This weekend was exactly what I needed. I’ve finally recovered from the election (I haven’t stayed up literally all night like that since I was at University and had six essays all due in my final week before graduation) and a frenetic few months in Parliament and have finally been able to relax for the first time in ages. The Clever Fiancé was overseas for work, so on Saturday I made the most of my first day with no plans in weeks and headed to Notting Hill for an all-day date with myself (every girl needs them occasionally): a much-needed primp and polish session at my favourite salon (Taylor Taylor on Portobello Road for those who ask), lunch at Ottolenghi, a little shopping at Aesop and Diptyque and treasure-hunting on Portobello Road, and wandering around those gorgeous leafy, pastel streets in the sunshine.
On Sunday – he fresh off the plane and in need of caffeine and sustenance to help stay awake all day, me in need of juice and weekend newspapers – we headed out for the kind of long, lazy dates Sundays were made for: lunch, sunshine (which, in typical English fashion, lasted until precisely the minute we took these photos) and a walk through a few of our favourite colleges.
I threw on my ‘lazy weekend’ uniform (when it’s too warm for tights but not yet warm enough for breezy dresses, it’s always an iteration of the easy top, blazer and denim combination) that always feels like Sunday. It takes 5 minutes flat to get ready and you’re good to go wherever your weekend plans take you; I just add heels (only if I’m cycling instead of walking, and otherwise it’s chic ballet flats or ankle boots), sunglasses (these Miu Miu cat eye sunglasses seem to go with every single thing I own) and bright lipstick to yesterday’s hair and the most comfortable clothes I own to make it look as though I have made an effort, when really I haven’t.
Gloriously lazy weekends; you’re really rather wonderful.
The students are all making their way back to Cambridge this weekend, all wide-eyed and enthusiastic ahead of the start of term this week. I love the sight of them wheeling the wooden trolleys through their colleges, laden with books, cases and all their worldly possessions for the year ahead. Although it is years since I graduated myself, every autumn I still crave that preppy back-to-class look (which seems to suit life here in Cambridge so well).
I had to wear almost this exact outfit (navy blazer, kilt, bow-tied shirt) all the way through school and so really should be over it by now, but there’s still something I love about that uniform. Though truthfully, the preppy look is a lot more fun as an adult when you can swap the knee-socks for ladylike red-soled Louboutins, the tartan kilt for a leather skirt, and not be hauled into the Headmaster’s office for wearing lipstick (true story).
I suppose there will come a point where I’ll have to stop dressing like Blair Waldorf at prep school, but for now, while I’m in Cambridge, I still take comfort in pulling out my preppy uniform each autumn.
Summer is on its way out in England, and I’m trying to make the most of these last balmy evenings before they disappear for the year. Of all my beloved Cambridge pastimes, there is little I adore more than lazy summer evenings spent idling on the River Cam. At Kings (the grandest of all the colleges), the river bank is not accessible to the general public, so we usually have the entire stretch of bank to ourselves.
Often, I’ll meet the Clever Boyfriend there after work, and we will have a picnic for supper, stretched out on the grass with cheese and strawberries from the market and some bread to feed to the resident swans (who always come to say hello).
As we sit there together in the shade of the willow trees – the Kings chapel swooping into the sunset in front of us, the college cows grazing in the grass behind, and the punts floating up the river at our feet – it always feels more like a perfect literary moment from an entirely different era than real life.
One of my favourite things about summer in Cambridge is the abundance of fabulous events that fill the calendar. The end of term May Balls (actually held in June) where the colleges are transformed into glittering all-night soirees that would make Gatsby proud, games of croquet on the lawns, Shakespeare plays in the college gardens and grand garden parties for the fellows.
The other evening – in the middle of our house-moving weekend – the Clever Boyfriend (a fellow at Kings) and I took the night off to attend the annual Kings College summer party. We put on our party clothes and cycled on our way (as any Cambridge worth their salt knows, this is the only real way to arrive at a college event) to be greeted by a college all decked out for an evening of celebration.
There was champagne on the lawn, a candlelight supper in the great dining hall, games of Russian roulette in the library, a jazz band in the garden and a magnificent explosion of fireworks on the river.
There really is no affair quite like a Cambridge party.