Shopping around Cambridge
This document reflects my personal preferences for shopping, and is
not intended to be implicitly libellous about any I don't mention.
That being said, there are a few lousy shops around...
The local government round here says things like ``we must
encourage city centre trade'' but I don't think it's proper for
government to promote trade with particular businesses (witness the
scandals in which companies have bribed MPs to ask questions in
Parliament for them) and so try to avoid the city centre shops. Don't
be taken in by the ``helping local people'' claims -- the people
helped by the city centre shops are the chain store magnates, and the
pattern of claims about what helps local people suggests that
``local'' simply means ``non-university, non-high-tech-industry''
regardless of where the people come from. I particularly avoid Marks
and Spencer, as they have a totally unnecessary ban on parking bikes
in the alley leading up to their rear entrance (presumably to toady to
the council who implemented the bike ban zone).
Also, the taxis have been making a nuisance of themselves,
protesting about the release of more taxi licences (despite the fact
that Cambridge keeps on getting busier) so I now recommend avoiding
- Books and stationery
- CB1 [32 Mill Road]
- This is my brother's second-hand bookshop (and first-class
cybercafé). See its home page for further details!
- Heffers [Sidney Street (stationery),
Trinity Street (books),
King Street (art materials) and others]
- This has long been the major booksellers and stationers in
Cambridge. They do accounts, have a web entry, and you can email orders to them.
[Mitchams Corner, Chesterton Road]
- Discount office store with easy parking. Basic stuff, I
prefer Heffers but Staples is easier to get to if I'm in
- Ironmongery, string, and other practical stuff
- Simpers Ropeworks [Garlic Row (off
- This sells ironmongery, webbing, marquees, tarpaulins, work
clothes, and, of course, rope (and string) of just about all
sizes. Pretty much anything you can fold or tie, in fact.
- Mackays [East Road]
- General engineering shop, all sorts of tools and metal
things, pulleys, paint, drills, nuts, bolts, trays,
drawers and so on. Sheet metal seems expensive, but apparently it
is everywhere. Still a family business; it really is
run by Mr. Mackay. Web site:
- Motor vehicles
- See my Cambridgeshire
Land Rover contacts page. There's also Discount Autoparts
(off New Street, near Newmarket Road) which is more of the boy
racer stuff place.
- Howes Cycles [Regent Street]
- I reckon this is the best of the local cycle shops,
although a bit expensive compared with some.
- Ben Haywards [Kings Parade]
- This is also good, and stocks some more old-fashioned
stuff than Howes, useful for doing up old or bizarre
- Daily Bread [Kilmaine Close,
Kings Hedges Road]
- Ethical trading wholefood retail/wholesale warehouse
with Traidcraft shop etc... good for dried things in
particular, such as pasta and granola; also good for
flour, olive oil, vinegar, fruit juice, mineral water,
rice, etc etc!
- Nasreen Dar [Histon Road]
- Asian supermarket, open 'til 10pm. Wide range of stuff,
both Asian and non-Asian. It's the kind of place where
you find yourself asking the assistant ``Excuse me, do
you sell extra-hot chili powder in quantities of less
than 5kg?'' (they do! down to about 500g, I think).
- Burwash Manor Farm Shops [just off New Road, Barton]
- A complex of farm shops a couple of miles outside
Cambridge, selling vegetables, furniture, toys, scones,
carpets, ornaments, aromatherapy oils, educational software,
and various other things.
Cafés, Restaurants and Pubs
I recommend Gareth
McCaughan's collection of
Restaurant Reviews for further details of these. Much as I like
the places I recommend here, I'm now rarely to be seen at some of
them, because of the low-cholesterol diet that
I've been put on.
- CB1 [32 Mill Road]
- This is my brother's first-class cybercafé (and
second-hand bookshop). See its home page for further
- CB2 [Norfolk Street]
- This one is a cybercafé, restaurant and
brilliant. Home page:
- Hot Pot [Chesterton Road]
- This is the Chinese restaurant my Chinese friends
- Maharajah [Castle Hill]
- The food is OK, but last time I went, we had to
wait for 45 minutes for a table (despite having
booked) and then an hour for the food, and when we
didn't pay the service charge, they were very
unpleasant to us, although when I loudly and
clearly stated why we weren't prepared to pay the
service charge, in front of a lot of customers,
the owner then waived the service charge. Oh yes,
and when tidying the dishes away, they split some
food on someone's jacket.
- Curry Centre [Castle
- This was my personal preference, but some of my
student friends avoid it because the staff were
unpleasant to them.
- Kebab shops etc
- Gardenia [Rose Crescent]
- This is in a class of its own; I particularly recommend
the Mixed Yiros.
- Istanbul [East Road]
- Conveniently open until 3 a.m.
- Pubs for eating
- The Bun Shop
- Now run by the CB2 group, and doing similar, but
- Free Press [Prospect Row]
- Cambridge's excellent non-smoking pub -- good food as
well as beer.
- Wrestlers Arms [Newmarket Road]
- Good down-to-earth pub with excellent Thai food at pub
- Black Bull [Balsham -- out of
- Excellent food, free house.
- Royal Oak [Barrington -- out
- Excellent pub, good food (well-known for vegetarian
curries), fair range of drinks, distinctive land-lady.
- Queen's Head [Newton
-- out of town]
- Serves excellent soup and the best sandwiches around,
carved out of solid chunks of bread, butter, beef,
salmon and stilton.
- Black Swan (The Swan?) [Fowlmere
-- out of town]
- Good food, excellent cheesecake, noisy ducks and geese
in the yard.
- Pubs for drinking
- The Free Press [Prospect Row]
- An excellent smoke-free pub, and therefore my favourite
- Panton Arms [Panton Street]
- A pleasant large pub, although not of very strong character.
- Six Bells [Covent Garden]
- This was ``The Internet Pub'' (although the terminal and
the web page seem to have disappeared)... don't worry, it's still a real pub.
- Old Spring [Chesterton Road]
- Ordinary decent pub, although perhaps a bit smokier than
- The Hoops [Barton -- out of town]
- A country pub with a big garden in a pleasant setting
near the village pond; also serves decent food.
- I don't like the Parkside pool, too much chlorine; it's now
been knocked down and a new one built. I don't know what the new
one is like for chlorine.
- Jesus Green open air pool
[near Chesterton Road]
- Some people find this a bit cold at times; at other
times, it can get rather crowded.
- Abbey Pool
[Whitehill Road, off Newmarket Road]
- Just another swimming pool, really. No, what am I
saying? It also has a gym, which I haven't tried, and
a sauna, which seemed pretty hot to me, although a
Finnish friend didn't think so.
- Kelsey Kerridge gym [Gonville Place]
- This is the municipal gymnasium. A bit pricey, but the
equipment and services seem OK (in my limited experience).