We took the train from Alnmouth to Durham this morning.
We’d arranged to visit cousin Catherine, uncle Malcolm and aunt Sheila this afternoon and we were meeting Malcolm outside Durham cathedral at 12:30. There was a 9:00 train arriving in Durham at 9:45 so we could spend the morning strolling along the banks of the Weir – the weather was glorious – a lovely warm and bright spring day. We had a lovely walk along the river bank path with its famous view of the cathedral and castle, the bridges, the rowers and a lovely little Greek-style folly – called CountJ c folly.Joseph Boruwlaski was a dwarf in the eighteenth century who retired to Durham. Having somewhere so close to the city centre where a dog can be off-lead and having fun in safety is wonderful.
Malcolm had been at a special service for bishops, priests and deacons from the Durham Diocese and when we met him he offered to walk Zoly so we could go in and check out the Lego Durham Cathedral! Aunt Janet had also suggested that Matthew search out the Bishop of Jarrow who used to work with her in Coventry and introduce ourselves to him!
Janet had given us a good description of Bishop Mark of Jarrow – so it didn’t take long to find hime and Matthew had a quick chat about Janet’s work with the elderly in Coventry.
Then on to the Lego Durham Cathedral, which is brilliant and epic! When it’s complete it will be 3.84m wide, 1.53m wide and 1.7m high – it’s scaled from Lego figures – so that they look more-or-less the right size in the model. There will be around 350,000 bricks in the model and anyone can add a piece for £1. We bough 5 pieces and fitted them to the top of the north tower. There were lots of people making their contributions – so it shouldn’t take long to finish.
After the Lego Durham Cathedral we met up with Malcolm and Zoly in th ecoolege grounds behind the cathedral – I wonder if there’s something about vicars and dogs and keeping off he grass signs!
Malcolm took us on a lovely drive up to the fells around the Durham/Northumberland border, we passed the Derwent Reservoir and stopped for a short walk along he river in the small village of Blanchland. I remember going to Blanchland when I was young – probably with Malcolm – to visit Leonard Paulin, who had been the vicar at St Alban’s church in Earsdon and who probably conducted the marriage of Mum and Dad and christened me. He was a lovely, cultivated and gentle man and his last parish was here. Blanchland was built with stones from the remains of the twelfth century Blanchland Abbey and has a lovely uniform character as a result of the building stone used and the lovely scale of the buildings.
I think Malcom expected Zoly to have a play in the river – cousin Philipa’s dogs had, apparently – but the water was flowing quite quickly and deep in some places, so Zoly wasn’t going in! We didn’t stay long because I was a bit concerned about Malcom overdoing it, plus we were hungry, so we headed over to Malcolm and Sheila’s house in Castleside.
Lunch was delicious and there was lots to eat – very good for two greedy blokes! Carrot and coriander soup followed by vegetable curry, then fresh fruit salad. Heaven! They’d made sure that Zoly was well catered for too – four bags of treats! The lucky boy! We had a lovely time and it was so nice to spend time with them. We talked about Catherine’s wedding next January, teaching work, Richard’s amazing reviews of the his singing and a bit too much about incontinence for Matthew’s liking! Poor Catherine had a bit of a cold – so I kept my distance as I’m running the London marathon in a couple of weeks.
After a long time at the table Zoly had his dinner, we had a tour of the house then Malcolm drove us back to Durham for the train back to Alnmouth. Matthew wanted to watch the TV election ‘debate’, but I didn’t – he has more resilience than me on these sorts of things I think.