Durham in springtime

By

I wasn’t prepared for springtime in Durham; I didn’t expect it. Over six months, I’ve learnt to love this little city for its historic buildings and its cobblestones and, yes, even its brutalist concrete architecture (Kingsgate Bridge has a special place in my heart) and suddenly spring breathed new life into it. This place that seemed to dwell in an eternal state of half-autumn has woken up to fresh air and bright sunlight.

This place that seemed to dwell in an eternal state of half-autumn has woken up to fresh air and bright sunlight

For one thing, there are flowers everywhere. Shops and pubs have gold and lilac pansies in baskets and window boxes, and every tree that isn’t a bright yellow-green has erupted in blossoms. On my way to lectures there is a tree with cherry blossoms the colour of candy floss. The end of the bailey exudes a thick floral smell, where a large branch of white summer lilac has draped itself decorously over a wall, practically dripping in white blooms so heavy it has weighed itself down. Along the river by Prebends Bridge, the land off the path glows white with patches of tiny flowers.

Along the river by Prebends Bridge, the land off the path glows white with patches of tiny flowers.

It’s not summer, I’ll grant you that – the sun is reliably inconsistent and April showers continue to arrive a month late, but in the evening you can walk home the long way round at 9pm and it’s just about light and the air is warm and smells of buddleia and earth. Nature has struck a very fine balance, a delicate equilibrium between summer and winter, that produces tiny cherry-blossoms and flower-buds and careful breezes. It won’t last forever.

Not everything about this time of year is positive – walk into literally any library in Durham to see why – but the pressure of exam season is tempered by the sense of hope that spring seems to promise. We might all be anxiously awaiting the long hot days of June, the endless heat and the promise of weeks of having nothing to do, but it doesn’t do any harm to take a look around right now, at the cautious sunlight and soft evenings; this is more than just a stopover before summer arrives. This is a beautiful time of year all on its own.

I’ve been inclined to find spring depressing in the past, damp and half-hearted, but I take it back. It’s fragile, but it seems comfortable in Durham; spring drapes itself across every stretch of pavement, every patch of grass, every bridge and every wall. And it will be gone soon – maybe it’s worth taking that walk on your revision break after all.

 

 

Photographs by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.