An Evening of Surprises

Unsure of what to photograph I dropped into Durham this evening, expecting to see the usual sights in the fading evening light, and in that respect, I wasn’t disappointed.  What’s more the river was so still it produced glassy reflections that demanded to be shot.

Nothing remarkable there then, but then the less usual sights began to manifest themselves.  The narrow streets were full of men in dinner suits and girls in cocktail dresses.  A little formal for normal sunday evening attire, but if I’d been thinking I would have realised that this is end of term, and therefore the various colleges of Durham University will be in full swing with Summer Balls and other post examination celebrations.  The third shot tells a great story of boy patiently giving his girlfriend support as, now that the venue is in sight, she changes into her party shoes at the last available moment.

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Just below the bridge they were on was my second surprise.  A handful of fly fisherman were casting about in search of trout presumably, a very different approach to the anglers who have regularly featured on this blog when I lived by the coast.  This is a more active pastime, the line constantly flicked out and then drawn back in, as opposed to the cast and wait approach of their maritime brethren.

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Up on Palace Green there was more evidence of party season, but more surprisingly the doors to the great cathedral were firmly shut.  APW_3963_4_5

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This seemed wrong for a Sunday Evening.  Where were the sounds of evensong or the thronging of worshippers leaving to return home?  A glance at the notice board alongside revealed that evensong took place at 3.30.  Seems a strange way to define “even”.

There were other minor suprises to enjoy – a stack of restaurant furniture ostracised upon a bridge was one,APW_3996-Edit

a strangely ominous cloud formation including the number 3 another,APW_4108

but there was a more unusual encounter to come.

Descending to the Market Square I did hear the sort of singing I expected at the Cathedral.  The tune seemed familiar…  How Great Thou Art is a well-known hymn set to the tune of a Swedish Folk Song.  But which version was being performed?  I can’t be certain for the performance came from a solitary Asian man who, unused lyrics in hand, was projecting his voice across the deserted space,  presumably in his native tongue.  It was certainly a courageous performance.

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Take Me To The River

It’s early Saturday evening, it’s quite warm and the sun is still shining; just the conditions to tempt me to take a bike out for a short spin and get the lie of the unfamiliar surroundings. Getting the bike in and out of my apartment is no mean feat; with carpets and white walls to consider, as well as the veneered doors which probably wouldn’t take kindly to the attentions of a rogue pedal or handlebar.  How I will achieve this in less favourable weather remains a challenge.  Perhaps I shall become a fair weather cyclist. Anyway I digress.  I was vaguely aware of a track leading down to the Wear from the heights of Gilesgate, having fallen victim to a sat-nav that wanted me to drive over a footbridge some years back, so pedaled off in that direction.  I not sure what the cycling equivalent of a stroll is, but that summed up my riding style.  I didn’t want to miss anything through riding fast and hard (or so I told myself). After an initial false start that took me in the wrong direction I soon found what I was looking for; a riverside trail that would take me right into the heart of the city and just as importantly some new views of old favourites.  Initially I was disappointed at the number of telephone lines in shot, but once the sun caught them they took on the appearance of gossamer, trailed by some giant spider with a sense of aesthetic.APW_1592_3_4-Edit-Edit A little further on and I found another piece of history, and one that I didn’t even know existed.  Seemingly in the middle of nowhere (though there was once a manor house here) I found a 17th Century formal garden, totally deserted but floodlit by the evening sun.  What a gem; this is Old Durham Gardens.APW_1612_3_4 Shortly afterwards I reached the river and the rowing club.  I could go no further as the heavy rainfall that has characterized most of the last 12 months has washed out some of the route.  No such problem for the oarsmen.  I couldn’t decide what I liked about the scene, so initially included the trees and clouds.  APW_1628-Edit_29-Edit_30-EditThen I decided that I lost too much detail by taking this wide approach.  Cropping in gave me more attention on the cyclist and his friends in the boat, but even this wasn’t enough.  APW_1628-Edit_29-Edit_30-Edit-EditCropped really tight you get the feel of different characters of the cox and eight, and you can make more of the sun throwing highlights off the water.APW_1628-Edit_29-Edit_30-Edit-Edit-2 Crossing the river by footbridge I was fortunate not to encounter any lost motorists coming the other way, and this brought me to Maiden Castle.  It wouldn’t be right not to have cricket on such an English evening.APW_1657 Just time to sprint into town before tackling the climbs back to my abode, but there was one more surprise in store; a new (to me) development at the University with windows that were perfectly placed to reflect and emphasise the evening light.APW_1682 Not bad for a first look around.

Talking Heads – Take Me To The River (Live) [1999 – Remaster]