Cambridge Days

Grantchester, The Orchard

All it takes is a little Murphy’s law: the day after local papers led with “WETTEST SUMMER IN 50 YEARS”, this place starts feeling like California. In a sunshine-y sense, that is.

We took a most civilized stroll out of town yesterday, and walked alongside the river Cam towards Grantchester. The footpath dips and rises through hyperpastoral meadows, and it offers exactly the sort of scenery you’d hope for: grazing livestock, starry-eyed punters, and rolling farmland afar.  It’s quiet, verdant, and all feels (relatively) isolated, especially for a route that starts just twenty minutes’ walk from the city center.

An hour later, we stumbled across Grantchester, and its tea-room of some repute: The Orchard. As the name implies, the outdoor grounds are sprinkled with apple and pear trees; Az and I entered from an adjacent meadow by first squeezing past some cows and then climbing a cattle-fence. I’d hoped to congratulate myself on my little discovery, but turns out this is a place Cambridge students have flocked to for 100 years; The Orchard even offers a glossy brochure listing its famous tea-takers, beginning with Virginia Woolf and ending with John Cleese.

Closer to my own heart, they claim Alan Turing ‘first conceived’ the idea of Artificial Intelligence whilst strolling from Cambridge to The Orchard. I don’t entirely buy it: I’m no genius, but do I spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about computers, sci-fi, and othersuch nerdworthy nonsense, and I can say that bits, bytes, and computer cognizance were the last thing on my mind during that pleasant walk. To me, it’s like arguing that Thoreau penned Walden whilst riding the London Underground. Doesn’t jibe, somehow – but, then again, I’m no genius.


orchard sign with paint peeling

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