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Mike's Blog - Day 21

Three weeks since the first day the coffee shop closed.

A couple for you today, down at the cherry circle. A good few of the flowering cherries are out and I imagine most will be at their best by the weekend now its warmed up a bit, so I’ll take some better pictures then, the main circle is yet to flower.

You’ll see in one picture that there is a gap where the hedge ends, if you peer through that gap you get a really good view down to “Fungate”, which is as close as some people can get as getting down there involves a really steep path. I’ll get a picture of the view next time I’m down there.

We are hoping that one day we can put a path in there as many people miss that view.

What would be good for a path would be a lot of sandstone (it would tie in with the winter garden steps, more on those later), so we could build a path and retaining wall for the view point, but stone is expensive, however:

At the end of Hollingside Lane when they started to take the trees out and the old wall I asked if we could have the stone, it very nearly got dumped, but I’m pleased to say by a fluke almost as the first load was about to be taken away forever we managed to cadge it (no idea of the origin of that word !).

So, you’ll see in the other picture, the picture with the stone lantern in it, several of the dumper loads of this stone, that’s about ¼ of it.

Ok, there’s going to be a lot of work cleaning the stone up, but its good stuff, lots of it is hand dressed and must be at least 150 years old, so it’s  great that we can keep it close by and reuse it.

The stone lantern actually came from Japan, it was a gift to the VC at the time, Prof Ebsworth and his wife Rose. They went to Japan at Cherry blossom time and came back with the idea of planting a cherry garden at the Botanic Garden, the rest is history. The lantern was a gift to the VC, of course he couldn’t bring it back in his suit case, so arrangements were made for it to be sent on one of the cargo ships that send cars from Japan to the UK, Mitsubishi motors I think.

The VC returned and we started to clear the area and look for trees to make up a collection.

Weeks past then one day we were told that the lantern would arrive at the port of Tyne and we could expect it later that week, would there be somebody to sign for it. We confirmed that if they took it to the coffeeshop there would be somebody there.

Sure enough it arrived and the next morning we carefully prized the lids of its wooden cargo boxes. Carefully packed inside were the hand carved stones to assemble into the lantern.

The following week staff from Teikyo university (the Japanese College near St Mary’s) met with us and the VC and decided upon the best location for it.

We found out weeks later that when the box was actually delivered and signed for the person delivering it was actually from Japan, sent with it to ensure its safe delivery for weeks on the cargo ship. We had no idea, we thought it would just be a local guy from the port dropping it off for us.

Poor guy, all that way, looking forward to a warm welcome and seeing Durham, I don’t know if he had a ticket to fly home or had to get back on ship for a long journey home. We really regret not knowing to expect him, I think it was just one of those culture things, a personal gift would have a guardian and that would be normal, hence we expected nothing and it’s a big regret we never met its guardian angel.

I kept one of the packing boxes, we painted it and it made a nice toy box for a while. We still have it and use it as a small table with a lamp on it, I nailed the packing label underneath, I forgot about that being there still until typing this email…see attached, I think I have it the right way up!