I’ve just got back from a holiday-within-a-holiday, to Boston. It wasn’t an unqualified success.

Boston cupcakes go for style over substance.


And yesterday, my only full day there, just as I was about to jump on my bike and steam off for a touristy day of galleries and bookshops and chowder, I received a phonecall from my secret second job (shhh!), to say that the Chile team couldn’t work today, because of another earthquake (uh-oh…), and could I please cover for them?

So instead I spent the day in front of my computer. Not so much fun. And my recent reduction in cycling time (and heightened cupcake activity) is beginning to take its toll – I felt all fat and sluggish, and desperate for some fresh air and vigorous exercise. And I only got to explore Boston for a couple of hours on Wednesday afternoon (well, that and the time I spent riding around looking for the bus station between 5 and 6 this morning).

But what I did see of Boston (and Cambridge) was beautiful.

I think that, to achieve magnificence, a city needs to have either hills or water – preferably both. In some cities you can only see as far as the other side of the street, but if you have a hilltop to gaze from, or a bridge to linger on, the most ordinary skyline becomes a panorama. This effect, I suspect, is why Waterloo Bridge is one of my favourite parts of London, and why the Williamsburg Bridge is a much more inspiring location for post-work drinks than the Foundry – and why Boston, which almost everyone I’ve asked has described as a hole, where no sensible person would ever want to live, actually manages to transcend its quaintness and cosiness, and attain a certain grandeur. (Well, as long as you stay near the river.)

As well as grandeur and quaintness, Boston has a brilliant bookshop, that offers a bicycle delivery service. (Why didn’t I think of that? Oh, I did.)

I spent a sober and serious evening with some old friends.

And we made tiramisu. (This has nothing to do with cycling, Boston, or indeed anything. But I thought you’d like to see it.)

And, when working out how to get from the station to where I was staying, I discovered that Google Maps now offers directions for cyclists. Very exciting. Also very obviously still in beta – it worked like a charm until I tried to go through a park, and ended up getting lost and having to navigate with a very small-scale map. And, as I mentioned above, I spent a good half-hour before sunrise this morning fruitlessly searching for the bus station.

Still, the future’s bright!


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