Following on from my weekend trip to Sheffield I had the pleasure of staying with my friend Matt at his university town of Durham. I’m very grateful for him lending me his room for a few nights; it made my stay a lot more comfortable than my stay in Sheffield (which I was sleeping on the floor!) I think I need to mention that Matt is my oldest friend who I’ve known for roughly 17 years, possibly more. I spent all of primary school, high school and sixth form with him but have barely seen him much over the past couple of years during university as he has been far up in Durham and I’ve spent a lot of my summers in Bath. Before the summer had come, I hadn’t seen him or spoken to him much for about 8 months… an awfully long time to pass that could make any friendship a little awkward when seeing each other again. Thankfully this wasn’t the case for the both of us!
Ever since Matt returned back to Cardiff we’ve had some incredible laughs, made some fantastic new memories and enjoyed reminiscing about the past. This rang true for my few days spent with him at Durham too!
Durham is a very small town in the north of England with very little sites apart from a splendid cathedral which dates back a thousand years! I’m thoroughly jealous that Matt had his matriculation there for Uni… especially since scenes of Harry Potter were filmed there!
Despite Durham being very small, and the entertainment seemed rather limited, it had a certain charm to it. I think this was largely down to the River Wear which passes through it, which provided wonderful walks through lush trees amongst a vast display of wildlife. The churches, the viaduct and the university college system gives the town a very English feel, steeped in heritage and traditions of times past. I don’t think I could ever live in Durham but my time there was very enjoyable and I would love to visit there again.
I think the gem of the visit was the trip to Newcastle which is just 15 minutes away and gave me a huge shock! As you may recall from my Sheffield adventures, it pointed out my ignorance and almost offensive preconceptions of what the city was like. Well, I had similar expectations for Newcastle and like the previous days I was gobsmacked! The architecture is so beautiful in some parts of the city; including a theatre that I would love to one day go to. There are also a couple of fascinating bridges there which look wonderful at night.
During our visit we went to the cinema to see Drive; a fantastic film that I highly recommend! Ryan Gosling plays a stunt driver and criminal wheelman who get caught up in a deal that turns out wrong, eventually putting Irene and her son in danger. Gosling’s acting throughout is superb and he portrays the driver so mysteriously that will leave you considering his back story, interests and character for days. Carey Mulligan (as Irene) and Bryan Cranston (as Shannon) also provided top supporting roles and their presence (Carey Mulligan in particular) on-screen added a lot to the film. The violence used has its artistic merits but isn’t for the squeamish and the use of slow motion was tasteful and added much suspense. To top it all off the cinematography and soundtrack were fantastic; the views of LA are a feast for the eyes! It definitely deserves the praise it receives and I hope to see it again soon.
On the whole, I have had a fantastic time in Durham and it was a spectacular continuation of the trip to Sheffield; ending the summer holidays with a bang!
I can honestly say that I’ve never been more surprised when visiting a city like I was with Sheffield. I will admit to you now that I thought Sheffield would be a grimy decaying city, a relic from Britain’s industrial era longing for revival and modernization to bring it up to speed with some of the great cities in the UK. Boy, I was in for a shock!
I came to find that my awful preconceptions of the city were smashed to pieces almost as quickly as when I stepped out of the train station. Sheffield was not grimy and it definitely was not decaying, in fact, it is probably the most vibrant city I’ve ever had the pleasure visiting. I was graced with having great weather, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and it meant that everyone was out with a huge sense of optimism. The architecture was a perfect blend of 20th century and modernism; giving a rustic, historical, grand feel but keeping the fresh, new vibe that makes it feel like a fun place to live in.
Visiting my friend Dan for his 20th birthday was fun, especially since we managed to get a few more of our friends over who we weren’t expecting, including my good friend Steffan (over at Hedonistic Hoarder – check him out… his articles will give you a few laughs!). The flat party was indeed a messy one… if you invite over 15 or so people to a student flat who currently has about 15 people amongst a student village with over 3000 people in it then it’s bound to get a bit crazy. But we made sure we cleaned up the monstrosity of a mess in the end!
One of the memorable moments of the night (apart from Dan having to down over a litre of beer) was with Steffan on the field just outside the accommodation block. I cannot recall how long we were lying on the grass, gazing up at the stars for under the warmth of a summer evening, but it provided the perfect medium for great conversation. It started off about my newfound love of minimalism and environmentalism but it eventually ended up with us just random things we loved being said one after another: “Trees are amazing!” etc. To top it all off we even caught a glimpse of a few shooting stars!
I’ve had so much fun over the two days I stayed at Sheffield but my railway travels don’t end here, soon I am off to Durham and I’m very excited! It has made me realise how awful some of my preconceptions can be. I suppose we can all be a bit ignorant about people or places sometimes and figure out how wrong you’ve been it can take a lot to accept you’re wrong and more importantly learn to judge less. I will try to be more open-minded in the future.
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
As you may know already, travelling is a great passion of mine and it is made very easy for me because of an unlimited train pass that I get to use to go anywhere within the UK for free (pretty cool, huh?). Today, me and my friends travelled to Bristol!
It’s usually a nightmare trying to organise any outing with my friends but today we triumphed We ended up seeing a rerelease of Days of Heaven in a small but charming little cinema as well as visiting Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery; which provided a great deal of enjoyment both from interesting facts and the silly japes and banter that my friends group is almost famous for. We also took the time to admire the great architecture (both new and old) as well as time for dinner and coffee. There’s so much to do in Bristol and we never even came close to visiting all of the wonderful things there. So we definitely need to return for a few more visits just to get to see all that it has to offer
The greatest thing about today was being able to hang out and experience new things in new places with my friends. My friends, simply put it, are amazing! I don’t really know what I’d do without them and I just know that my life wouldn’t be as fun or as fulfilling if they weren’t in it I’ve had a lot of fun this summer whilst my friends have returned from university and I shall be sad to see them go, but it won’t be long until I jump on the train and spend a few hours to visit them!