I have probably changed in ways I don’t even know since moving to Cambridge. Life is the same and yet different. We adapt as necessary to our income, our cultural surroundings and our physical environment. We drink more wine and eat more bread. We don’t have a car, dishwasher, coffee maker, slow cooker, microwave or a Kitchenaid mixer. We spend less, obviously drive less and entertain less. My closest friends are Muslim, Mormon and uhh…Catholic? I have cooked with Kale, Celeriac, Chard, Figs, Self-rising flour, Castor sugar and sent Rabina in Jakob’s lunch. I have volunteered for NOTHING.
Life is Different. Cambridge is Different.
There are many factors that make Cambridge unique. From it’s relatively dry climate (compared to the rest of England) to the Roman road which is over 1500 years old. Here are just a few fun facts about this strange little city and small island nation.
Expiry dates: nothing lasts long here. While a tub of yogurt could stay open in your fridge for a good two weeks in Canada, labels here warn using it after three days. The primary reason for this is the reduced amount of preservatives. We try to buy mostly organic and as an example the ingredients listed on my yogurt are Organic Guernsey wholemilk yoghurt, sugar 6%, vanilla essence and bean extract. Perhaps this is why, in part, everything comes in such small packages.
Not the present but the last mayor of Cambridge was a woman born a man, and was married to another woman, who was born a man.
There is no need to tip here. Service industry employees are apparently paid sufficiently and the tip is incorporated into the price. This was quite baffling when we first arrived and would go into a coffee shop where a chocolate croissant would be £1.55 to take away and £2.70 to eat in. Not only that but BC should take a lesson from England where the price you see is the price you pay. It is not that the product is without tax it, but rather the 20% VAT is incorporated into the price. Psychologically, this seems a better method.
Starbucks is the only store I know of that sells filter coffee.
When Brits greet you they might say, “You okay?” It took me a while to stop thinking to myself, “Of course I am okay, why wouldn’t I be okay? Do I look that haggard from carting around two children all over the city? OF COURSE I AM OKAY!” Really it is just the equivalent of the Canadian, “Hi, how are you?”
The Cambridge Railway station is one and half miles from the city centre. This is because when the railway reached Cambridge in 1845 the University did not want the distractions of London taking the students away from their studies. This is just one example of the influence that the University had and still has on the city even though Cambridge existed long before the University was established.
You can’t buy regular Cheerios or Ichiban noodles and it is very difficult to find pumpkin in a can because Britons don’t like pumpkin pie. You can however buy Goose Fat by the jarful.
They love their mince pies, mixed game roasts, sausages, anything wrapped in bacon and baked beans.
There is so much more, but that will come as we go. I like Cambridge. And I think Cambridge likes me. Cambridge is not home but sure is beautiful.