My trip to England took me, as is my custom these days, to York. It’s a city I know more for its shops, cafes and restaurants than for its historical sites, though its history is as rich and colorful as anywhere in the country. I go to visit family, and there is rarely time to revisit the famous places I remember from youthful visits. This time too I went on family matters, so neither as tourist nor even as traveler, because I was born in England. It is, at the same time, both familiar and novel. The streets run in the same direction they always did, but the facades change, new structures rise, things improve, things have been left to rot. Change and renewal in the city as in the countryside.
York – again – and yet again I didn’t do one of those ghost walks I so much want to try! My time to explore and wander was mainly early evening or early morning. I have two memories from this trip. One is the Big Wheel. I’m sure it wasn’t there in October, the last time I visited. Folk told me it was, but in a different location. Clutching the best Cornish pasty I’ve ever, ever had (bought at the train station when sorting out tickets), full of chunks of moist and mellow meat and the pastry crunchy but light, I approached it around sunset. That seemed like a really good idea, to photograph the city from its heights, bathed in the light of the setting sun, or even just enjoy my supper from that vantage point. Sadly, no food allowed, and I’d bought the large size, and it was far too good to rush, so I wandered off, intending to return at the same time the following day. The price was certainly right at eight pounds.
The next day, wandering along the riverbank, having some time to kill before sunset I became entranced by Spring. Often said I’m an Autumn gal, but not having been anywhere in Springtime for a couple of years, and then it was the “back end” of the blossom season, I was drawn to the daffodils and narcissi, the blossom and the buds.
The way the colors of the fresh, crisp flora glowed in the late afternoon sun seduced me.
The reflections and shadows on the river fascinated me.
The way the sun appeared, unexpectedly between the skeletal remains of centuries-old shells of building, intrigued me.
And before I knew it, I’d lost the moment, because although sunsets do last longer this far North than they do at home, I still didn’t have time to make it to the Big Wheel in time…….so that’s something else, along with the ghost walk, that gives me a reason to return.
Another day, whiling away time whilst my aunt was at the hospital, I trotted into town quite aimlessly. I didn’t have time to commit to a tour of anywhere in particular, so I joined the throngs of other tourists, meandering the city’s narrow streets until I spied a Book CloseOuts-type place…..well, now, broke or not, there is always a few coppers for cheap books, isn’t there! My haul was very moderate compared to past times (thanks, also Ryanair!), but I took them off to a coffee shop to gloat. On the way I passed this shop, and fell just a little in love with its facade. Back when I’d have dived in, looking for treasures, but what with one thing and another I content myself with a photo of its pretty displays now.
Maybe the best thing about my few days in York, though, was meeting Mike Sowden of Fevered Mutterings. Mike is kind of a hero of mine (take a look at his blog if you haven’t already, and you’ll know why), and I don’t know if you’ve ever met a hero, but it makes you a bit tongue-tied. Standing outside of Marks & Spencer waiting to meet a strange man one knows only via the internet – hmmm, good job my dad couldn’t see me! Mike’s lovely, though, and funny and interesting, and he put me at ease right away, and we sat over chai latte and talked and talked. Afterwards he gave me a very brief mosey around the cathedral area, and fed me a couple of interesting facts I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
He’s also a true gentleman, and walked me to my train, because that day I was moving further north again. We walked along the city wall, and the picture below wasn’t actually taken that day because my stuff was all packed up for the journey (I haven’t mastered that art of keeping the camera out whilst juggling baggage too). However much of a hurry one is in, it has to give you a thrill walking the ramparts of a Roman city, knowing that 2,000 years ago soldiers patrolled the same stones, but there wasn’t time to dwell on it. We arrived at the station with minutes to spare for my train, and Mike kind of disappeared, leaving me grateful and wondering if I’d just imagined the last few hours!