Struck out in Cambridge

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I was very pleased with my rather last-minute plan to stop over in England between leaving Berlin and meeting up with Kristian in Paris. I’d be traveling on Saturday, and there was a Casals celebration that evening, just a one-hour concert but featuring twelve cellos! I love the cello voice. What a treat that would be. Then, Sunday, free organ recitals in college chapels and perhaps attend an Evensong service for more music.

But my Ryanair flight was very late, and I wasn’t up to rushing out again as soon as I’d settled in my room. It was windy and wet, and I hadn’t booked a ticket in advance because I wasn’t sure of making it. So, cross that off. I didn’t even go out for something to eat. I just crashed. Looking forward to a good Sunday.

A gray day, but not bad. Made my way to the center of town. Terraced houses and all sorts of little restaurants near me, then in the center of town, fancier shops and restaurants, malls, and the glorious college buildings. I enjoyed taking it all in, reading the plaques on historic buildings, looking down little mews, looking up at the steeples and towers. As it was so gray, and a bit damp, I didn’t take many photos, just enjoyed looking. I wanted coffee, and ended up in a Caffe Nero. There were a couple of big fat scones and I saw that one would be served with butter, clotted cream and jam, for 2 pound 95. Good deal! And it was delicious with my flat white. Nice start.

Off to Kings College, only to see a signboard announcing that the organ recital had been cancelled. So disappointed!

And now my timing was off. I’d thought I’d go for eggs Benedict somewhere between the two recitals I wanted to catch. Now I had a lot of time to kill. Not much appetite after that scone! But what to do … I walked around a while, looked in a couple of bookstores. There were some street musicians and there was some sort of fair going on.

I could not remember the name of the restaurant I’d decided upon, couldn’t turn it up again in Google maps, so went with a backup plan, a place called Bill’s that had good reviews, and that I’d passed, so I at least knew how to find it.

The eggs Benedict were – well, terrible, I thought. Tasteless Hollandaise, not rare, nobody lemons it up like I do. The eggs were overcooked, whites very tough. The awful part was the bread they were on. A muffin or a bagel? One part of the surface had a bit of color like it had been shown to a toaster sometime, but it was not toasted, and at this point it was cold, damp, dough-y. Unfortunately I wasn’t appreciating the strong point of this plate, because I didn’t really care to have ham, but in fact, there was a bountiful portion of a very good quality ham. Still, when the waitress checked up on me, we agreed to change the order and I opted for avocado toast with poached eggs. This time the eggs were tender and the toast was toast, so, better.

I’d started with a Bloody Mary, and while waiting for the new order, asked for another. Needed to ask three different people and still wait a bit before it came. And it was like pure pepper juice. Although the waitress was thoroughly good-natured about changing out my order and offering a substitute, this Bloody Mary was so extreme – and we hadn’t talked about spiciness, and the first was on the mild side – I thought this was a bit of resto revenge. I should have sent it back, no doubt about that, but I’d already sent back my first plate and who wants to keep sending things back? I can stand spicy, I thought, I’ll take their challenge and just drink it. Mistake. I worried for the next hour that my lunch would come back up, and I didn’t dare go on to the recital I’d wanted to catch at the end of the day. Really did me in. For the record, they took the drink off the bill.

And that is how I completely struck out as far as music in Cambridge was concerned, this time. At least I got to enjoy seeing some of the town, even if I didn’t get inside any buildings.

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