Until 2012, Farewell Durham!

A snippet of Christmassy cuteness

UNDERGRADUATE

As term drew to a close and festive debauchery grew to its climax, I felt there were a lot of mixed emotions floating around Durham. Obviously everybody was excited to go home and see their families, but I for one was engulfed by an overwhelming sadness at having to leave the place which I had come to love so quickly. Four weeks of not being able to see the beautiful people of Mildert, four weeks without the joys of my dilapidated accommodation block, four weeks without Studio!?

Christmas was quite a big deal around college. With a choir Carol Service, followed by Panto, followed by Carols in the Bar, Sunday was Christmas all over. Monday night was ushered in with ‘Jazz under the Mistletoe,’ which was a personal highlight, and Tuesday was one last Christmas blowout, where Mildert seemed to overrun Studio once again. I can safely say that this term at Durham has been one of the best experiences of my life, right from start to finish. It’s quite clear I suppose that my love for our little city is somewhat out of proportion, seeing as I’ve only been here 10 weeks, but it’s come to feel like home. Of course, once the initial tide of sadness had subsided and the train had reached Stevenage, I was looking forward to seeing the ‘old crowd’. As soon as I was back in the big smoke of London, I once again immersed myself in my school friends and my wonderful family. This has of course, been fantastic and catching up with the people I have missed throughout the term has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, so I cannot complain about being home.

But, I do find myself pining for the Mildert Lake, the joys of Jimmy Allen’s and the buzz of the Durham Bubble when I have a rare moment to myself. It will be good to be back. I wish you and all your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2012.

P.S.: R. I. P. to the greatest club in Durham. Studio, you will be sorely missed.

POSTGRADUATE

So that’s it then. Done. Finito. Finished. My first term as a postgrad is over and the festive season is here. I can’t believe how quickly it’s passed by to be honest. One of my modules is finished and another is halfway through but yet I feel like I’ve hardly started.

Because I’m working full time during this whole thing I’ve found it quite difficult to keep smack bang up to date and have a little bit of catching up to do, but this is one way in which my job actually proves itself useful. I work for a company which (rather archaically) closes down for the Christmas period so as of Tuesday 20th December at 5pm I’m finished work until Monday 3rd January. Also luckily (in one way) my other half works for a company which DOESN’T close down at all over the Christmas/New Year so he’s at work most of the time. This gives me almost two full weeks to get caught up to date so my plan is to drop him off at work in the morning then head to the City Library to get my head down in some books without the homely distractions of TV, the Internet, and alphabetising my CD collection (honestly, anything to avoid having to do some work).

Aside from catching up with studying, I also fully intend to catch up with family and partake in a bit of mountain biking too. I’m not really one for the commercial element of Christmas; my family and I don’t bother with presents, it’s not a given that we’ll get together on Christmas day. For a lot of years my family has agreed that we’ll do whatever we want to over Christmas as long as we do actually get together at some point. So, on Christmas morning, my other half and I will wake up, make ourselves an indulgent breakfast, pack up a lunch and head to the Rothbury hills for a nice long walk then come home and make a fairly modest roast dinner with a couple of Christmassy trimmings.

I know, we sound like a right family of scroogy bah humbugs don’t we. We’re not. We just came to realise a while ago that Christmas isn’t about spending money on each other and struggling to come up with things we’d all like. If we want to buy ourselves things we’ll just go and do it, we don’t need to buy each other things to have a special time. In fact, the best gift we can give each other at Christmas is the time to share some of it together. Six years ago we didn’t get that luxury. My brother, his (then) wife and their 21 month old daughter were in Manchester due to spend the holidays with her family. I was having my parents over at my house for dinner. I got a phone call at 9am from my Dad and when I saw it was my parents number I almost picked up the phone and said “yes, yes the turkey is in” but that’s not why he was phoning. My niece had fallen asleep the night before, almost old enough to understand the excitement of Christmas morning but she never got the opportunity to try. She passed away some time during the night and left a permanent scar on Christmas for the entire family. A tragedy like that really puts the whole thing into perspective. Christmas isn’t about spending a fortune on presents or food or decorations. Christmas is about valuing a bit of time somewhere you feel completely comfortable and being surrounded by those people you love. I can have my family over for dinner any time during the year and often do because it’s more important to see them all year round than just at Christmas. Christmas day is just one day like any of the other 364 in a year so I choose to spend it exactly how I want.

The trouble is, I really want this Master’s degree so I suspect a lot of my time off will be spent studying, but I will ALWAYS make time to see my family and indulge in some quality time with them. After all, how can I know how many more opportunities I will have to do so?

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