Sunday, 7 August 2016

Art, Religion, Food - Part II

This continues the story of a day I spent with Vivien in Newcastle.

Leaving the Discovery Museum, I wanted to check out the businesses occupying the arches of the main railway bridge. I'd read about them and was curious about what was there. I think Vivien thought I was nuts, but it seems to be all the rage, having your small business in an arch.

Following our noses after that took us to Newcastle Castle, actually just the castle keep remains. Funny I didn't think to take photos of it...I can tell I've lived here over 20 years now. Right behind the castle is Milburn House, where Vivien and I once worked.

Milburn House was once a shipping office in the early 1900s. There are still doors that open into black, cavernous safes and sea waves decorate the tiles which cover the walls. The floors are given letters rather than numbers, apparently like ships' deck were identified back then. There were also several wings on each floor. We had plenty of visitors get lost, it being in the maze of streets in the city centre, followed by the confusion of the ground floor being A and the top floor E and then needing to know whether to go N or S...

It's an amazing building in a great location (if you don't mind walking up and down the hill that is Dean Street), but being a listed building limited how offices could be arranged and I found it a very inconvenient. I spent a lot of time with my laptop in the Lit Phil Library to have enough quiet to work, since I shared my office with two other people.I probably have some photos of Milburn House somewhere, but it's easier just to show you these.

Right behind Milburn House, is the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (come to think of it, virtually everything in the city centre is practically on top of each other). I remember it was my habit to work into the evening but one night a week I would be driven from my office by the incessant bell ringing at St. Nicks. Just as well, I gave them far too much of my life as it was.

Vivien was surprised to find we could just walk into the cathedral and look around. We timed it badly or we could have had a cup of tea in the cafe, so we'll have to return another day. I've put some photos here, but again there are much better elsewhere. Vivien mentioned that St. Nick's is why Newcastle is a city. I can't explain it fully but I have known for some time that being granted status as a 'city' here in Britain is tied to the notion of having a 'cathedral'. It has to do with church and state still being joined. You can read more about it here.

I've spent any number of lunch hours at St. Nick's but I'd not realized until now how incredibly old it is. Originally built as a parish church in 1091, it burned in 1216. The present building was completed in 1350. John Knox was minister there for a few years in the mid 1500's. The spire is beautiful at any time, but seeing it lit up at night always grabs my heart. 

By now I had my heart set on another cup of coffee before we parted and we fell into this interesting looking place where I thoroughly enjoyed the decor. I think we split something sweet between us and Vivien took something home to Steve, as she often does. 

I was hoping Patisserie Valerie's website had some better photos, but instead I found videos of lovely cakes being made. I'm afraid the thought of all that sugar makes my tummy ache, but I know some folks who would enjoy watching!

The title of these two posts is even more fatuous than I'd originally realized. Applying Oscar Wilde's definition of art, fashion probably doesn't qualify as clothing is useful. Neither Vivien nor I are religious, we just appreciated the architecture. And I definitely don't qualify cake as food!

But we had a great day out all the same. We always do.


Indigo Dragonfly said...

I'm with you on enjoying the architecture of old religious sites (churches/cathedrals/chapels/synagogues/whatever). History and ideology notwithstanding, the buildings are simply beautiful.
I didn't know that about city status, but found it amazing that Oxford's city charter was issued by the Pope (saw it on my trip to the Bodleian library).
And in my opinion, fashion *can* be art - functional or not - and I've opted for cake for breakfast or supper on more than one occasion. :-)

tess said...

Beautiful! thank you for showing this awesome (literally!) setting, cake is never wrong ;-)