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.
Summer weekends: surely two of the most beautiful words in the English language. For this, the first weekend of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, I had a blissfully relaxed schedule filled only with the sort of pleasing pastimes that make the weekend feel wonderful. On Saturday, the Clever Boyfriend and I went for bike rides and burritos at our favourite Mexican place, before a long stroll through a few of the grand colleges and a Saturday matinee at the charming little ADC theatre (if you’re in Cambridge and get a chance to see the Footlights perform, you simply must go; I guarantee they’ll have you in fits of giggles!). Yesterday, I met my friend (and A Girl, A Style sidekick) Sophie for brunch at Afternoon Tease (one of my favourite little Cambridge cafés; anywhere that carries Frankie magazine, peonies on the tables and an abundance of homemade cake is alright in my book). I say brunch, but really it was one of those long, languid afternoon dates that ease into the early evening. We talked for hours and hours about good books, happiness and everything in between over the best eggs Florentine and iced coffees in town. Eventually, we tore ourselves away at closing time, parted ways and I cycled off home with that glorious summer sunshine on my face, Phoenix in my ears and a basket full of peonies. Summer Sundays, you are my favourite!