Books: Author Kate Rhodes on her favourite haunts
Kate Rhodes’ Ben Kitto books, a series of murder mysteries set on the Scilly Isles, have won both critical acclaim and a huge fan following. With volume four out now, the Cambridge author tells Velvet what she loves about her adopted home city
I’m a regular visitor to the Fitzwilliam Museum, and my favourite painting is by The French Impressionist Camille Pissaro. It’s called Piete’s House at Montfoucoult: Snow Effect. It looks like a simple landscape at first, showing a farmhouse surrounded by rolling French countryside, under a covering of snow. The painting only comes alive when you look more closely and see the winter light shimmering on the air, and ice glistening on the branches of trees.
John Keats is one of my favourite poets, and the Fitzwilliam Museum has the original copy of Ode to a Nightingale. Keats wrote with a quill, and the ink has faded sepia brown over the past two centuries since his death, but I love being able to see how many words he crossed out, as he struggled to perfect it. His handwriting is still vigorous and boyish, which is a reminder that he was just twenty-three when he completed one of the world’s most famous poems.
Seasalt. I discovered them when I was staying on St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly, researching one of my books, and I still love their clothes. The colours and designs are all inspired by the landscapes of Cornwall. I try not got there too often, or I would bankrupt myself!
The Locker. I was sad when Clowns closed, on King Street, but it has been replaced by an equally friendly bunch of people. Great coffee and cakes, and I hope to be able to drink my first post-lockdown flat white there soon.
The Copper Kettle. My husband and I go there so often, we’re gradually getting to know all the lovely friendly staff there. It’s got a wonderful view of King’s College, the food is Turkish-inspired and delicious, and it’s also good value.
A swim in the lido, on a blistering hot summer day. I didn’t know Cambridge had one for several years, so I was thrilled to discover it.
It has to be the Varsity Hotel and Spa. You can bask in the ground floor jacuzzi, watching people stroll by the river, then walk up to the Roof Terrace for cocktails. You’ll have a fabulous view of the whole town on a summer night, as the lights go down. I think it must be one of the most romantic places in Cambridge.
If you follow the Cam out from the centre of town to Grantchester, you’re following in the footsteps of Byron, Rupert Brooke, and hundreds more Cambridge luminaries. The walk through open meadows is beautiful, and I often treat myself to a scone at The Orchard Tearooms, before heading home.
I love the view from our attic, where I do my writing. We live at the edge of Stourbridge Common, so I can see the River Cam in the distance. It always inspires me to look out and see people running, walking, or rowing. It reminds me that I should be active, like them, and spend less time daydreaming!
As the scorching summer sun beats down on St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly, DI Ben Kitto and his team are training for the annual Swimathon - until they discover a body hanging from Pulpit Rock, dressed in a bridal gown. . . Pulpit Rock, volume four of Kate Rhodes’ locked-island mysteries, is out now in hardback, published by Simon & Schuster and priced £20.
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More by this authorAlice Ryan