Friday, July 17, 2015
More Durham, and a Dogfight
My other objective in going to Durham was much more conventional -- to see the cathedral. The modern city of Durham is built around an imposing bluff above the River Wear, where a cathedral has stood since 1093. It's a distinctive building that preserves much of its Norman architecture.
Durham, as a buffer between England and Scotland, was a strategically important area back then, and it was ruled by a succession of Prince-Bishops who wielded both religious and secular authority.
As luck would have it, a huge service was going on when I visited, so I couldn't wander around the building as freely as I would have liked. But I could stand in the back and see the main part of the nave, which has unusual columns carved with geometric designs. (Photography wasn't allowed inside.) I could also walk through the Benedictine cloisters and around the palace green, between the cathedral and the adjacent castle.
I also had fun walking around the town itself. I found some quirky shopfronts, but overall it was sadly dominated by chain stores. (I must admit I contributed to the onslaught of the chains by going to Cafe Nero for lunch. What can I say? Sometimes you want something familiar.)
This statue of Neptune stands in the Durham Market square, a gift to the city in 1729 by a Parliament member. It's symbolic of an effort to improve navigation on the River Wear and link Durham to the North Sea.
Durham is a university town, and it seems quite cultivated overall.
After wandering for the afternoon, I caught the 5:39 train back to London. I was home around 9 p.m.
What I didn't mention yesterday, while describing my visit to the Apollo Pavilion, is that I witnessed a scary dogfight while I was there taking pictures. A woman walking a big yellow dog and a rough-looking man with a brindle staffy crossed paths, and I didn't see who started it, but soon enough those dogs were rolling around snarling. The staffy got ahold of the yellow dog's foreleg and would not let go. The yellow dog was yelping and the woman was screaming, "Get him off my dog! Get him off my dog!" But the man couldn't do much until the staffy relented. The woman ran off with her dog in tow, calling back to the man, "Your dog should be on a lead!" The man retorted, "He IS on a lead," while his panting staffy stood next to him, plainly not on a lead.
Anyway, it was scary. As a staffy owner I hate to see anything that perpetuates the image of staffies as badly behaved dogs, but that owner didn't look particularly responsible -- and after all, dog behavior is all about the owner, isn't it? (And there I was, camera out, and did I take any pictures of all this excitement? None! I was too transfixed. I would make a terrible photojournalist.)