Sunday, January 17, 2010


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Buildings along the flooding River Ouse ("ooze")

The river was high, just over the banks when we arrived, but receding throughout our stay. No river cruises were running. Flooding is an ongoing problem here. One swanky restaurant/hotel has been on the market for 2 years. Can't find a buyer because it's on the river and gets flooded regularly. Another place takes a different tack: the lower level, which floods, is all stone, with shelves and bar up high. They serve upstairs even as the floodwaters are rising, evacuating only when the alarm sounds indicating that water has entered the building. When it drains, they hose out the mud and let it dry. Easy peasy.

Flower shop in York in DECEMBER.
We stayed at Warren B&B outside the walled city. The chandelier in our room had ugly white porcelain roses (for the House of York?) It had good hearty English breakfasts - starting with toast served on a rack (so it can dry out and get cold before the eggs arrive), eggs, sausage and bacon, roasted tomahto, baked beans, pots of tea. Sideboard with cold cereals, pastries, yoghurt, fruit and juice. It was hard to eat all that and still keep our trousers (NOT pants, which are underwear) fastened.

Private parking (a luxury) was behind the 2 combined townhouses of the B&B. Parking was easier said than done: drive to the end of the block, turn right, down one block, turn right into a very narrow alley, with a special curbstone at the entrance to help turn carriages, but not so good for turning autos. Oh boy. Halfway down the alley, make a sharp right turn (MORE than 90-degrees) into a walled carpark for 4 cars. Leaving, Hal tried driving out, but that required multiple back-and-forths, many more than a 3-point turn. The next day, he backed out, with little hassle.
In hindsight, we would have liked to be situated closer to the walled city. It was a hike to get there, and then more to get to the shopping district and the Minster.

Our first stop was York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in western Europe. It dates from 12th century.

Stained glass depicting King Solomon

The fifteenth-century choir screen with life-sized kings of England, and the ornate ceiling of a passage

Rood screen

The nave and vaulted ceiling

The "semaphore saints," a modern installation (I did not decipher their code.)

As we wandered through the cathedral, we were serenaded by a choir practicing for the Christmas concert that evening. Lovely. We had to buy a CD before we left the gift shop. That night we went back for the concert, which was standing room only. The choir, probably 300 strong, consisted of NHS staff from the area. Collections were taken for a child-accessibility fund.

Rose window on south facade, and heart window on west face.

Patrons seeking favor with the Church?

One section of the Minster had small statues depicting various afflictions common to medieval people. Toothache, broken bones, poverty, madness.

New ones have been carved, in the same style, to be added soon.

There were crypts beside and below us.

You would think that a town with this huge cathedral wouldn't need any other churches. But the town is filled with churches. On the right is The Parish (pub).

After the lessons and carols, we managed to get into Betty's Tea Room before it closed its doors at 9 pm. It was a classy supper place, with a pianist tinkling the ivories. I ate the BEST quiche I have ever had.

Following supper, we meandered through the curvy streets of the (mostly closed) shopping district. There was an outdoor Christmas market - one of the few times we've seen a shopping area open late.

Hal tried on a Harris tweed jacket, and fell "in like." The waistcoat (vest) was made in China, which put him off. Checking the Internet that night, he learned that Harris tweed, the CLOTH, is made - woven - in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. (With enough money) you can have garments made-to-order by them. But they also sell the cloth to others, such as tailors in China.

Clifford's Tower (above) is the remains of York Castle, originally built by William the Conqueror. This was the site of a violent incident in 1190, when the Jewish community was assailed by a mob. Taking refuge in the castle, the Jews committed suicide and set fire to the castle, rather than fall to the mob. In 1290, Jews were expelled from England by royal edict, which was not overturned until 1656.
I learned that spiral staircases were built to rise in a clockwise manner. This gives (right-handed) defenders the advantage: as one backs up the stairs, his right hand is free for swordplay. You lefties will just have to design your own castles, or make sure you are the aggressors, going up the stairs.

It was possible to walk around the top of the castle walls, allowing one to look down on the interior (left) and out for spectacular views of the town (right). York Minster is in the background.

There were no handrails or other protection beyond common sense, so we got a kick out of this sign.

We planned to walk the walls of the city on our last morning.
Unfortunately, the walls were locked due to icing on the pavement. But I did get a photo of Mickelgate Bar, where heads of traitors were once displayed.

A friend in Ulverston told me, "York is an amusement park," meaning too touristy. Walking The Shambles, a narrow meandering street full of tourist traps, we saw what she meant: half-timbered buildings overhanging the cobbled winding street.
York is very quaint. A Disney version of old England. But we liked it, and were rewarded with a beautiful sunset.

Returning to Ulverston, we stopped at Ainsty Farm Shoppe for lunch. Butcher, baker, deli, fruiterer, preserves. Lots of yummy things. (We saw a truck with"fruiterer" in the slogan. Who knew!)

Woodpigeons in a berry tree

This is the area of high moors, so eloquently described by the Bronte sisters. It's a high plateau with rolling hills, meandering rivers, cliffs, and fog. I didn't get a good photo of it, but the hills and fog created several layers of blues.

1 comment:

  1. Simply amazing. You do have a great eye for the details of things. Do you carry your camera everywhere? I am looking forward to seeing some similar things when I come to visit. Your blog has become like a little teaser for my trip. :o)