We girls then went up the hill and into town, stopping first at the Oxfam. Normally I won't bother with going inside a charity shop as I don't really need more things tempting my wallet (and staying away is the best way of keeping the money in my bank account), but I thought, hey, why not, I've got all day. And lo and behold, I did find the most amazing red and black cotton sweater, and it was a fiver, and even though that's more than I feel like I should pay for used clothing I bought it anyway, and since I wound up wearing it the whole evening I think I can say that not only was it money well spent, but it feels like I've already owned it for years. A really good buy. Overall, the quality of the stuff in the thrift shop just seemed a whole level of quality above what I usually see in London - just no idea why as it's exactly the same brands they sell here, only -- just nicer things, including suits for 10 quid.
Next stop was Durham Market, where I was unable to resist the fudge (or strawberry bonbons) at the Robsons of Durham candy stand, the lemon drizzle cake and blackberry jam at the farmwife's stand, the various amazing cheddars at the stand (Teesdale's Game and Poultry) in the indoor market, or the sugar paper dollar bills at the newsagents (not sure why they had them but they're mine now). This pretty well filled up my bag and meant that I skipped getting Durham Brewery products I wanted to buy, but I can only carry so much. I also got the most hysterical key chain at a tourist shop, of the kind that normally has your name on it, only I found one that said, "They didn't have yours" and just had to get one. Spreading my filthy money from the south up here in the underprivileged north, yep, that's me.
Then we went to the church, er, rather, the cathedral. Durham's Cathedral is a world heritage site and actually just very impressive. It was mostly completed in 40 quick years (around 1100, I think) and is a very nice expression of Norman Gothic (always better when they finish it off in one go rather than adding stuff after hundred year gaps). We saw where St. Cuthbert was buried (hadn't ever heard of him before), admired stained glass, and poked around in the cloisters. weegoddess kindly pointed out to me various spots used in the Harry Potter movies, which I got a kick out of, and didn't I just recognize them! At the end, when we were sitting down taking a rest and listening to the choir, some elderly minister came over and struck up a conversation with us that led to him defending the use of torture on known criminals and informing us that most people would support "just taking them out and shooting them afterwards." Wow. I wound up distracting him with a question, he told us a terrible joke about George Bush and the school kids press conference, I parried with a swine flu joke and we headed out the door.
By this time it was about four, we'd missed out on the boat trip (and visiting time for the castle, as we were to find out later), but we had more important things on our mind, like going to Rumbletum's Tea Room on Silver Street (#32). Wow - this was the fully non-corporate, wholly home made tea room of my dreams. I went for the 5.50 (or so) cream tea, which was a home made scone, a pot of tea, home made jam, clotted cream, AND (get this, AND) a slice of victorian sponge cake. My God, it was so much food, but still I went and had a bowl of soup also (giving half my scone to Miss WG). The cake was SO beautiful and clearly made my the proprietor, as were the scones - it was fab.
We then did a bit of a tour through the rest of town (taking the walk across the Framwell Gate bridge), then eventually strolled along the river and back over another bridge to the hill below the cathedral, then up into the cathedral's grounds (and through it, services were happening) and back to the flat. It was 6:30 and we had most assuredly made a day of it!
After a shower, the three of us (reunited again!) headed to the The Court Inn for dinner, but apparently everyone in Durham had already had this idea and we were way behind the curve in terms of actually getting seats any time before closing. So up we walked to Romeo's Pizzeria (again on Elvet Bridge), which had an impressive 7.95 three course dinner special and scores of pasta dishes available for 5.50 each. We were sold, but once again had to wait, which we did across the street at the Three Cygnets. (I was quite happy to wait as the food looked really good and my soup earlier meant I wasn't starving in any way.) Dinner was amazingly slow, but it was actually quite tasty and we were all having a very good time so weren't too bothered about the glacial pace of the service.
We finally made it back to the pad at a quarter after eleven, and now we're getting our details together for a trip to Newcastle tomorrow. I've been having a really good time visiting and hanging out with L and getting to know her town and pish poshing her when she tells me the weather today was really just the best in ages ("Oh come on! I know it's like this all the time!"), but it has just been really gorgeous and YAY overall. :-)
PS: piles and piles of updates on my Twitter feed if you're interested, including pictures. Same name as here.