It does though, have Cambridge, the beautiful and historic university city where my husband and I spent many hours together in our dating days.
For a long time, I’ve wanted to write a story set there. My work in progress is not that story, but I did manage to sneak in some Cambridge scenes.
It’s such a beautiful city, especially in summer. The mellow stone of the ancient colleges. The lovely gardens and green lawns. Picnics on Grantchester Meadows. The outdoor restaurants lining the river. And punting.
The pretty River Cam winds through the town, and used to be the main trade route. In the low-lying fens, often boggy in summer and snow-covered in winter, river travel was far more reliable and safer than travel by carriage or cart on unpaved roads. So when the university colleges were established from the 1200s on, they were built backing onto the river to access the transport opportunities.
The best view of many of the medieval colleges is from the Backs, a stretch of river running from the Millpond to Magdalen College (be sure to pronounce this “Maudlin”, as locals do!). And the best way to travel the river is by punt, a flat-bottomed timber boat steered with a pole. Punting is one of those essential Cambridge things, but a tough thing to master. A punt isn’t rowed, it’s poled, and it’s surprisingly easy to drop the pole in the river, or for the person poling to fall into the river themselves!
If you ever visit Cambridge, I highly recommend punting as a delightful way to spend an hour on the river and get a different view of the town. You can even have a chauffeured punt, complete with strawberries and champagne!
When I needed some scenes set in Cambridge for Teapots & Tiaras, my story in the Whispers of Love set, of course my group of friends had to go punting! Here a snippet from the story (it’s not yet been to my editor, so may change in the final published version):
“You are not getting your hands on that pole.” Matthew shook his head. “I remember what happened last time you were let loose with a punt. Besides, I’ve been stuck in the office all day. I need some exercise.”
Anita laughed. “Dare I ask?”
“All I did was lose the pole here in the Mill Pond,” James protested. “An expected beginner’s mistake.”
“I’m guessing there’s more,” Beth teased, eyes alight as she smiled up at James.
No wonder Anita averted her eyes. The pair were so in love it hurt to watch.
Matthew glanced away, and snorted. “Right. He was so determined not to lose the pole a second time, he hung on when it got stuck, fell overboard, and caused a six boat pile-up under Silver Street Bridge.”
“Okay, okay, I concede. You get to punt.” James held up his hands in surrender and grinned. “Suits me. I relax with Anita and Beth, while you do all the work.”
Matthew laughed. “I knew there was a catch. But I’ll make you work too. You can do the tour guide spiel for Anita and Beth.”
Truth was, he preferred it that way.
Less contact with Anita. Until he knew what God’s will for his future was, his disorderly emotions needed tighter control. The way her touch sent his adrenaline levels soaring as he held the punt and took her hand to steady her while she climbed aboard proved it.
Beth and James sat in the front seat, facing him, while Anita sat in the rear seat. Only a foot or so away, but facing forward, with her back to him.
Her voice and laugh were distraction enough, without seeing her smile, too.
He took his stance on the platform at the back of the punt, bending his knees and rocking the boat a little to get the feel for it and making sure his shoes had good grip on the deck, before he picked up the long heavy pole. After ribbing James, he’d best make sure he didn’t pull a similar stunt. He hadn’t punted for well over ten years.
Like riding a bicycle, his body didn’t forget. The old rhythm came back.
The hand-over-hand lift of the heavy wet pole from the water, then dropping it back down to the riverbed, letting it fall through his hands. Bending his knees as he walked his hands to the top of the pole, remembering to hold on, but not too tight. Pushing the boat through the water.
He negotiated the passage under Silver Street Bridge successfully, avoiding the notorious Queen’s Teeth, the concrete posts hidden under the water where James came unstuck last time, and gave his friend a thumbs up.
As James began pointing out the landmarks they passed, he continued the unhurried rhythm. Poling the boat was just the exercise he needed.
Warm sunshine. Steady repetitive movement. The satisfaction of the smooth glide forward along the river with each push. The gentle swish of the water against the boat. The beauty surrounding them as they passed the Mathematical Bridge, Kings College Chapel, Clare Gardens, and the other colleges along the Backs. An occasional smile at the antics of other punters.
It became almost meditative. Maybe he had no idea of what God’s will for him was because he’d forgotten to slow down enough to listen.
About Teapots & Tiaras (Love in Store Book #5)
When their best friends’ summer wedding in London pushes proud judgmental medical missionary Matthew Coalbrooke and bubbly shoe-aholic kitchenware saleswoman Anita Kiernan together, it’s dislike at first sight. But God has a bigger plan for them than they can possibly imagine.
About Whispers of Love
WHISPERS OF LOVE: 12 Christian Romance Novels
Over 2000 pages of ALL NEW contemporary Christian romance novels from bestselling authors for only 99c! Preorder your sweet summer reading now before this spectacular limited time offer disappears forever!
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