31 July, 2007
Durham Cathedral wasn’t just a place of pilgrimage for the devout, in the Middle Ages it was also a place of sanctuary for criminals as well. A fugitive could claim sanctuary by knocking on the door of the cathedral. The sanctuary however was limited; as it only lasted for 37 days, time enough to get one’s affairs in order or choose to leave the country.
After being admitted to the cathedral, one was obliged to confess the details of their crimes to the coroner and they clothes were traded for black robes marked by a yellow cross on the shoulder. In return the cathedral looked after you during your purgatorial stay at their expense.. After 37 days, if exile was chosen over trial the criminals had to head for Hartlepool and if they tried to escape by not heading to Hartlepool, execution was the punishment.
The knocker on the door these days is a replica, the original is housed along with other artifacts from the cathedral in an exhibition within the cathedral grounds entitled “The Treasures of St Cuthbert and is in a similar condition (at least visibly) to the replica.
30 July, 2007
The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham, or Durham Cathedral as it is more informally known is and has been the continued reason for the existence of Durham for over a millennia. Along with Durham Castle it forms a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was originally built to house the remains of St Cuthbert, a popular saint in northern England. According to legend the location was chosen after St Cuthbert’s remains were moved from Lindisfarne after repeated attacks from Vikings and upon passing over the spot where the cathedral now lies it became immovable and so St Cuthbert’s final resting place was founded 200 years after his passing.
The more cynical however have noted that, “A more prosaic set of reasons for the selection of the peninsula is its highly defensible position, and that a community established here would enjoy the protection of the Earl of Northumberland, as the bishop at this time, Aldhun, had strong family links with the earls.”
Either way it lessens the impact of the building no less, as it is truly an awesome sight to behold inside and out.
Or rather the best day of work ever…
Normally going back to work after a few days off is a real chore, but it was with a light heart that I headed into work today as I knew that today was going to be special - Today was going to be the day I handed in my notice and what made it even sweeter is the fact that this week was also supposed to be the week that I completed my probationary period and pass a vital step on becoming a lifer at the Hell Centre.
So only 19 working days left until I become a free man!
And at the moment I will be a very free man as I don’t have anything else lined up after I leave as I have yet to confirm a place on a PGCE starting in September, although with a month until then I have plenty of time to sort something out.
29 July, 2007
This photo was actually taken at Bristol Temple Meads, even though it may not look like it. I happened to see this view when I left Bristol by train last week as I sat down at my seat. A few seconds later I was hanging out of a train window taking this photo of the view from platform 15.
Apparently I have been very lucky with my visit to Durham, as whilst I have been here I have had the only two days of solidly nice weather for a few weeks and even when it did rain during my visit to Newcastle yesterday, it was whilst I was indoors and so doesn’t count.
I explained this to my friend Richard, by saying that I am just lucky with the weather because my sunny disposition. My outlook on life is so positive and bright that the sunniness of my disposition is actually powerful enough to influence weather systems. He at this point decided to pretend he was a Thomas, not a Richard and expressed his doubt as to my theory as to why I could never write songs like Travis.
But the last laugh was on him. Within 30 minutes of me leaving Durham I received an SMS message from him saying it had started raining there.
28 July, 2007
Where yesterday was relaxing today has been somewhat surreal - I blame it on going to Newcastle for the day!
It started off innocently enough with a nice early start for a couple of hours of basketball, where although may not have acquitted myself well, I feel that I didn’t do too badly for someone who hasn’t played basketball for just under 1 years. Then after that it was off to the pub for lunch and a spot of pool, where I lost a game to my friend in preparation to hustle the Frenchies in attendance into a game of doubles.
Then it all went a little sideways, as a couple of other people headed over to the table looking for a game. Having just finished we were happy to make way for them, but no they wanted to play us and I being a fool agreed to play pool against them, besides I figured that with the oldest one of the duo being about 8 years old I reckoned that I had a fair shot at victory…
And I would have, had they actually understood the rules. Instead it evolved into taking turns at shots, with me playing pool and them playing some other game I couldn’t grasp the rules of, a game where my role was to regulate turns and act as a rest for one of the players to avert damage to the cloth of the table. It was amusing to play and I suspect for everyone else present it was amusing to watch, especially when the 6 year old clearing the last ball off of the table declared himself to be the champion.
Whilst have to admit that it had been fun when I was “challenged” to another “match” I declined and fortunately everyone else from the group I was with also decided it was time to go.
And so after that it was off to Newcastle for an explore, with my not so native guide. Now, I’ve heard stories about Newcastle, but I have to say that even they didn’t prepare me for what I was to see there - It may only have been 3 in the afternoon, but already the stag and hen parties were out in force stalking the streets inbetween drinking establishments.
Even more disturbingly I believe I have now seen a person with less dignity than myself, as when crossing the Millennium Bridge, what did I see but a man who had obviously lost some bet or other and as a result was crossing the bridge the other way in a mankini. Now I have to admit I have worn some awful outfits, but that is one that I would never do - Not that it’s the amount of flesh that is exposed by the outfit, I have worn more revealing costumes it’s that combined with the lack of originality displayed and I suspect that reveals something important about me…
Still on leavng Newcastle things settled back down nicely with a meal in a pub followed with some photos of a Celtic cross silhouetted against a sunset for dessert.