Tuesday, February 14, 2017

North to Scotland

Email from June 24:

Well the big news this morning is that Britain has voted to leave the EU and Cameron has said he will resign in the autumn. Everyone seems to be a bit shocked it actually happened. Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London were all pro-stay with rural England and Wales favoring the leave campaign. The young people were primarily "in" and the older were "out." At one point on the radio, he had a student on and an older lady on asking them questions about the outcome. At one point, they just stared yelling at each other. He said: "Pause a moment. Ladies. Pause a moment. You mustn't speak across one another." When it was clear he had lost control, he said: "I think I'll play One Direction" and he put on a song. It was hilarious.

The couple we stayed with last night were just the most adorable. He is a big music guy from Ireland. He apparently plays the organ, runs a Church choir, and when we were eating breakfast, he heard a song on the classical station he was listening to and said: "That's a lovely tune. I can't remember the name of it. I think it's Elgar." Then he got up, turned it off, and by memory sat down and played it on the piano. His wife said he recently had a large seizure and his memory isn't the same anymore. He finally figured out it was indeed Elgar and what the title was. They cooked us a large and proper English breakfast with black pudding, tomato, beans, mushrooms, toast, eggs, sausage, bacon, fruit, pastries, and OJ. They pride themselves on feeding well enough "it should last you until dinner." They also remarked on the way we ate our toast with jam and marmalade before the rest of breakfast. Apparently the English would only eat sweet toast after the main course, and they don't mix sweet with savory for breakfast.

We decided we'd run down to Northallerton after all and hope for the best. So, we ended up going to the records office. I found microfilm of the images I wanted, printed them off, and we drove North again.

Tom decided he'd rather go to Durham cathedral than Hadrian's wall, so on the way back up, we stopped there. Our hosts explained that it was a Norman cathedral started in 1093, and that he had got to play the organ there once. After visiting several Gothic cathedrals that had been built on the same sites as older cathedrals, we were interested to see what an old Norman Romanesque style cathedral would look like. After having visited a few Gothic cathedrals, we could appreciate what we learned in college humanities about the difference between Gothic and Romanesque styles. The columns are thicker and the windows are smaller, and overall the design is more simple. But there were things about it we liked better than the Gothic style. The columns had nice designs carved in them, and some used alternating types of stone to make patterns. It was still quite grand despite being much less ornate than the Gothic style. (Photos weren't allowed inside.)

We drove from Durham to the Angel of the North statue, which I've wanted to see in person since seeing a collage of pictures of it on Peter's bedroom wall in high school. It was very cool and I enjoyed it, but it wasn't nearly as tall as I thought it was. It's made of steel to celebrate the old steel industry in the area, and so it has a natural rust color.

The rest of the day was driving to Edinburgh. The satnav gave us some sort of rubbish directions so it took much longer than it should have to get out of Newcastle. We turned the car in twenty minutes late, but they didn't mention it. Congrats to Tom who successfully drove all through the UK without a single ding on the car! Then we found our place to stay, had a mixup where we didn't know how to get in, finally got internet and messaged her and got the code and now we're in our lovely flat in Edinburgh enjoying the show Upstart Crow which is a comedy show about Shakespeare. It's hilarious!

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