Sunday, 24 October 2010

And off I go

For the past three days the weather channel has called for rain showers, not surprising as I am living in England. Of course, Thursday and Friday remained bright and sunny so I had hoped that Saturday's forecast would also be a lie. I, however, do not have such luck. So, in the rain (thankfully just a little drizzle) my housemate, Barbara, and I decided to explore The Bowes Museum on the other side of County Durham. We walked to the train station (about 15 minutes away) and made it 6 minutes before the next train. 

The trains in England look nothing like MetroNorth or NJ Transit, not even Amtrak. They kind of resemble a mixture between a spaceship and an airplane. The seats are two by two and above them are digital signs that tell you whether or not the seat has been reserved and if it has for how long. It's a great concept, especially if you have a long ride and book your ticket early enough, then you know you'll have a seat for the entire ride. 

We took the train to the next stop southwest, Darlington (about 16 minutes) and then walked to the bus stop on Tubwell Row (how adorable are these names?). Again, we made it just in time for the bus to Barnard Castle (the town where the museum is located). I didn't see much of Darlington, but I did manage to see the marketplace. Not as adorable as Durham's, if anything I would say it is more modernized. 

It was my first time riding a bus in the UK so I had Barbara go first so I can see what to do. You don't need a bus ticket before getting on which is nice when you're running late, but you can only pay cash or purchase an unlimited bus ticket per year or semester (I'm debating if I want to get one). You then tell the driver where you are traveling to and they charge you accordingly. Since we both only had 10 pounds and no smaller change, Barbara bought our outbound tickets because buses also don't offer a lot of change. She also told me that in some cities you throw your money into a tin (kind of like old-school tollbooths where you throw in exact change) regardless if you have the exact or not. Of course, you have to pay over not under the ticket price. 

The bus ride itself wasn't bad, it took about 30 minutes to reach Barnard Castle. I have to say, the north east really does have a billion sheep farms! It felt like every five minutes we passed a different farm with fields full of sheep. When we finally arrived in Barnard Castle we had to kind of guess it was our stop because the driver doesn't call out "last stop!". But you kind of figure it out since everyone else is getting off. The Bowes Museum was only 1/4 a mile away so we walked there. The sun was peaking through the clouds at this point but there were still a few occasional drops of rain. 
The Bowes Museum
Barnard Castle, United Kingdom

The Silver Swan
The Bowes Museum, founded by John and Josephine Bowes, was built solely to become a museum. During their marriage the Boweses traveled throughout the world purchasing rare and beautiful art. Including the museum's most famous exhibit The Silver Swan. It was built in the 1770s and is a fully functional mechanical silver swan. It is life-sized and plays for only 34 seconds once a day (unless under repairs). The Bowes Museum also houses other exhibits, such as a huge and impressive porcelain and ceramic exhibit. They have porcelain from all over Europe dating back to the 17th century for some. I really enjoyed looking at the fashion and textile exhibit as well as the exhibit on English interiors (they removed actual walls from houses for this display). I'm a little jealous of the grand fireplaces that we displayed. They also had an exhibit that featured the story of John and Josephine Bowes. This exhibit included a family tree where I learned that the Queen Mother is John Bowes' great-great niece. They even had a small exhibit on her visiting the museum and at one point they included her fashion as an exhibit. 

After the museum we walked around Barnard Castle (from what I understand I think Barnard Castle is the village within the town of Teesdale). We stopped for a late lunch at a tea show. We had first tried a couple of pubs but it turns out they stop serving around 2pm and break until 7pm. Thankfully there was a little tea shop. Afterwards we walked around a little more (Barbara had been to the town before and knew of a nice vintage shop she wanted to check out), unfortunately everything closes at 5pm so we decided to hop back on the bus and head home. All in all I had a lot of fun. I'm hoping next weekend to travel to Edinburgh for Halloween/a pagan festival the Scots celebrate where they paint themselves blue. 

No comments:

Post a Comment