The Character of Cambridge


What follows is an attempt at a distillation of opinions I've heard from many people in the last 20 years.

People generally fall into one of two groups:

The place

It's prosperous, fairly clean and relatively safe. The infamous traffic problems discourage many and are probably Cambridge's worst feature.

One thing that residents appreciate is that one can walk almost everywhere - central Cambridge is only about 30 minutes wide, the City 60-70 minutes.

It's true that City Council policies have meant there's little in the way of nightclubs and other entertainments such as bowling alleys, and many who dislike the place cite that.

However residents who do like Cambridge find there's enough to do, so I suspect many of the haters just haven't got the hang of the place. One answer is that Cambridge manages to support more pubs per head than most places.

Most people say the quality of life is high, even though the cost of living is much the same as in London.

The people

What strikes visitors most seems to be that the residents are relaxed and unself-conscious. For instance it's been said to me that when someone's walking in a street with unusual garb (a common sight), other people look once but not twice - that's not true everywhere in Britain.

Some people say that the residents are unfriendly, citing places such as remote villages here or abroad as being friendly. I think it's a matter of time, place and manner of approach.

The weather

Residents know well that the weather can be characterised thus: There always seems to be less rain than forecast and we seem to be the last place in the country to get any snow. What little rain there is seems to fall overnight or during the working day (mid-morning & mid-afternoon).