March 22

Francisco Anzola/Flickr
Francisco Anzola/Flickr

Even though it was barely noon, we set out for celebratory drinks. My classmates and I had just handed in our Lent term essays, so it was high time to blow off some steam, order a few pints, and try to talk about something other than books.

The MillWorks restaurant straddles a diverted segment of the Cam on the edge of Sheep’s Green and Coe Fen. From the windows, you can watch punters setting off from the millpond and people strolling through the grassy pastures. Because of the kelly greening willows, you’d never guess that the Fitzwilliam Museum lies less than a thousand feet away, on the other side of the river. But today wasn’t the time to admire the James Whistler exhibition. This afternoon was meant for admiring another marvel: the massive millwheel spinning in between four-tops in the middle of the restaurant.

On my walk home, it was chillier than I expected, but I was in good spirits and decided to take the long way. I turned into a spindly alley behind Newnham College, where tiny purple wallflowers were starting to bloom. There’s a whole row of sensibly sized British townhouses to ogle, before an ancient beech-tree hedgerow blocks the view of Gonville and Caius College’s playing fields. I looked as much as I could, before putting my head down and thinking about my warm pajamas waiting at home.

It wasn’t until the following sunny afternoon when I could circle back and sit in Newnham’s gardens, on a bench that wrapped all the way around the trunk of a leafless tree. I was free to do a little reading of my own, and so I sat and absorbed the sunlight like a lizard, reading a paragraph or two before closing my eyes. For a few days, I decided, I would step away from the millwheel and loaf around town, admiring the daffodils and hyacinths and breathing in that damp earthy smell along pea-gravel paths.

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Charlotte Salley is a former assistant editor of the Scholar.


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