I’ve just spent most of the past week being a tourist, as my mother has been visiting Durham for a few days. This was much helped by the weather, as we had some of the only days of summer so far this year!
We spent a day up in Northumberland, which included a trip to the Farne Islands. Mum had never seen puffins properly before – but there were plenty here! I was keen to photograph one with a beakful of sand-eels. I noticed many fly directly over the island, but they seemed spooked by the number of tourists and only a few landed. Then just before departing for the boat, this one appeared, and almost posed for the cameras!
We also visited some of the local museums, which offered great insight into the once-thriving economy of the region. The first of these was the excellent Head of Steam Railway Museum in Darlington: this houses the original Locomotion, which ran on the inaugural Stockton-and-Darlington railway, and was a fully working engine for thirty years.
The Hartlepool Maritime Experience has as its showpiece the HMS Trincomalee, a fully restored battleship that was built in 1817, and had active service in the Navy for ten years from 1847. It’s an impressive sight (see above), and the tour of the decks was a window into a different era – and a tough environment. The sailors living in the dark and cramped lower deck would have slept in hammocks that were hung just above the dining tables, and owned little that could not be stored in a two-litre duffle bag. There was an odd contrast later in the day with the monks’ dormitory in Durham Cathedral: spartan though this may have been, they at least each had a separate bay to sleep and study in, with copious light and space compared to the sailors.
Healing on the Streets
Over the last few months I’ve been part of the Healing on the Streets team in Stockton. It’s been really good to be part of it from the start, to experience some of the wariness of the local townspeople as to what we’re about, and then to perceive a distinct thaw and greater willingness to receive prayer. One of the first people we prayed with in April was wheelchair bound and suffering from cancer. It seemed a significant moment, but we did not hear from her afterwards. Today she wheeled up to say that she had had a CAT scan a few days previously and was now clear of the tumour! We were concerned that she was not walking yet, so we prayed with her for that. We await further news of how she is doing.