Saturday, October 4, 2003

The quality of Cambridge accommodation is often strained …

No, it's not where I live. It is not in fact, even my college.

It is though, a view of St John's chapel and Trinity College (kindly provided from the Burnt Toast photo log permission of Lisa), which is pretty close to the view I walk past most days on my way to check my e-mail at Trinity Hall. Especially the grey sky, after a few days of unseasonal sunshine.

Anyway, I am beginning to settle into the house, now that I can enter and leave at will. We lucky few, we band of brothers off Mill Road are, apparently, in the lap of comparative luxury in our pad.

Few students it seems, even lofty graduates, get brand new accommodation and a comfortable ratio of six students to two bathrooms, let alone a new kitchen with washer and dryer - and the college has given us an extra (albeit small-ish) fridge as the one we have is not really big enough for six men, though it has freezer space for an army.

There are contradictory rumours about whether we will get access to the College's broadband, or whether we will have dial-up only access from home. Still, we have the Middle Combination Room (ie Grad Student Society) computing officer in our house, so that should be good. Mind you, I've not yet seen him - he seems to keep late hours, but has apparently been preparing for a conference in Cyprus that he is now away upon.

Upsides of our unusual situation are that we have unusual freedom in running our own affairs and will not, after a slight panic attack on my part, be subject to £100 a year in laundry fees. We have to buy the supplied bedding, but can wash it ourselves without paying.

We have a college-provided cleaning lady who lives nearby, called the "bedmaker", despite the fact that she does not, in fact, make the beds.

On the downside, we apparently cannot put anything on the walls - the college is actually leasing this house from a private landlord for 3 years while they construct new buildings at Wychfield (where I had, at one stage, hoped to be). We also cannot smoke indoors, not a problem for me, but an issue for some of my continental compatriots who, in innocent ignorance, have been smoking in the kitchen with the windows open.

I wasn't super-happy about the cigarette smoke, but so long as they kept it to one well-ventilated room I was happy. Now seems they'll have to smoke outside.

Getting along very well with S. the Italian Sociologist, who I will call the Italian Sociologist as he shares the same first names as our Greek Mathematician. The Italian Sociologist and the Australian lawyer have already had some interesting cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary conversations and bonded over our mutual love of his two man coffee percolator.

We sound like a bar joke: two Italians, and Australian, two Greeks and an Englishman walked into a house off Mill Road and …

My room is small-ish, but not too bad.

It has more storage space than I know what to do with. My desk has three tiny old-fashioned letter drawers at desk level - despite the pull-out keyboard shelf making it's ikea catalogue origins abundantly clear. It also has a small cupboard with two shelves.

I have a plain pine chest at the foot of my bed, and two drawers pull out of the bed base. One of these is blocked by my three-drawer side table, which is just far enough from the wall opposite my bed to open the mid-sized wardrobe. To the left of the wardrobe is a six-shelf pine bookcase, which protrudes slightly into the desk nook.

My window is over the desk, and provides plenty of light and an ample, nay unparalleled, view of the neighbour's shambolic back yard and the train tracks in the mid-distance. Still, the place is warm, comfortable, clean and new - though not very central. Apparently one is often lucky in college housing to get one of these, let alone four.

I have spoken to a friend at a BIG college who has described her accommodation as including a shower (no bath) where she is “afraid to touch the walls”. Ick.

Still, it is amusing that our house actually falls about two centimetres off the official (larger) map of Cambridge University mailed out to me. (I guess we are in “here be dragons” territory.)

The College itself is lovely, but more words and photos (once I have the technology) on that soon.

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