Yesterday I took myself off to York for the day.
One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to get out and about more. But what with one thing and another, it hasn’t been easy…
My first memory of York was a school trip. The teacher took us to a section of the Roman wall, and encouraged us to close our eyes and touch the wall, and imagine the Roman soldiers that had also stood on that spot and touched that wall. That one moment sparked a lifelong interest in history.
York holds lots of other memories for me – it’s where I got married, second time around, but that’s not all. My son and I spent a few days there when he was about 11, I was a steward for the Antiques Roadshow when it was filmed at the Castle Museum, I was privileged to spend time searching the National Trust archives at Goddards, and I spent a week at the university on Summer School as part of my Open University degree course.
It’s a couple of years since I was last there, but always a joy to be back.
Rule #1 for visiting York – don’t drive into the city and try to park. If the one-way system doesn’t get you, the ticket machines will.
Normally I would use the Poppleton Bar Park and Ride, but it’s being used as a Covid-19 testing station. So on to the next nearest, which is Rawcliffe Bar. For people outside of the UK, these aren’t drinking establishments!! A Bar in York refers to an entrance to the city. It’s from the same root as ‘to bar’ someone.
This was a Sunday in August – and the Park and Ride was quiet. I got parked easily, got straight on the bus, and off we set into York. The stop in York was just by the City Library – nice and easy to find for the return trip.
The first thing I wanted to do was walk the walls – I climbed up at Bootham Bar. They have a one-way system at the moment, to reduce the Covid risk, so theoretically everyone is walking round clockwise. Some people obviously only ever use digital clocks…
Next stop, coffee and a wee. I found a lovely place called the Cosy Club, on Fossgate, where they made me a coffee even though, bizarrely, it wasn’t on the actual menu.
Then I just had a bit of a wander. The Shambles was busy – busy enough that I felt I needed my mask on. Although, sadly, not as busy as it should be in August. You could actually take a couple of steps without tripping over a tourist.
The next thing on my agenda was to have a picnic by the river. I’d come prepared. I found a bench, ate my sandwiches, and watched the river and the world go by for a while. I’d expected the weather to go off as the day went on, but it was still pleasant.
I then took myself on a river cruise. I thought I might have had to pre-book, but no – you just join the queue and pay as you board the boat. Couldn’t have been simpler. And no requirement to wear a mask if you were outside on the upper deck. It was all very well organised, with half the seats roped off to allow social distancing.
After an hour on the boat, and back on dry land, it was time for a cuppa. And nearly time to be heading home. I ended up at Costa, as it was close to my bus stop. Tea and tiffin. Very nice.
There was a queue for the bus – nothing for it but to join the end of it. The buses aren’t operating to full capacity at the moment, for obvious reasons – so one bus came and went and I moved further up the queue. Another bus came and went, and I didn’t quite get on that one either. I was just third in the queue by that stage, so when the next bus came I was on it.
And the rain started, just as I was getting on the bus. It’s all in the timing.
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