The homeward journey

August 1, 2016 - York, United Kingdom

Today Margaret and I started our journey home. We were headed for York today and Edinburgh tomorrow. We began with a decent breakfast at the Jurys Inn before collecting our luggage and took a cab to the station. The one-way system in Derby meant the driver had to do a half circle before there was somewhere he could make a U-turn which he said saved us about 70p. We were following another taxi that also did the same thing. In part it is the entry to Jurys Inn that causes the problem but Town Planning must have a say in that as well.

We were at the station in plenty of time to get the 9:44am train so we had time to print today's tickets and the tickets for our next leg and find a seat on Platform 1 to wait. We had seen the previous train arrive and thought we were in a reasonable spot to get to Car D but of course our train was shorter and didn't pull up as far along the platform, in fact it did not even come as far along as our seat. We grabbed our luggage and hustled down the platform to Car D and shuffled things about in the miserable bit of luggage space to find room for our cases. Now our cases would probably be OK as carry-on for a flight but they were still dangerous to put in the overhead space on these British trains and most people on the Cross Country services are carrying something. Why can't they get it right, or is it just tradition?

We settled in to watch Derby and the countryside rush past the windows and shortly afterward the Train Manager (read Conductor) came along to check tickets of those who boarded at Derby. He was a bit of a comedian. He told us we would be in York at 11:30am and if we got a scamper on we would be able to get to Betty's Tea Rooms before midday. Then we could spend the afternoon waiting for a table. 'Took the wife 5 times last year', he quipped, 'and next time we might get to sit down.' He kept up the patter with most people. 'York, be there at 11:30. 11:30 and 10 seconds for you, sir, you've further to go.' As we approached York, he announced 'After York, normal service will be resumed as I leave the train here myself'.

At Sheffield a large group that Margaret said was a theatre group boarded the train with an extensive array of luggage, backpacks, bags, boxes, laundry hampers and even a set of folding utility steps. There was much yelling and shouting as they organised themselves and then more shuffling and banging when they were told to stow their gear out of the corridor and vestibule areas. We were almost at York before they settled down to a loud game of connect the actors. How many degrees of separation (actors they have appeared with that have appeared with someone else who has appeared with, etc.) between say, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jackie Chan. Much groaning and hilarity. I am glad we were not going all the way to Edinburgh.

When we clambered out at York we decided to take a taxi to our hotel, well, guest accommodation self- described, to save the one kilometre walk with bags and we queued with a couple of dozen people in the taxi line. There were plenty of cars, though and it wasn't long before we joined the queue of cabs, cars and buses trying to leave the station precinct. I am sure these circuits look good on a Town Planner's drawing board but once the public are involved it becomes bedlam if not total chaos.

We managed to go in the wrong door of the converted old town house that was our accommodation, struggle past the cleaning staff, and stuff, down the steps, around through the dining area, up the steps, around the corner and finally to the 'Reception' cubbyhole. At least our room was ready so we could reverse all that and hump our luggage up more stairs where we passed a communal bathroom. Oh God, what have we done. At the top of another short flight of stairs we were ushered into our room. Sighs of rapture, not for the decor, or the size (it had none of either) but for the door that must lead to an en-suite. It was a sliding door, mind you, so there wasn't room to swing a door, let alone a shrieking cat.

Still there was all of York to explore and only an afternoon to do it. Our amiable, and voluble, (and voluminous?) hostess had told us of several things we should try and where to catch buses. We resolved to walk back past the station and across to the other corner of York centre to the area near the Minster (and get out of the room to save stubbing our toes on chair legs and bumping shins on stupid little stools) so we set off into a reasonably warm afternoon.

Our hostess supplied a tourist booklet which included a map upon which she had circled several attractions, marked some bus stops and perhaps a little casually inscribed an X for the location of the guest house. This X was off the map, beside the legend which obliterated a large part of the nearby area and, now that I look again, beside the wrong road. Undaunted we reversed the route our taxi had taken and found ourselves on the map and physically walking down Micklegate and across the River Ouse. Somehow the touted clear waters looked more in keeping with the slow, muddy waters conjured up by the name. After we crossed the river we turned to walk through the shopping precinct toward the Museum Gardens. Like most shopping areas these days this area was populated by global chains and had the impersonal feel of any other, although the Minster on the skyline meant it could only be York.

As we walked we had decided that the Big Red Bus would be a useful way to orient ourselves with the landmarks as well as gather information with a local flavour. Luck was on our side and as we walked around the corner of the Museum Gardens there was the bus at the bus top and we hurried along to ensure we caught it. We lengthened our stride without breaking in to a run and it was only when we reached the small assemblage at the door we realised we all were waiting for the driver to arrive. On board and on the top deck we got the full patter from a chap who has probably given the same talk hundreds of times, but he seemed to enjoy it. He took photos for, and of, people on board, joked with the customers about their football teams, exchanged greetings in several languages and, in a slight Lancashire overtone, suggested his Terms of Employment forbade him mentioning Lancashire in any context.

We did the full loop and discovered that as well as being a bit of a comic our guide also knew a fair amount about the archaeological digs and historical dates. He suggested if we swapped buses the other guides had different interests and we could have a different experience. We trooped off with the rest of the flock but left them to their own choices while we walked up to Petergate where we began a walk along part of the old city walls. This section gave us glimpses of the towers of the Minster, the Dean's Park and then the Jewbury district before reaching Peasholme Green where we were forced to join the streets again. The wall in this area has been demolished so we followed the Foss River around until we could join the wall again at the Red Tower. Our wall walk then continued around to Walmgate where we left the wall at maybe its furthest point from the Minster. We wanted to walk through the Shambles area which is the old butchers' area where the houses are very close together.

It had been a long time since breakfast and it was trying to rain as well so when we found a pub serving cumberland sausages, mash and beans with onion gravy it was too hard to resist. The Shambles Tavern for dinner then even though it was only 4pm. A couple of pints of Rudgate dark and we were satiated and ready for a bit more footslogging. We continued our walk up to the Minster and spent an hour plus looking around but were too late for the last guided tour. There was a display as well to explain how they were repairing and cleaning the HUGE East Window which our bus guide had told us was the size of a tennis court. Of course, in a building this vast it looks small. When we came in we saw signs for Evensong tonight but unfortunately it was said rather than sung and the congregation was small so apart from the sound of the organ even the hymn sounded like St Paul's CofE Woonona at the Sunday 7am service.

We had entered from the west doors and were ushered out the south doors so we turned right and came to the square in front of the west entrance where we stood and watched a chap busking the crowd with soap bubbles. The young kids were delighted but I think the busker was a little annoyed with the older kids who just kept bursting his bubble, so to speak, when he tried for 'bubble in bubble' structures. We left them to it and continued our walk to the riverside once more. We hoped to get one of the tour boats but we were tired and our timing meant a long wait so we wove our way back towards Micklegate and on to home.

We turned in early only to be woken with a phone call from home at 11:30pm here (8:30am there). Our Real Estate agent wanted me to send her some information she needed to use in a tribunal hearing. Of course she needed it immediately so I had to wake up enough to write a simple email and to fight with the patchy WiFi at the house. We could only hope to sleep as well as before for the next six hours.

 

 

 


Pictures

Our intimate little room in York
Micklegate Tower
The River Ouse
Clifford's Tower
 
 
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