Liz Hoggard: Say no to campus life out of season

If you want culture from the inside, a B&Bat Cambridge might not offer it

Share
Related Topics

When news broke this weekend that Cambridge is to open its doors as a B&B establishment – to raise money – the people cheered. For the first time in Cambridge's 800-year-history, holidaymakers will be able to stay the night in Corpus Christi College, Clare, Downing, et al. Until now only conference delegates and guests of college members could book accommodation. But from Easter, it was reported, anyone will be able to sample Cambridge University life from £60 a night.

Imagine waking up to ancient courts and quiet cloisters once occupied by Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Oliver Cromwell, William Wordsworth, Stephen Hawking and Stephen Fry, runs the romantic blurb. Are they kidding?

As a teenager I spent all my summer holidays staying on university campuses. York, Exeter, Stirling, I've seen them all. Blame my cash-strapped French teacher parents, who jumped at the chance to stay somewhere inexpensive. Plus they argued it would be a marvellous way to experience culture from the inside.

So every summer we would roll up in our battered Renault, full of sleeping bags and tins of beans, and stay in modest local accomodation (yes the bloody halls of residence) at 1960s redbrick universities. Many were built like a Swedish women's open prisons, with queues for the wash blocks, and depressing refectories.

I'm sure one day they'll make a C4 film about my family. At breakfast we'd sit around the kitchen table like a parody of University Challenge (National Health glasses, bad 1970s haircuts) as my parents tried to raise our spirits with promises of improving day trips, theatre outings, and cheese and wine evenings with the local acdemics. Dream on.

The only people on campus at that time of year are janitors, depressed foreign students, and the Open University. The OU, God bless them , work incredibly hard all year long, studying on top of day jobs. So given two weeks to become a hedonistic student, they literally throw off their wedding rings, and start living it up. Very puzzling for 13-year-old girls.

A univeristy campus in August is the equivalent of Hastings in winter. Day trips tended to involve three buses (campuses are by definition miles from the centre of town). There's only so much one can can do on Dartmoor or the Yorkshire Moors. Watching one desperate farce – Dandy Dick at Exeter's campus theatre – we were the sole audience. In Stirling it rained every day. "This is the actual castle where they filmed Colditz," encouraged my father in a cagoule. You don't say.

I think my parents hoped we were getting an education in thrift. Don't believe it. These days I fritter money on five-star hotels with crisp linen and spas and valet parking. I never want to see a bunk bed again. Forget the Dreaming Spires. Or bed and breakfast with the dons. Send your kids to Eurodisney instead. They might just learn some French.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Social Media Director (Global) - London Bridge/Southwark

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Social Media Director (Gl...

HR Advisor - 6 months FTC Wimbledon, SW London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - 6 Months Fix...

IT Manager - Tolworth, Surrey - £40,000

£37000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Tolworth, Surrey - £40,...

Foundation / Year 1 Teacher - Long Term - Salford

£90 - £130 per day + competitive rates, pension scheme: Randstad Education Man...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: Neigh-Drama Obama, changing welfare and how to tell if you are a journalist

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: Only a game? Far from it

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil