Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Eurocruise 04/06 Old Durham Town and a riotous dinner

Sister 1 has retired from work, but for pocket money each week day morning and evening she escorts challenging children in a seven seater taxi to and from a special school. Read that as we don't trust a male taxi driver with six children, well an organisation protecting itself against any accusations. While we thought we would initially get the bus into Central Station to catch the train to Durham, we ended up deciding to get her seven seater taxi driver work mate to take us to the station. We were now a party of six, with our friends as well as Sister 1 and her husband. Given it was raining, it was a wise choice.

We bought the tickets from a  machine and what a complicated thing it was. Why can't I use my Oyster Card? Each of us seemed to end up with three magnetic striped tickets for a return train fare. The train was quite comfortable and the journey to Durham fast.

To interrupt the flow, the day before I had to tell our non Anglo travelling friend about the Geordie language, the word toon, but more importantly as the word is quite different, bairns. Babies and children into their teen years, are bairns. I had noted a puzzled expression on his face when the word bairns was used. Bairns is not a word that can not be spelt phonetically in normal English, but you could say bens and stretch it right out.

One entrance to Newcastle Central Station. It has been extensively renovated since we were last there. The entrance has been glassed in and it is quite modern inside and well laid out.


There goes our cab.

No stifling diesel fume build up, like at our Southern Cross Station. No, this was designed for steam trains.


It wasn't using the overhead wires, so it must be a diesel or diesel electric. For Victorian's, it felt and sounded  a bit like a VLocity train


Here we are at Durham.


Handsome station building and it is still raining.


Look down there. What is that building? We walked down the hill in the rain and crossed the Milburngate Bridge, vowing to get a cab back.


Ah, lookysee. Durham Castle is there somewhere, but the skyline is dominated by Durham Cathedral.


The River Wear flows through the township.


We took a short taxi ride up to the cathedral.


Very hard for a point and shoot camera to capture the full cathedral. The building was completed in 1093. Unbelievable. I felt a slight shiver as I entered the church. I don't know why and I had not experienced that in any European church or cathedral. There is a 66 metre (217 ft) tower to climb, for a fee, with all sorts of dire warnings about heart attacks and the difficulties of rescue. However, somebody's partner made the climb and was very proud of himself, even though, as he said, the views weren't anything special. Quite so. Wet and grey skies look similar from the ground to what they looked up in a tower.


We walked back into centre of town. Still it rained.


Town square, adjacent to the market.


We found a nice enough place for lunch and coffee but we didn't feel inclined to hang around Durham. The weather was just too awful.


I can't remember the details, but the trains arrived out of order and the one we intended to catch was behind what was supposed to be a later. It did not matter. They both went to Newcastle.


Heads down, peering at a phone screen, the same the world over, as life passes them by. Ok, I do a good bit of phone screen staring too.


I like the train livery.


Crossing the Tyne River, with a menage of bridges.


It was a huge family dinner that evening at Lau's 202, a chinese restaurant, which of course has western food too. Sister 2 only eats English food. There were about 15 adults and 6 children. This Art Deco building opposite was interesting.


We had again taken the 7 seater taxi to get to the restaurant and the chap said he would pick us up any time before 1am. I laughed. As if we would be out that late given we met up at 6. Well, the photo below was in the next day's camera shots, so it was taken after midnight. From here we went in two taxis to Sister 2's house in Elswick, which was half way home. I stayed about an hour and then with our two friends, went home in a taxi. R stayed on with sisters and had a 'family moment' that extended until 9am and he arrived home at 9.30 in a surprisingly good state. No time for sleep. We are out again this morning.


14 comments:

  1. A big, big (and damp) day. Thank you. I do love the old buildings - so much more charm than most of our modern monstrosities. And they will last longer too. Can you imagine any of the 'new' buildings in Melbourne (or Canberra, or Sydney) lasting for centuries?

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    1. EC, we are seeing 60s and 70s buildings knocked down now, yet a church can stand for 1000 years and be adapted to changing times.

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  2. Andrew, Durham cathedral is the greatest building in Europe I have read about it on the net so it is not strange that you felt a slight shriver. And the graveyard around the church is ancient too. The same graveyard I saw in Oxford next to the college. During your trip you touch Ancient times. Seven seater taxi seems so funny to me. The train looks so nice and comfortable . What a shame but it was raining cats and dogs.

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    1. Gosia, the cathedral was certainly not the most beautiful we saw, but it had a great feeling of history. Well, you have to expect the weather to be less than perfect in England and Europe.

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  3. Climbing steeples and staying out all night. Someone is leaving you behind, Andrew!

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  4. Lot's of rain and new places, I like the new places not so much lot's of rain.
    Merle.......................................

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    1. Merle, it really doesn't give you a good opinion of places when it is wet. But I could see how beautiful the town must be on a sunny day.

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  5. Ohh yes.. Durham is amazing.

    You say "I don't know why and I had not experienced that in any European church or cathedral" but I bet I can guess. You were looking at very early post-invasion history!!! How many other Romanesque or Norman (c1050-1175 AD) church buildings and facilities are still standing in the world? Even the oldest places we see tend to be Gothic (c1175-1400 AD), at the very earliest.

    You might have stood on the same stones that William The Conqueror's grandchildren stood on!!

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    1. Hels, yes I don't thin we saw anything much earlier than that year, although perhaps some of the European town walls. It certainly had a sense of history and not a place where it felt right to raise your voice at all.

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  6. Wow that is old old old for a building. no wonder it is a hushed place. You sure are having some big family reunions. It all sounds like fun except for the weather.

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    1. Diane, the weather for the whole trip wasn't too bad with only three really miserable days out of about 30.

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  7. Still enjoying your posts, I feel like I've been on a little tour myself

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    1. Thanks Fen. The good thing about writing it all down is that it will be more firmly planted in my memory.

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