Monday, 24 May 2010

Durham Cathedral

I could not get any good pictures today. Perhaps it was the clouds. As well I remember now, reading in the guide book, that this part of the country is not like the tidy lanes and well-trimmed hedges of other parts of the land. 
No careful stone fences that separate the fields here. 

There is still a wildness here in north eastern England. 

The pictures do show at least that.

“I regret not being able to come with you tomorrow morning,” said Wyona last night.
I am going to see the famous Norman Romanesque architecture of the Durham Cathedral, today, and I am travelling on my own. Oh, I am not really on my own, for I have Wyona’s shadow beside me and am now trying to do all of the planning she does for me, on my own.

“How do you read the train schedule to tell which platform I should take the train to Oxford,” I said to the woman to the left of me at King’s Cross Station. All I could see on the whole board was dashes.

“When the dash you can see on the electronic board turns to a numeral, you will know that is the platform number where you should go,” she responded.

I waited watching the commuters come off of other trains. Then I idly admired the hair-do of the woman to the other side of me. When the change came to the board both women both turned to me and said, “Now that is your platform – number 5. Hurry. Follow the others.”
“Oh no,” I said. “I was only practising reading the schedule. I am so excited to go on my trip that I got to King’s Cross Railroad Station early. My train doesn’t leave for an hour.”
Now on the train, I see the other passengers on the train have their computers in front of them, and are multi-tasking by taking conferences calls on their phones, as well as conversing with the business companies to the side of them. I heard the four-note musical sound that signals computers going on all over the coach as people settled in. 
I am new to this. 

I ordered the complimentary orange juice and Sweet Fruit and Nut Soft Cookie. I didn’t know what to choose in the way of cookies since I couldn’t understand the accent, the English accent of all things, of the choices before me. 

I watched while the man next to me ordered toast, scrambled eggs, bacon and a sausage, trying to get a handle on the sound of the words. 

“That will be £12 pounds,” she said.  A traditional English breakfast. 

I am going to have Greg show me how to open the Harrogate Spa Sparkling Spring Water when I get home. I opened Wyona’s on the last train and was sprayed all over. Now the same thing happened to me this morning.

I am reading Tonia’s Lonely Planet Great Britain as the scenery roles by me, so that I will know what to look at in Durham Castle. A 12th century wall painting of St Cuthbert. 

I had no idea where to go today. I told Wyona that I was going to get on the posh East Coast Rail and ride north as far as I could for 6 hours and then ride back, forgetting that I get to go hear Shakespeare in the Regent’s Park Outdoor Theatre tonight. So I changed the timing of the ride so that I could go north and be back in time for Arthur Miller's The Crucible

Since I had that extra hour at the train station this morning I practised changing the timing of the reservation of my ticket, giving myself another hour in the cathedral before I come home.

“Yes,” you can do it, “said the ticket agent, “but it will be expensive. Give me your ticket.”
I handed over the Britrail pass.

“No charge,” he said.

Wyona and Glen are the ones who were looking for train travel originally, trying to figure out if it is more expensive to rent a car or go by train. They saw an option for the Britrail pass that has to be purchased when you are in Canada. That choice fell through for them, but Wyona and I decided to order our passes. I was absolutely disappointed when the tickets came. There was no large map, no literature, no schedule – just a ticket for 16 days of consecutive travel through England, Scotland and Wales. 

At night, Wyona goes to the British railroad url and creates a schedule that connect trains for us, so far to the south west and then the east of England. 

I am less skilled today. I am taking a train, riding it one way north and then riding it back, south. 

In fact today, I must do a little research in a few minutes or I am not going to know when to get off of this train. The book I purchased said to ask the train guard any question and you will probably an answer to your question plus a 40 minute lecture on the history of the area you are in.

Greg informed me that 20 companies run the trains in Britain and that you have to make connections between the companies at some point, if you really want to get to a destination that is serviced by connecting companies.

I couldn’t be having a better holiday. I am in a train. I have a travel book by my side. My laptop is on the table in front of me. My camera is by my side. I can snap pictures out the window with the camera from my retirement. Even better, I am now moving from being an beginner with that camera to the intermediate level. Well, I should put a rider on that. When I went to the National Portrait Gallery and I visited their photography bookshop. At that moment I decided that there is no use taking another picture – that they have all been taken in some shape and form and publish. And further I had that wash of fear of how hard it is going to be to get really good at anything when I am a beginner at it.

Be that as it may, today someone is serving me complimentary orange juice and biscuits and I am about to go into Durham Cathedral. 

How cool is that! 

The day before we were to begin this trip, Wyona asked me if we just shouldn’t cancel our trip before it began and getting 80% of our money back.

That would have been a mistake for we would have just spent it on scarves.


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