Grad Watch


The sun was shining. I had a work free day so decided to take myself off to Durham.

It’s not far so a morning wandering around the old streets lured me.

It’s a beautiful city of which Bill Bryson said, when he first visited ” why did no one tell me about this place ?”

I parked by the river , a car park which,  for that time of day,  seemed surprisingly active , and headed for the cathedral.

As I wandered along the cobbled streets I became increasingly aware of the number of , what looked like parents. And smartly dressed too. And here’s me thinking uni was done for the Summer. And then they started appearing . . . The graduation gown clad students. Let the Grad Watch commence.
As I walked towards the Cathedral green I could see that obviously this was the focus of proceedings. The marquees set up for collecting gowns, having the obligatory photo taken and parent’s ticket collection were busy. The green outside the grand old house of prayer was full of proud families taking photos of their offspring. There were parents there who barely spoke the language as their child had decided to fly to the other side of the world to study in one of arguably England’s finest universities and today was their one chance to visit this fine old city.
The weather was warm so Fathers’ suit jackets were already abandoned and the glamorous but impractical shoes on the Mothers were proving wrong for Durham’s cobbled streets.
The graduation robes were long, black and warm but that didn’t matter at all as the excitement built as they waited in line to file into the cathedral for the second ceremony of the day.
I approached a steward to ask if mere mortals could get into the cathedral and was directed to the tradesman’s entrance. This took me to the beautiful cloisters, and walking through them I immediately felt like a muggle extra from the Harry Potter film that was shot in there, as black robed cathedral staff and graduates swooped past me.
The whole of this small but perfectly formed city took on a feeling of muted celebration as cafe after cafe was full of robes and their parents. The expensive clothes and shoes and accessories on the older generation could not detract from the look of finality on their child’s face as they realised that that’s the end. The end of those days of studying, partying, rising at noon, wearing shorts and flip flops all day, not really answering to anyone in your uni cocoon and spending all your time with friends. The graduation ceremony with all it’s splendour , pomp, historical ritual and dressing up was the end. Tomorrow a new page is turned and Durham will become a memory.


Le Film French


I am a lover of subtitled films.

There, I’ve said it.

It’s true.

The first one I remember watching was Jean de Florette and I was hooked. The deliciousness kissed me and captivated me. I find subtitled films, especially French films, slower and more character based. The wild pace of so many English speaking films is put aside for a film which spends longer showing the scenery and the movements of someone walking along the street than usual. I love it.


We watched Renoir this last weekend and the majority of the film took place around  the beautiful house, as we watched him paint, then the rest showed his son fall in love with his Father’s muse. I can’t help feeling that if this had been a non-French film it could have been packed into a 3 minute advert for holidays in Southern France. But I was there. I felt the sun on my face, the water on my legs from wading in the stream, and tasted the peaches and pears eaten. The slow and lingering filming transports me.

Once I watched enough subtitled movies and got comfortable with the process of watching and reading at the same time, I barely even noticed the subtitles, much less made the conscious effort to concentrate on them. I love the fact that you have to devote yourself to the film. . . no reading the paper or surfing the net at the same time. If you don’t engross yourself in the film you might as well turn it off.

I have however discovered a downside to subtitled films. Yes, there is one I’m afraid.


I had to stop watching while I ironed. Too many burns on my hands.