School ended on December 15th. Most people left that evening; I was there until the next afternoon, and in between the castle was weird and silent and empty. And our room was actually clean and lunch that day was delicious. Bizarreness, all of it. It seems ages ago now.
Megan and I spent a day in Dublin (thank you super cheap Ryanair flights), a trip which involved snow, a delayed flight, a diversion to Leeds, a very late bus, and finally arriving back at the Manchester airport at 3AM. We planned to spend two nights in the airport to begin with (who wants to bother with finding, getting to, and paying for a hotel?), so that all worked out ok. Oh yeah, plus the luggage crisis... Anyway Dublin itself was a lot of fun; very touristy and very cold, but we explored and popped into shops to thaw whenenever we could no longer feel our fingers. We saw Trinity College--Ireland's oldest university, founded in 1592--and its magnificent library. Actually we saw only a sliver of the library from beneath the stairs because ordinary people can't get in (either that or you have to pay, I forget) but the library is still magnificent. Witness this. I also found two Tim Hortons! There of all places! It was quite the occasion.
Then we took the train to Durham, where Megan has cousins who are letting us stay for eleven days. Durham feels a little bit like Edinburgh without the touristy-ness. Megan's cousins are some of the nicest people ever and although they've only lived here for a year (he's a student at the university here), they're full of stories of the legends and history surrounding this place. So yeah: university, castle, cathedral, those are Durham's main selling points according to the travel guides.
I used to be awed by cathedrals and old churches; now, after seeing a dozen of them, not so much--but Durham's cathedral is a massive Gothic monster that is impressive any way you look at it. It's almost a thousand years old which kind of blows my mind. "It's like there's a story in every hewn piece of stone," I heard an old lady say to her friend at the Christmas Eve carol service yesterday. Yes.
And that service was awesome--choir, procession, the works. Even though we heard rather than saw everything, thanks to three large pillars directly in our view. We got there 35 minutes early and the place was absolutely packed! The service was basically Christmas carols--some familiar, some obscure, some with familiar words but completely different, "traditional English" melodies--and Scripture readings. I thought it was cool that they started not with "In those days, Ceasar Augustus issued a decree," but with the Fall, and traced the promise of Jesus all the way to the beginning.
Christmas Day was nice too--we had dinner with the neighbours--but it didn't feel like Christmas. Christmas happens at home. The end. :P
So that's pretty much it. On Thursday I take the train to London, kill two days there alone, then meet up with Christy! Pray her flights don't get messed up because of the crazy weather!
To close, here's the end of my dad's Christmas message:
Finally, mom tearfully said something like, "Tell her I love her, miss her, wish she was here, yet didn't have time to send a note" - all in between hurriedly scrubbing some obscure cooking device that I have never seen before, neither could I explain what exact purpose it might have. In fact, it could have been some sort of alien power device or protective radiation plate - it really did look unearthly. Well, I can assure you that she is thinking of you in between brush strokes.So that's a comfort. Happy Boxing Day everyone. All seven remaining minutes of it.
[Completely unrelated; I'm quite excited about this. A bunch of different Christian artists have put together an album of songs that are more or less justice-themed for International Justice Mission. And it's only $5, which is like £3.75! and it includes the At the End of Slavery documentary! and it supports IJM! What reason is there not to buy it?]