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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Europe CNY 2012 - Day 6 - Durham

"I shot an arrow into the air, and it stuck." - Graffito, in Los Angeles

***

Europe CNY 2012
Day 6 - 24th January - Durham


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Breakfast, though it looks suspicious

This day, I headed north, stopping at Durham along the way.

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"Cambridge & Chelmsford. Home of Anglia Ruskin University"
Not the first university that comes to mind when you think of Cambridge.

The view of the Castle and Cathedral from train station was very nice but the shuttle bus was leaving in 30s so I didn't manage to take a picture (the train was a few minutes late). Here is one from England Photos by Mark Jerde:


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Free food from leftovers

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Durham Cathedral

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Coats of Arms on a wall

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Door with Coats of Arms

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Teahouse in medieval building

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Colourful flowers

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Door with coats of arms

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Cemetery outside cathedral

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Bell tower, transept and graves

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Bell tower, transept

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People leaving cathedral

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On the cathedral being a Sanctuary

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Knocker (replica)

The usual tour was 1 1/4 hours but I was invited to a free 1/2 hour tour which was for training 2 new very old trainee docents. It was only 1/2 hour because 2 people in the group had a train to catch (after they left we got the full tour anyway), so we had an express trip to St Cuthbert's tomb.

The cathedral was very interesting. The ceiling was not very worked - just ribs, and the stone looked very rough. It was different from what I'd seen in other cathedrals.

Durham Cathedral was the first building in the world with a stone roof, and the first with buttresses.

Except for the Victorian choir screen and pews (a modern invention - last time in church you had to stand) it was in its 12th century form.

The columns were massive and had geometric designs on them.

The Venerable Bede's tomb was just a plain slab - black with words on it. This was due to the dissolution of the monasteries. The guide said given what we know about Bede and St Cuthbert they would've preferred simple tombs, so it was okay.

There was a Ladies Chapel because pre-Dissolution there was a monastery attached an they didn't like women.

The cathedral tower had 325 steps. I decided not to risk it because of time constraints and the possibility of aggravating my foot. Anyway the best view was from the train station. Amusingly there was a picture of the central stretch of the tower stairs with a note that above this point it was too narrow to photograph safely. They also restricted the footwear you could wear to climb it. Ahh, Health and Safety Regulations!

The choir screen used to be solid and you couldn't look in. Many places, for example Canterbury, have a solid choir screen. The screen behind the altar used to have Mary statues which were hidden from Henry VIII's commissioners, but they could not be found later on.

The cathedral has the highest Bishop's Throne in Christendom. Then Bishop Hatfield who commissioned the throne was buried under it.

The organs' pipes had an interesting decor, with patterns on them like African designs.

There was a window made from fragments of medieval glass smashed during the Dissolution.

Thomas Wolsey was a bishop at Durham - but never visited it.

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Bosses of the Cathedral throughout history
I like "George Monteigne" because of his funky name

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Millennium Window: for Modern Stained Glass this is very nice

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Durham Light Infantry Chapel. What happens if you're in the unit but not Anglican?

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Cemetery outside Cathedral

I passed the time before my Castle tour at the Wolfson Gallery of the library. There was no photography permitted there either, but renovations were being carried out so they had a 50% discount on the ticket price (the books were less presentable but the collections on display were mostly the same, except for some ceramics [due to vibrations from the renovations]) I love places with a conscience that reduce their charges when appropriate.

The Wolfson Gallery had an eclectic collection of items from all over. Among other things this was where I first learnt that the spikey thing on Buddha's head are not his hair but actually snails which crawled there to protect him from the sun.

There was an amusing election poem "Consistency" dedicated to Henry Liddell. I only scribbled down one line thinking I could find it online, but I can't. Ah well. Line: "Talk not of Roman Catholics".

There was an Iban Headhunting Sword of Temenggong Koh Anak. It had what should have been human hair attached to it. It was given to his adopted son Malcolm MacDonald (the University Chancellor). Err.

Then was the Castle tour. Durham Castle's building is used by the University and entry was only allowed on a tour.

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Durham Castle in distance

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"You Shall Not Pass"

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Keep. The only original stone is underground. The white windows are the oldest, from the 12th century.

The castle was originally a motte on a hill with a tower.

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Exit from courtyard

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Entrance to main building


Durham Castle Panorama from courtyard

Photography was not allowed inside. This World Heritage Site was very photo-unfriendly.

There was a staircase designed to look like it was floating in the air. The guy who built was haolian-ed and it was too wide, so it sagged. One century later they put in support pillars.

The chapel had panels in the wall to dispose of leftover Holy Water, which would flow into the foundations.

The misericords in the chapel (areas to rest your bum) were interesting. One had a man pushing a wheelbarrow with his wife in it waving a rolling pin. So the guy who commissioned it didn't like her.

There was a "100 Carols for Choirs" book. Edited and arranged by the usual suspects - Rutter and Willcocks.

In the 11th century the current chapel might have been chapel even then. 1 of the capitals had one of the earliest depictions of a mermaid in English art.

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Coat of Arms. You can see the comb - it's for the wool combers.

After the tour I got to visit the Cathedral Cloisters, though it was very late (not yet 5pm, but the sun had almost set).

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Cloisters

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Corridor of Cloisters

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Bell Tower from Cloisters

Hum Sup Guy had studied in Durham for 3 years and I had gotten some food recommendations from him.

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Sadly Hide was closed. He also recommended a Thai place, but I hadn't come halfway across the world to eat Chinese food.

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High Street

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Neptune in Square (1729)

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Adam Smith Statue on High Street

The last of Hum Sup Guy's recommendations was happily open.

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Oldfields. CHEAP (as long as you're not there after 7pm): £12 or 2 courses, and 3 for £15. I qualified!

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Menu

I was skeptical of "Real British Food", but then came:

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Pork Scratchings (pig skin - minus one I was eating)
This was super crispy and smokey

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Curried Durham Kid
Slightly bland though very tender. I could taste the pepper but not really the curry.

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Venison Bourguignon, Yorkshire Pudding, Clapshot (Carrot Mash)
Yorkshire Pudding was 50p!
The venison was robust but the Yorkshire Pudding slightly too crispy. The carrot mash was quite good and there was a bit of texture left - not all of it was smooth. There was something added to give complexity to the taste, but I couldn't finish the mash.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding
Slightly burnt but I think it was meant to be

The meal was excellent. Luckily I hadn't had lunch so I was able to order more.

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"If you continue to drink alcohol in this area when asked not to do so by a Police Officer, you are liable on conviction to a maximum fine of £500. You may be arrested if you fail to surrender any intoxicating liquor to a Police Officer in this area"
And they say Singapore is a Fine City.

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Manually updated parking lot information -_-

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Okay. The railway staff "carry spit kits so they can submit spittle for DNA testing. We do not hesitate to prosecute anyone who spits at our staff"
They "always press for the maximum penalty". Nasty.

I then got back on the train for... Edinburgh.

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On the train: "Penalty for unauthorised removal of this label £200. Penalty for unauthorised occupation of this seat £50"
Uhh.

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"Free jacket with any kilt package"
We're in Scotland, baby!

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Royal Mile (I think)

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Cathedral

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I really liked these windows

At the hostel I found that I had a choice of 2 tours for the next day (I got my order in <10 minutes before bookings closed - hurrah for late night bookings!) I wanted the Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond tour but it was full, so I was booked on the Loch Ness tour - at the Loch Lomond price. I was surprised: most people have a Loch Ness fetish. Maybe it had higher supply because of thar and I was unlucky.
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