Spring has sprung – Byron’s pool

The last week or so has felt like a new beginning after a very long and dreary winter. The other morning I was overjoyed to wake up with the sun on my face and more or less leapt out of bed. A sunny day off is not to be wasted. So my beloved and I headed down to one of my favourite local walking spots – Byron’s pool.

Byron’s Pool is a small nature reserve on the outskirts of Cambridge in the village of Grantchester, named after the poet Lord Byron, who it is said, would swim at the weir pool on warm summer’s days. It’s a picturesque location, and perfect for a leisurely walk along the River Cam.

If you have never been to Grantchester you could do worse than to plan a day trip, the village is a truly beautiful location.

Banks_of_the_Cam_at_Grantchester If you need more convincing, this should do the trick:

…………………. would I were
In Grantchester, in Grantchester! –
Some, it may be, can get in touch
With Nature there, Or Earth, or such.
And clever modern men have seen
A Faun a-peeping through the green,
And felt the Classics were not dead,
To glimpse a Naiad’s reedy head,
Or hear the Goat-foot piping low:…
But these are things I do not know.
I only know that you may lie
Day-long and watch the Cambridge sky,
And, flower-lulled in sleepy grass,
Hear the cool lapse of hours pass,
Until the centuries blend and blur
In Grantchester, in Grantchester ….

Rupert Brooke, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, 1912

Byron’s pool itself is just outside of Grantchester. A public footpath through the reserve takes you in a loop alongside the River Cam, and around a small patch of quiet woodland. The river is calm and quiet, brimming with water lilies, with small shallow streams of crystal clear water and darting sticklebacks running through the woodland. The woods, though just beginning to bud in the early spring, comes to life in the summer with hundreds of sweet smelling wildflowers, daisies, willowherb, hogweed, ragwort, dovesfoot, meadowsweet, elder, ivy and cows parsley to name but a few.


I think the main thing which draws me towards Byron’s Pool is the knowledge that Byron spent time there, and, if you listen to Brookes, perhaps still does:

Still in the dawnlit waters cool
His ghostly Lordship swims his pool,
And tries the strokes, essays the tricks,
Long learnt on Hellespont, or Styx.

I like to think that the playful spirit of Byron still roams the area.

George_Gordon_Byron,_6th_Baron_Byron_by_Richard_Westall_(2)Fun Byron fact – Lord Byron was a great lover of animals, and while he was a student at Trinity College installed a tame bear in his quarters. He was compelled to do so after becoming upset that the university forbade the keeping of dogs – they neglected to mention that bears were also forbidden. The college authorities had no had no legal basis to complain, although it is said that they tried to tell him that domesticated animals were not allowed, to which he replied: ‘I assure you that the bear is wild.’

I love the idea of wandering around with the spirits of poets past, and always feel compelled to slip beneath the water as to become even closer to the celestial body of Byron – Alas!IMG_0039

As always I had to settle for a quiet walk, pausing every now and then to try and capture the scene through the lens of my camera.





Walking with the boy on this warm spring day we spoke casually about the location and came upon a bit of difference of opinion. Sebastian thinks the location is ruined by its close proximity to the M11, and while I will concede that this doesn’t add to the experience it does not ruin it for me. I would be lying if I said I can’t hear the road, it is there, in the background, but the sounds of the river, the birds, and the breeze through the trees disguise this for me. Focus on the road and you will hear it, lose yourself in the location and it can pass you by.


International Women’s Day – I am Malala

Happy International Women’s Day! Have you read I am Malala? If not, I strongly suggest that you do so.

I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb


‘Who is Malala?’

These were the words spoken by young bearded man, in light coloured clothing, to a bus full of school girls on 9 October 2012.

‘No one said anything but several of the girls looked at me. I was the only girl with my face not covered.’

‘Don’t worry,’ she had said to her friends. ‘The Taliban have never come for a small girl.’

‘Who is Malala?’

These were the words spoken by the young bearded man, in light coloured clothing, before he lifted up a black pistol and fired three shots, one after the other, into the crowded school bus.

‘Who is Malala?’ Malala Yousafzai writes in the prologue to her inspiring life story. ‘I am Malala, and this is my story. 

When the Taliban took control of her home in the Swat Valley in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai spoke out. I am Malala is the moving tale of how she fought for her right, and the right for every girl, to go to school, and came close to paying the ultimate price.

‘One year ago I left my home for school and never returned’ she begins.

In I am Malala, Malala takes the reader on an inspiring journey beginning with her happy childhood among the sweet fig trees and twittering birds in her village, in the time before the Taliban took control, when she was just a little girl, growing under the protective gaze of her adoring father.

The events which took place of 9 October 2012 changed Malala’s life forever, and has taken her on a journey half way across the world, to speak in the presence of the world’s most influential people, as she continues her fight for universal education and the empowerment of ‘the girl child’.

Malala’s story is inspiring, as well as moving and terribly tragic, as she writes of her despair at being away from the country that she loves, she is no longer at home in her beloved Pakistan, and she doesn’t know if she will ever return. Each morning when she awakes it is to the tall buildings of the Birmingham skyline.

Written in plain, moving English, I Am Malala, will take you on an extraordinary journey, move you to tears, and make you believe in the power of a single voice to inspire change in the world.