Wednesday, June 3, 2009


For the second May Bank Holiday weekend Stuart and I made plans to visit family friends who lived in Yorkshire. We headed up by train on Friday night, and unfortunately the trains were so busy that we had to stand for the first section of the journey, which was an hour! There were lots of other people in our situation (who hadn’t made seat reservations), but thankfully heaps of people got off so we could sit for the last half hour. We learnt our lesson and will make sure to get reservations in future.

We arrived in Doncaster and were met by Madge who then drove us along the M18/A62 to Hull and then on to their house in the thriving metropolis of Roos. Roos has a lovely old church which comes complete with overgrown graveyard and crypt. It also has an old Norman cross which is in very good condition considering it’s over 800 years old.

On Saturday we were driven to York, and on the way we stopped off for fish and chips. There was a statue of Giant Bradley who at 7’9” was the tallest Briton, and used to work on a local farm. Then we headed onto York where we would have 24 hours to spend, so when we got there we started off in the Information Centre to decide what to see. Our first destination was the National Rail Museum which has heaps of trains of all shapes and sizes, including a miniature railway which we had a ride on. It also had a selection of awesome old posters for various holiday destinations, including one which compared Cornwall to Italy. Unfortunately that one wasn’t for sale, but we did get a nice one telling us that you could take your dog on the train.

After that we walked along the old city wall that surrounds the old part of town, and saw Clifford’s Tower, which is where lots of exciting things happened (you can read the Wikipedia link). That night we had Chinese for tea in an awesome old building with low beam ceilings, which has got to be one of the most un-Chinese places I’ve ever eaten Chinese food in. Then we walked around town and saw all the hens and stags getting drunk on their big night out, and turned up by the river just in time to go on a river cruise through York along to Bishopthorpe Palace where the Archbishop of York lives (he was at home but they pulled the curtains as we arrived).

The next day we did a walking tour of York which told us the history of St Mary’s Abbey. The abbey was pulled down by the townspeople during King Henry VIII’s reign, and now only a few of the window arches remain, along with hundreds of the old stones littering the ground. We also saw an old Roman wall, which is what part of the city walls were built on, as well as hearing a ghost story about the Treasurer’s House. Apparently a boy was working in the basement of the house when he saw a column of Roman soldiers come marching through the basement. He described their outfits completely accurately to a historian until it came to describing their footwear, at which point he said that he could only see them from the knees up. They then dug up part of the floor in the basement, and about 6 inches below the surface discovered an old Roman road that the house was built on.

After we left the tour, we went into the old Minster, which is one of the most impressive and massive buildings I have seen, and looked at the stained glass windows and climbed the tower. There were around 270 stairs, and they got narrower and narrower as you went up. From the top you get an amazing view of York and the surrounding countryside, but you only get about 10-15 minutes up there before it’s time to go down again. The stairs are so narrow that you go up in groups so that you don’t have to pass anyone on the way.

That afternoon Madge and Alister picked us up and we drove back to Roos. It was another lovely sunny day so they decided to have a barbecue to make the most of the weather. Stuart sampled some of the local beer, and enjoyed it so much that the next day we went to see where it was brewed and had a tour around the microbrewery. The owner is a relative of Alister’s, and the brewery was set up as part of the diversification scheme for farmers. We then went on to Withernsea to see what a somewhat abandoned seaside resort looks like. The answer is: a bit sad. The trains stopped going there in the 60s, and then the hotels and B&Bs shut down, so now there are lots of arcades but not many people to use them.

Our final event for the long weekend was going to see the local stately house. It’s privately owned, which means it’s not in pristine condition like some of the National Trust houses, which is quite nice because you can believe that people lived there. Some of the floors are quite slopey, and the rest of them are a bit creaky, but you get to see a chair that Queen Victoria sat in, and there are also plenty of beautiful paintings and sculptures, and huge rooms to imagine yourself living in.

So that was our visit to Yorkshire. There is definitely a lot more to see in the area, and it is a really nice place that we want to visit again.

Photos coming soon to a Flickr account near you!

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