Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Dreaming Of Durham.

"Hello, I would like to purchase a ticket from Stoke on Trent to Durham, please." The lady at the ticket office replied, "Would that be Durham, North Carolina, or Durham, England?" Okay, I'm making that up, she didn't mention Durham, England. Enough already, the lady sold me a ticket from Stoke to Durham, England.
That was on Monday, July 13. At 8:30 A.M., on Thursday, July 16, I headed out my front door to subject myself to the wonders of public transport. Bus number one, the number 18 from Leek, Staffordshire to Hanley bus depot in Stoke on Trent. Bus number two, the National Express to Manchester. Bus number three, a National Express to Leeds via Bradford. Then bus number four, a National Express from Leeds destined for Durham, via, Harrogate, Ripon and Darlington. Estimated time of arrival in Durham, 4:55 P.M.
Waiting for the final bus at Leeds proved to be the most memorable part of the journey. As we queued patiently to get on the bus, this one idiot decided he would jump the queue. He proceeded to put his packsack into the luggage compartment on the side of the bus. Then he smugly showed the driver his boarding ticket. The driver who must have observed what had transpired, promptly told the guy to remove his packsack from the luggage compartment and get to the back of the queue. Oh yes! Result! Full marks to that National Express driver and his no nonsense approach to that situation.
So I sat there on the final bus and relaxed. For in about 2 and 1/2 hours, I would be seeing my good friends Julie and Philip. I was most excited at the prospect of visiting and being witness to the new adventure that they had begun, way up in the North East of England. Just as the bus was pulling into Durham Bus Station; I got a text from Philip inquiring, 'are we there yet?'. Yes we are Philip.
Now I was aware of the weather, even in July, can be, shall we say, somewhat dreary up in that part of England. However, the optimist in me told me to bring sunglasses, the realist in me told me to bring a wooly hat. Upon leaving the bus and being greeted by them, we headed through the streets of Durham. To say that the weather was a tad unpleasant, is a bit of an understatement. The shop with the drastically reduced solar lamps may have been a bit of a clue. Luckily the rain eventually eased to a torrential downpour.
It was time to head out of Durham to the small village they live in about four miles from Durham. 'Gary? You're used to buses? So guess what? We're taking a Park and Ride bus back to the car.' stated Philip. "You're having a laugh? You're shitting me?" I replied. Bus number five and 'bus lag' was starting to catch up with me.
For the next six days I became a part of Julie's and Philip's lives, along with their, shall we say, rather playful dog, 'Zak'. For the next six days I witnessed the wonders of a world where the locals seemed to be talking in a foreign language. I think they might have been speaking English, indeed I thought it best to nod my head at what I guessed was the right time. For the next six days I saw peacocks strolling around the streets of their village, experienced severe flooding and got to go Durham Cathedral. An awe-inspiring place that transported my mind back in time and made me appreciate the incredible skill and determination of those who created such a magnificent structure.
Back home now. My own personal recovery continues. Every outing a personal triumph in my ongoing journey to regain my self-esteem. Thank you Julie, Philip and not forgetting Zak, for making my time in the beautiful city of Durham, England, thought provoking and inspiring. Now, if only I could get rid of this bus lag. "On the National Express there's a jolly hostess selling crisps and tea. She'll provide you with drinks and theatrical winks for a sky-high fee.." 'Divine Comedy'..you might say that.


  1. Wonderfully related as always. And Durham Cathedral plays a central part in my recently published children's book. Though not as the building now is, it was then a wooden structure called the White Church. If you care to give me your address, I'll send you a copy.



  2. Well done Klahanie for getting through on the bus system (is it a system?!)And I would have had to clap and hoot very loudly when that man got told to go to the back of the queue for pushing in!! Priceless! I can't stand rude people like that - at least this time a person like that got the respect they deserve.

    So where are you going next?

  3. :) Good to hear you had a good time. The weather sounds just about right for July; rain! and yet you still took sunglasses :D

    Hope the journey continues to help you in the long term and like Julie P mentions above, where to next?


  4. Hi there Gary,

    Ironically, I live within 3 hours time of Durham, NC. A very nice place to visit, but I would have known if you'd been there. I've followed you since you were a 'wee blogster.' How you've grown into a writer of great strength and imagination!
    Two words my friend:
    "Bravo", "More".

  5. Hi Carole,
    Thank you for your very nice comment. Most interesting to note that Durham Cathedral plays a central part in your recently published children's book.
    I am most flattered at your kind offer and I will forward my information on to you. Thanks for that.
    Warm wishes, Gary.

  6. Hi Julie,
    Thank you for noting my ability to survive the public transport system relatively unscathed:-)
    I was tempted to start a whoopin' and a cheerin' when that smug idiot had to go to the back of the queue. I had a sense of satisfaction when he ended up boarding the bus last. Oh yes!
    Not sure where I am going next. Perhaps a tour of Britain's landfill sites. Hmmm..maybe not:-)
    Thanks Julie and happy writing.
    Kind wishes, Gary.

  7. Hello 'MMI',
    Thanks for the comment. Yes indeed, I did take my sunglasses. Just on the off chance, that, even in July, there may have been a slight chance that I could use them:-)
    Going on these little adventures helps me challenge my low self esteem. So such journeys do help in the long term. Thank you for mentioning that.
    I hope you are well and look forward to some more of your writing.
    In peace and respect, Gary.

  8. Hi there Dixie,
    Well, thank you for a mighty fine comment. It is greatly appreciated.
    Yeah, I reckon you might have known if I had been in Durham, N.C. I have checked out some photos of it and it does look like a very nice place to visit. Who knows? Maybe I could go to Durham, N.C. and have loads of interesting experiences. Hopefully, that would be without the incessant rain that fell upon us in Durham, England.
    So this "wee blogster" thanks you very much for your lovely compliments. "Bravo" and "More" back atcha'. Always great reading your blog, Dixie.
    In peace and respect, Gary

  9. I will leave this brief ,Gary,this journey ,i know ,for you is a triumph I know how much courage it takes to achieve this ,more power to you,a true milestone.

  10. Gald you enjoyed it. Durham Cathedral is awe inspiring isn't it. That's partly down to the fact that it is earlier than most of the Gothic cathedrals elsewhere.

    I come from East Durham and when I moved to Yorkshire had to slow down my speech to be understood. North Easterners speak much more quickly than most other areas - we gabble.

  11. Dear Gary,
    So glad you enjoyed your visit to Durham. Sad, though, that the weather was so rough. Anyway, at least nowe you're back in, erm, sunny Stoke. Or is that rainy Stoke. Anyway, glad to have you back, but at the same time good to see you spreading your wings a little and broadening your horizons. Even if those horizons are rainy ones!
    With Very Best Wishes,

  12. Hi David S.,
    Thank you for your very nice response. It was indeed a triumph to head out the door and challenge my anxiety of going on public transport.
    Take very good care and brilliant to note you are getting involved in a more positive environment.
    Kind wishes, Gary.

  13. Hello John,
    Whey aye, man. Thanks for leaving a comment. Yes indeed, Durham Cathedral is awe inspiring. The sheer vastness was absolutely breath taking.
    Beautiful countryside and I look forward to another visit. May even be able to use my sunglasses.
    Thanks John and continued happy blogging to you.
    Kind regards, Gary.

  14. Dear David,
    As much as I enjoyed being drenched up in the North East; It was very nice to come back to Leek and get drenched by sunshine..(Okay, that was wishful thinking).
    All the best to you, David. Thanks for your very nice comment.
    Sunny regards, Gary.

  15. Hello Gary, Good to hear that you are on your way to regain your self-esteem. Just continue on the journey.

    God bless...

  16. Hi Jun,
    Thanks for your encouraging comment. I shall endeavour to continue along the pathway of positive recovery and a better life.
    May your own journey be positive and peaceful.
    Warm wishes, Gary.


I do try to comment back to each commenter individually. However, I might have to shorten my replies or give a group thank you. That way, I can spend more time commenting on your blogs. Thank you and peace, my friend.