As I write this I’m nearing the end of my fourth full day in bed ill. To be completely honest, it’s been an awful few days – sickness was bad enough, but with it has come sadness and a deep loneliness simply because I’ve been almost completely unable to leave my room. It’s slightly ironic considering my last post, but I’m hoping it will pass with the illness. On the other hand, all this time in bed has provided me with ample opportunity to discover new blogs, read countless posts and now, finally, to actually write something of my own.
I promised in my latest Sunday round-up that I’d blog G’s most recent visit up to York – he came up last weekend and we had a really lovely time exploring York. One of my goals for this term was to get to know the city better, which Dad helped along at Christmas by giving me a guide book to York. At first I was hesitant to make use of it – surely I should just get to know it myself? – but before G’s visit I had a flick through and worked out what a useful tool it might be for structuring our weekend.
The book itself sets out a number of different walking tours around the city, so on the Saturday we decided to take one which took us around the backstreets I always manage to lose myself in. It began in King’s Square at York’s Chocolate Story, which I’ve always walked past but never investigated. We balked initially at the prices, but I can promise you it’s totally worth it. You are booked onto a guided tour which is part history lesson, part pantomime, part interactive chocolate factory, with chocolate tasting sessions in every room – but I won’t spoil it any more than that…
When our tour was over, we took a break in the café as we were both craving a hot chocolate. There was so much to choose from, but G eventually picked a dark chocolate one, and I went for orange milk chocolate. It was possibly the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. G also managed to persuade me to a slice of cake to share, but he appeared back at the table with a huge chunk of oreo cake alongside a piece of brownie. “It was cheaper if I got two…” he claimed (I’m sceptical…).
Feeling very full, we left the shop and followed the guidebook up Low Petergate, past Hornpot Lane towards the Minster which, shamefully, I’ve still never been inside. We contemplated a visit, but decided to spend the money another time and continue on our tour. The path took us down Goodramgate which features Lady’s Row, a line of tenements whose origins date back to the 14th century. According to our book they’re thought by many to be the oldest row of houses in Britain.
Our next stop was the Holy Trinity Church just off of Goodramgate. I’m a bit of a closeted historic church fan – it comes partly from my parents and partly from my rural Norfolk home, where there are historical religious buildings at every turn – but Holy Trinity quickly surpassed any I’d seen before. The first bricks were laid in 1250 though the church wasn’t completed until 1500, and after the Reformation it was rearranged. Eventually declared redundant in 1972, it still holds three services a year; the Advent service is candlelit because there’s no electrical supply. Its undulating floor and box pews were unlike anything I’d ever seen, but it was Holy Trinity’s atmosphere which really captured me; it was one of those churches where the air is colder inside its walls than out, one which makes you think of the virtually countless generations who have visited before you.
From Holy Trinity we made our way down a small snickleway (‘snickleway’ is by far and away my new favourite word) and back to King’s Square before heading down Colliergate. This eventually leads to perhaps the best named street in the country: Whip-Ma-Hop-Ma-Gate.
From here we continued down St Saviourgate, past the Salem Chapel, DIG (which I would have adored as a child), and the Unitarian Chapel which is the earliest surviving Nonconformist church in York. We passed Peasholme House, the city’s first Methodist chapel and the lovely looking Black Swan Public House, which we decided not to stop at.
The route took us past St Anthony’s Hall and the home of the Quilt Museum and Gallery as well as the New School House Gallery and, next door, St Cuthbert’s Church. We didn’t take a look inside any of these places (this time), but we did wander for a while around the beautiful courtyard garden, lined by one of the city walls – our next stop. Once we passed the church we made our way up the steps and onto the Bar Walls which we also walked last time G was here.
We eventually found ourselves back in King’s Square and decided to stop for some late lunch, so we made our way to a café we’d passed earlier – Filmore and Union. It was perhaps the most ‘Instagram’ place I have ever been, but the food was to die for (and reasonably priced). We each had specials – a tagine for G and soup for me – along with some of their amazing juices. It’s definitely somewhere I’ll be heading back to, especially with guests.
After our food we made our way back to the bus stop and headed home for food before heading across the court to the Glasshouse for drinks that evening. We had such a fun time and it was lovely to introduce G properly to some of my housemates and friends here.
The following day we slept in perhaps a little too long, but eventually we got the bus and made our way to town to finally fulfil one of G’s wishes – to visit the National Railway Museum. I was amazed at how quiet the place was, though I’m sure that will all change in a month’s time when the Flying Scotsman comes to stay on its tour.
It was a phenomenal building and we didn’t quite know where to begin in the Great Hall, where there were so many incredible pieces of machinery to look at. We wandered around, checking out whatever peaked our interest including taking a walk through a Japanese Bullet Train and admiring the model train set.
We stopped for lunch at their lovely little café which was a little overpriced, but entrance to the museum is actually completely free so we let it slide (and the frangipane tart was excellent). From there we headed into the warehouse where smaller items in the collection are kept, and then upstairs to the museum section which eventually led us to a balcony where we had a wonderful view of the entire Great Hall.
We said our goodbyes to the majestic engines and walked back through the station to the bus stop. I was relieved not to be putting G on a train this time – post-goodbye bus journeys are hard – but his departure naturally loomed ever closer. Given that I’ve missed almost all of my lectures and classes this week, hindsight tells me that I might as well have got in the car with him and gone home, but instead all I could do was wave him off on his journey and walk back through college, trying to work out, all over again, how exactly to be alone.
Where should we visit next in York? Have you ever been a tourist in your own city and discovered some hidden treasures? Let me know in the comments!
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