When I was a kid September was a month of dread: the return to school after a summer break long enough to lead me to believe that every day really could be carefree and happy. But now, years later, in Cambridge, I find that September has become my favourite month of the year.
I cycled at 7am this morning across Parker’s Piece to the station. The sun was up casting golden light across grass still verdant from the summer rain. Dewy spiders’ webs glistened like threads of diamonds. The air was fresh, just a slight chill, but the promise of warmth to come later in the morning. And I reflected on why September in Cambridge is the best month of the year.
I think that the main reason is that the city is so pleasantly quiet compared with most months of the year. The thousands of students at both universities bring a vibrancy to Cambridge, but in September they are yet to arrive. Throughout the summer months, the city welcomes the hordes of language students that bring an international dimension. Overall, they are widely welcomed by the city residents (at least they are by us) but like all teenagers, they move in packs! Now though, the Market Square hums gently and is no longer Babel.
The river is relatively quiet too. After an August lull, the town rowers are back on the water, forming new crews and wondering where that Bumps racing fitness has gone! All town rowers know that in just a few weeks’ time a whole new student generation will be inducted into rowing, with all the joyous confusion that brings! In September, you can pretty much go lock to lock without interruption.
And then there is the weather. We always seem to have our best days in September – warm enough to for t-shirt and shorts, and to eat outside in the evening. You can eat picnics or lunch on the greens without fear of sun-burn. Jesus Green swimming pool is still going strong - the water is at its warmest and poolside is less busy than August. The free tennis courts on Jesus Green and Christ’s Pieces are more readily available. The punt queues are shorter and the river quiet enough to encourage those that want to try their luck at self-punting. And you can even get a seat at the Orchard tea rooms out at Grantchester without queuing…
September in Cambridge… what’s not to like!