Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Ramblin'

The Ramblers are a national organization for walking. U.K. landowners by law have to provide walkers the right of passage across their land (there are a few exceptions), so there are a LOT of places to walk. There are local chapters all over that have organized walks every weekend.

Apparently, the Ramblers have gotten a reputation for being an organization for retirees (or pensioners, as the Brits say), so earlier this decade they started groups around the country for people in their 20s and 30s as a way to revitalize the organization. As it happens, there's one of these groups in Cambridge, called Walk Cambridge.

This weekend, we decided to try the group out by joining them for a walk about 45 minutes north of Cambridge. It was a 6-mile walk between the villages of Folksworth and Stilton, which is where Stilton cheese gets its name from but isn't where it's made. It was pleasant enough, but the real treat was the people -- everyone was *so* nice. I chatted with probably 8 different people along the way, none of them JT, because he was busy chatting, too. One of the original members of the group told us, "I'm not sure if we're a walking group that talks or a talking group that walks."

We walked through fields, mostly, saw the occasional cow, and only one flock of sheep. We stopped for lunch in a farmer's field next to a giant pile of manure. Fortunately the wind was (mostly) blowing the other way. We also came upon a couple of horses that came over and greeted us, and when I fed one of them my apple core, she decided she wanted to be a Rambler, too. She looked at us rather mournfully over the kissing gate when she realized we weren't going to stay and play with her.

The whole walk took us about 4 hours, plus we stopped at a pub for 20-30 minutes for a break. We walked through a lot of mud -- a LOT of mud. When we got back to the car we both took our boots off and put them in the trunk -- we didn't even want to get in the car with them on. My jeans were covered in mud, too -- I'm going to need a pair of gaiters if we keep this up.

We had a great time, and the walk served the dual purpose of providing a way for us to meet more people in the area that aren't work colleagues, and seeing more of the greater Cambridge area. I think we'll be back.

More photos here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Happy Belated 200th Mr. Darwin!

I've been debating whether to do this post. While Charles Darwin is one of the most influential scientists ever, he's also arguably one of the most controversial. His ideas on evolution, specifically that we descended from simpler creatures and that other primates trace their lineages back to a common ancestor with us, are well-accepted by the scientific community, but they are hard to embrace by those who believe in a largely literal reading of the Bible. This conflict makes me sad. The large majority of the world's religions, even most forms of Christianity, have come to terms with evolution, finding no conflict between it and faith in a God who created mankind. From my viewpoint, I find the idea that people trace back to single-cell creatures one of the greatest miracles of all.
Despite the divisiveness of the topic, I felt the need to write this entry, primarily because we can't escape Darwin-mania here in Cambridge,where the man was a student. Just this week Prince Philip came to town to unveil a new Darwin statue and a few weeks ago Cambridge University had an amazing light show that featured Darwin (see the picture above of Darwin and the tree of life). My intern on Monday also visited the newly restored Down House, Darwin's home that some want to be a World Heritage site.
But the real reason for this post is I wanted to share the amazing evening I had Monday night listening to Baba Brinkman, a Canadian hip-hop artist who is doing rap songs about evolution.I went in skeptical but left his show hugely impressed. If you follow the link, you can read my review of the show and can also see lyrics, listen to,or watch videos of songs with titles such as Natural Selection. Even if you don't like rap, take a look--he's worth it. But if you don't like evolution, be warned that Baba doesn't take it easy on creationism or intelligent design.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Snowy February

We've had bad luck seeing snow in Cambridge. It snowed days before our initial arrival here, but was of course long gone by the time we got here. then, last year, the same snow that covered us in the Lake District covered Cambridge -- so we missed it. We get the odd flurry, but the weather is generally too mild for snow. Well, the what started as a blustery snow storm yesterday settled into a constant snowfall over night, and lovely snow showers throughout the day today. The nice, fluffy snow stuck, and was enough to close schools and even shut down most mass transit in London. It's just gorgeous.