December in Durham is always very festive with the Christmas markets, carol services and celebrations all the way until term ends. For me this year has been even more festive than most as being MCR (Middle Common Room) Social Sec at Trevelyan College I have been running some of our celebrations.
‘Trevs MCR does Beamish’ was my first event of the year and was really exciting. Beamish is a local open air museum which calls itself a ‘living museum’ as it has fully operational Victorian towns and villages full of people in period costume working in the pub, shops, newspaper and bakery, etc. Beamish is always a great day out but many Durham students don’t get to go as even though it is right on our doorstep it can be quite tough to get to! So while they were running their Frost Fair which offered stalls of homemade goods, old fashioned fairground rides and ice-skating, I thought it would be a great time to go.
As I had never run an event like this before it did take a little while of working out the logistics, planning out how I was going to run it and of course getting people to come! People were really keen however and in the end I had over 20 people signed up. Being the last full weekend of term it was great timing to let off some steam and enjoy a festive day out, as I put in my advert ‘the only thing I can’t promise is snow!’ After an afternoon of planning and price checking I found us a coach and booked us all up: we were ready to go!
Then something really exciting happened… the day before we were due to go it started to snow! No-one believed it would lie, but after a few hours of heavy snowfall Durham was covered. I couldn’t contain my excitement and was hoping so much it wouldn’t melt before our trip.
It didn’t and the next morning we all met well wrapped up for the coach trip over. When we got in it was incredible; stood on the hill you could see over the whole site and it was like a winter wonderland!
We got an old fashioned tram to the town and our first stop was a ride on the working steam engine, there are two at Beamish, one used for coal and the one we went on which was a passenger train. After this we made our way over to the Frost Fair for a browse around the stalls and a go on the Merry Go Round, which is also steam operated.
After having spent a little while out in the snow now we were getting a bit cold but this was easily remedied with some mulled wine and roast chestnuts from the stalls.
To get a bit warmer we headed to look around some of the houses and stores, all fully decked out in period decorations. We saw inside the dentists, visited the motor shop and the horses in the stables. By far the most exciting part was the Bakery where they were baking fresh bread and biscuits and we came away with plenty of baked goodies.
Feeling peckish we decided to head over to the pit village for some chips from Davey’s Fish Shop, and had a look round the colliery and miners homes.
Here the houses were much smaller and less ornate but were much cosier with their wood burning fires and we even discovered a cat napping near one! After taking an open top bus over we were quite cold again so this was a welcome chance to warm up. While we were there we also visited the school complete with slate chalkboards and Victorian school desks.
It was getting close to closing time so we had a slow wander back through all the snow as it started to get dark and all of the Christmas lights went on along the main village street. The day felt like a page from a Dickens novel and really got us all in the festive spirit just before term ended. As well as me having fun, a lot of people said they had a great time so my first event proved a success and I am so glad I got the chance to do it!
Ellen Orange, studying MA Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature.