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Category Archives: Freshers

A guide to Durham’s many cafes

Hatfield is just a short walk away from the centre of Durham, and although Hatfield is fully catered, occasionally you might want to pop out, grab a nice coffee and treat yo’self. Here is guide to just a few among the plethora of cafes in Durham.

The Library – Not technically a cafe, but being only a few seconds away from college and having free wifi and decent cheap coffee, it couldn’t be left off. It’s a great place if you like to work in a slightly different environment and there are also rumours that occasionally they distribute free pastries to loyal customers, but don’t quote me on that!

Be Tempted – This is also only a few steps from the gates of college. Be Tempted is incredibly cute and has a great selection to suit various dietary requirements. The cupcakes are incredible, and you can pop in to get a single or a box of cupcakes to take away if you don’t fancy sitting in, and they also serve a great afternoon tea. Be Tempted has no bathroom facilities.


Selection of cupcakes at Be Tempted

Selection of cupcakes at Be Tempted


Flat White – Sometimes hard to find a seat as it is quite small and very popular, but worth the wait. It has great homemade food and cosy atmosphere – but in a different sense to the cosiness of Klute just down the road! The Rocky Road is an absolute must.

Chapters – This is a great place to take parents and visitors, especially with such a great afternoon tea – you get so much, some people (me) have been known to take some of it away #sorrynotsorry. It is cash only though, so make sure you have some on your to avoid dashing back to a cash point!

Split and Glory Ice Cream Parlour – Although this isn’t technically a cafe either, being a bit of a hidden gem above Chapters, it couldn’t be missed. This is a great American Style parlour, with a huge range of ice creams and milkshakes. It’s also cash only.

Cappricios Cafe – Somewhat questionable decor but so worth going, even if it’s just to watch the elderly man who runs the cafe making coffees like they’re works of art! Good quality Italian coffee and food.

Waffle-y Good Company – This is a new addition to Durham, and we’re definitely glad to have it! With both sweet and savoury waffles, there’s something for everyone (the savoury ones are well-worth a try too!) The Strawberries and Nutella waffle is a must.


The pun can almost be forgiven for waffles like these

The pun can almost be forgiven for waffles like these


Cafe Continental – Despite not boasting the most fantastic layout and decor, there is a varied menu for fussy eaters, which is good value for money. The staff are very attentive and welcoming and the breakfasts here are recommended.

Tealicious – Just next door to Cafe Continental, this cute little tea room has a lovely range of teas, cakes and scones, with good service. Their cheese scone is highly recommended!

Vennels – This is another great one for parents and visitors, tucked away up a little alley with a lovely courtyard seating area. The bacon sandwiches are incredible, and their pies and quiche are pretty great too. This one’s also cash only.

Treats – Treats is great value for money, and although it’s often pretty busy, the staff are really efficient. They have to most enormous slices of delicious homemade cake ever – definitely worth popping in!

Leonards Coffee House – This is another little secluded gem just off Silver Street. Although it’s small and the service can be a bit slow, the coffee and hot chocolate here are amazing, and their cakes certainly don’t disappoint!

9 Altars – This little cafe is tucked away behind Bella Italia. It can be quite quiet and there is limited seating, but it’s a lovely little spot, especially if you nab one of the tables in the outdoor seating area which overlooks the river.


Lunch by the River Wear on 9 Alt's patio

Lunch by the River Wear on 9 Alt’s patio


Esquires – A great place to work if you fancy somewhere a bit different but still need a productive environment. With fast free wifi and great hot chocolate and tea, it has a good work atmosphere. It’s also a great spot for people watching..!

Velvet Elvis – This cafe is hidden away above an independent clothes shop (which is worth checking out too!) It’s quirky and fun, with a good range of food and baked goods, welcoming staff and a cracking playlist of music.

Ciao Ciao – This is a fantastic Greek style cafe with an interesting range. Special mentioned goes to their sandwiches and fresh Mediterranean pastries. Sometimes the service isn’t the best, but with reasonable pricing, it’s not bad at all!

Biz R – Being just across from Starbucks, this cafe is slightly less busy. Although nicely decorated, with a little outdoor seating area, the staff can be a bit slow. However, the cafe is reasonably priced, and with amazing muffins and milkshakes, it’s worth popping in!

Claypath Delicatessen – Although it’s a bit of a walk from college (10 mins), just up from Urban Oven, it’s well worth the journey. They have an interesting range of locally sourced organic food at a good price and the chilled music and relaxing atmosphere make this another good place to work.

Jumping Bean Café – Further afield in the Viaduct, this cafe is great if you’re looking for a good vegetarian and vegan menu. It has a cosy and friendly atmosphere, and arguably the best brownies in Durham.

Of course, there’s a Starbucks (two actually), a Costa and a Cafe Nero etc. too, to satisfy all your Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato needs!

What not to do on your year abroad…

When people talk about the year abroad, they often mention living somewhere completely different to Durham. I took a slightly alternative approach. Having decided that one cobbled town with a cathedral just wasn’t enough, I swapped Durham for Brixen, a small German-speaking town in northern Italy.

There were a few key differences between north east England and northern Italy, however. No-one knew the ‘rules of the game’, rowing wasn’t a prominent topic of conversation and everyone spoke both German and Italian, which worked out pretty well as they’re the languages that I’m studying at uni.

I spent my time in Italy working as an English assistant at a local school but that didn’t stop me finding plenty of opportunities to embarrass myself. Here are a few pieces of advice to stop you making the same mistakes:

Just because something is a local speciality doesn’t mean you should eat it: When I was presented with a suspicious looking ‘dumpling’ floating in some soup, my heart sank. Keen not to offend my hosts, I decided to try a spoonful. This was a mistake. Whilst I was desperately trying not to gag, I was cheerfully informed I had just eaten a local variation of tripe.

Beware of unseen obstacles: When I was meeting one member of staff for the first time, I was desperate to make a good impression. So desperate, infact, that I failed to notice the cunningly placed step at the entrance to their office. As I went to shake their hand, I tripped on said step and found myself face down on the floor, Not ideal.

Try not to end up in hospital within the first 48 hours: When I was told that our year abroad would give us the chance use our language skills in ‘real-life situations’, explaining my medical history in German to an anaesthetist wasn’t exactly what I had in mind…

Accept that no-one will have heard of Durham: I tried my best to describe where Durham was, without much success. ‘Well it’s not quite Scotland, but it’s not far off’. Initially, people thought I went to uni in Scotland, then Northern Ireland, then somewhere near London. It took a while to convince people I wasn’t actually a constant tea-drinker in direct contact with the Queen.

Don’t fall over when teaching a lesson: An innocent attempt to point out Scotland on the map ended with me tipping backwards out of my wheelchair and acquainting myself with the classroom floor. Once you’ve lost all remaining dignity in front of a group of 14 year olds, anything else seems straightforward…


Jamie Green


Spotlight: Formals

Gowned, weekly and full of tradition–it’s just what a formal should be, no matter what your coursemates up on the hill say. Our formals are one of Hatfield’s favourite–and probably most well known–traditions. During Michaelmas term, they usually take place on Tuesday and Friday evenings, dropping to Friday evenings only in Epiphany and Easter terms (with a brief hiatus for exams).

Before the dinner, attendees gather in the college bar while our remarkable catering team (seriously–they’ve won awards) puts the final touches on the hall. From there, you are directed to the hall entrance and are allowed to purchase wine or soft drinks on the way in (water and squash are provided at the tables). Once everybody’s seated, somebody will seize the initiative and get everybody spooning while the Exec enter the hall with their guests. The Senior Man then tries to rattle off a quick speech with a cheesy joke before we all lose interest, and finally Darryl, our Catering Services Manager/Hatfield VIP No 1 shows the High Table in. Guests are expected to stand and remain silent while the top brass enter the hall and until Latin grace has been read, at which point the meal has begun.

Throughout the formal, our VP Discipline–Brogan Lear–has the power to sconce (fine) guests for unruly behaviour. The temptation may be strong to test her sight and hearing (we’ve all been there), but Brogan has an unrivaled passion for discipline. Even if she has to walk the length of the hall three times to realise you were sat right next to her, she will find you.

Normal formals (#normforms?) have three courses. Once the Senior Man has finished his meal, he will rise, approach the high table and ‘bow out’ to the Master, at which point you are free to leave the hall. From there guests return to the bar for a rendition of the College Songs led by the Keeper of the Cane. DUCK’s Toastie Bar and discounted post-formal soft drinks contribute to a great atmosphere in the bar which usually attracts members of college who couldn’t pull themselves from their work quite long enough to make the dinner itself.

Throughout the year, there will also be a number of themed formals, usually to observe holidays or mark special events in college. A yearly favourite are the three Christmas formals held at the end of first term, which last year were filled with carols, crackers and mince pies. A fair amount of effort goes into making these events special for the college, so make sure you try to get a seat!

Finally, the college puts on a number of Black Tie Guest Formals throughout the year, which, with a more formal atmosphere, even nicer food, a cheese course and often live entertainment, are definitely not to be missed.



So we’ll see you there? Be rude not to…

19 Things We Wish We Knew Before Coming To Hatfield

With only about a month to go until Freshers’ Sunday, we asked the Freps what advice they would have like before they came to Hatfield. The results were insightful, and marginally more helpful than the Freshers’ tips now on offer from Durham’s YikYak herd.

1. 2p coins are worth their weight in gold

2. Don’t rush to sign a house with people you aren’t sure you want to live with for a year

3. Don’t wear suede shoes to Klute

4. Take the opportunity to mix with other years–you don’t just have to stick to yours like at school

5. Do everything in your power to avoid interacting with the joke book man in Market Square

6. Always ask if there’s a student discount

7. You don’t need to spend 1st year in the library–enjoy it!

8. Freshers’ 15 is inevitable, so you may as well just eat the pizza

9. The rules of the game

10. People respond to ‘where are you from?’ with counties–know where they are (or at least pretend you do)

11. Don’t try to tell someone from the east Midlands that the Midlands don’t exist and they’re Northern (…or Southern)

12. Passive aggressive post-it notes are not the way forward

13. College proposals are a powerful social tool–use them wisely (don’t propose to somebody you’re interested in!)

14. Spooning is the best way to spend a Friday evening

15. If the porters aren’t in the Plodge, only call them if it’s something important or urgent (your parcels can probably wait!)

16. Cleaners have master keys and don’t always knock (if you don’t want to be disturbed, learn the cleaning schedule and/or leave your bins outside your door)

17. Don’t tell people that you don’t like a certain shortening of your name, because that’s all they will call you for the rest of the year

18. Some bedroom doors automatically lock when closed if you don’t put them on the latch!

19. You are a Shack or a Lloyds person. There is no in between


If you’ve got anything to add, tweet us @hatfieldjcr!