Durham Cathedral

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As soon as we’d seen the Offspring away back to their normal lives this morning, R and I began running around, throwing clothes into cases and packing his car. We have a mission tomorrow in the north-east that we both profoundly wish was not necessary, but in order to ease the journey in both directions, we’re staying for two nights in Durham – one of R’s special places, because he lived here for several years while studying at the university, and because he made a number of friends here who are still dear to him now.

After depositing ourselves at the Royal County Hotel, we walked into the centre of town in search of dinner – and, of course, photos. I had brought a tripod as far as the city, but then foolishly decided to leave it in our room at the hotel because I assumed that the area around the Castle and Cathedral would be well-enough lit for ordinary hand-held shots. But in fact the whole city is quite poorly lit, and I had to push the ISO way up beyond sensible to capture anything at all. I was also dismayed to find that the central tower of the Cathedral (which we climbed with the Offspring on our last visit, about twenty years ago) is wearing what the receptionist at the hotel described as a hat: it’s apparently in such a poor state that it’s going to be under repair for the next two years, and in the meanwhile it’s shrouded in tarpaulins to preserve it from the weather, and the public from it. Luckily, R knows the area well enough to have found me this perspective of the eastern end of the Cathedral from North Bailey, which is on the river side of the building and below it, and therefore hides the hat from view. I have a shot without the tree – but we both rather like the tree. This would repay being looked at full-screen, if you can be bothered.

Dinner-wise, I really must recommend Restaurant 17 to you, if you should happen to be in the area. It’s down in the basement of a building at the western end of Elvet Bridge, and you could easily walk past and miss it – but that would be a sad mistake. I had the asparagus and mushroom risotto, and it was perfect – flavoured with lemon and mint, and with just the right amount of shaved Parmesan, it was literally one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten in my life; and R said that the chicken stuffed with black pudding was also excellent. We then shared a chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream, which on its own would have been worth the drive from Worcestershire. All that, and the table staff were charming – really, what more could you ask?