies proving popular so far include a guided stroll of Clare College gardens, taking in the Old Court and Cambridge’s most ancient bridge as well as a shadowy tour of the oft-forgotten Ascension Burial Ground in All Souls Lane, dubbed Britain’s brainiest graveyard. Two of Darwin’s sons lie interred alongside an impressive roll call of eminent academics, poets, philosophers, mathematicians and scientists, including Sir John Cockroft, who shared a Nobel prize in physics for splitting the atom. The macabre In Cromwell’s

Footsteps tour of S College (his severe the ante-chapel) an visits to John Lewis Cambridge were a But it’s not too la action. St John’s C open on a drop-in freely wander in to medieval texts dati wonder why 14th considered elepha mythological as un For families, the Stourbridge Fair a


Giving adds to yoga wellbeing A DONATION day at Camyoga, Cambridge’s yoga centre, in which all teachers taught for free and students were asked to pay a donation, raised £735 for three charities. The day, which included a variety of classes, raised the money for Arthur Rank Hospice, Tiba Africa Foundation and Peace Boat. Camyoga founder Louise Palmer said: “As with the yoga itself the day gave people a sense of wellbeing for having helped these good causes.”

Quiz night will follow fun day LITTLEPORT Town Cricket Club is hosting a family fun day on Sunday, September 4. HEAD HUNT: Sidney Sussex College, which keeps Oliver Cromwell’s head on the premises

cret of n gems

Still booking:

Dine in the Grade II listed dining hall of Westminster College. Discover more about penguins and the perils of exploring at the Scott Polar Research Institute. Tour the Murray Edwards College gardens.

Just drop in:

Explore the gardens and librar y at the Fitzwilliam Museum, and pick up a pot at the plant sale. Have a medieval afternoon of re-enactments at the Stourbridge Fair at the Barnwell Leper Church. Read letters from Perse School old boys who found themselves in the trenches during WWI at Christ’s College.

public for a weekend of tours, talks and

Sidney Sussex ed head is buried in nd behind-the-scenes s and Marshall of also snapped up fast. ate to get in on the College Library will be basis so anyone can o get a glimpse of ing back to 1312 and century scholars nts to be as nicorns. centuries-old at the Leper Chapel


>> in Brief

pt at St John’s which describes elephants as mythical beasts

Nicky Buckley

Monday, August 29, 2011

It’s to give people the opportunity to see places that wouldn’t normally be open to the public. Everything is completely free, which is part of the whole ethos around Open Cambridge

And a quiz night at 8pm will raise money for Littleport Rangers FC. For more information about either event, call the leisure centre on (01353) 860600.

today online Find out how to support our Rosie Hospital campaign

Helping good causes rocks A MINI-FESTIVAL showing off the musical talent of local acts is planned in Saffron Walden.

DEAD BRAINY: The Ascension burial ground at All Souls Lane

Jubilee Rocks Again is running on Saturday, September 10. The free event in Jubilee Gardens, in Hill Street, which runs from 1-6pm, will feature local bands and singers. It will raise money for Saffron Walden Teenage Cancer Trust and Addenbrooke’s Hospital Oncology Department. More information from the Tourist Information Centre, in Market Place, or call (01799) 524002.

– Sue Long will be hosting storytelling and market stalls and the five-mile Bridge the Gap charity walk, which takes in university colleges, will start from Jesus Green at 9.30am on the Sunday. Organisers are hoping to raise £50,000 for Arthur Rank Hospice and the Cambridge News charity Press Relief. “It’s great that there’s a mix of city things and university and college events,” says Sue. “It’s a way of celebrating Cambridge as a whole. People are putting a tremendous amount of effort into these tours and are getting a lot out of it. Hopefully members of the public will too because it’s really for local residents, local families, local communities; it’s a weekend for them.” For more information and to make a booking visit cambridge or call (01223) 766766.

The venue is Littleport Leisure Centre, in Camel Road, from 11am-6pm. Attractions will include children’s games, raffles and food.

Homes cut off as tree breaks lines A FALLEN tree cut off power to homes in the Haverhill area. Police closed Blacksmith’s Lane, Shudy Camps, after the tree took down live power cables on Friday.

STEPPING OUT: The finish of the Bridge the Gap walk last year on Jesus Green

A UK Power Networks spokeswoman said supply had been interrupted to 13 customers in Shudy Camps Park and Blacksmith’s Lane during the morning while engineers worked to repair the damage. It took about an hour and a half to restore the electricity.

The secretive side of Cambridge  

Open Cambridge - see behind the scenes of some of Cambridge's most interesting and secretive institutions. First published in the Cambridge...