Becoming St Ivian: St Ives Town FC and a walk to Woodhurst

For the past week I’ve lived in St Ives – Cambridgeshire division (rather than the poncey Cornish version). I’ve never lived in a town before, having spent my entire life in cities apart from a brief spell of pseudo village life (in Milton, just outside Cambridge). Neither here nor there, much like your average town I guess, but I thought it was worth a mention.

We chose St Ives, although if prevailing winds had gone the other way we could’ve ended up in Ely (coincidentally one of the UK’s rare pseudo cities). A week in and I’m happy to say, so far, I’m glad we ended up here. The house is as lovely as we remembered it from back when we started the ridiculous UK house buying process, while the commute into Cambridge for work is actually a pleasure (a 30 minute bus ride though nice countryside). But more than that, St Ives itself has welcomed us more than I expected.

There’s something honest about the place, much as you’ll find in any town within 100 miles or so of London. they all feel a bit like London overspill – and many of them are. But as someone brought up in greater London that just makes me feel at home. The average person isn’t quite openly friendly, but they’re more forgiving than Londoners and quite a few will say hello in the street if you smile at them. And outside of twats on a Saturday night, you soon feel safe wandering about – even if you’ve got stupid hair and T-shirts like me.

Arsen, je ne regrette rien

A year ago I posted a blog about falling out of love with football, and more specifically my boyhood/teenhood/manhood club Arsenal. My sentiments haven’t changed, despite the club’s glorious achievements since (cough) and I’ve been looking forward to moving to St Ives to see if I could rekindle my love of the game at a slightly less exotic level.

A season of unfettered glory can only start here

A season of unfettered glory can only start here

As chance would have it, the first Saturday after we moved into the house saw big time charlies Cambridge United visit St Ives Town for a pre-season friendly.

A beautiful sunny day, nothing in the diary and five quid to get in – what could possibly go wrong?

Absolutely nothing, as it happens. You could buy a beer while watching the game, a good few hundred turned out to watch and the mighty Saints put those posh city gents to the sword 3-1. It was men against boys – quite literally, as it turned out, as the Us had sent what had to be their youth team along (judging by the uniformly tragic boy band haircuts).

But a win’s a win and we saw four good goals – well worth a fiver of my money. But more importantly, despite being the only dickhead there with a ponytail and one of about three not wearing shorts, I was made to feel thoroughly welcome.  A few lads went as far as including me in a bit of banter (not at my expense, thankfully), which only helped me decide a season ticket (£80 before August 1, bargain hunters) will indeed be mine.

The only real downside was that I saw far more spurs shirts than I was happy with (one, plus a tattoo) – but I suppose you have to expect that. And he had his back to the match for most of the game; clearly a season ticket holder used to seeing his adopted charity London side mangle the beautiful game on a weekly basis. Yes, despite falling out of love with Arsenal, I still find I hate spurs.

Match highlight: A new signing scoring St Ives Town’s second goal, prompting the announcer to proclaim: “And the goal was scored by… Tom!” I can only presume he’s a swarthy yet genius young Brazilian who’ll have just his first name emblazoned across the back of his shirt.

A walk on the wild side – to Woodhurst

Looking back to St Ives, less than 30 minutes after leaving the house

Looking back to St Ives, less than 30 minutes after leaving the house

Zoe and me decided to conclude our first weekend in St Ives with a wander.

While we’re perhaps a little too far from the town centre (about a 25 minute drunken stagger) we’re blissfully close to some proper countryside; about 10 minutes walk either north and west. It seemed unadventurous of us not to at least try and get lost/bitten/murdered once before this rare summer gives up the ghost.

Retiring to the interweb I found the tip top blog Cambridgeshire Walks. Luckily it had a walk to a village we’d seen on Google Maps and new was in range, even with the afternoon growing late, so with smartphone in hand we headed off into the undergrowth.

I can’t quite describe how chuffed we were within about half an hour of leaving home. Blue skies, green fields and not even a whiff or hum of traffic – lovely.

This just doesn't get boring. Unless you're a farmer, perhaps

This just doesn’t get boring. Unless you’re a farmer, perhaps

Everyone we met en route gave a smile and “hello” (not that we saw more than a few people) and despite going completely the wrong way (much like a city twat) we made it to the pretty Anglo-Saxon ring village of Woodhurst without incident.

I’m not kidding – my reading skills managed to take us on the completely wrong path, but luckily it was a circular walk and I managed to take us the wrong way around it, rather than into a field of wild bulls (or worse, stinging nettles). GPS was a waste of time too – it had me about five miles east of where I was (reasonably) sure I was.

Woodhurst is a pretty if rather pointless place (unless you live there, I guess). No shop is one thing – but no pub?! It’s a village for god’s sake – did I miss a meeting? I thought there was some sort of ancient charter or Magna Carter or something, demanding every village at least has somewhere to buy booze? At least they have neighbourhood watch…

But I’m not going to let the lack of an early evening Sunday pint sour the experience; the walk was the perfect end to a really lovely first week in St Ives – to which I should briefly add a nice evening out with local friends Lee, Morph and Davina (and not so local Matt), a friendly welcome from neighbours Gill (and dogs) and George (via beautifully drawn work of art that’s now on the fridge) and a few beers in the rather lovely Oliver Cromwell pub. Not to forget Zoe’s mum, who was a great help on moving day – cheers!