Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

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Durham Day 3

Posted by Oli on Monday 3rd March, 2008

The Tac-alarm rouses us again and we roll ourselves out of bed. Having done the “history” side of Durham yesterday, K deems today Shopping day. There’s just so many to explore.

We hit Saddlers to fuel ourselves up for the day ahead and then wander up to the Cathedral to get a peek at the bits we missed yesterday, including the absurdly well-stocked gift shop, with all the usual selections of rubbers, pencils, notebooks and such like, but also the most amazing selection of miniature sculptures and jewelery. It’s all I can do to resist putting the entire shop on my credit card (minus the rubbers – not so bothered about those).

From the Cathedral (after a quick re-fuel in the coffee shop – that’s how long we were there for…) we head out on our pilgrimage through the land of the knick-knack shops and obscenely expensive clothing and jewelery stores. Not only is Durham the most beautiful city, but it has the most wonderful selection of shops and boutiques I’ve ever seen in one place. From your regular, everyday staples like BHS, Marks and Sparks, Top Man and the like, they run the gamut right down to the tiniest of independent bookstores, somehow holding their own against the gargantuan chains of Waterstones and Smiths.

Hours and hours later (I think) we finally succumb to needing a proper rest and head back to the college for a wee kip and 40 winks (we’re in need of both), after which we ready ourselves for a quiet night together in the centre.

We head to the Market Tavern, a recommendation from Pops and co, which turns out to be pretty disappointing. Cracking Nachos to start with, but the burgers are lacklustre and tasteless and definitely not worth the price I fork over at the bar.

Rather than stopping in there for another pint, we take ourselves off to Varsity again, this time making use of my complimentary V-card membership thrown in with my goodie bag at the fashion show last night. K, unfortunately, doesn’t have one and so has to pay for entry, but gets herself a card in the process, which leads us to the bar at which we discover that everything behind it is £1 – pints and spirits – and once again hail the wonder of the student town.

Pops is supposed to be catching us up this evening after an event she’s been summoned to, but unfortunately it drags on and on and she never makes it. We cope fine in the big wide world by ourselves, though, and instead sit and enjoy the sight of foolhardy students partaking in the Lumley Run.

For the uninitiated among you (as we were until we questioned the Gentleman holding a pint to one side of an enormous pool of vomit in the street), the Lumley run is a 7 mile run undertaken by mostly Freshers from Lumley Castle (no idea if I’ve spelled that right) to Durham Castle on the top of the hill. So far so regular. On the run from Lumley to Castle, however, there are 23 pubs and at those 23 pubs a total of 11 pints to be consumed in various guises, all of which must take up the least possible amount of time, as the first man home wins himself a membership to an exclusive Gentlemen’s club in London.

By the time the participants arrived at the Shakespeare (where we first learned of their fate), they are essentially almost home and so exhausted that their body simply rejects whatever they put into it, hence the rather attractive floor decoration we encountered. From our seats in the window of Varsity, we are occasionally greet with the tail-enders hauling themselves up the final hill, “encouraged” by a veteran of the run who, judging by their relative buoyancy, have been spared the necessary lubrication on the way round the course.

Once the entertainment has passed and we’ve made the most of the drinks offers (well, I managed a pint, but you can’t go living too crazily, booze-wise, post-transplant), we call it a night and walk ourselves home (see Bill – we can do it!) to a relatively early bed. Tomorrow is a long drive, plus we have to be out of the room by 10, which is normally when we’re thinking about waking up!


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