Friday, 24 June 2011

St Johns College Cambridge May Balls - 1% coverage

St Johns College Cambridge this year celebrated it's 500th year in existence. To play my part in celebrating this long life, this week, I graced the St Johns May Ball with my presence.

A May Ball, for those of you who don't know is an all-night long celebration of the end of the academic year. Almost college in Cambridge holds one, or a facsimile thereof (June Event etc) and if you haven't had a chance to go to one, I recommend you beg, borrow or steal one by hook or by crook.

The first thing you will notice about a ball is that they will make some already beautiful scenery, in this case St Johns' College, into something either more absurd or more beautiful

It's not unusual to turn a corner to be faced with something strange and wonderful, like an ice statue of a penguin;

A 20 foot tall globe
Or a madman in a dodgem

However, focusing on the scenery ignores the fact that when in a ball you should never be wanting for something to eat, as they not only have towers of food within easy reach,

But there's always a generous selection of cheeses, usually sourced from the Cambridge Cheese Shop around the corner (a shop worthy of a visit from anyone who is in Cambridge)

Fleets of canapes are often available for quick bites
And sweet treats are stacked tall, towering over their subjects.
Along with these piles of food up for the grabbing, there's always a selection of fish and chips, pizzas, burgers, hog roasts and various other hot food to snack on, as well as an option of a sit down 5-course meal or a 3-am breakfast to wake you up. Both of which are fairly pricy but definitely worth experiencing ones (the dinner if only because it lets you skip the queue)

With this focus on the food, let us not forget about the other key part of a fantastic night; the drink. With punts lying around stocked with Champagne, beer, Fentimen's drinks (the curiosity cola is a 5am lifesaver) and, increasingly towards the end of the night, bottled water, you're never further than 3 metres from a beverage

But if you're more a fan of more complex drinks, you'll be able to be sated by the numerous bars around, serving various brightly coloured drinks, always with happy bartenders enjoying the crowd and a swarm of eager revellers trying to get a drink

For the 500th anniversary, there was something special on the drinks front as well, Sipsmiths Gin from London had brought up their new Summer Cup for an exclusive preview.

This was like all the best parts of Pimms, stripped of the cloying natures. On first taste you get the sweet fruity notes, but they were chased by Earl Gray and Rose Water in equal measures, creating a fantastic yet subtle summer drink. Planning on stocking up on this next summer when it's released. May have to get one of the giant dispensers purely for it.

Not pictured is also the Hot Lemon Gin they were handing out in the wee hours of the morning, a steaming cup of warmth that helped get over the hump of the coldest hours of the night in style.

It doesn't matter at a ball how you go about it, many like to hit up all the main acts and catch as much as you can, others use it as an excuse to catch up with friends and yet more will just take advantage of the free flowing food and drink to have a fantastic night. But whether you experience the 10pm fireworks;

The 2am crash

Or the ridiculous git with the camera

You'll definitely have an experience you'll never forget

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