Walking with our eldest by the River Granta,
through Grantchester Meadows
past a casually parked punt
solicitous swans with their cygnets
and darting damsel flies
we came to
First planted in 1868, it became a Tea Garden when a group of Cambridge students
asked Mrs Stevenson of Orchard House if she would serve tea beneath the blossoming fruit trees and in so doing, started a great Cambridge tradition.
One of their lodgers at Orchard House was a young graduate of King's College -
His poem 'The Old Vicarage, Grantchester',
written whilst homesick during a trip to Berlin,
contains the famous final lines immortalising afternoon tea in the Orchard:
Ah God! To see the branches stir
Across the moon at Grantchester!
To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten
River-smell, and hear the breeze
Sobbing in the little trees.
Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand
Still guardians of that holy land?
The chestnuts shades, in reverend dream,
the yet unacademic stream?
Is dawn a secret shy and cold
And sunset still a golden sea
From Hasingfield to Madingley?
And after, ere the night is born,
Do hares come out about the corn?
Oh, is the water sweet and cool,
Gentle and brown, above the pool?
And laughs the immortal river still
Under the mill,under the mill?
Say, is there Beauty yet to find?
And Certainty, And quiet kind?
Deep meadows yet, for to forget
The lies, and truth, and pain?...oh! Yet
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?
We had scones and strawberries and clotted cream,
and then our son had to leave as he had
one more supervision
and one more exam to take.
And now it is over.
So fast and yet so slow.
Just like their growing up.