Grace and I drove up to Durham on Friday. "Said the Maiden" were playing a gig there at the fantastic Gala Theatre, so we booked in to a lovely old inn not far outside the city, planning to be there for two nights.
Setting out from Yelvertoft and Crick to join the M1 north at Junction 18, we met some roadworks that blocked our way, with diversion signs. Frowning because the diversion was headed south, we duly followed.
Fifty (yes, 50) minutes later we arrived at Junction 18, less than a minute away from where we'd started! That was not a good way to start our 200-mile journey! And to add insult to our not inconsequential injury, the traffic up the M1 and A1 was dreadful, and we were on the road for another five hours.
It was well worth it, however. The Three Horseshoes Inn was perfect for our needs. Our room overlooked miles of countryside, the food and the service were faultless.
More importantly, the Maidens' gig was great, with a very enthusiastic, delighted audience enjoying a superb performance.
The next day, we went into the city to do some sight-seeing. It's a charming old city with loads of character, loads of students and more loads of tourists.
The cathedral is beautiful, and we spent most of our time in or close to that. Annoyingly, though, it was not permissible to take photos in the cathedral, and paid-for permits weren't even available.
Unfortunately, the castle that houses the University was closed to the public.
On our way back to the inn, we drove out to the coast - Hartlepool - just to see how bleak and beautiful it was.
We left for home on Sunday morning, taking a detour (deliberate this time!) out over the North Pennines - rugged moorland, fabulous contours and colours, almost deserted. Getting out of the car was hazardous, however, because of the biting cold, strong-gusting wind!
We finally pointed the car towards Yelvertoft, and guess what...