Mill Road Festive Lights

Mill Road is known for the festive light display of giant snowflakes adorning its shop fronts in the run up to Christmas and the beautifully lit large trees at the top of Gwydir Street that can be seen from a distance; and this year will see the addition of new trees at the top of Cavendish Road and near the corner with Ross Street as well as a Switch On event at Cambridge Bed Centre.

snowflakes dark longFestive Lights PosterA team of volunteers organises and raises funds for the Mill Road festive lights and they begin planning several months ahead of the festive season. Their work includes organising PAT testing and repair of the lights, as well as installation, take down and the organisation of the Switch On event. The group are a not-for profit community organisation and have received a grant from Cambridge City Council as well as sponsorship from many of the businesses in the Mill Road area and help from a number of local residents. They are always looking for volunteers to join them, if you would like to get involved or make a donation then do visit their website for more info on how you can help.

Switch On TimingsThis year the Switch On event will take place at Cambridge Bed Centre on Mill Road on Sunday 17th November. There will be a lantern making workshop for little ones at Ross Street Community Centre from 4pm, with a procession of the lanterns making its way to the Cambridge Bed Centre at 5:15pm. The festivities include stalls and entertainment at the Bed Centre from 5pm, including music from local community radio station Cambridge 105, Elliot Porter & The Missing Pieces and The Hot Lights; as well as the ever popular Steak & Honour burger van and a barbecue by local legend Carlos from Mill Road’s very own Bosphorus restaurant/take away. There will also be a tombola/prize draw and the lights themselves will be switched on around 6:15 by Romsey resident Councillor Paul Saunders, the Mayor of Cambridge.

Your favourite High Street

The Telegraph newspaper are running a campaign called Reinventing the High Street, aiming to put the heart back into the country’s traditional high streets. People are asked to nominate their favourite simply by emailing highstreet@telegraph.co.uk.

Mill Road BridgeI don’t know about you, but I think there’s something pretty special about Mill Road and I think it deserves a place among the best that the UK has to offer. Not only is the Mill Road area home to Cambridge’s best independent pub, coffee house, home & garden shop, specialist food shop and record shop (all awarded this year in the Discovering Cambridge awards) and home to the Independent Drinks Retailer of The Year (as voted at the UK Drinks Retailing Awards 2013) but it’s also the location of CAMRA‘s Cambridge City Locale Pub Of The Year 2013. There’s a range of events on throughout the year – including the Romsey Art Festival, several street parties, various beer festivals and of course the forthcoming Mill Road Winter Fair – as well as regular music nights at lots of different venues; and next week sees the first ever Romsey Calling music festival on Mill Road.

Mill Road has even been used as a location for music videos (like Mikill Pane’s ‘Good Feeling‘), films (Neil Morrissey was here last month filming a new movie, Caffiend), TV programmes (including Antiques Road Trip) and has had residents such as Douglas AdamsDave Gilmour, Syd Barrett, Angela Hartnett and Amy Williams over the years. It even has its own blog and its own radio show – ‘Our Mill Road‘! There’s lots more I could say about Mill Road, but too much for one blog post (hence the whole blog!) but suffice to say it’s full of community-spirited individuals and groups and has lots of people living, working and socialising in the area and keeping Mill Road the coolest street in Cambridge.

All you need to do to nominate Mill Road is to email highstreet@telegraph.co.uk and let them know! You know what they say – there’s something about Mill Road… .

Calling all artists…

Art 4Those of you who tuned in to me guest-presenting the ‘Our Mill Road‘ show on Cambridge 105 earlier this month will have heard me mention an exciting new community art project that’s being organised by Ceri Littlechild…

There are hoardings outside a currently vacant piece of land on Mill Road – near the Spar shop at No.301 – and although the land is already earmarked for development and the hoardings will be removed at some point, they could be improved in the mean time and made to look nicer. Ceri has been in touch with the current landowners and spoken to them about the possibility of running an art project to decorate the hoardings. They have agreed in principle though have asked for potential designs for the hoardings to be submitted, before final approval. The group is also waiting to hear if they will be able to use the other nearby hoardings which are owned by the Mosque Project.

Mill Road hoardings

Seven lead artists are needed for the project, with each working on between five and ten of the hoardings. The work of each lead artist would involve:

  • Identifying a local community group to engage in the design process (ASAP). This should preferably reach out to a diverse range of people, including local school children, minority groups, the disabled, elderly, or those with a local interest or connection. Applicants must have the appropriate certification to be able to work with children or the vulnerable.
  • Arranging one or two (as appropriate) half day workshops with that community group to sketch out 2 or 3 designs for the relevant section of the hoardings (October/November 2013)
  • Once the designs have been submitted and a final one picked by the owners, the lead artists will be responsible for conducting the installation of the art work. This part should be carried out by professional artists only, rather than involve the community group, unless lead artists have the required insurances. Lead artists may want to recruit additional volunteer artists to help (December 2013 or January 2014).
  • It is expected that the total time commitment would be 1-2 days arranging workshops, another 1-2 days carrying out the workshops and up to five days for the art work installation (depending on the medium used and any additional voluntary help).

It is hoped that there may be the possibility of getting some funding or a grant to run the project, so that lead artists can be paid for their time and materials, though this isn’t yet guaranteed.

Art 2Mill Road is a multicultural and diverse community and the art work on the hoardings should celebrate that and not cause offence to any particular group. People can use a variety of cultural references for inspiration. The work can be in any medium (i.e. print, post-up or paint), but the installation is subject to final agreement and permission from the land owner – and no painting should take place until that permission is granted. Although a date for removal of the hoardings has not yet been given, they could potentially be removed as early as June 2014 – so there is a need to begin the project soon and work on it over the winter.

This is a great opportunity to get involved in a local project and see your artwork adorning Mill Road! If you’d like to apply then please email Ceri with your name, contact details and your relevant experience/CV by 5th October: millroadcoordinator@gmail.com.

New radio show schedule!

cam105FM logoThe ‘Our Mill Road‘ show started on Cambridge 105 FM earlier this year and, as you would expect, is dedicated to all things Mill Road. It’s presented by Ceri Littlechild and each show gives the low down on news, events, projects and more happening on and around Mill Road. If you want to listen to past editions of the show, including interviews with local people, you can find all the podcasts here (the first show back in January even includes an interview with yours truly!).

microphoneThe show has been enjoying a regular Sunday evening stint every fourth week, but as of this month it is moving to a new Saturday afternoon slot. So the next show will be this coming Saturday (14th September) from 2-3pm. There are also a few other changes to the Cambridge 105 schedule, including the Paul Christoforou show, which is moving from Tuesday afternoons to a weekly Sunday night slot – next show this Sunday (15th September) from 10pm until midnight. Those of you who are regular listeners of Paul’s show may have heard him interviewing me back in June – I’d only popped in for a brief chat, but ended up staying for the whole show!

Mill Road signCeri has asked me to guest present this Saturday’s ‘Our Mill Road’ show and I’ve got lots of exciting news and events from the Mill Road area, including news of two new eateries opening soon on Mill Road as well as events coming up over the next few weeks – including this weekend – and various bits of news from the local area. So if there’s anything you think needs a mention on the radio then please get in touch before Friday and I’ll do my best to include it!

Our Mill Road – Saturday 14th September, 2-3pm on Cambridge 105 FM.

Mill Road to get its own radio show!

Mill Road is getting its very own monthly radio show, starting next week! Cambridge 105‘s ‘Our Mill Road‘ will be hosted by Ceri Littlechild and will be a chance to talk all things Mill Road – from events and eating out to projects and contributions from locals.

Our Mill RoadWhen Ceri invited me to do an interview for the show recently I was very excited, though admittedly I was a little nervous when we did the recording a few days ago –  it’s been a couple of years since I last did a radio interview and this was actually the first one I had done about my ‘There’s something about Mill Road‘ blog! Ceri is excited about the show and explained that the name came about because the show really is an opportunity for all Mill Road people to get involved and talk about their Mill Road, and also the show just happens to be an hour long.

The show will include information about events and projects in the Mill Road area, as well as music from local artists. If you have an idea for the show or you’re a local musician who’d like to get some airplay then Ceri would love to hear from you, you can email her at: millroadcoordinator@gmail.com.

‘Our Mill Road’ is on Cambridge 105, on the second Sunday of each month at 9pm. Starting Sunday 13th January.

Mill Road and Gwydir Street on BBC Radio 4

Yesterday I went along to Clare College for the recording of Radio 4‘s The Kitchen Cabinet. The show is hosted by well known food critic Jay Rayner and the panel promised to be an interesting mix of well known food experts with local connections – Masterchef 2011 winner Tim Anderson, Michelin starred celebrity chef Angela Hartnett, food historian Dr Annie Gray and Fitzbillies‘ very own Tim Hayward.

Angela HartnettAnnie Gray is based in Ely and specialises in food and its influences, especially eighteenth and nineteenth century. Her PhD title was ‘Man is a dining animal‘ and her current research topics include the history of tea and self discipline and control at the dining table. She’s clearly passionate about her subject and I’d recommend catching one of her talks if you ever get chance. Angela Hartnett is no stranger to Cambridge, or indeed Mill Road – she lived on Gwydir Street whilst studying at Cambridge Polytechnic (now Anglia Ruskin University) and fondly recalled the hearty sausage and bean stew she had made on a few occasions (which sounded a lot tastier than some of the concoctions other panellists had come up with during their student days!). Some of you may also remember when she took on Regent Street’s Nanna Mexico in a TV cooking challenge a few years ago.

SushiIf you watched the 2011 series of Masterchef (I am a huge fan!) you’ll know that winner Tim Anderson has a particular penchant for Japanese food. He certainly knows his negi and entertainingly educated us with his vast knowledge of ingredients and techniques. Some of the specialist Japanese ingredients he mentioned were thought to be rather difficult to track down by others on the panel, but Tim Hayward reliably informed the audience that they were actually available at any one of a number of oriental supermarkets on Mill Road! I love the huge range of oriental supermarkets we have here and my current favourite is Li Ming – who have provided copious amounts of tofu for my homemade vegan raspberry cheesecakes over the last year or so, but more on those another time.

I was pleased to hear from Tim Hayward that his chef doesn’t allow Fitzbillies to have a microwave in the kitchen – I don’t really like cooking with a microwave and although I do have one myself, it only seems to get used occasionally to reheat a cold cuppa rather than to ever cook food! Tim didn’t get chance to elaborate much during the show on the background to his taking over of Fitzbillies eighteen months ago, but if you want to read more then here’s an interesting article he wrote for The Guardian.

Jay RaynerThe panellists all kindly stayed behind afterwards to chat to the audience. I suggested to Jay Rayner that he pencil Cambridge in for another visit in the future (not only was the auditorium full to capacity, but there were quite a number of ticket-clutching hopefuls who didn’t get in) and he duly made note, though conceded that it would be up to the production team. I spoke to Angela Hartnett briefly too and had hoped to chat to the other panellists, but they were all very much in demand so I didn’t get chance. The recording took an hour but the show itself is only 30 minutes, so I’ll have to wait until Tuesday to find out if the Mill Road and Gwydir Street mentions make the final cut!

FlavourAfter the show, myself and Mr Mill Road met up with a small group of other local food lovers, including Gerla from the Cambridge Food Tour and Ruth who is one of the presenters on the ‘Flavour’ show on Cambridge 105. On the way home we spotted some most excellent buskers on the corner of Rose Crescent and Market square (I had never heard a saxophone/violin/acoustic guitar version of Gangnam style before!) and although we’d hoped the days activities would inspire us enough to cook ouselves a delicious meal, we were too hungry to wait and instead opted for a delicious take away from the Rice House.

The Cambridge episode (which is the last in the current series) of The Kitchen Cabinet will be on Radio 4 on Tuesday (8th January) at 3pm. After broadcast the podcast will be available to download permanently on the BBC website.