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!
It has been quite the hectic week around here, with extra levels of busyness and not a moment to spare. So by Friday afternoon, I was completely worn out and in need of a little playfulness. While the sensible thing to do would have been to go straight home after work to tend to my bulging ‘to do’ list, my equally over-busy best friend and I decided that a speed date was just what was needed.
So I swapped my tuxedo jacket and Chanel bag for this darling little clutch that looks like a box of humbugs (please tell me I’m not the only one who keeps a mini accessories wardrobe in my desk drawer for desk-date transformations?) and raced straight from the office to our favourite tiny Italian place in town (where you can always count on the strong coffee and a steady stream of compliments from the charming Italian staff). One quick pit stop at the old-fashioned sweet shop around the corner (to satisfy our sudden cravings for nostalgic sweets my Lulu clutch had brought on) later, and it was home again to tackle that ‘to do’ list (including packing for the weekend in Paris!) with fresh enthusiasm.
Sometimes, there is much to be said for adding a little dose of playfulness (whether in the form of sweet shop dates, or just accessories that look like sweets) in the midst of the most hectic moments.
How do you add a little fun to your week when things are getting hectic?
Love, Miss B xx
P.S. To celebrate their sweetie-inspired SS’14 collection, Lulu Guinness is giving fans the chance to win a £1000 shopping spree! Until Wednesday 7th May there will be humbugs hidden across the website, in the brand’s London stores, and on Instagram. Once you’ve found a humbug, enter the competition here. Hint: don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!