Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Durham 1

Arrived here in Saint John's College last night after two flights (have since discovered that it might be better to travel to Newcastle than to Durham!) and was escorted through a warren of corridors to a lovely room on the third floor; tea and coffee all available on a hospitality tray.
Daylight unveiled the sheer beauty of the aspect. A view, in glorious dawn sunshine, of the cathedral and the narrow cobbled streets of the Bailey. A walk before the sumptious breakfast was in order and times of Evensong noted as I passed the Cathedral.
At the breakfast table were clergy from all over the world. What a fund of experience is here even among the few of us who came early.
My choices now are huge. To stay in room (having got lost on the last attempt to find it) and read. To return to the library - assuming that I can work out how to negotiate the various bends and twists. Saint John's seems to be an entire row of 300 year old houses - appearing on the street facade to be distinct - all joined together behind and all opening out onto lovely gardens at the back. The easiest way to get around is to go out onto The Bailey by the nearest door and walk along the cobbles until you arrive at the door nearest the part of the building where you want to be. Inside, there are so many dog-leg turns and little flights of two or three stairs that you lose all sense of direction.
Or if I don't stay in the room, or go to the library, then there is Durham! The guest information has a list of the best coffee houses...though after the breakfast that we've just had....maybe an hour or two needs to pass first!
There is a sense here of being free from all the pressing demands of a "normal day" and of being able to relax into some serious academia. Even at breakfast the conversation explored ideas of ministry... Eliot just doesn't have that kind of interest!
He's probably chasing sunbeams in Bangor - didn't even give me a second glance as he headed off with his friends...
I think the sunshine beckons, and, since I'm still in cobble-friendly shoes, a little meander is in order. Photographs taken in the early light will be so different from those that I'll take on this exploration. Maybe I'll begin a Duham album - this is may be the first visit of many! But first impressions are important when you want to fix a location in your memory.
Blog may just have a few more postings this week than is normally the case!

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