Existing Member?

Gallivanting in Europe

Looking down on Durham and looking up at the Angel of the North

UNITED KINGDOM | Monday, 29 August 2011 | Views [366]

I've been couch surfing for two weeks and already I'm an ambassador! John and I stopped by his mother's place on our way to Durham. She disapproves of her son hosting travellers but had yet to meet one. While John tinkered with her broken tv, his mother showed me around her cute brick house. I adored her sunroom which overlooked her long, narrow garden (a common feature of Newcastle houses). Her one-armed gardener tends to it once a week and it is gorgeous! Flowers grew against the fence and in the middle of the lawn her plum tree was beginning to show fruit which she'll soon make into jam. She and her house suited one another - lively, neat and very British. She had the same accent as the ten second cameo grandmother in About A Boy, "Are we having duck? Delicious!"

The extent of John's love for photography I didn't realise until he opened the back of his van. In it was a door, a kiddie's chair and a bag of costume dresses. "I'm not a crossdresser, they were my girlfriend's." Sure sure John. To prove it, he showed me pictures he took of his ex dressed in colourful vintage outfits, posing on the moors. They're good enough to go in a magazine.

In Durham we split up.

The Durham Cathedral was something spectacular. It's worth following a guide to learn the history of the prince bishops and what all the designs mean. It was Britain's first World Heritage Site and worth a look at.

At this point of my trip, a lot of the churches and cathedrals begin to resemble one another. This one stood out because throughout the cathedral there were peculiar works of art. One at the back was called the Pieta sculpture by Fenwick Lawson which involved two bodies carved into tree logs, the upright log Mary held her hand outstretched to her fallen song log Jesus. I found it the most striking out of all the odd artworks.

Another aspect of this cathedral that took my fancy were the 300-something stairs leading up to the lookout. It's a 5 pound admittance and worth it. A family of three paid and walked up behind me but at halfway the staircase became very narrow and dizzingly spiral. Against the protests of the father, the mother and son chickened out and turned back. The view from the top was spectacular, especially over the college and grounds.

No visit to Newcastle is complete without a look and a dozen photos of the Angel of the North, a massive 200 tonne steel sculpture that can be seen from the motorway, a strange place to put it in my opinion. It doesn't look that great in pictures but in real life it's amazing to stand and strain your neck up at it.

Later that night I arrived in Edinburgh on the last day of the Fringe Festival. Street poles bulged with flyers on the Royal Mile and litter gathered in the gutters underneath a lonely festival banner. Disappointed that I had missed the festival, Edinburgh was dark and quiet.

Eeeh man, ahm gannin te the booza. John went to a pub to use the wifi and I explored around town. The track alongside the river is very pretty and green. Across the water the college spires poked over the trees, a teaser which was impossible to good a full look until I was out of the park and through the college gates. Durham University is a prestigous school with very neatly organised buildings. I wonder if the students walk around in Lacoste and play polo?

Tags: angel of the north, durham, edinburgh, fringe festival


About travelcrazed

Follow Me

Where I've been

Photo Galleries

My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about United Kingdom

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.