I was very lucky to visit a friend who is researching at Cambridge. We toured St John’s old library and got to handle a 16th century Book of Hours, hand painted maps telling the story of the Spanish Armada, Samuel Coleridge’s handwritten corrections of his poem Christabel in an early edition of Kublai Khan.
We next had dinner with the fellows, Harry Potter style, in the 16th century dining hall. The fellows, their guests, an Earl and a major general, ate at the front of the hall and then the students ate on the long benches running perpendicular to the front rows. Long wooden benches, silver pitchers, wine constantly being refilled,candles, coats of arms and portraits dcorating the wall. Soup, followed by pheasant and vegetables, followed by cheese breadsticks and guiness. Some people ate from massive platters of very nice cheese. There were rules about when to stand, sit, how to pass the gravy.
Next up was the wine circle in the combination room with the Fellows. The roof was incredibly long and saggy due to its lack of supporting beams. Candles in silver candleabras everywhere. We drank very expensive and nice port and listened to physicists, biologists, chemists, vetinarians discuss the prerequisite environments for the chemical reactions of replication and the origins of life on earth.
Anyway, that was my unusual evening living it up with the scholarly elite who have one on one tutorial time and amazing resources.