And since I’ve got an hour at Manchester Picadilly before our train back to Durham, let’s see how far I can get catching up on the last week.Saturday
Mom and Leah flew into Manchester airport and then took the train over to Durham in the morning; it was a beautiful day and Gwen and I walked over to meet them there. In the afternoon, we took a long walk down through Pelaw Woods, walking by the walled gardens and also joining in a dog rescue – two dogs had ended up in the river at a place too deep for them to swim and too steep for them to climb back out, and between another passer-by and us we were able to get both of them out safely. We then headed back into town and had tea and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam at a cafe. (This was the first time in England for both, so we wanted to make sure we hit ALL the traditional British things we could do.) In the evening, I made pizza and we watched “Frozen” – Joel’s first time.Sunday
We went to sung matins at Durham cathedral for Easter service. I’d never been to a sung matins before; there was a lot of singing, but unfortunately very little for us. Easter is one time that I miss going to my grandparent’s Lutheran church, because the Easter hymns are some of my favorite.
Our morning got off on the wrong foot when Gwen, Mom, Leah, and I headed out the door and started walking ahead of Joel because Gwen is slow and I wasn’t sure how long it would take her (she’s actually never been all the way up the bailey to the cathedral before), and then he comes pelting down the hill after us because he’s accidentally locked himself out and can he borrow my keys? Um, no. I have no pockets, so I didn’t bring mine because he always
has his. Neither of us had our phones with us, either. Thankfully, we had left the window of the upper bathroom (which opens over our backyard) open a few inches to let it air out after showering, so we knew all we needed was a ladder. We know a few of our neighbors on our street, one of whom probably would have one and the other one whom probably wouldn’t. Unfortunately, it being Easter Sunday, the first neighbor wasn’t home. The second welcomed us in because Gwen needed to use the bathroom, and we hung out in her livingroom while we considered options. She suggested someone else further down the street, so Joel want to ask him; and he
ended up suggesting someone else further down, and that person had a ladder. So then we had to walk down another neighbor’s driveway – where the barking of their big dog brought them out to see what was up – to climb over the fence into our back yard. Joel was wearing his nice three-piece suit, so mom, who had leggings on underneath, shucked off her skirt and did the honors of climbing in through the window.
The rest of the day was much more relaxed. It was the nicest day of the year so far – probably the nicest we’ll have until midsummer, hitting nearly 20C! We had a waffle picnic in the backyard, and an Easter egg hunt, and then the girls played outside the rest of the afternoon. We made a lamb leg for Easter dinner – Leah’s first time having lamb!Monday
The plan was to go to Newcastle and get on a train to Carlisle, seeing the cathedral and castle there and then on the way home stop at Hexham to see their cathedral and then Corbridge to see the Roman fort and part of Hadrian’s wall. The timing worked out such that we ended up hitting Hexham first, so that we could do lunch there, and then after that only Carlisle. Leah is studying cathedrals in school this year, so we wanted to make sure she got to see a wide range of them! I particularly liked Carlisle cathedral; its ceiling has been restored so it’s painted all gorgeous blue and gold. Amazing.Tuesday
We left Gwen at nursery for a few hours so that mom and Leah could go back to the cathedral for a proper visit, including a hike up the tower. I’d already been up the tower, so I sat in the sanctuary and graded essays. There are worse places to grade than in Durham cathedral!
After that we stopped in the SCR for tea before seeing the Norman chapel and then heading down to the covered market to shop. We picked up some salmon for supper, and then headed back to pick up Gwen early, because she didn’t want to miss any time playing with her cousin.Wednesday
We walked down along the river around the Bailey, and then had lunch at the Dun Cow before doing some more shopping for souvenirs and gifts.Thursday
We hit a bunch of charity shops in the morning (I came away with some cotton brocade curtains, some linen curtains, and a truly ugly bedspread which one I cut away all the velour will leave me with some decent black and gold brocade (unsure of the fabric content, probably synthetic, but I can do some practice sewing with it). Joel will get a new undershirt and some breeches out of this, and possibly a doublet.
In the afternoon, Gwen and I made a birthday cake, blue with a dinosaur on it, and in the evening we belatedly celebrated Leah’s birthday. The week before, I’d picked up a couple of random books from the kids’ section of the library, and one – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Boat of Her Own Making
– was so good, I kept thinking “I bet Leah would like this.” So I ordered her a copy and it arrived that day.Friday
Friday we packed and got everything ready in the morning, and then got a taxi to the station in the afternoon so that we could head across the Penines back to near Manchester (from which they’d be flying home on Monday) where Crown Tourney was going to be held. We got in around 17:30, and there was already a good crew of people there, and it was lovely to walk in and be greeted with enthusiastic applause (well, most of it was for Gwen: Baba Tam was there and glad to see her granddaughter again).
It was a lovely and relaxed evening; supper was ready not too much later, I fed Gwen and put her to sleep, and then simply hung out and chatted until Joel got in (he took a later train so as to not have to take any time off work) around 22:30.Saturday
It was a small event; or at least, there were very few people there I didn’t know, and by the end of the weekend I think almost none. The tourney ended up with only 5 entrants, two couples having had to withdraw due to illness, unfortunately. It went incredibly quickly; Her Highness Alessandra ran the list and I heralded the entire tourney, realizing, at one point, that the last time I heralded a Crown Tourney was a long time ago
, so long that when I was crying the litany, I had to bite my tongue at one point to keep from saying “Give honor to the crown of the Middle Kingdom”! After the tourney was over, I was off duty for the rest of the day – their majesties’ chamberlain is also their herald, so I had no duties regarding court, etc. I got to inspect all the things in the A&S competition, watch a bit of the archery, hang out and talk some more with people, and...I think it’s actually a good thing that I can’t remember what else I did, because it means I was relaxed and enjoying myself! The Princess of Nordmark took all the young kids “treasure hunting” (i.e., geocaching), which Gwen apparently loved. She certainly came back all muddy!
Court was short and sweet, feast was served promptly and tastily, about halfway through Gwen asked to go to bed so I took her off, and she was asleep almost before I left the room. I then turned up at the kitchen to find out what needed to be done, and Joel (the feast cook not the husband) gratefully put up his hands and said “I’ve cooked, I’m done, take over!” Leah and Alexander Kilianus turned up and were vaguely floating around, so I sent them to start clearing the hall while I started in on the dishes; later, mom, Lady Hilkke, and gothwalk
also came and got put to use. We got basically everything washed and put away except for the really nasty icky greasy dishes which needed to soak over night by about an hour after feast was over, meaning it wasn’t quite 22:00! Plenty of time to hang out, try Asbiorn’s lovely not-so-short mead, and chat before getting to bed at a decent time.Sunday
Since mom and Leah’s flight was out of Manchester on Monday, we decided to spend the night there with them so we could ensure they got onto the right train in the morning. So we had a day in Manchester, and when I was there for a workshop a few weeks ago I just missed (it opened the day after I left) a neat looking exhibit at the Manchester Museum, so I knew how we would spend our day. We went there, and got to see two Easter Island statue heads! They were smaller than I expected. The rest of the museum was a lot of fun too; they had a nature exhibit for younger kids, plus a T-rex skeleton, and a vivarium on the top floor. We all split and went our separate ways after lunch, though I did leave Gwen with mom long enough to go to see the money exhibit, which was really interesting. Then we spent an hour or so in the “Discovery Center” making sock puppets before we headed out to the apartment I’d booked through AirBnB, a nice two-bedroom place overlooking the docks and really close to the station. We ordered in pizza, I finally had time to give Gwen a bath (which she’d rather been in need of since Monday’s trip to Carlisle castle where she rolled down the grass into the moat a number of times). Joel headed back to Durham that night, and we all went to bed early.Today
Today we delivered Mom and Leah to the station bright and early, and then had an hour or so to hang out until our train. We’ll be back in a few hours and then Gwen will head to nursery and I’ll finishing grading essays today.