I went up to Newcastle to see lethargic_man chez his parents. Friday we went to Durham, which surprised me by being near Newcastle, but which is a very lovely town. The generally pretty Mediaeval architecture is much enhanced by being surrounded by breathtakingly gorgeous landscape, and the landscape in turn was enhanced by being under snow. The old bit of the university is very much the Oxford thing of students trying desperately to make lovely old buildings mundane, but on a smaller scale. We couldn't get into the castle because they don't let tourists wander round during termtime; the difference in scale means they can get away with this.
The town centre was quite impressively unspoilt. We went to a covered market to buy lethargic_man a hat; when he hesitated (for about 10 seconds!) over which one to choose, the stallholder accused him of being 'worse than a woman'. And bless him, he straight away challenged said stallholder's gender stereotyping.
lethargic_man also managed to drag me past a book sale in Oxfam, which is no small feat, and very sensibly insisted that I should go and look at the cathedral instead. The cathedral was very well worth seeing, even for someone like me who generally doesn't get overexcited about church architecture. lethargic_man couldn't come in with me, due to purity considerations, and with having to get back to Newcastle in time for shabbat, I didn't want to hang around there for too long, and so didn't have time to go to the museum, which I think might have excited me more (manuscripts, mm!).
But cool church anyway. One of the notable feature is quantities of a local marble which is absolutely chock full of fossils; apart from being generally a cool concept, the mottled effect is visually effective. They've also been quite enterprising with modern art, some of which works rather well.
The rest of the day we spent in the botanic gardens, which we reached by a very pretty riverside walk. Lots of fun; the highlight was some japanese maples, almost silhouetted against the sun, but with the sun shining through the peeling bark, creating a very burning bush sort of effect.
The whole day I was willing for more snow to add to what had fallen the previous evening. I got my wish, because by the time we got back to Newcastle it was snowing pretty heavily. Unfortunately, this meant that it took an hour instead of 15 minutes to get back to lethargic_man's parents from the station, and even though we'd left plenty of time, this made it too late to get to shul. Never mind. Had a very pleasant Friday night meal; I was most amused by the concept that a girl who's supposed to be a potential match for lethargic_man was also invited. My attempts to be subtle were made pointless by another guest, who not only dominated the conversation to the extent that it was impossible for lethargic_man to interact with the girl in question at all, but insisted on drawing attention to the fact that M and I are together.
Saturday morning I woke up just after 7 o'clock and looked outside to a snow-transformed street. This had the effect of immediately regressing me to an over-excited five-year-old. I just about managed to muster enough willpower to stay in bed until half past eight, but by then the impatience was too much for me, and I went and woke lethargic_man in the hope that we'd have time to go and play in the snow before shul. I really shouldn't have done that, partly because poor lethargic_man was being absolutely lovely all weekend and more than deserved a lie-in, and also because the moment I'd done it, I realized that it was entirely stupid idea. It's the most annoying thing in the world to do something stupid, and realize immediately afterwards so that I have to hate myself.
lethargic_man was quite heroically nice about it, mind you. We didn't have time to go sledging as I'd really hoped (part of why I got so over-excited was that he'd foolishly joked about getting up early to go sledging before shul, in case all the snow melted by the afternoon). Instead, we built a snowman in lethargic_man's back garden. lethargic_man was following a definite vision and generally being very efficient; me, I was just excited about playing in the snow and was probably more of a hindrance than a help, in true five-year-old fashion. It was my idea to turn the snowman into a snow Buddha, though.
It's pretty impressively irreverent, to be late for shul because we were too busy building a snow Buddha... Service was ok, and our conspiracy to surprise lethargic_man by the unexpected presence of RB went off as planned.
And then in the afternoon there was indeed still snow on the ground, so we went sledging on the Town Moor. Yaaaaaaay! lethargic_man has real sledges, proper wooden ones like something out of Heidi. Wow. That was just the most fun. See, one of the reasons I like lethargic_man so much is that he's not too dignified for this sort of thing. I have a fairly well cultivated inner child, but M has simply never given up any of the good things about being a kid, just gained the advantages of being an adult.
After that we attempted to verify JM Barrie's theory that kissing causes children to grow up. Inconclusive, but I can certainly say we had a thoroughly grown-up evening, with intelligent conversation and watching Delicatessen, and so on.
So all in all, a very happy weekend!