|Starry-eyed and mystified
||[Feb. 24th, 2018|04:01 pm]
Not long ago - probably in the period of 'phony romance' that precedes St Valentine's Day - I saw something in the local paper about Durham being a contender of 'most romantic city' (in England? or in the UK? don't know) and wondered vaguely what that was about.
Durham is still, at heart and despite everything, a beautiful, a historic city. The division of the peninsula between Castle and Cathedral ("Half church of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot,") speak of power and border warfare, the Conqueror's grasp of the north, while the nineteenth century developments of the North Road, viaduct, Miners' Hall and chapel, speak of the mining heritage of those who were neither rich nor powerful. It's stirring stuff, but romantic? Ah, well, what do I know about romance? And right now, the city is not looking its best. It's possible, I suppose, that there are people for whom nothing says 'romance' like a skyline dominated by cranes and a city centre full of building sites (three major ones right in the centre, not counting the County Hospital which greets you as you come down from the station). Not to mention restoration work on the crossing tower of the cathedral, which has caused it to be wrapped in sheeted scaffolding for the last year, and will continue to be so for another year at least - and they don't mention it: all the tourist information shows the traditional view, which you cannot currently see...
Which brings me back to the point. I'd mentally filed the 'most romantic city' story among life's smaller mysteries, when Twitter brought enlightenment, of a sort, in the form of a link to a story headlined "10 Reasons To Honeymoon In Durham" on a website called 'Female First', about which I know nothing. It begins by telling you that Durham was "Ranked as the second most romantic city in the UK by www.holidaylettings.co.uk..." (I'll come back to that) and goes on to talk about various attractions, not only in the city but county-wide - the dark skies of the North Pennines AONB, and Seaham Hall Hotel's Serenity Spa. We have apparently "an array of romantic restaurants", but the only one that gets a name check is Byron's Restaurant (which is, of course, also at Seaham Hall, though their ideas of romance don't extend to making a fuss about the Byran connection, don't ask me why). And the two URLs at the end of the article: the Durham tourism authority, and Seaham Hall. What a surprise.
It took a bit of searching, but I did eventually find the article on the Holiday Lettings site. Holiday Lettings is part of TripAdvisor, and they used "a special algorithm " to search reviews on the site (I am saving this expression for occasions when I am accused of making things up: no, no, I used a special algorithm). They then listed the top ten cities, and invited readers to vote for their favourite. I don't know whether there was any order to that listing, but Durham was second in the list. It was not second in the readers' voting, it was fifth, with 227 votes, 5% of the total cast. (The top two cities were Bath and Winchester, and they scooped up 70% of the votes between them.) This may not be impressive, but it's better than Oxford, whose 23 votes were scored as 0%. Dundee got 11 votes, but I can't bring myself to be surprised.
I'm posting this here in case I ever need to refer to it. I don't know what it has to offer to anyone else. Except, perhaps, that if anyone is trying to sell you a honeymoon, they do not expect you to read the small print. But I expect you knew that already.
This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.