Reposting from The Edinburgh Reporter. Why am I sharing this article? Because it’s a feel good story in a troubling week. Also, because Ten Hill Place is a great hotel that deserves to be lauded on many levels. It’s very comfortable, has a great restaurant and helpful staff, a good location, and is reasonably priced. It’s not the most posh hotel in Edinburgh, but it’s luxurious enough. Better yet, it has character and heart.
My daughter has stayed at Ten Hill Place, and I had tentatively booked a room for a spring trip this year. Obviously, spring trips have been derailed around the globe, but how great to see this independent hotel stepping up to put itself to use for the good of the community! In truth, it does that every day. The hotel is owned by The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and its profits go back into training medical staff worldwide. When this Coronavirus rollercoaster is over, I’ll be happy to book a stay at Ten Hill Place Hotel, Surgeons Quarter- they’ve made a fan out of me.
FRONTLINE workers leading the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Edinburgh are booking in to the city’s largest independent hotel in their numbers after it committed to offering free rooms and meals. Since opening its doors on Friday evening to help clinical and medical staff at the capital’s hospitals, more than 232 room nights have…
Ah, Cambridge. Two weeks ago, I was there. This week, I wish I was still there.
A few days ago, my corner of Germany was a mess. Rain/snow/hail falling in scissor patterns (like the wind was blowing two directions at once), followed by a more languid thunder storm (minus the storm, because at that point the precipitation mostly left and only the thunder came swaggering through). It was absolutely infuriating weather to have at the end of April. . . and with the pollen full out and everyone’s eyes swollen to the size of grapefruits. Mother Nature is beating us senseless here!
So I’m meditating this week to keep my wits about me. I’m closing my itchy eyes and thinking back to the bright evening we spent punting on the Cam in Cambridge, when the world was beautiful and spring was a given.
If “punting on the Cam” is a phrase that leaves you scratching your head, not to worry. It has that effect on many people. The Cam is the river that runs through Cambridge, and punt boats are traditional flat bottomed (square and stodgy looking) boats. The “punter” is the unlucky bloke who stands at the back of the boat and both steers and propels the small vessel with a long pole.
It looks easy enough, but I’m told it’s a little tricky and tiring for beginners. Conventional wisdom in Cambridge: if you live there, take the time to learn to punt and then enjoy self-hire boats at your liesure; if you’re a tourist, pay the boatman and enjoy the ride. Most of the punting guides will offer their “puntees” a bit of history and Cambridge trivia along with the beautiful ride.
We did our punting in the early evening. It was still bright, but it was a weeknight and campus was mostly quiet along the backs by the river. The air was growing crisp, to the point that our punter had to lend my son a blanket while we strolled around the block and waited for him to prepare our boat.
Pretty soon, we were afloat and learning about the many colleges that make up Cambridge University, ohhhing and ahhhing at the fabulous architecture, and occasionally being heckled by beer swilling students on the banks–which, as long as it’s done in lovely British accents, still sounds pretty posh to Americans. (It’s embarassing, but true–it hardly matters whether a Brit is performing a Shakespearean sonnet, reading from the phone book, or berating us, we Americans will swoon regardless.)
Cambridge University is made up of 31 colleges, many of which have backs along the River Cam. Each college has its own architectural character, and even modern buildings (usually dormatories) occasionally pop up next to Tudor arches and ruddy red brick.
Our punt ride lasted just under an hour, and that was perfect– no time to get fidgety, plenty of time to be lulled into a serene trance on the tranquil river, to soak up a little history, to nibble at the edges of tales of Kings, Queens, scholars, actors, and socialites. As the sun began to fall over Cambridge and a sliver of moon showed itself in the sky, our punt, having come to the halfway point of our journey, turned itself around and we retraced our steps. This slow boat ride home offered us the chance to see the backs once again, from another angle, in another light. . . it seemed fitting in a place like this, where so much history has turned and turned again, and the water keeps dreamily floating its passengers on by.