Thursday, July 31, 2014

Visiting the UK :: day 5 and 6

Day 5 – Durham

We started by walking down from E's college, into town (we took a taxi to get up again, that's a rather steep hill to climb after a day of strolling through town).

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We past the cemetery again. Even in the harsh light of noon it had that spooky glow.

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Another one of those black trees, in front of the cathedral.

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The market place was filled with flowers.
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I'm not sure what this building is, but it was at the market square...

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We took a boot tour over the Wear.

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Under bridges,

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past the cathedral,

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and the bridge again. Those houses at the right are remains of the first bridge that had houses built on top of the whole thing.

In the meantime we heard some nice stories about the ancient and more recent history of Durham. It was fun, although E. was only half amused by the not so friendly remarks about the students in town. Luckily at the end of the tour the man acknowledged that the town wouldn't be as booming as it is now without them.

The rest of the afternoon and the beginning of the evening we spent chatting and drinking (virgin cocktails - yum!) and eating at a chicken restaurant where Theo and E. played Russion Roulette with chicken wings (you didn't know which spices were on them and some were very, very hot).

Day 6 – Durham

It was time to use up our saved patience for (the insides of) churches and castles.
First we visited the cathedral.

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An impressive and beautiful building, where we were welcomed by a friendly clergyman, had to buy an information flyer for 1 pound and were not allowed to take pictures inside. But it was worth visiting.

Then we wanted to see the castle, but had to wait at the gate till the tour started (since it houses hotel guests in summer and students in the rest of the year, nobody is allowed in there without a guide). Sadly pictures were also not allowed inside the castle, but luckily there was a lot to see outside too.

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Behind those windows is the library. I immediately spotted the book they used to keep that bottom window open.

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Yep, Harry Potter. The whole castle feels a bit Hogwarts like, but nothing of the movies is filmed here (there was some filming in the cathedral, in the courtyard and on one of the towers). I heard the director did propose filming in the castle but the castle refused. That's probably because of the students living here. E. had considered this place too, but had some good reasons to choose her (modern, but also very nice) college (for instance the self-catering she could do there, which is handy if you have foodallergies).

One of the students was our guides. She was very proud of her college and that showed.

A college in Durham is not the school, by the way (I think it is in the US), it's the house the students live in and their social community, that hosts formal diners (for which they have to wear black gowns) and parties, but where they also can turn to if they need assistence.

This tour reminded us of the fact that we hadn't properly toured E.'s college yet, besides her room and the kitchen (that she shares with 5 other students), so we did that when we returned. She bought us a drink in her college bar and then the day was over already.

Luckily we still didn't have to say goodbye. E. was going to join us for breakfast the next morning. Nothing fancy, just a cheap breakfast in a shop restaurant, but we had had breakfast there twice already and at 3,35 pounds it was a nice deal for a six item breakfast, we thought. It did last us through our days of walking through town...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Visiting the UK :: day 3 and 4

Day 3 - Castle Howard :: Duncombe Park :: Rievaulx Abbey :: North York Moors :: Saltburn-by-the-Sea ::  Durham

Lots of pictures. Even after deleting half of them. This day was full of my favorite things: old inscriptions, beautiful landscapes, trees and a beach. And even a bit of yarn.

The day started where it ended yesterday, at the friendly camping site near Castle Howard. We packed up the tent and our stuff and headd back to the road we took the day before. I wasn't in the mood to take pictures when we were there, but it was rather special.

Too bad that it was hard to capture with my camera. The one above is the best I've got. It was a long, straight road, with some gates in the middle. At one end there was an obelisk. We couldn't decypher the inscription, which was a shame, because it was something like: "as long as these characters are visible, we will remember ... (his name was not readable, so sad).

In a straight line from here, at the other end of that long road there was this monument. The inscription was clear, but it didn't say for who it was.

Ater that we drove further. At Duncombe Park we ate a little brunch (and I took pictures of flowers).

We took off again and drove through typical English villages.

And past cute little churches.

Rievaulx Abbey wasn't too well conserved, but still very impressive. I can imagine lots of ghost stories set here.

After that, we entered the North York Moors and spent many happy hours meandering through this beautiful national park.

And then we found ourselves at the beach in Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

There was a beautiful old pier.

You could take an antique train up to the rest of the town. Or walk up. But we didn't  (because we both have a fear of hights and a knee that didn't function too well).

The pier was yarnbombed with a soccer theme.

And then we went back to the moor once more.

In the evening we drove up and down through Durham, trying to find a place to stay. Which we didn't. In the end we decided to spent the night in a hotel. We know that can happen when you don't plan anything and book upfront, but after that we went looking for a camping much earlier...

Dag 4 - Durham :: Hadrian's Wall :: Durham

After a night in the hotel (we did appreciate the real bed and a good pillow), we started searching for a camping again and - thanks to the 30 minutes free wifi in the hotel - found one rather easy. We set up and had a few more hours to kill until it was time to meet our daughter. So we drove up to Hadrian's wall.
We've always wanted to see that. After visiting so many remains of the Roman Empire in the past (we've been to Rome and Pompeji and many other sites) one might expect us to know better, but we were looking to find an actual wall. But that was not possible, there just isn't much left of it. Most of it is disappeared or under the ground which is not so strange after two millenia.
We finally stopped at Chester's Fort, where we found not only the remains of that fort, but also a (very) small part of the wall.

See, at the other side of the river. That's part of Hadrian's wall.

We drove back to Durham, where we had a lot of catching up to do with our girl. She took us to the botanic garden, where we enjoyed the flowers, but forgot to take pictures, since we were still busy catching up (I hadn't seen her in two months and Skype is awsome, but nothing compared to real life meetings).
Untill we ran into these mysterious numbers.

We tried to figure it out, but we didn't understand what it meant.
(Of course I couldn't refrain from googling it once we were home. This link says they are musical sequences, referencing the bells of Durham's cathedral and the flowers of the foxglove that is growing beside it).

Then we walked down tot the town center (she's in a college up the hill) and passed a church with an intriguing cemetery. My simple camera couldn't quite catch the filtered light, but this picture is close to what we saw.

We ate at one of E.'s favorite restaurants, did some more cathing up and went back to our tent, happy to know we had two full days of daughter time ahead of us.