Monday, October 5, 2015


Our train arrived in Durham around 4:00 PM. Anne telephoned Enterprise to come pick us up at the train station. She spoke with a guy named Tom. He told her he'd be "the chap in the smart blue suit" so that we could recognize him. There was some confusion as to which platform at the train station he was supposed to meet us at, but it all got sorted. 

Tom's suit was quite smart indeed, but his hair left a little something to be desired. It was short and he had a bit of a receding hairline, but the sides were long. It was like he was going for this look:

Bradley Wiggins--not Tom.
but he couldn't grow thick hair on his face so he just grew out the sides and they formed kind of a bizarre cousin of the comb-over (I Facebook stalked him just now to see if I could describe it better. I found him, but decided it would be a violation of his privacy to post his picture so you are stuck with Bradley Wiggins and your imagination). Anyway, his hair was weird, but he was very pleasant and we liked him right away. Once we got back to the rental office there was more confusion because someone had taken the car we were supposed to be renting out. We sat in the office and waited. Tom told us about growing up in the town where the Brontë sisters are from and how he used to work at a bar and offered us tea (we just wanted water) and chocolate buttons. He felt bad that we had to wait, so he included our sat-nav for free with out rental. We planned to return our car,the next evening--Sunday to Byker but apparently that isn't the best neighborhood so at Tom's suggestion we switched our rental return location to the Newcastle Central Station.

Durham Cathedral. Final resting place of The Venerable Bede.
Our plan for the evening was to attend Evensong at Durham Cathedral. Once we finally got our rental car we were starting to feel pressed for time. We drove through the narrow, pedestrian filled streets. I took a wrong turn up an alley and Anne had to get out of the car and back me down while the back-up sensor alarms went crazy because we were so close to a wall on one side and the curb on the other. We survived that little drama and managed to get up to the cathedral. We started in just as it began to downpour. I was in the process of getting my raincoat out of the trunk when the deluge hit. Anne and Mom were already halfway to the door. I ended up jumping back in the car and bawling for a few minutes because that's how I often deal with stress, frustration and being exhausted. Once the rain let up a little I put on my raincoat, dried my eyes and hurried up to the cathedral. I was just in time. We got to sit in the choir seats for the service and the beautiful singing, the scriptural readings and the peaceful cathedral all helped me feel more calm.

Largest, lushest begonias we have ever seen.
After the service, the rain had stopped. We went and checked into our room for the night in Durham Castle (*squeal*) and dragged our suitcases all the way up the stairs to our rooms. There are no elevators in castles so this was hard work. We each had our own room for the evening so we dropped Mom off at her room first, my room was a couple more flights of stairs up and Anne's room was at the top. The water closet for each floor was shared.

After depositing our belongings, we asked a couple of different strangers for a recommendation for a place to go for dinner. The consensus seemed to be that Bell's Fish Shop was THE best place to eat in town.When I asked a rather intimidating bouncer at a place called The Shakespeare if he could point the way to Bell's his face lit up and he happily pointed the way and said he was going there himself as soon as he got off work.

Bell's was an excellent choice. I have never had such delectable fried fish in all my life. We tried the mushy peas--fabulous! The chips were delicious too. I had Dandelion and Burdock soda because when would I have another chance to try that? It sounds weird but it was very tasty.

There was a mother and son from Michigan sitting at the table next to us so we chatted a bit and told each other about our adventures on our trips so far.

Possibly the most glorious fish and chips and mushy peas in existence.
Bell's Fish and Chips Shop
Post box sighting. I got almost as excited about these as I did about the phone boxes.
View from Durham town square.
View looking the other direction from the same spot across the town square.
My father-in-law calls the little grandchildren "Mugwump" sometimes.
 I had never heard the name before that. I still don't know what a Mugwump is.
The bouncer I spoke to was off duty when we passed by again. I'm sure he was at Bell's.

After dinner we checked out the town a little bit but most of the shops were closed so we decided to go back up to the Palace Green (the area up on the hill near the cathedral and the castle). It was a beautiful evening and we wanted to take pictures. If Cambridge failed to live up to expectations, Durham far exceeded them. I enjoyed every moment of this beautiful place (well except the moments at the beginning with the backing the car and the crying in the rainstorm).

The Palace Green
Dreamy door.

Phone box AND post box in the same shot. Heaven.
This is the alley I had to back down.

Moon between spires.
Durham Cathedral.
Buildings on the Palace Green.

More photos of Durham Cathedral because the light was beautiful and the cathedral looked so majestic.

View of Durham from Durham Cathedral church yard.

There was a wedding going on at the castle so the security detail tried to turn us away but when we told them we were staying in the castle they let us pass.

Panoramic view of the castle courtyard from near the front gate. The great hall is on the left 
and the castle tower where we slept is on the right.
The gate to the castle courtyard (viewed from within the castle courtyard).
The Great Hall

We slept in the tower. The rooms are usually dorm rooms but when the
students are on holiday, they rent them out to guests like us.
Entrance to the castle tower dorm rooms.
View from Mom's window. Yes, there was grass growing on the roof.

Views from my bedroom window.
We all said goodnight and went to our separate rooms (mine had a fireplace!). I made myself a cup of mint tea in my room. I sipped it whilst I ate the ginger biscuits that housekeeping had left for me and did a little reading. I said my prayers and the next thing I knew it was morning and time to get up for church.

To Be Continued. . .

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