physically, mentally and financially!
14.06.2016 - 17.06.2016
On Tuesday the sniddle stopped and the sun made a welcome re-appearance. The bumble bees were out bumbling, the grass was freshly mowed (and therefore easy for Louie to kick in a display of manliness) and we all approached the morning walk with more glee and enthusiasm than we had shown previously. Even the dogs appeared to enjoy themselves somewhat, after we had convinced them to get off the couch.
We made a broccoli frittata for lunch to celebrate having access to an oven again – because vegetables are important, even when you are on holidays – and then traipsed into town. At this point, I would like it noted that Durham has the worst set of pedestrian crossing lights that I have encountered in our entire trip. These lights occur at a rather busy roundabout, but only exist at three of the four road crossings. The fourth potential crossing is obstructed by a fence, and unfortunately, this is the target direction for us, meaning that we have to cross three times to get to the opposite side of the street. We wait hours for the green man to appear at the first crossing. At the second crossing, the light is completely broken on one side and mostly broken on the other, meaning that you can easily not realise that you are permitted to cross. And we are yet to see a green man at the third crossing – he seems to be permanently stuck on red. Grr.
Anyway, despite these hurdles we made it to Durham Castle for a guided tour. Once the home of the Prince-Bishops and installed there to maintain control of those troublesome northeners, the castle is now a campus of Durham University, and has been since about 1836. The newly built (1840s) keep is dedicated student accommodation, and the university choir practise in a 1670s chapel. Slightly different feel from Glenn College at La Trobe (est. 1967).
After that, we popped back over to the Cathedral to see the Lego version that we had missed the day before and contributed our bricks to the amazing model. Is it wrong of me to find the Lego version more impressive?! Bill Bryson described Durham Cathedral as being the best on the planet, a decision that seemed to be influenced by the paucity of donation boxes present on his visit back in the 90s. I feel that he possibly hadn’t seen Sagrada Familia at the time of making this claim, and he may have found the now constant clamour for money quite jarring. But to each their own.
We found that Simon had a screw loose – quite literally, his glasses were at risk of falling to pieces and becoming Deconstructed Spectacles, which would have been so hipster but also not very useful. With my excellent eyesight, I quickly spotted an optician who tightened the screw AND cleaned the glasses without making the slightest dent on our budget. Now that Simon could safely see again, we took him to the barber to make him worth looking at again. While he was regaled with strange stories of inappropriate Christmas presents, I investigated the local shops but didn’t thoroughly enjoy myself. One charity shop staff member was vehemently declaring her innocence to two customers – “he reckons I grassed on him, but I didn’t, no! When he was in prison, I gave him money, I gave him everything, and now he just throws it back in my face…” The next shop I tried had a shopkeeper violently coughing up a lung which just didn’t make for a pleasant ambience, so I gave up and went to find my newly shorn husband.
The weather deteriorated somewhat for the rest of the week – not much rain, as such, just grey clouds filling the sky rather ominously. We embraced the lack of sunshine and used it as justification to read more books, watch more movies, Skype more people, cook more casseroles and generally just chill. Bliss.
Vikki and Becky returned home on Thursday night, and we caught up on the news from Amsterdam (Bruce Springsteen was amazing, thanks for asking) and enjoyed dinner together in front of an incredibly boring football match between Germany and Poland. Nil all. Yawn. Louie and Selkie were pleased to have their humans home again, although Louie made it quite clear to all involved that he was not impressed at missing out on chicken for dinner. Hmph.
It was an early start for the non-ninkers this morning, as they were off to Edinburgh for a university open day. Simon and I are taking a more relaxed approach to the day – later we’ll catch a train to Newcastle and pick up the hire car/chariot that will be taking us on the next round of adventures. And we’ll see if I can’t finish another book this afternoon…